If you don’t know who or what Johnny Cupcakes is: GO HERE NOW.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you about this magical evening he hosted in London that I attended. The idea behind it (other than a little self promotion) was to give advice to and motivate those interested in starting small businesses, and to let us in on how he got to where he is today. I think this is exactly what young entrepreneurs, be it in design, illustration, music or anything, need right now. It is damn hard to find work right now, but there are always opportunities for business if you know what you want and will work hard for it. As this talk fell on my first day fresh from quitting my stable and damn near perfect job at Yellow Digital to try out how far I get freelancing and building Catillest, Johnny’s words couldn’t have been more useful.
He began with probably the driving command that contributed to my latest career move.
Do what makes you happy. I came across the documentary Anima a little while back and so much made me shiver with how right it was. This was one of the golden brain nuggets that came from that too, and I haven’t forgotten it since. If you can make it happen, make it happen.
Which is pretty much Johnny’s next point – this guy does not shy away from hard work. From shovelling snow to selling whoopie cushions, he is a natural salesman and doesn’t quit whether he’s been knocked down or when he can afford a new pair of trainers. I suppose I was at a relatively content point with my last job, but there is still so much more I want to do, and (in the words of Johnny) ‘if you don’t do it, someone else will’. And this cat ain’t gonna let that happen.
He also gave a load of practical advice:
• Can’t afford to make a load of products? Take pre-orders
• Offer an incentive, a gift for pre-orders, a discount etc
• Have a real sample product, get people interested in that
• Talk to people, socialise and network – and floss (so American…)
• If it’s worth doing it, do it right – packaging. People should want to save your packaging (think shoe boxes, anything Apple, and even Happy Meal boxes which are half the fun of getting a McD’s – and don’t cause the stomach brick) Just look at some of this:
Johnny also stressed the point of individuality, which I really appreciate. What separates you? He suggested making a list of 10 things that make you stand out from the crowd. Here’s mine:
1. Catillest cat
2. Handmade jewellery with toy pendants
3. Blog covering London, inspiring art & design, and personal projects
4. Stickers for business cards
5. A-Z of zines
6. Customised footwear you can afford
7. A font for all seasons (well, Spring so far)
8. Red hair
9. Not just designer, but builder of websites
10. Mastermind subject: The Simpsons
Ok, list needs some work. But still. Johnny Cupcakes was definitely an inspiring and motivational speaker. I think if I had heard this (much like what he said) at school or university, things could have progressed quicker. But in reality, much of the advice given tonight is true for anyone regardless of how far on in their career/business they are.
Image sources: Shillington, DIY Design Fanatic, Miss Design