How I Started a Sustainable
Lifestyle Handmade Goods Brand
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey, I’m Sophie and I run Agnes LDN. I started Agnes LDN in 2018 and it’s currently just me working on it. Agnes sells handmade goods designed to reduce packaging waste.
Sustainability is at the very core of everything we do with the brand. We’re always aspiring to be better.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I studied Fashion Design and always wanted to be a designer. After working for several years in the industry, I realised my job role didn’t align with my personal morals so I started to make organic cotton bags in my spare time to help me with my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle. This was the beginning of Agnes LDN.
I figured that if the items I was making were helping me then they could help other people. The whole aim of the business is to feel as though it gives the user a personal connection to the decisions I make, with sustainability at the core.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
Time was definitely a challenge as I worked full time for the first 18 months of running the business. As I made all of my products to order, this left little time to work on other aspects of the business. Being a sole founder has it’s limitations as you have no-one to share responsibility with and you have to have a go at all aspects of the business. Especially at the beginning when trying to keep overheads low. Sourcing of fabric has also been a challenge since, as a small business, it can be hard to meet the minimum order quantities required from some suppliers.
Who is your target market?
My target market is people (typically women) aged 25-50 who’re learning about the environmental issues facing us. They’re on the verge of change and want to learn more about how they can help the planet with their everyday actions. However, they do not want to compromise on aesthetics or quality for sustainability.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I market my business mainly through Instagram and similar social media platforms. I will occasionally promote posts or gift to relevant influencers. Gifting works through sending an influencer something for free of charge. If they like it and want to post about it then they can. However, they are not obligated to and they can be as honest as they want, as I am not paying them to advertise my product.
Facebook is less relevant for my target market, I find my audience engage with my posts much more on Instagram. I do have a Facebook presence but it is not as well established as my Instagram account.
Word of mouth and markets helped my business grow organically.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
I work hard to build a personal connection with my customers and to provide them with valuable content such as blog posts, podcast, and infographics, etc. I also (under normal circumstances) host events and workshops that allow me to get my community offline and meet my customers in person.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
I work for myself from home and hopefully will be able to build my team in the future.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Google Sheets to keep me organized. The whole Adobe Suite – Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere Pro, etc, I’m very creative so I enjoy this side of the business the most. Other than that, I like a good old fashioned paper diary to write in.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Don’t compare yourself to others, every business is on a different journey. Also, know your worth and don’t be afraid to stick to it. It’s okay to say no to opportunities, in the beginning, I said yes to absolutely everything and now I take a moment to consider is it going to contribute to business awareness or financial growth of my business before I say yes.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Working on all aspects of the business.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I miss working with a team of people.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
More employees, pop up shops and workshops all over the UK!