Tia started ‘Tia Robbins Art’ back in 2017 but has only really fully pursued the business in the last few years. It all started when a partner of hers at the time gave her the little push to make an Instagram account featuring items that she was making and the rest is history. The popularity of her social media posts made it impossible for her to ignore the clear demand there was for handmade gifts. Another reason that Tia decided to pursue her business properly was that she wanted to explore the possibility of being able to generate an income through something she loves doing was a dream come true!
She recently graduated from her degree in Graphic Design. At first, she started offering branding and logo designs using the skills she had learned from university. However, Tia knew, deep down, that she wanted to create her own business selling handmade products. She loves creating her own brand and giving the business its own identity and feel. This is reflected in the personal touches she adds to people’s orders including thank you cards and little messages reading “Be kind to yourself” and “Take care of yourself” in the style and feel of her brand. Tia bases her brand on the belief that there is an art in simplicity. She finds it satisfying when she can make subtlety work in her creativity.
Most of the products that Tia sells are handmade, personalised items or home decor items designed to her customers needs. Her products range from framed minimalist artwork and typography prints to pebble art and paintings.
Tia is a proud Welsh girl and enjoys incorporating her Welsh heritage into her products. She has recently introduced some hand cut Welsh slate hearts as well as handmade cards too. Where Tia lives, the Welsh language is very popular in art and home decor and so she loves that she can produce items that really pay tribute to the Welsh culture. She has also just made a huge investment into her business and bought a laser cutter. Going forward, she is planning on using it to produce engravings to add another personal element to her range of products.
When Tia isn’t working hard building up her business and developing new products she is working as a freelance graphic designer for small businesses. She has created some incredible logos for multiple businesses.
When asked what her most popular product is she explained that her line drawing framed prints were her best sellers. She puts the success of these prints down to the minimalist art style being the ‘in’ thing right now but has no doubt that it will be something new soon and she is ready to adapt to the demand as home decor styles change.
As mentioned earlier, Tia offers personalisation of her products. She believes that a product is worth so much more when it’s not generic. Providing customers with a personal and a completely one-off product can really help her to stay relevant in the market. She offers such a diverse range of products that can nearly all be personalised and she thinks the ability to add those personal touches can really make all the difference especially when her customers are gifting her products to their loved ones.
I asked Tia what the most important thing to her is when running her business to which she replied “My satisfaction, quite simply put, comes from satisfied customers. I want to give my clients exactly what they want, bringing their ideas to life. And, provide those little unexpected personal touches to let my clients know that they’re appreciated." Tia likes to think that her products are for life. She doesn’t want to make something that will be thrown away after a while. Operating her business sustainably is a really important factor to Tia. Since day one she has made sure that all her packaging is fully recyclable and she uses brown paper packaging as it looks good as well as being sustainably sourced. However, Tia was very honest is admitting that when first starting her business she hadn't thought too much about sustainability as she wasn’t expecting the business to grow so rapidly. Now, it’s something she feels the need to look at and see what else she can do to operate in a more eco-friendly manner.
There are so many reasons as to why running your own business can be great, when I asked Tia what her favourite thing about having a small business was she explained that she loves being able to use her passion and creativity to make personal gifts. “Seeing them [her products] in pride of place in peoples’ homes is amazing. Even trips to the Post Office to drop off orders gives me a buzz knowing my product could put a smile on a face." Tia went on to explain how supportive the small business community is, how great it is to be a part of it and how refreshing it is to speak to like-minded creatives who share similar passions and understand each other.
“Bouncing ideas off each other and ‘bigging’ each other up gives you a lift. You know there’s always someone who is willing to talk to you. I think society in general could learn a lot from the small biz community."
On the flip side, I also asked what the hardest thing is that Tia has faced since running her own business. She explained to me that she is a perfectionist and this can sometimes get in the way of her developing her brand as she can be so critical of everything she produces. There are definitely many pros to being a perfectionist especially when you are your own boss and there’s no-one checking the work you’re producing. However, being a perfectionist can also mean that you overwork yourself and become overly judgmental of your own abilities. In the same breath, taking on too much work is another hard part of running a small business. Tia stated that she just wants to please everyone and make people happy, so, it’s always worth it once she sees the finished products.
Taking the ups and downs of building a business into consideration, Tia hopes that her business can keep growing enough that it can become her only job. Right now she sees it more as a ‘side hustle’ but she would love to transition into full time self-employment. For now, she’s working towards gaining a few more pieces of machinery and becoming more settled into her studio with an organised way of working, to ensure that when the time comes for that transition to take place, she is ready to fully commit. One of the most important things to practice when running a small business is routine. If there is any part of you that, like Tia, wants to take it past being a ‘side hustle’ and turn it into a full on career, it is incredibly important to practice self discipline as early as possible. Creating a routine that works for you can be the difference between success and failure.
Tia leaves us with her advice to anyone looking to start a business or just starting out in the small business world. She says “Just go for it! Find your niche and get creating. There’s no right time to start it, but the sooner the better. If you love doing something and there’s a market for it, go for it. Everyone’s willing to help so any questions about how to get going, just ask. And keep asking. Keep adapting. What have you got to lose?”
Tia is always so active in the small business community and it’s great to have her as a friendly face. Her smile is contagious and she works so hard, it is impossible to not be inspired by her can-do attitude and impeccable work ethic.
To explore Tia's full range of products, you can check out her Etsy page by copy and pasting the link below:
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