Small business spotlight on: Hannah Nunn
This week we shine the spotlight on Hannah Nunn, designer and maker of nature-inspired paper-cut lamps, wallpaper and fabric. I first met Hannah at a Country Living Build-A-Business Day earlier this year, where Hannah shared her start up story. Honest, inspiring and so incredibly talented.
Hannah works from her light-filled studio in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. With stockists throughout the UK and internationally, Hannah also has her own shop in Hebden Bridge (Radiance) and has written a beautiful book about contemporary craft lighting (Illuminate).
After Hannah’s wallpaper was featured on a popular design blog, it went on to be pinned thousands of times on Pinterest and she now has customers in a number of far flung countries around the world!
I am absolutely delighted that Hannah is here to share her story with us plus her top tip for success.
Tell us a bit about your business
I am a creator of paper-cut lights, wallpaper and fabrics with delicate designs inspired by the tiny details found in nature. I started making my lamps about 14 years ago and my collection has grown over the years, expanding to wallpaper and fabrics about three years ago.
I live and work in Hebden Bridge where I have a shop Radiance and my sunny studio which I share with some friends. My town is surrounded by nature and in five minutes I can get to the woods and the fields which keeps me inspired. I sell my work all over the world via my own website, my etsy shop and I sell wholesale to craft galleries and independent shops up and down the UK via trade shows such as The British Craft Trade Fair.
What inspired you to set up in business?
I always wanted a creative business but in the beginning I didn’t know what I was going to make. I have always made and sold things. I found a photo recently of me and my friend on a craft stall selling our hand quilled cards when we were about ten years old! I made papier mache jewellery in my teens and sold it to a shop in Brighton and on little craft stalls. I guess I’ve always been a creative entrepreneur!
I had my two children straight out of art college and I started making handmade cards when they were little and I only had a few hours a day. My business has grown as the children have grown and now my 23 year old daughter has taken over my shop so I can concentrate more on my own designs. She has the entrepreneurial spirit too.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My most challenging times have been the times when we’re having a growth spurt. Suddenly you haven’t got enough space or enough pairs of hands and things get stressful for a while. For instance when I moved my shop/studio from a quiet location to a busier part of the high street – suddenly I couldn’t cope with the extra footfall. I could no longer concentrate on my designing and making and I was in a spin and started to resent my customers coming in to disturb me (not the right attitude huh). It was tough, until I made the next leap and moved my studio to a separate location.
And greatest success?
The move to a new big studio space allowed me to pursue my next dream of creating wallpaper. It was a huge investment and a steep learning curve but I worked with a factory to create my collection and I am very happy with it.
After a feature on a big design blog Design Sponge and subsequently being pinned on Pinterest thousands of times I now send my wallpaper all around the world. Recently we’ve sent to Peru, Russia, Japan and India to name a few far flung places!
I get a lot of satisfaction from my lovely customers emailing me to say how much they are enjoying my products. One lady recently said she had been waiting ten years to find the perfect wallpaper for a particular wall. As soon as she saw mine she knew it was the one!
Looking back, is there anything you would’ve done differently?
Looking back there are lots of things I did which seem crazy now – like making handmade paper cut greetings cards that were so intricate and took ages to make but selling them for next to nothing. I always did things the hard way. I even cut the card blanks myself. I wouldn’t do that now BUT I wouldn’t go back and change anything because they were all important and necessary stepping stones along the way. Handmade cards led to handmade lamps and the lamps have made me my whole business, my shop, my book and my living.
What is your top tip for success?
I have a little Rumi quote pinned up on my studio wall, ‘Respond to every call that excites your spirit’. I think that is what I have done all along the way, like the handmade cards – they excited me at the time. If you are doing something that excites your spirit then you will have the energy to do it well and with passion which is reflected in the products you make or the service you give.
In business there are always things you are responsible for that maybe don’t excite you – like accounts or VAT returns but perhaps you can find the most exciting way to do it, like some good software, or a friendly book keeper or create a ritual around it like nice cup of tea in your favourite mug and some good music. All these things are an opportunity to be creative and make it work for you so that you’ll be motivated to keep going.
To find out more about Hannah and her beautiful products, visit: hannahnunn.co.uk