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How I started my business

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Hi Guys and welcome to my first ever blog post. I have decided to create a written blog that will show some behind the scenes, updates, other artists and small businesses I am interested in and just general chit-chat and nonsense.

So a brief introduction.. My name is Lucy and I am a small business owner from Cardiff. I love illustration and tattoo art so it is featured heavily through my handcrafted products - including tattoo art gifts, alternative accessories and gothic home décor.

So for this blog post I am going to take it back to the beginning, sharing the story of how I started my tattoo art business.

After completing my A-levels in 2012 I was lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career and as all my friends prepared for University and I felt left behind. University was not on the cards for me. I had no plan so was riddled with fear that I would choose the wrong course, end up dropping out and wasting money.

I did however have an interest in textiles and although I wasn’t experienced enough to feel comfortable taking it as a university course, I did find a local college was running a BTEC in Fashion Design and Clothing. During my two-year BTEC I created clothing, studied fashion illustration and worked on live briefs like shop window displays and catwalk shows. I fell in love with the idea of working in the fashion industry and after completing my course I was given a place at the University of South Wales studying Fashion Promotion.

I know you are probably thinking.. what does all this have to do with Red Vessel Designs? But stick with me.

Now, I have no regrets about going to University but it certainly wasn’t what I had expected and didn’t go the way I had planned. However, it did help me develop my skills and more importantly it showed me that I didn’t actually want to work in fashion after all… oops.

But by this point I had completed 2 out of the 3 years so I was committed and I am so glad I stuck it out. During my third year I had the opportunity to write my own project brief and wanted to use it to highlight my love of handcrafted items – however it wasn’t all plain sailing. I created the idea of a handcrafted gift brand, created a selection of mood boards and product photos and took them to my University tutor…. it went down like a lead balloon – in fact I felt totally humiliated and upset.

Luckily, I stuck with it, I worked into the early hours of the next morning and when I re-approached my tutor the next day – I had a much clearer understanding of what my brand was going to be. An alternative gift company specialising in tattoo art.

I decided on tattoo art because it is in illustration style that I have always admired and I needed to be passionate and interested in it. I think tattoo art also gave me a niche and an easier way to connect with customers who had similar interests.

For my project I wanted to create a pop-up tattoo gift shop in the centre of Cardiff. It was an opportunity that I knew I may never have again so I grabbed it with both hands and worked my arse off to get it open. I created all of the tattoo illustrations and designed/created the products as well as the DIY store décor and all of the documentation needed for the university module. It was the most stressful experience of my life but also the most exciting and I would not have been able to do it without my parents, sister and boyfriend.

The completed store looked amazing. It was full of my handcrafted products including tattoo gifts for men and women, alternative fashion accessories and clothing as well as a small amount of gothic home décor. Not only had I managed to create the store for my university project but I SOLD items. Actual strangers came into the shop and purchased my items!

That was it… from that day on I knew that this was what I wanted to do once I graduated.

I was going to launch a business.


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