I do love to hear more about my fellow creative business owners, so I am thrilled to be able to feature Carole of Maggie Magoo Designs in this creative business interview. Carole very kindly has taken the time to answer all my questions and to share some insight into what happens in her business. Her products are full of colour and pattern so as you can imagine I love what she creates, I hope you do too. Read on to find out more.
Tell us a bit about your business – what do you do?
Thanks for inviting me to chat on your blog Fiona.
I’ve always been creative from being very young. I loved drawing & painting and would spend hours in my own little world. My mum has always sewn & knitted, she made lots of my clothes when I was small, and my dad can make pretty much anything out of wood, so I guess I have a crafty background. I studied Printed Textiles at Leeds College of Art & was lucky enough to be spotted at New Designers by Tigerprint, where I worked as an in-house greetings card designer for 19 years.
In 2016 I began feeling like I needed to do something creative just for me, so I started MMD with a small range of products. I built this up alongside my day job, slowly developing my product range & gaining experience, until the end of 2019 when I decided to leave my job & go freelance. These days I design & sell my own products online, through independent shops & also at craft fairs and markets around the country.
I now have a wide range of products including greeting cards, tea towels, notebooks, washi tapes… it is ever growing!
What is your typical work day like?
Coffee before anything… always!
Most days I try to take Maggie out for a walk first thing & often combine this with a trip to the PO with any orders I have to post. Walking helps clear my head & think about what I’m going to do with my day once I get home.
Every day can be quite different as I am the only one here working on things. Therefore I take care of nearly all the tasks that the business requires such as emails, packing wholesale & online orders, ordering stock, applying for events, approaching potential stockists, social media, freelancing, designing new products and the dreaded admin!
It can be hard to juggle the creative side of things with the business side… My favourite thing to do is to design new ranges of products and to work on freelance illustration projects for clients but there are so many other things that come with running a business. I usually find that starting off with the jobs I like least first helps because then I’ve always got a task to look forward to when I’ve finished. I’m also much more creative in the evening, so it makes sense to do the boring tasks earlier in the day!
I still haven’t quite got the work / life balance thing down yet so can often end up working long days. I love that it is all on my terms though and that I am my own boss, so when I need to down tools to take Maggie (yes the company is named after her!) out for a walk I can do it at a time that suits me.
Who are you inspired by?
I absolutely love mid century design and a lot of my work is inspired by that era. Josef Frank is one of my all time favourites – his use of colour & pattern is incredible. I was lucky enough to visit the Svenskt Tenn shop in Sweden where his work is still sold – it was a textile designer’s heaven!! There are so many current designers I admire too, Instagram is brilliant for finding great artists & designers. I particularly love Nathalie Lete, Olaf Hajek, Mary O’Malley, Aitch…I could go on and on! I’m drawn to anything pattern based & a bit quirky.
If you were starting your business again is there anything you would have done differently?
I wouldn’t have been so afraid of rejection. It can be very disappointing, but I try to remind myself that there can be so many factors behind a decision that doesn’t go in my favour and it isn’t personal! Plus, it’s not necessarily a no forever, it’s just a no this time.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Believe in yourself & don’t be afraid to ask for help
What advice would you give other creative businesses starting out?
There is probably going to be a lot of rejection, don’t get disheartened. The main thing is to keep going. You don’t know what’s around the corner
The last couple of years have been very challenging for many small businesses, so being adaptable & ready to change direction is a good skill to have. These days I feel that there are no certainties any more, so keep an open mind & a willingness to try new things. Everything you try won’t necessarily work out, but you’ll learn from it & other opportunities could come your way.
What are you most proud of in your business or what has been your biggest achievement?
I think it’s lots of little things to be honest. Designing products that are now stocked all over the world is something I’m really proud of. It was a brilliant feeling to launch my own website, mailing list & newsletter. Having my stationery range featured in Uppercase magazine was a nice moment too. And, more recently, I’ve just sent off the final designs for my very own colouring book! It’s called Maggie Magoo’s Amazing Alphabet and will be published by Batsford in June 2023. I can’t say much about it now, but it’s very exciting, and I’ll be able to share more about it next year.
Where can people find out more about you?
You can find my work on my website at https://maggiemagoodesigns.com/ and follow me on Instagram at @maggiemagoodesigns. Plus, if you sign up for my newsletter you will receive a discount code for your first order to say thanks! Sign up to my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/hCYhWP
I also have a couple of Christmas Markets coming up. Sunny Banks Mills in Leeds on 25th & 26th November and The Hepworth Christmas Market 3rd & 4th December (where I met you last year Fiona!). Plus I’m taking part in an online event held by the fabulous Just A Card Campaign from 21st November – 23rd December.
A Hugh thank you to Maggie Magoo Designs for taking part in this Creative Business Interview