Small Business Monday: An Interview With Jess from Ink and Brayer

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Today's feature is some real inspiration for those of you who want to take your business full-time this year.

I've talked before about taking things carefully and slowly, planning all the way... but I know if you started out like I did (by accident almost) then you may have missed a few steps. I'm here to tell you not to worry, you can still tame your growing business and turn it into something that becomes a valid and sustainable full time career.

Let Me Introduce To You Jess From Ink & Brayer, who is working on just that.

Jess of Ink & Brayer

Jess of Ink & Brayer

What inspired you to start and how did you make it happen?

I started Ink and Brayer mostly by accident. I’d bought a linocut starter kit and after having a go for the first time since school, I was instantly hooked. I was pleased with my results and wanted to make more but I definitely wasn’t thinking about starting a business at that point. When my friends and boyfriend saw my first few prints they encouraged me to look into selling them and that gave me the confidence to give it a go. I got some quality materials and made some prints to sell. I listed them on Etsy and got my first sale within a couple of weeks and then a local pub was having a market and I got a lot of positive comments and a few sales there as well. Bolstered by this, I applied for a few of the London Christmas Markets and then it all took off. 


What was the most difficult part of starting your own business?

I think the most difficult part of starting a business for me was the accounting side of things. I think I worried about it a lot more than I needed to though and it wasn’t really as bad as I imagined. I certainly don’t enjoy it but it’s not too bad. I use the Wave online accounting platform which is free and lets me keep all my receipts in the same place, so that’s been really useful.


Work by Ink & Brayer

Work by Ink & Brayer

What has been your biggest shining moment so far?

I think my biggest moment so far has been getting my 13th five star review on my Etsy Shop and getting some lovely feedback on there from customers. It means so much to me to know that a customer is enjoying one of my prints when it’s gone to its new home. I also like how online selling allows you to sell items to people all over the world, it opens up a massive market you wouldn't have otherwise and it's fun to send items to lots of different countries.


How do you plan your business to work alongside your day job?

I work full time in my day job so it’s sometimes hard to find the energy to come home and work as well, but I really love making my linocut prints, so that makes it worthwhile. I’m also lucky that my day job complements my work at Ink & Brayer. I’m a graphic designer so that means I’ve found it easier to get all my branding and design done and they’re both creative disciplines, so there are a lot of transferrable skills. In the run up to Christmas I’m working crazy hours but I normally try and keep my extra work to a couple of nights a week and only one day of the weekend. It’s important to rest and have days off because otherwise you wouldn’t enjoy it any more and that’s the whole reason you start a creative business.

Work by Ink & Brayer

Work by Ink & Brayer

What is your next business goal?

My next business goal - which is a long way off and might require some lifestyle changes, is to make enough income from Ink & Brayer to drop to 4 days a week in my full time job, so I can focus on making more linocuts!


Thank you to Jess for being so generous with her time and let’s wish her continued success with the business. Don’t forget you can find Jess at Ink & Brayer.