Imagine transforming your passion into a money-making opportunity! That’s what Eleanor Parry-Hensley (aka eph designs) has done with Spreadshop. Continue reading to learn more about her Shop and selling experience.
The 18-year-old from Manchester, UK has already found a way to transform her interest into a side hustle. A current art student, Eleanor has been studying graphic design since she was 14. She only recently developed a love for illustrating, and she’s parlayed that interest into her own Spreadshop!
Learn even more about Eleanor’s designing and Spreadshop experience below.
How did any previous jobs/professions lead to you selling your designs?
I’m a self-confessed workaholic, and I was designing most days when I didn’t have any college work. Ultimately, I wanted to have somewhere to put and display the images. Also, I love fashion and wanted to see if my designs would work on clothes. The idea of making a few extra pennies also didn’t hurt!
Your style is certainly unorthodox. How did you come up with this style? Were you inspired by anyone specific?
Unorthodox and proud! I find inspiration in lots of different places; fashion designers Hannah Weiland and Molly Goddard’s use of playful patterns and vibrant colors constantly influence my artwork.
I have recently found influence in the comical work of David Shrigley. Shrigley’s light-hearted and creative outlook inspires me to create work that expresses my playful perspective on art. However, I think my style is individual, and the best way to describe it is “me!”
You’re also not afraid of using, um, “curse words.” Have you found that these designs are particularly popular among your customers?
I don’t make a point of including swear words…I write the text to make people smile or laugh (and not to offend). My designs are playful and cheeky, and sometimes a swear word fits with that.
Do you create the designs yourself, or do you commission an artist to create the illustrations?
The designs are all mine! Until recently I saw myself becoming a graphic designer, however, I’ve since been exploring illustration and have found a passion for it.
How do you decide which designs you’re going to sell? Are they inspired by existing trends, customer suggestions, etc.
I simply think of what I’d like to see on a product and make items I’d like to wear myself. I’m personally drawn to bold colors, interesting textures and quirky designs… basically anything that stands out! My mom calls me a magpie as I have an eclectic taste and like to mix vintage with modern fashion.
Do you find that any types of designs or products tend to sell best?
T-shirts sell the best and designs with lots of color get the most attention. Clothing can be a great way to express yourself, and statement tees always stand out and work with every outfit! Vibrant colors are on trend in the fashion world, and people are loving bold prints and patterns.
Do you subscribe to any specific marketing strategy (i.e. promotions)? Which ones?
I do the majority of my promoting through Instagram and rely on word of mouth. I’m still researching and gaining experience as to which strategies work best for my Shop. Currently, I upload designs right when they’re completed, and I love to interact with my followers. I still find it exciting when I see someone wearing one of my designs!
I’ve also experimented with reducing my design price, so the overall cost to buy an item is lower. This increased my sales, but it’s unfortunately not sustainable…I need to make some money from each sale to make it worthwhile. I’m interested in talking to designers who are further on in their online marketing so I can learn how to optimize my sales.
Do you rely on any other marketing techniques? Have you played around with paid advertising, or do you solely rely on organic marketing? What are the incentives you’ve noticed with either marketing route?
I’ve tried paid advertising, but organic marketing is currently working better and is a more affordable option.
As I’m a full-time student and I’m about to start university, I don’t have much money to invest in the business at this time. I know that others have found it successful in increasing their online presence. Currently, organic marketing and the creative use of social media (like Instagram and Facebook) means I can reach people without a financial outlay.
How did you first become aware of Spreadshop? What made you decide to open a Shop?
When I decided I wanted to open a Shop, I knew I needed a company to print and ship the items for me so I could focus on the design aspect. I researched my different options and Spreadshop had amazing reviews, so the decision was an easy one! I love seeing my online Shop grow as I reach new people. However, I like the fact that Spreadshop prints and distributes the products. As I’m a small business, it’s not financially viable to print the products at this quality myself. It’s good to have a bigger business which supports its young designers to get their artwork to a wider audience.
How much time do you devote to maintaining your Shop? How often do you upload new designs?
I try to work on my Shop a few times a week, but I like to keep it flexible so I don’t put pressure on myself to upload. This way, I still enjoy managing and designing because it never feels like work!
I like to keep my college and Shop-work separate. The Shop work allows me to be creative without working to deadlines, and I have freedom to be experimental and work on spotting design trends without worrying about grades. It’s fun to watch the ‘likes’ grow online when a new piece of work is uploaded, and the whole experience for me has been exciting and rewarding.
What are your future goals for your Shop?
I’d love to keep growing my Shop, developing my illustration skills and reaching new customers! I’d love to continue producing my own pieces and growing my Shop. However, my ultimate dream is to collaborate with a fashion designer and create a fashion label.
Do you have any helpful tips for those who are new to Spreadshop?
Take advantage of the marketplace, as It’s a great way to reach new customers. Also, regular uploads never hurt. However, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself! Spreadshop is an amazing platform to express your creativity and get your art across to a bigger audience.
Thanks Eleanor for the lovely interview!