What’s your business called?
Monster Moo Studios
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I offer a wide range of illustration and design services, including children’s illustration, graphic design and mascot design, which help make your home or business stand out from the crowd.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
I have always loved art and anything creative, but after completing a degree in Audio Visual Media Studies, somehow fell into an accountancy career.
After ten years as an accountant and the birth of my two sons I finally decided the time was right to quit the rat race and get back to a more creative lifestyle. One that would allow me to spend more time with my ‘Monsters’ while they were growing up.
This led to the creation of Monster Moo Studios, where I juggle work as a children’s illustrator around the growing demands of family life.
Monster Moo Studios was initially launched in 2013 offering children’s art and cookery classes. However, I quickly realised that while I enjoyed leading the classes working with children was not where my passion lay.
Therefore, in January 2014 I decided to cancel all classes and re-align my business to enable me to pursue my own creative abilities and started offering a wide range of illustration and desing services.
How did you find your start up?
Monster Moo Studios has gone through a few different guises and is only as I learn what I enjoy, what I’m good at and learn more about the market within which I operate that I am finally starting to get a clear picture of what sort of business I want to run.
How do you manage working around your children?
When I first started Monster Moo Studios I attempted to keep childcare the same as it had been while I was in paid employment – three days a week.
At that time Monster Moo Studios was a very different business and I was attempting to set up a number of art and cookery classes for children. After a few months I realised the level of childcare we were paying for was not feasible as the business was not growing as fast as I’d predicted and needed.
This led to a period of reflection and I had to admit the business was not growing because I was not passionate about it. If running a business was going to work for me I had to change track and do something I loved.
So, I changed Monster Moo Studios into the illustration and design studio it is today and accepted things had to go at their own pace. I took ‘The Monsters’ out of formal childcare and worked around them during naps, childcare from family and in the evenings once they were in bed.
They have not returned to formal childcare until eligible for their free 15 hours. With Monster Moo now in school and Snuggles utilising his 15 hours, I know have day school days to dedicate to the business.
Can you describe a typical day?
First off there is no ‘average’ day, however I probably do something on the business every day.
With ‘The Monsters’ now both in school or pre-school atleast part of the week, I do now have two school days to work. My husband is lucky enough to to work compressed hours – giving him every Thursday afternoon off, which also allows time for me to work.
Outside this I’m working after ‘The Monsters’ are in bed, before they get up, any time I can get additional childcare from fantastic family members, or maybe the odd ten/fifteen minutes during Peppa Pig, Numtums or Thomas.
What have you found hardest?
Marketing and just getting the name out there.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
Being able to choose my hours and knowing I’ll always be able to do to school pick ups and drop off and be there when the monsters need me.
What are your plans for the future?
Hopefully get my illustrations stocked by a few local shops. Expand my design services and help more busienss stand out from the crowd.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Go for it, but be passionate.
If there is one thing I’ve really learnt over the last 2.5 years is – You need to love what you do, if you’re setting up your own business.
At the beginning I hated my job, had had a disastrous return to work after maternity and just wanted to leave and set up on my own.
I didn’t have the courage to put my own artwork out there and set up a business doing what I really loved, so tried a half- way house with art and cookery classes for children. As a result I went through months of heartache and wasted ALOT of money trying to set up a business which was never going to work for me.
Setting up on your own is REALLY, REALLY hard. Getting noticed and finding customers takes ALOT of perseverance and you need to sell yourself and your product/ service consistently. (Something I’m still struggling with).
If you aren’t passionate about what you’re offering and believe in yourself 150%, it will be even harder to convince the general public to spend their hard earned cash with you.
So why do it? Because it is incredibly rewarding, has the potential to give you the life you have dreamed off and there is an amazing network of people out there ready and willing to help you.
There is no ‘right time’, you can’t plan for every eventuality or learn everything you need first. You Just have to Go For IT!
I seriously believe you do not know what you are capable of until you try – So, go on GO FOR IT and see where your journey takes you.