Its all about a side hustle these days.
I'm a big fan of this concept. This blog is currently my main side hustle, which I write alongside my job as a wildlife conservationist. Its provided me with a wonderful creative outlet, new skills and even a small income.
I was very excited to have the opportunity to interview Eve, founder of Wildwatcher Collections. We have worked together before (which you can read here) and its wonderful to work with another local Highland creative.
Eve gives an honest account of what it takes to build a profitable sustainable side hustle, even when life is hectic. An inspiration to all creatives.
1. Where did you get the inspiration for Wildwatcher Collections? How did you start?
The inspiration for Wildwatcher Collections came from my love for wildlife, nature and design. The name developed from my photography name Wildwatcher Eve in early 2013, and that I decided to use part of the name and add ‘Collections’, creating ‘Wildwatcher Collections’ today.
I am a full time graphic designer and offer photography services along side.
Adding Wildwatcher Collections, has given me the opportunity to expand my design skills and create products inspired by my love for all things wild. It also gives me that place to escape to and have time to do my own creative work.
In 2015, I decided to put Wildwatcher Collections on hold as I had purchased my first home and that took a lot of time sorting out, juggling a nearly full-time employed job, freelancing as a graphic designer and looking after my new pup at the time - Skye. I ran out of energy and lost my mojo quite a bit, so I decided to put it on hold for a while.
In 2019 I started Wildwatcher Collections back up again. Then we went into Covid so that put a hold on things in many ways. By the end of 2020, I decided 2021 had to be different and I was determined to push myself and get Wildwatcher Collections back up and running. I feel I have achieved quite a bit this year and have many ideas and plans for 2022.
2. How do you incorporate sustainability within your brand?
I incorporate sustainability into my brand by using organically made products or by using recycled material. My t-shirts are 100% organic cotton (the odd few may be 90% organic cotton with 10% viscose for example). I do have plans to use some that are made from fully recycled materials.
I like using organic cotton and knowing that it is grown and produced in ways that do not harm animals, people or the environment.
Our planet has always been important to me and the wildlife and nature that is on it.
All of my notebooks and greetings cards are made from recycled material and printed using eco-friendly vegetable inks. I used to use compostable clear packaging for my greetings cards, but this year I decide to get rid of them completely.
When I ship orders out I use plastic free packaging and tape, and I try to use less as possible to create less waste.
It can be hard for a business to be fully sustainable.
3. What have been your main challenges in building your business? How have you overcome them?
My main challenges since starting Wildwatcher Collections this year has been getting my business out there. Social media has changed a lot since 2012/13, all posts were seen by your followers.
Etsy was specific to independent makers and you didn’t have to pay extra money to try and get your products seen. It took off really quickly. Nowadays, as many have said to me it is harder, as social media has changed things making it harder for small businesses.
In ways, I regret putting it on hold, but we all go through different stages in our lives. I aim to keeping going even though it can be quite tough sometimes.
4. How do you create new designs?
I create all my artwork from scratch using black ink. I love ink. It’s great to work with and gives that sharp ‘graphic’ look that I like.
Even though I am inspired by wildlife and the natural world, a lot of my designs come randomly from my head, if something pops into my mind I will try it out. A lot of artwork I don’t show (maybe I should) I keep it as I never know in the future I may want to use it.
5. Which design/product are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of my Floral Infinity Circle design, that I have had screen-printed onto t-shirts. It wasn’t something I intended in using as it was just a one off I decided to do on an afternoon when I had some free time, but when I completed the design I thought wow this has something.
It’s funny in a way, as I do put a lot of pressure on myself and designs I expect to be perfect don’t necessarily turn out that way.
It’s always the designs you don’t give a huge thought into I find end up being the best!
The Floral Infinity Circle design has been so popular and a few folk have purchased more than one shade of it in a t-shirt. It’s a design I will continue to use and I plan to bring it out in a few other styles of clothing in 2022. I’m thinking of a hoody or sweatshirt and possibly in another t-shirt.
6. How important is social media to your brand?
Social media is important to all brands and myself, but also word of mouth and getting featured in publications does help too (one of my 2022 aims) - this is from past experience and also working in the publishing industry. Online/social media isn’t the only answer to getting your business out there, you need to use other sources too.
I find Instagram especially and Facebook are best for my business as they are visual and the best way to showcase my work. I use to be mad on Twitter when posting my photography but for this business I don’t find it suitable. I am slowly working on improving my Pinterest as well.
7. Do you have any plans to further grow your business?
Yes I do have plans to grow it by adding more products/garments - this is another aim for 2022. Another, is to get some of my products into local stock lists like I use to. A big aim which will not happen too soon, but hopefully one day in the future, is to create my own fabric patterns and create garments that way - but that is way into the future. But you never know…!
I would also love to collaborate with other businesses and brands.
8. Any tips for budding eco entrepreneurs
Have a dedicated notebook to your ideas and goals. Think what is important to you and why you want to have an eco brand and what you want it to be.
Stay true to yourself, don’t watch or look at what others are doing, be you - take steps that suit you and keep sticking at it. People always like a real person.
If using products, avoid unsustainable products - do your research into where and how they are made.
Try and use as little waste as possible e.g. paper invoices (these are usually electronic now), labels and packaging (depends on the type of business).
Packaging and promotional material - make sure it is recyclable e.g. a flyer with lamination is not recyclable.
Make sure to hop over to my Instagram to enter into a competition to win a £20 gift voucher for this wonderful collection. Be quick, competition closes on Halloween!