When the UK lockdown restrictions were announced in March, life and business changed as we know it. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, lockdown gave them the opportunity to knuckle down and work on their enterprise ideas. This was the case for Ellie Francesca Watson who in October launched her e-commerce shop Ellie Francesca Design
Working as a freelance artist, Ellie was making income through commissions and funding from community projects and workshops whilst working a part-time job at a Chinese takeaway. To gain steady income well into the future, she started to devise a plan to commercialise her work and open her own e-commerce shop.
Instead of taking a step back during the lockdown, Ellie used her time at home to focus on opening her own Etsy shop. Following a recommendation from a fellow artist at the Hazlehurst Studio, she decided to investigate The Women’s Organisation and what support could be offered to her.
She was set up with business advisor Jo Mountfort who got straight to work helping Ellie reinvent herself and her work as a brand.
She told us: “Every time I spoke to Jo, she really engaged and involved herself with my concept and vision. She fully understood who I was marketing my products at and has been a crucial step in both promoting and expanding my range at the shop. She was also really great at suggesting webinars and programmes that would be beneficial to me”
The Women’s Organisation gave her the opportunity to attend a range of webinars and business training – something that Ellie took advantage of during the initial stages of lockdown.
She continued “The Women’s Organisation really helped the process become less overwhelming, the webinars gave me a reason to get up and focus, at a time when it would have been easy to lose motivation. I’ve really enjoyed the networking and hearing stories from other Liverpool based entrepreneurs, especially the ones nearer my age group”
Ellie Francesca Design officially launched in October, selling hand drawn portrait prints and greetings cards of iconic and well-loved musicians through an e-commerce shop on Esty. A self-confessed old soul, Ellie has used her love of music and record collecting to inspire the artwork she creates.
Starting a business during a pandemic is not the only hurdle Ellie has had to overcome, making it all the sweeter that she can now call herself a business owner. In 2018, she faced the most challenging year of her life when her health began to decline, resulting in her having to drop out of university and take a step away from her art.
The physical challenges from her health condition left her suffering with the performance in both of her hands - every creatives worst nightmare. After a diagnosis Rheumatoid Arthritis in the spring of 2019, and time out to recoup, things started to look up.
Ellie told us “I’m actually thankful that my personal circumstances were a little rocky for a while, in the long term it has driven me forward and taught me to become more resilient!”
With sales and commissions rolling in, Ellie is now thinking about new ventures such as series for pioneering women and work to pay tribute to NHS workers across the country.
What has Ellie learned from starting her business?
“The business is still very new and it’s very much a learning process, but I’ve learned now to fixate and worry about the small details that can always be resolved. I have probably written enough names down in my notebook to keep me sketching away till I am 80! Thanks to the Women’s Organisation, who’ve helped me get my business up and running, I’m now in a position where I feel the possibilities are endless and the skies the limit.”
If you have been inspired by Ellie’s story and are interested in starting or growing a business of your own, then Enterprise Hub can help!
Get in touch if you are thinking of starting a business in the Liverpool City Region or have a new business under three years old. You can speak to our team via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0151 706 8113.