I’m so excited to be launching a new blog series, Lockdown Business Stories! Since starting Brown Paper Festival I’ve worked with so many amazing creatives who turned the pandemic around and used the time to start a new business. It was incredible to see how they were so motivated, created such amazing products and are such lovely people … so that’s what has inspired this new blog series!

Not only will it introduce you to lots of new businesses and get you supporting small but I also hope that it may inspire some of you try starting your own business!

So let’s get started and meet the first of the Lockdown Businesses … Squiggles & Ink !

Hi Jo, thankyou so much for doing this! First of all tell us a bit about your business … Squiggles & Ink is the home of uplifting designs that are as individual as you are thanks to my signature ink splats. I create t-shirts and bags (plus a few other bits) with the idea of empowering the wearer to embrace their uniqueness. The uplifting designs, coupled with the ink splats in your choice of colours means that no two items will ever be the same. Because we are all different and that should be celebrated!

That’s such a wonderful message and your designs really are uplifting! So when did you start your small business and what made you want to start it ? After working in a local hospital for the last few years and throughout the first part of the pandemic, it quickly became apparent that I would need an alternative solution to work that gave me more flexibility for childcare. I left my job over the summer so that I could look after my children during the holidays with a few ideas of what I could do. I built up a few designs for t-shirts, bought myself a screen printing kit from Hunt the Moon and started Squiggles & Ink in September 2020. My designs are mostly inspired by the people around me – the crown image was actually an original drawing by my daughter (then just 5 years old) and I want her to know that she should always stand tall and wear her crown.

It’s so great when something you enjoy gives you flexibility! What has been the biggest learning curve so far ? I think the biggest learning curve was that running your own business is not something you can easily switch off from. The flexibility is great and I love what I do but I have ideas and worries constantly running through my brain and often sneak off to try something out or sketch a new design.

Oh 100% !! What moment are you most proud of ? My most proud moment was when my daughter called me “an artist”. I want to set the example for her that your future is yours alone to create and sometimes you have to take a leap of faith to get the biggest rewards.

Ah that’s such a lovely thing to hear from your daughter, definitely a proud moment! So what does your working day look like?  When I’m working I arm myself with a giant bottle of fizzy water, my favourite pen and an occasional chocolate biscuit. My workspace is quite small and is in a constant state of organised chaos – though I have also spent far too much time hunting for the thing that is right in front of me!

I except that organised chaos is the key to many small businesses !! What would be your top tip to anyone wanting to start a business ? My top tip would be to just go for it! As with many things in life, there will never be a “right time” so you just have to start and see where it takes you. There are many amazing free resources out there to take advantage of and every day is a school day but the feeling of knowing that you are creating your own future is like nothing else.

That’s such a good tip, getting started of so often the hardest part. Now the good stuff, what’s your favourite thing about running your business ? My favourite thing about running my business is that I am making other people smile with my designs, especially when I get to see them wearing something that I created.

And finally … do you have any plans for the future that you can give us a sneaky clue about ? I have so many plans and ideas for the future, it is hard to keep them all under wraps! I am currently working on an ever-expanding set of designs that I am currently calling The Funk Collection that I hope to release in the early part of next year.

How exciting, I can’t wait to see what Jo releases next ! You can find Squiggles & Ink’s shop here, there are so many gifts perfect for kids and adults alike. So head over there and get some Christmas shopping done early and handmade! And if you can’t shop yet then please do go and show Jo some love on social media; likes, comments and shares mean the world to small businesses and help them reach new people so anything you can do is a massive help.

I really hoped you enjoyed the first of the lockdown business stories … there will be another one in a couple of weeks time! So you don’t miss out make sure you subscribe to my email newsletter here and I’ll send the new blog post straight to your inbox.