To celebrate Black History Month AUBSU have been exploring some great creative small busniesses run by people of colour. Supporting black businesses builds relationships and boosts community morale. Showing your support helps contribute to creating entrepreneurial opportunities and expanding the communities economic growth.
We've had a chat with Ana Joli, the owner of Amanos, a Macrame clothes and accessories brand. Ana's shared with us some insights to creating a busniess from a creative hobby, check out her designs on insta @amanosbyanajoli
So Ana, what motivated you to start your own business?
During lockdown I wanted to divert my attention away from the tsunami of news and take time to learn something new. I started making macramé handbags because I notice there were many crochet and leather handbags available but not many options for elegant macramé. Such a beautiful and creative art was being delegated to mostly making vegetable shopping bags. The old adagio of identifying a market niche proved to be true because once I posted the first picture online, orders started to pour in, even before I thought of my creative outlet as a business. I immediately went into business mode (my MBA put to good use) I wrote a business plan, came up with the name “Amanos” which in Spanish means “by hand” and “love us”. I registered the name, and worked with a local marketing specialist to create the branding.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I live in Leigh on Sea and this small fishing town is a daily source of inspiration for styles, shapes and colours with its cockle sheds and seaside shops. I am also inspired by the connecting history of macramé, knitting, crocheting or weaving. Regardless of where we come from, we all have similar stories of growing up around our grandmothers, mothers or aunties handmaking wearable items. I think this tradition is so beautiful and it is important to keep it alive and modernize it to make it relatable to the new generation.
How do you handle running a creative business while creating the products, and working full time?
That has been one of the biggest lessons and challenges. A big challenge is the time to dedicate to it, because I have a demanding full-time job, my only time to work on my designs is night-time and weekends. I began by looking at time I spent on unproductive tasks (like house chores ??) or how long I watched TV and I changed my habits to dedicate more time my creations. I also set realistic product delivery expectations to avoid backlogs. I am not afraid to ask for help and during the summer I had an intern helping me cutting cords, taking pictures for sites and other tasks. It is not smooth sailing at all times, but it is very rewarding to learn and grow with the process.
What advice would you give someone looking to sell their creative products?
- Be organized and simplify processes from the beginning. Even creating an invoice or preparing product for shipment can get over complicated and take more time than it should if the admin part of the business is not implemented.
- Keep cost low when you can, initially I used to ask people what colour they wanted for their order instead of giving them options from the wool and yarn I already had in stock.
- Think how you can support your environmental causes; I recycle old clothes to make macramé cord or created handles out of wine cork and the results are beautiful!
- Be informed about the business you are getting into, read, learn, connect with other creators.
- Research about the value of your product and don’t be afraid to set your price.
- Lastly and very importantly have a clear picture of what the business is and where you want to take it. There were many moments when people would tell me “mass produce the best seller”, “hire people to sell more”, “make other products”, as well intended as they all were, it can also be overwhelming and take you in directions away from your core.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
Having a voice about the direction and the speed at which the company grows while maintaining its authenticity and always keeping in mind to support local traders in my town. Finally, seeing something that started in my head that is now in a shop or seeing someone wearing it just makes me jump like a kid with pure joy (not in front of the client).
Here's some other great Black-Owned Busniess to support: