I never set out to have a business, I’m someone who occasionally forgets her left from her right, so, you know, not reliable CEO material. But I always had a hunger for making. It started off making my own toys and miniature food for my dolls house, which slowly transitioned into making props and sets for school plays, then gifts for friends.
I’m dyslexic and so many things that come naturally to most people; reading, spelling, telling the time, I found immensely difficult. But I could make things like no one else. I didn’t yet think about how to make money from this, I just knew that I loved creating stuff and that I was good at it, so what did it matter if I couldn’t read well?
Well, turns out people really liked what I was making. I would show up to high school wearing my own quirky jewellery, bags I had sewn myself and converse that I had painted mad designs onto. I got a sense of pride when people asked me ‘where I bought it from,’ and I would always answer, ‘I made it myself.’ Friends started to ask if I could make things for them, then friends of friends, then strangers on the street.
In 2013 I decided it was time to make a real go of this thing and be a grown up; making tiny pig earrings, you know, real adult stuff. I had gone to art school and had a joint degree in Fine Art and Creative Writing, but no idea how to run a successful business. The first five years were a painful process of trying things out, working minimum wage jobs and eating up every bit of knowledge and information I could gleam from whatever shop, company or individual I happen to be working for at the time. I enrolled in online classes from business guru’s offering free trails, (quickly cancelling before needing to pay for the full course!)
I was fortunate enough to earn a small local grant of £900 which paid for this website and my first set up in a small shop share. To this day, that is the only investment money I have received.
I mostly made what I wanted to wear or own that didn’t exist yet. Novelty jewellery based off of TV shows and comic books I liked, cartoon illustrations of my friends at the beach and painted canvas bags big enough to carry all the crap I used to lug around with me. But it wasn’t until my friend’s wedding that I realised what I could do for people.
My friend was having trouble finding cake topper figures that actually looked like her fiancé and her. All of the figures were tall, skinny and blonde; she was a brunette with curls and glasses. Knowing that I was crafty, she asked if I could make cake toppers that actually looked like them. I spent a week carefully recreating her dress, his suit, her exact bouquet and tiny wire glasses and on the big day, it sat proudly on top of the cake, looking exactly like them both. This was the real start of what Shiny Creations could be.
Seven years later, after that first commission, I have made hundreds of personalised cake toppers, drawn countless cartoonifications and made literally thousands of pieces of jewellery. I have sold my creations to almost every continent in the world, (just waiting for Antarctica to realise their desperate need for doughnut charm bracelets, like… come on?)
For now, Shiny Creations is still just me; if you shop from my website or Etsy shop, your item will have been hand made by me whilst I sing along to BTS and the Hamilton soundtrack on loop, but I have big plans for this tiny business. There are a lot of goals I’d like to smash and I have an endless imagination and restless fingers, so join me for the ride to see where this will end up.
– Love Helen. xoxo
Creative Head of Shiny Creations.