Welcome to the first in our new series of Meet the Maker blog posts! And what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to kick it all off with Sara, founder of Shnwcs.
Shnwcs designs and sells a range of contemporary baby gifts, offering plenty of alternatives to babygrows, and offers lovely designed gifts for new Mam’s too!
Where did your business name come from?
“Shnwcs” was a name my dad called me when I was young. It doesn’t really mean anything specific, just a term of endearment. I think the term hails from Carmarthenshire, which is where my dad was raised. It made sense to use this as the business name as it was unique, personal to me, perfectly suited a business that was selling products for small babies, and easy to pronounce.
What was the driving force for starting your business?
This is easy to answer. The driving force behind the business was that I wanted Welsh Baby Milestone Cards to use with my own baby! There wasn’t any available in Welsh, so an obvious gap in the market. While I was on maternity leave with my son Steffan, my friend Debbie (who’s a graphic designer) worked with me to create a pack of Welsh Milestone Cards and started selling locally.
What’s something we would never guess about you?
I used to work for a television company and was lucky enough to produce a programme that followed a Welsh ‘male model’ in fashion shows in New York. It was an unbelievable experience that I will remember forever…as well as the worst hangover I’ve EVER had!
Tell us more about your creative process?
I am obsessed with fashion, interiors, so really enjoy looking at colours and trends on Instagram, in other homes, magazines etc. I collate mood boards and usually create products that I want to use myself, or display in my own home (and they are!)
I use the children’s felt pens and draw small (dodgy) sketches of what I have in my head, and the wording, then send them over to my friend Debbie. As a graphic designer, she then pieces my sketches together and there’s a lot of tweaking back and forth until they are perfect!
The final stage, only when I am completely happy, is to send the design at a small pool of friends (who i trust, and who are mother’s themselves) so they can give me their seal of approval on the wording, colours and price etc.
What piece of advice would you give to somebody starting their own business?
The best piece of advice I can offer is to know your audience. I know this is probably said many times, but honestly, this is the most important thing in my opinion. Not only for what you design, but how to promote and market yourself. The type of music, content, hashtags, time of day you share your posts, branding, who you follow…etc, all effects how you can reach your audience.
The second piece of advice I’d give is to try and find a way of adding personality to your business. Followers these days like to know who is behind the brand, so be ready to share elements of yourself with them (your interests? Things that you are passionate about? Your worries? Share a bit about your creative process with the,?). This helps so much with engagement with your audience and makes you stand out from the crowd.
What are you most proud of since starting your business?
I’m incredibly proud that Shnwcs was the first to create baby milestone cards in Welsh. I’m also very proud that John Lewis asked Shnwcs to decorate their baby changing/feeding room with my prints, and that my name is up there on the wall in one of the capital’s biggest depatrment stores.
What do you get up to when you’re not creating/working on Shnwcs…?
I think some believe that Shnwcs is my job. But honestly, I’m a full time mum. Iestyn (my husband) is hardly home because of the long hours his job requires, so the only chance I get to work on Shnwcs is after the kids have gone to bed and after I’ve sorted the house out! So literally, between 21.00-22.00 at night!
What’s your favourite thing about being Welsh?
Waw, where to start? The language, and the feeling of belonging. The relationship between the Welsh is a special and very valuable one. I often feel a closeness to another person (sometimes a stranger) just because we both speak Welsh.
It’s a lovely feeling being able to contribute and create products in the Welsh language, and know that hundreds of other Welsh people like your work enough to put it up in their homes.