Artist and business owner Mary-Ann Watt tells SN about how she turned a passion into a successful brand and how she juggles it all with three children
How did your business idea come about?
My original business was painting bespoke artwork to tone with and enhance people’s homes, which led me to numerous gorgeous houses. I discovered that so many of my clients were crying out for homeware products, such as table mats, that worked in their space, but they couldn’t find anything that was both good quality and that complemented their colour scheme. So I decided to create them myself, using my contemporary botanical art paintings as a starting point.
How has the company changed since you launched?
The company has evolved organically and the product range has expanded rapidly in line with what my clients like and want. I started with just cards, postcards and framed prints, before moving onto table mats, trays and china all featuring my paintings. Fabric products were next, with hand painted cushion covers and gorgeous linen aprons proving to be two of my bestsellers. The range is always developing and adapting to demand, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.
What is your biggest challenge?
There’s so much to consider when starting up your own business – tax returns, sourcing raw materials, website design, marketing – the list goes on! My biggest challenge going forward now is establishing strong brand awareness. As well as being known for quality, all Mary-Ann Watt Art products have a distinctive style, both vibrant and striking, but using soft grey as a starting point. Now I need to develop the company whilst staying true to this concept, turning it into a trusted and ‘go to’ brand for quality, beautiful, contemporary homeware.
What element of the business are you most proud of?
I am incredibly proud that I have created a business from nothing. What started as a bit of recreational painting in my spare time, five years ago, has expanded very quickly into a proper, thriving business in a surprisingly short space of time. I am particularly proud of the fact that it is a source business – everything I sell has been designed and developed entirely by me from start to finish. I love the process and I really love the finished products. Happily, others seem to love them as well which is very rewarding.
How do you juggle running a business with being a parent?
It’s not always easy but I feel very lucky that my work allows me the flexibility to do both. Because I work from home I can fit my hours around my children, which allows me to work all day but still do the school run or watch a match. This may become more difficult if the business continues to expand as quickly as it has so far, but I’m ready for the challenge. The thing for me is being disciplined – evenings are family time – although checking emails is very tempting!
What advice do you have for others wanting to set up their own business?
Believe in what you do. Start small, dip your toe in the water and see what works before going all out. Also, if you can, try to get the foundations of the business in place while your children are still at school so that, by the time they are moving on, you are ready to hit the ground running.
Growth! I know that I have a really great small business selling things that people want to buy. So now I have to get out to a wider audience, using online and via Christmas Fairs etc so that I can take Mary-Ann Watt Art to the next level.
Do you have a motto for life?
“Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain.”
You can check out more of Mary-Ann’s beautiful art and products here
BUT before you hit ‘buy’ make sure you get hold of your 15% OFF discount exclusively for SN members!