Welcome back to the second edition of my Loving Local and Supporting Small Blog series! In this edition, we will be looking into a nifty student start-up called Em And The Little Knot.
I moved back to Bristol last week and once again fell in love with the whole atmosphere. Whilst I was away, I realised how much I missed some local businesses and jazzy independent stores that I love popping into and having a nose around. The thing about small businesses is that they create meaningful and personal products that they are actually passionate about – sometimes the things that independent shops make are totally unique and it’s something that maybe we dont think about often!
Em And The Little Knot
Emily runs a beautiful little Etsy shop selling dreamy plant hangers and wall hangings. They are all handmade and customs are welcome too! I know Emily through her instagram and youtube channel, and what consistently shines through is her bubbly personality, creativity and plant obsession! Since I first started following Em, I loved her style and the aesthetic of her content and ofocurse her collection of leafy friends! You can see Emily truly loves creating the macramé products she sells and has a real interest in making beautiful yet perfectly practical products! Read on to hear what we spoke about!
Firstly, tell me where this idea began! What made you want to start up your own macramé business?
It all started on my ‘Make & Do’ Pinterest board, which is where I save all kinds of cool craft ideas. I decided to give macramé a go so I could create some shelf space by hanging up some of my plants and I took to it like a duck in water! Soon I was making hangers for friends and family, then selling them on Depop before finally taking the plunge and launching my own Etsy shop! I had a whole load of spare time to fill when we went into lockdown so it was the perfect opportunity to focus all of my efforts into launching my brand, organising a giveaway and making all of the orders that I was suddenly flooded with.
How many hours does it usually take to make one hanger?
I can make the smallest hanger (Sprout) in about 5 minutes but bigger hangers can take over an hour. More complicated custom plant hangers and wall hangings tend to take longer as I take more time to create or replicate a new design. Even though it takes longer, custom orders are always my fave! I love to keep things mixed up.
We can see you have a love for plants, how many do you have in your collection and which one is your favourite?
I have 20 plants (I think ) and I love every single one of them. Plant parents aren’t really supposed to have favourites but my Monstera Deliciosa (or Swiss Cheeseplant) whom my Nan jokingly named ‘Boris’ is my pride and joy! His name stuck, and he’s such a good grower, always sprouting out new leaves. The collection is always growing though – I have about 5 stems propagating and I’ve started buying plants for my boyfriend’s house so that I have another reason to fuel my plant addiction.
Do you think it’s true that plants boost your mood?
Abso-bloody-lutely! Not only do they make great companions but they bring nature into sterile and lifeless indoor spaces. I always feel more fresh and zen when I’m around plants, which is most likely due to their oxygen production. There have also been some really cool studies into if plants produce fields of energy that interact with our physiology – which basically means that plants literally emit good vibes!
How do you balance all your socials and a business? How do you plan on keeping on top of orders when you go back to uni?
My Instagram and YouTube both follow a schedule which I’ve spent a while getting myself into a routine with, so it’s pretty much second nature now. After I’ve done all of my instagramming and socialising in the daytime, I always leave a few hours in the evening to fulfil any orders that I haven’t done while I’m relaxing in the daytime! I’m not too worried about it being too much at uni, as I can adjust my ‘production time’ on Etsy, which informs my customers that it can take up to 5 working days to be made and shipped, giving me plenty of time to catch up on my orders after class.
What is the most rewarding thing about creating your products?
It may sound silly but the most heartwarming thing is knowing that someone actually wants to buy something you’ve made. They want to fork out their hard-earned cash on something made by little old me! I also like to think that people can tell that lots of love and care has gone into making their plant hangers and wall hangings, which they might not necessarily get from big companies or high street stores.
Have you got any goals set for the future? Any new products or designs in the pipeline?
There are ALWAYS new designs in the pipeline! Recently I’ve been getting into Wall Hangings so hopefully I’ll be able to add some the fancy new items I’ve been experimenting with to the shop soon. I also do custom orders, so have been looking at adding some of my custom orders as permanent shop products.
I really hope that the future of the shop can be on the local high street. I would absolutely love to see my designs hanging in the window of a quaint independent shop. I’ve been doing a little bit of research on this so maybe the future is in sight!
Which was the hardest part about setting up your business?
Honestly, the whole process was shockingly painless! The most painstaking thing (probably quite ironically for a part time Instagram and YouTube content creator) was photographing the products. While I can take decent photos, consistency was the hardest thing as I took the pictures over several days in my little bedroom with natural lighting. In the end they turned out great, but it was definitely my least favourite part.
What would you say to other students or young people wanting to have a start-up company?
Do it. Take the plunge. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It costs nothing to set up a Depop or Instagram account and start listing your products! Etsy charged 17p (ish) per listing, but if you’re confident you can sell one or two items you cover those costs pretty quickly.
Also, remember that branding is everything. Use apps like Canva to easily create a logo and some matching backgrounds to use for ‘sale’ or ‘price list’ images. Make sure all of your signage matches and that the ‘vibe’ they give off says the correct things about your products.
For example, I wanted to convey the natural aspects of my product (made to hold plants, zero plastic, natural cotton) while also conveying my playfulness and charismatic approach to retail so I designed a pink logo with minimalist green leaf details and an eye catching font.
Above all, have faith in yourself and integrity with the things you create. Always be looking to improve your product and act as ethically as you can.
What saying or quote keeps you motivated?
I have lots of sayings and mantras that I like to whip out in all manner of situations, but these are the ones I’ve been using a lot lately;
“If you’re not hurting anyone else, do whatever makes you happy.”
This one has really encouraged me to come out of my shell in terms of fashion and lifestyle. I’ve always been deemed as an ‘extra’ person, and I’ve always felt like I’ve been holding back in my fashion or decor or passions. Recently I’ve just thought, “you know what, why not?” And I’ve started wearing all the pretty dresses I would have previously said are ‘too girly’ and worn heels to the Mall because Why Not? I’ve stopped living in fear of being called ‘basic’ or ‘extra’ (two words I get called so often but that are literally opposites of each other) and just embraced all of the basic/ extra/ pretty/ aesthetic things that I love.
What an amazing way to look forward and ride with your own passions!
You can find Emily’s macramé business on instgram @Emandthelittleknot and her Etsy Shop by searching EmAndTheLittleKnott.
Loving local shops and supporting small businesses really isn’t that hard, plus with such gorgeous products, like the ones highlighted in this blog, how can you say no? Seeing businesses grow is beautiful, especially for the people behind the products who work so hard at developing and creating them! Be sure to give these small businesses a follow and check out their websites!
Look out for another ‘Loving Local and Supporting Small’ blog next time!