Tillyanna Designs are based in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and design and print all sorts of personalised products from cushions to pencil cases and notebooks. Meet Helen Parker (and her husband Rob) who run the business:
Where does the names Tillyanna come from and how long have you been running your own business?
Tillyanna is a combination of my forever loyal Labrador Tilly and my daughter Annabelle. We have only been up and running for 18 months, since early 2012 and joined notonthehighstreet.com in September 2012.
Did you have a background in retail?
Not exactly. I left school at 18 to work for my father’s building company and this is where I learnt the basics of running your own business. I often think back to that period with great pride: that office is where I knew if I worked hard enough I would achieve the dream of having my own business. I went on to work for an accountant and then eventually ran my own shop. I took some time out to have my children and was soon ready to embark on my new venture. This is when I started Tillyanna Designs.
How did you set up your business?
I started like so many others, from our table in the corner of our living room with two young children running around. I have always loved to create items with meaning and sentiment. Initially I just wanted to print some cushions and hopefully make some pocket money for Christmas but it has turned into so much more than that.
How did you come to notonthehighstreet.com?
One evening I was browsing through the site when I turned to my husband and said ‘I think I will send an e-mail and see if they like my cushions’. To my amazement they loved them! This was one of the best decisions I have ever taken for both Tillyanna Designs and my personal life. Notonthehighstreet.com have supported us, promoted us and changed our lives. Within months, my husband was working alongside me full-time and we have just recently moved from our living room to our very own office and studio.
We have part-time staff who come to help us during busy periods and we are looking at taking on more permanent positions in the new year. We now have the confidence to push the business to another level and are achieving things we never thought possible. When we started out we were only aiming for a few sales a day. We never knew how much customers would love our products and we are thrilled to have hit a major milestone of 10,000 orders!
What inspires you?
Mostly the people around me. So many of our products are personalised and so created with someone specific in mind. I love knowing that they have meaning to someone or think that they will make someone smile. I remind myself every day how lucky I am and I think the care and attention is reflected in our products.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
The biggest challenge has been going from a full-time mum to a full-time working mum. Like many other notonthehighstreet.com sellers, I sometimes struggle with splitting my time between my business and my children. The business has grown so fast over the last 12 months and I sometimes wonder how on earth I have managed! I am learning not to feel too guilty about not being there for my children all of the time. My husband, Rob works with me full-time and he is the one that keeps me going every day.
What advice would you give to other parents who want to set up their own business?
Be prepared to take risks, follow your dreams and work hard.
View the entire Tillyanna Designs range here.
Read all about Small Business Saturday here.