I am a 21 year old textile designer and artist, about to begin the second year of my textiles course in the Cardiff School of Art & Design.
After applying to join Cardiff Met to study textiles, I suddenly realised I knew nothing about how to sew! So two weeks before I moved to Australia for a year, I bought a sewing machine and taught myself to use it. I made my first textiles piece as a goodbye gift to my Mum and took it to a gallery to be framed. They asked me to make more work for their gallery and ever since then my art career has spiralled.
By the time I got to Cardiff Met, I was beginning to feel out of my depth. I had a few galleries beginning to sell my work on a regular basis and I had just been commissioned by the National Marine Aquarium to do a bespoke collection for them. I was overjoyed – but also knew I needed to start pushing things to the next level. I just didn’t know where to start.
When I heard about the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cardiff Met, I was so excited and immediately signed up to a whole host of talks that had been organised for students to meet industry professionals and listen to them sharing their experiences. Listening to them and learning from their mistakes has been immensely useful! Each talk was interesting and varied, and I learned a huge amount from each one I attended.
The industry professional talks and ‘Monthly Mingles’ really helped to build my confidence and networking skills, and after attending a few I started approaching other professionals.
During Conference Week in the School of Art, I struck up a conversation with Kevin Edge, who subsequently introduced me to the British Dragonfly Society and the WWT London Wetlands Centre. I am now going to be the artist in residence at the WWT site, and have also been asked to produce an adult colouring book by the BDS. It just goes to show that as the Entrepreneurship team always say – networking is vital!
Over the last year, I met with the Entrepreneurship team regularly for one-on-one meetings about how I could push my business to the next level. These meetings have revolutionised the way I think about my business. Speaking to people who come from a business background, rather than an art one, has produced some really exciting new ways for me to think about how I should be selling my products. It helped me articulate a solid marketing plan, and understand the way I should market and spread the word about each new project that I do.
After recently being commissioned by the National Marine Aquarium, I knew I needed to register as a sole trader with the tax man, and again I was helped by the Entrepreneurship team. They talked me through how to do a tax return and file all my receipts properly – it was daunting when I started, but they gave me an excel spreadsheet to use to help organise everything, and now taxes have become a breeze!
Over the summer in my home town of Plymouth, I hired a studio with some of the profits I made selling my work last year so I could continue to make money and build up my business during the break. I really don’t know if I would be in this position without all the help the Entrepreneurship team at Cardiff Met gave me in my first year. They gave me the confidence to go out and ask for opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of, and helped me tap in to customers I previously didn’t realise existed.