Nana Evans, is the founder of Love Yaa Yaa, an accessories brand that produces quality, handcrafted leather accessories, The brand has been trading since August 2014 and has had major success through social media marketing and selling through global makers online store Etsy.
What drove you to start your own business?
I think I had always known that I was better at working for myself than being an employee. I had experienced a lot of success running an events company whilst working as a teacher – it made me realise that if I was to experience the financial security I desired later in life, it would have to come from being a business owner.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I was working in a school as an Unqualified Teacher– and was considering doing the Teacher Training but deep down I knew that this wasn’t really my calling, and what I believed I should be doing – was following in my mum and sisters footsteps and creating a business in fashion
Tell us about the business planning stage (for example: did you write a business plan? did you contact any business support agencies?)?
I had the idea for the Obi belt and just started making it straight away. I started to trial the idea to see if they would sell, and they did, – so I just kept on selling! When I started thinking strategically about growing the business, that was when I wrote my business plan and then also attended a business start-up course ran by East London Small Business Centre.
If I’m honest I generally only plan for the week. I have goals that I want to achieve for the year, but I find it easier to take each week as it comes and deal with whatever issues it may bring. As cliché as it may sound, my family keep me on track. My husband and my two boys, but then also the pride of knowing that I am carrying on the torch from my mum and my sister.
Can you describe a typical working day?
The day starts with getting the boys ready for school. My husband takes the eldest, and then I take the younger one at mid-day. Whilst I am with him in the morning, I use the time to answer emails and do post. Once I have dropped him, I retreat to my workshop at the end of the garden, and that is where I will begin cutting belts for my orders. The day may also be broken up trips to my leather suppliers.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
My most amazing day will be when I open my shop, however I have had some pretty cool days so far, which include becoming a 5 star rated shop on Etsy, amassing 20,000 fans on Facebook and hitting the 5000 mark of belts sold!
What has been your scariest moment?
Any seller that runs on a third-party site like Etsy runs the risk of falling short of their expectations. Last year I was on the verge of losing my shop and had sanctions placed against me. The plus side is that it forced me to evaluate my business processes, and adopt best practice, so that it never happened again.
How do you work on making your business grow?
I constantly create and list new products to keep my store a top-ranking store within Etsy. I also spend a lot of time on the internet reading articles, and reading through forums, learning how to implement marketing strategies and working out how to increase PR. I’ve also been fortunate to work with Clarity Media who also help me achieve great PR for my business.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
The best thing about being my own boss is creating how my day runs. Having that control of my day – makes me know that I am in control of my life. It;s also empowering to know that I am creating my financial freedom.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them
The biggest challenge is managing time with a young family! But I have learned whatever problem may arise, there is always a solution! For example, at the end of 2015, I was working from my workshop in Dalston, whilst it was great being out of the kitchen, I missed my boys desperately. My husband and I spoke about it and then we worked towards having a workshop at the bottom of the garden – problem solved!
There are a two people; Julie Dean OBE (Cambridge Satchel Company) and also by best friend Jessica Huie MBE (Colour Blind Cards) – Both women embody the qualities of a successful business owner that I aspire to be!
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
The piece of advice that has had the biggest impact came from my mum! It was more about managing my family rather than managing my business. Because she has had experience of being a business owner, she didn’t want the business to take me away from my family. Her words were “Make sure the business works for your family, rather than you working for the business!” – It’s not always easy or even possible, but I am always mindful of this, but it’s also reassuring knowing that I have my husbands’ full support!
What are the 3 books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
Socialising with my friends and drinking copious amounts of Prosecco!
Connect with Nana: https://www.instagram.com/loveyaayaa/