Welcome to a Spotlight On Geri Loves Emi. Geri Loves Emi is a small business selling unique wedding stationery and fine art prints for your home. They are all created by Geri and I recently asked Geri a few questions about her business, what inspires her and what plans she has for the rest of the year. I love learning more about the background of a small business and I wanted to share it with you too!
Picture credit: @gerilovesemi.paper.co
WHY DID YOU WANT TO START THE BUSINESS?
I never knew I wanted to start a business like this until my first daughter came along. I had always been creative, with Art and Design being my strongest subjects at school. Career advice being so poor at school age, I abandoned my love of drawing and designing, in favour of a more academic route that would offer me security in future employment. The problem with doing that is I never knew what I wanted to do. As a result, I had many varying careers, none of which ever fulfilled me. The opportunity to pursue this creative venture and have the time to design and explore my more creative side again came to me during my time off with my first daughter Emilia.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE NAME FOR THE BUSINESS?
The name of the business was inspired by my first daughter. She gave me such a wonderful first experience to motherhood. If there was such a thing as a dream baby, it was her. She was so easy to get into a routine that I was allowed the headspace to pursue this dream. It was from having her that the business was created. When my daughter was young we used to call her Emi a lot, which is why I named the business ‘Geri loves Emi’. We now call her Mia and I have had another daughter since then who also inspires me daily, so things do really evolve and change over time. However, fundamentally I will always keep the name of the business, as it reminds me of how far I have come and how my business has evolved so much since then.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
The majority of my business is in designing wedding stationery, which I absolutely love. When I first started out I used to look at existing designs, as a basis for inspiration but very quickly realised this does not work. It’s uninspiring and it makes it really difficult to be unique and creative. I now look at images of nature, colour trends and sometimes even venues to create my work.
My designs all feature a common thread of botanical illustration because I love all things botanical and they are a great foundation of any design. I mean, who doesn’t love foliage and greenery?! In my work, I hope to create something that can either slot right into someone’s vision for their day or even better, BE the inspiration that sets the tone for their day. I have worked with quite a few couples who have told me my wedding designs have done exactly that and inspired their entire day and I cannot explain what joy that brings me.
WHAT DIFFICULTIES HAVE YOU HAD?
I would say that the biggest difficulty has always been exposure, which I think a lot of small businesses can relate to. I am very lucky in that I had an established business at the time Instagram and social media was a fantastic platform for businesses and I would get a huge amount of referrals from people seeing my work on there but with a number of algorithm changes over the years it is no longer a place I can rely on for business referrals and I am constantly looking at new ways to get my business seen. I do still love it though, as regardless of engagement it’s a place I can share my work and hopefully inspire and make someone smile.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
I enjoy working on weddings the most and a few years ago I took a back seat on designing home prints because I was just so busy with weddings. I couldn’t find the time or inspiration to be creative in both areas. One always suffered. If I put my energy into prints, my wedding designs suffered and vice versa, so I made the tough decision to focus on one. With any of my designs, I have to love it and want it myself, if I don’t then it doesn’t make the cut. Not every design I make sells well, so sometimes this doesn’t work but I have to take that risk, as it’s the only way I can stay true to me and ensure my work is reflective of who I am.
Whilst my business has been directly impacted by COVID19, The one great thing that has come out of these strange times is the downtime I have had, which has allowed me the headspace to create new work and revisit designing home prints. I am enjoying designing so much and it’s something I never previously had enough time for with work being so busy. I am absolutely now in love with designing home prints and I am hoping when things get back on track, I will be able to keep both going with the same enthusiasm and creativity.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?
The advice I would give to anyone thinking of setting up their own business is to remember it takes more than just wanting to do something else and hating what you currently do. You need to be passionate about the area you want to work in and you need to be prepared to put in more hours than you do in your day job when initially starting out. I would also say you need to think about having savings or financial support to get you through at least the first year of business but more if possible. With two young girls I used to work until midnight most nights and I was permanently exhausted. I have only now found the balance 6 years on.
I chose to officially start the business when I was pregnant with my second daughter and I left my job half-way through my pregnancy so that I had a chance to get it off the ground. My husband and I knew that going back to work with two kids to pay for childcare wouldn’t have been financially viable, so instead, I saved some money from my job and he supported us while I got my business up and running. I gave myself until my first daughter went to school to make the business work and if I couldn’t I would return back to my old career, but at least by this point, we wouldn’t be hindered by childcare costs. Fortunately, it all worked out and I am now still doing what I love and I am able to be around for my young family.
WHAT EXCITING PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR 2020?
As I have got so much extra time on my hands, I have been working on lots of new designs, not just for weddings but home prints too. I am so proud of my latest collections and I am continually adding to them. The new designs are very me and this time has allowed me to create a range that really connects to who I have become as a designer. I hope you love them too!
It has been great to learn more about Geri Loves Emi and Geri herself. I always love to know where the inspiration comes from and I wish that I’d known Geri a few years ago when planning our wedding! It has been a great insight into how Covid-19 has affected small businesses too, and shows how some have been able to adapt, but also how important it is that we keep supporting them.