How I Create: Mica Peet, freelance designer & illustrator
Mica Peet is a freelance designer and illustrator who creates and sells gorgeous jewellery, homeware and fashion accessories. Having grown her business to encompass a range of different products, I was excited to learn more about Mica's creative process and story, as well as her tips for building a business on Etsy.
Here, Mica shares how her business got started, her daily schedule, her top Etsy tips and what she feels has been the biggest driver of her business’ growth so far.
She also explains how she’d sum up her design style and aesthetic and offers some great advice to aspiring designers: “you don’t ever have to fully define yourself”. Instead, her advice is to stay experimental and not feel confined by what people expect you to do – something I can really relate to from my own creative journey!
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and story so far. How did you get into illustration and design and how did your business get started?
Hello, I’m an illustrator and designer based in Southsea, Hampshire. I graduated from Plymouth University with a degree in Fashion Textiles in 2013, which is where my little business began.
I started making my patterned animal jewellery when we had to create a product to sell at a pop-up shop to raise money for degree shows in London. The pieces were really popular and completely sold out. I also took them with me to New Designers, where I exhibited at the end of my degree. I received great feedback about my jewellery and prints, as well as a few orders, so I opened my Etsy shop, sold at a few local craft markets and it organically stemmed from there. When I first started making them, I never thought those pieces of jewellery would be the basis of my own business.
2. How has your business developed since you started and what would you say has been the biggest factor in its growth and success?
My business has developed immensely since I first started out, from a wider product range that includes both home and fashion accessories, to new jewellery designs including my most popular range, the Geometric Collection, which I’ve been making for just over a year now.
I would say the biggest factor in the growth of my business has been participating in larger craft fairs in London, including Crafty Fox and Renegade. This is where I’ve really been able to get my brand out there and showcase my work to the widest possible audience. It has also led to some really exciting opportunities and gaining new and lovely stockists. Also social media, Instagram and Twitter in particular, has played such a pivotal role in connecting with people who understand what it’s like to run your own business and I’ve gained such valuable information from some super lovely people.
3. How would you sum up your design style and aesthetic and what advice would you give to a creative who’s struggling to develop their own?
My design aesthetic consists of juxtaposing my love of the beautiful natural world with an edgier, modern and idiosyncratic design style. I absolutely adore wildlife, especially birds, and I love creating really detailed and abstract imagery that’s full of energy yet confined and controlled into a literal shape inspired by animals. I also love Art Deco design, which has been hugely influential when creating my geometric jewellery collection.
It’s hard to define your style; it takes a lot of experimentation, which for me occurred at university, to see what works for you and what doesn’t. But in my opinion you don’t ever have to fully define yourself or stay within the confines of what people think your aesthetic is. My taste and style is forever evolving, so just go with what you want to do and if it works, great, and if it doesn’t then try something else.
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
First of all I have at least two cups of tea before I can function. I normally take this time to check my social media and any new orders or emails that have come in overnight, and give my pup Reg some cuddles.
I then get all the shop’s orders ready, packed up and off to the post office. After some lunch and more doggie cuddles I tackle my to-do list for the day, which is normally wholesale orders or making the jewellery.
"You don’t ever have to fully define yourself or stay within the confines of what people think your aesthetic is. My taste and style is forever evolving, so just go with what you want to do and if it works, great, and if it doesn’t then try something else."
After I’ve finished my list I then answer emails or do any ordering that needs to be done. I normally get to escape the studio around 5 for a walk along the beach with Reg. I love having a reason to be able to go and clear my head and get some fresh air after being cooped up in the studio all day.
5. What do you do if you hit a creative block?
I’m really bad at getting creative block, especially when it comes to drawing new illustrations. Drawing doesn’t come naturally to me, I suffer with huge self-doubt when I’m illustrating and I have to really focus and force myself to keep going. I normally go out for a quick walk or have a tea break. But I've learnt not to leave it too long to complete a task as it stresses me out more thinking about it not being done.
6. Your Etsy ratings are awesome! What do you think this comes down to and what have you learned about keeping customers happy?
Thank you. It took me well over a year to start making regular sales; when I first started selling on Etsy I had no idea about SEO and just how important it is. I started up a thread on the Etsy forums to get some advice and everyone was really helpful. I learnt a lot of valuable information on how to get my products out there.
Customer satisfaction is so important to me and my brand, just being really friendly, as helpful as possible and down to earth makes such a big difference and makes people want to shop with you again.
7. What are your top tips for someone who wants to start their own creative business?
It’s hard work running your own business and takes a long time to see the rewards of it. I was naïve when I first opened my Etsy shop, I thought that I was going to get tons of sales straight away but realistically it takes around a year to get your brand out there and get your products seen.
Use social media, but don’t just plug your wares; interact with people and make creative friends. It then grows organically and people will become familiar with your name.
Also, at first you will want to go for every opportunity that comes your way and that’s great, but eventually you will have to manage your time more efficiently. You can’t fit everything in or do every craft market that comes your way. Sometimes you just have to say no to things, and that’s OK.
8. What’s next for you and your business?
In 2016 I really want to focus on growing the wholesale side of my business, hopefully by participating in a couple of trade shows like BCTF, or if I pluck up the courage I would love to do Top Drawer.
I love supplying and working with small independent shops and I really want to branch out into some more international shops.
I also have a few new super exciting products in the pipeline that I should hopefully be launching soon, but for right now all my mind is thinking about is the craziness of Christmas.
Images by Mica Peet