Harriet Kelsall – Turning Your Creative Talent into a Successful Business
If you’d like to turn your passion for arts, crafts, jewellery or handmade goods into a real business then this episode of the Ideas Lab Podcast is for you.
Harriet Kelsall made her first piece of jewellery when she was just 4 years old with her fathers help.
Now in it’s 20th year of creating bespoke jewellery, Harriet Kelsall Jewellery has over 40 staff, 3 locations and won over 20 awards.
Harriet’s passion for ethical jewellery has also lead to becoming chairperson of the National Association of Jewellers as well as being the first UK business to receive certification by the Responsible Jewellery Council.
Harriet is also author of the book – The Creative’s Guide to Starting a Business: How to turn your talent into a career, which recently won an award in the Business Book Awards 2019.
Harriet has some really fascinating things to say about what makes a difference between a creative business that takes off and one that flounders. She also explains how it’s not simply about your talent or the amount of effort you put into marketing.
There are lots of important lessons here about how to run any business successfully and how to manage that tricky balance between art and commerce.
[On creating her first piece of jewellery aged 4 with her father]“I remember him holding the blow torch behind me so that I didn’t set fire to the house!”
“I loved the whole process of designing it and then that first time of actually making exactly what i’d drawn, was really captivating and taught me so much.”
“I never set out to be an entrepreneur and I think what happens (with) creative people (is that) they make something beautiful and they want to make their living out of doing that, and so they have to start a business, but they haven’t got MBA’s or business degrees or anything like that, they are just really good at being a great potter or jeweller or whatever.
And then they find that they have to build a business based on what they can grasp together and grapple from the world and find out “what do you do to do this thing called starting a business”.
And so it’s a very different mindset from somebody who knows they want to start a dotcom business and have a completely different mindset.”
“I think if I was really oversimplifying it i would say that what separates a successful creative startup from a less successful one is that the successful startup will keep trying and keep doing everything to get their offering right and keep changing what they’re doing until it works. Whereas the less successful ones think that they are going to just make their pot and they’re going to put them on Etsy because that’s what everyone does and they’ll make a living and when they don’t because they are putting their pots on an extremely crowded marketplace they think “Oh well, I’m obviously not good enough or it doesn’t work” when actually they are not really trying to solve the real problem.”
“I think a really successful creative needs not only a great creative offering or product, but they need it to be different and new in some way. And then they also need to use their creativity in their approach to the market, where they find some completely new way of linking it to the market.”
“I’ve lost count of the number of creatives I’ve spoken to who come and they say things like “Well i’ve done this amazing collection of jewellery based on dead rats!”
“You need to think about your market first. You are not an artist where it’s about “It’s got to be dead rats, i’ve got to do it”. You are a designer, you design for your market. Look at who they are and who the people are that you want to design for that you think you can inspire and help enjoy your jewellery and then design something that they are going to want.
Then you will find that you almost don’t need to market it because they already want it.”
“People often say things like “Well now I’ve got my jewellery I just need to start a website and then people will buy it” and they don’t really link up with the fact that you’ve got to find people. You’ve got to point them to your website. It’s like saying “I’ve got a shop in Outer Mongolia and so now people will buy my jewellery” whereas actually you need to move it to a high street location, and know how to do that.”
“People often really believe that the only thing that they are getting wrong is their marketing: that people don’t want what they are selling. They can either not really see how similar it is to other offerings or that it’s not actually what their market wants, because they often haven’t ever really thought about their market at all and the first key to solving that issue (product market fit) is actually, in my opinion as a creative, really visualising who your market are and think about what do they want. And if it’s not dead rat jewellery then what am I going to love creating that’s also really fresh and new, that they are going to want to wear?”
“People get confused between an artist who’s expressing something pure but in a way that is often not a commercial way. (Whereas) with a designer they actually need to answer a design brief and that design brief has to include the fact that it needs to be something that people want.”
“People think they’ve got their product right but their pricing is actually wrong. And once they think through their pricing properly they (realise) that they haven’t found the market gap that they think they’ve found.”
“There’s too much shouting going on (in social media). You’ve got to find a new way to really get in front of your customers in a way that maybe will surprise them or maybe just make them want what you’re putting in front of them.”
“When you have a successful business of any kind you have to keep reinventing yourself. You need to keep looking round the next corner and keep finding new ways of pleasing your customers.”
- Making her first ring aged 4 with her father’s help
- The success of bringing her bespoke jewellery to the high street
- The crucial difference between artists and designers.
- Fairtrade jewellery and being a worldwide pioneer in ethical business practices.
- why she wrote her book – The creative’s guide to starting a business.
- The 2019 Business Book awards
- Why hard work is simply not the answer
- The mindset that a creative needs in order to build a profitable business
- The simple key to developing an offer that will make it successful
- A creative approach to your whole business strategy
- Innovative and orginal promotion.
- You must have 1 of these 3 things to make it as a creative.
- Having a website is not enough.
- Turning the creative process on it’s head and starting with your audience.
- How your pricing distorts customer feedback
Where to find Harriet:
Music provided by Argofox:
TheDiabolicalWaffle – My Wish