We’re introducing a new mini blog series today which will take a look behind the scenes of some of our favourite creative businesses. We find it so useful and inspirational to hear other businesses’ stories so are hoping you’ll all find these posts useful too. It’s also fun to be a little nosy!
We’re kicking off our series with a chat with Genevieve Brading, the creative behind needlework company Floss & Mischief and a regular contributor to craft magazines. She lives in, and run the business from, the Cotswolds. We met Genevieve at a few craft fairs last year and she quickly became our craft buddy. We love her modern cross-stitch designs and her no BS approach to business even more; she was the perfect choice for our first ever Behind the Business post.
How did Floss & Mischief start?
Floss & Mischief started because of an argument about taxidermy. My boyfriend wanted to fill the house with very on-trend stuffed and mounted insects, but I put my foot down as it’s just too creepy. As a peace offering I wanted to cross-stitch some beetles for him, but I couldn’t find any suitable cross-stitch patterns. So I designed my own. Today Floss & Mischief still rocks the taxidermy trend, selling cross-stitch patterns and kits, and keeps putting a modern twist on needlework. When I’m not stitching, I’m probably arguing with my boyfriend about taxidermy (again).
- What made you decide to start your own business?
Lots of things happened around the same time, which led me to go self-employed. My boyfriend and I were house-hunting in the countryside and I knew I’d have to quit my London desk job when we relocated. Plus, I’d always secretly wanted to be my own boss but had never found the right business idea. Then I found myself designing my own cross-stitch patterns, and despairing over the lacklustre cross-stitch kits available on the market. It was the kick I needed to do something about it.
Who is in your team and what are their roles?
Day to day, I am Floss & Mischief. But I also rely on the hard work of some amazing people, like my superstar graphic designer (nay, creative director), the talented webmaster who bails me out of online pickles, plus all the suppliers I count on to make things happen. It’s always a team effort. Even my other half sometimes gets in on the act, as my barometer of taste – if he doesn’t like a design, it’s filed in the bin.
What does a typical work day look like to you?
At Mischief HQ, a typical day is as mythical as a unicorn (sorry unicorn believers). The fact that no two days are the same, and I have to get stuck in whether I enjoy it or not, is a positive. This job pushes me and my skills in ways that a desk job never did.
What did you find most difficult when you were starting out?
There were so many challenges. Feeling isolated, tax returns, keeping up with legislation, the bottomless to-do list… One thing that has persisted and is still hands-down hard, is finding great suppliers. I have complete respect for anyone who doesn’t want to share the name of their suppliers with others – I know how hard-won they probably were and what an impact they can have on your business. They are the unsung heros (and if you recommend one to me, you get my eternal gratitude).
What has been your biggest business success?
Surviving this long! Making a living from cross-stitch is hard.
- Have you had any business failures? If so, how have you learned from them?
Anyone who says they’ve never failed, is lying! From having a new product flat-line and the blog being hacked, to losing money on events and screwing up super important meetings, I’ve experienced my fair share of fails. But I’ve learned that even bad experiences are good ones – at the time my whole world feels like it’s caving in, but I’ll also figure out a better way to do things that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Personal experience is an awesome problem-solver.
- Have you had to make any sacrifices for the sake of your business?
I hadn’t anticipated when I started Floss & Mischief, that I’d sacrifice all my thinking time to the business. It’s constantly on my mind – in the supermarket (“oo, that’s an interesting way to package stuff”), visiting family (“should I develop a kids’ range?”), while sleeping (anxiety dreams about the courier not delivering on time). I miss being able to leave my work at the office.
- What do you find is the worst part of running a business?
The overwhelm. Whether it’s from having an unachievable to-do list, more product ideas than I could possibly develop, or never enough resources to make everything happen as I want, the overwhelm feels debilitating at times. Anyone want to be my PA or intern?!
- What do you find is the best part of running a business?
Being able to pop out for an ice cream at 3pm on a Tuesday, just because. Or being at home to receive important parcels without having to lose a day of annual leave or sacrifice my Saturday morning to the Post Office Depot gods. My flexible lifestyle – not being tethered to a desk, a boss, a traditional 9-5 – is something I don’t ever want to take for granted. It’s my biggest motivator, right next to raising the standard for cross-stitch.
- What would be your top piece of advice to someone just starting out?
Just because others are exhibiting at trade shows or selling enamel pins or blogging about specific stuff, it doesn’t mean you should too. Follow your own path, stay true to what you’re trying to achieve, do what’s right for you. (Although if you do sell enamel pins, show me, as I love those things!)
Our favourite kit – the moth!
Thanks for chatting to us and sharing your stitches-of-wisdom with us all, Genevieve. Make sure you check out the Floss & Mischief shop to get your hands on one of her awesome kits like the moth above and follow her on Insta, Twitter and Facebook too!
If you have any ideas of people you’d like to see in our Behind the Business series just let us know in the comments below.
Hannah + Rosie