Tips on successfully running a small business

South African decor brand Skinny laMinx has grown enormously, both locally and internationally. We asked Heather Moore, owner and designer, to pop on her (no doubt stylish) business hat and share her tips for running a small business

skinny la minx business tips

1. Protect your creativity – fiercely

Nothing kills creativity like commercial demands and deadlines. Not to mention that you suddenly need to do business “stuff” that seldom comes naturally to a creative. Protect your right to be creative simply for its own sake or you will run the risk of losing the love of what you do.

Today I am in the happy position of having one day a week to simply play and explore without having business at the back of my mind. For instance, this year I’ve taken sketches, turned them into ceramics, and then back into sketches. This was done for fun and by gut feel, but in fact resulted in my Oddjects textile design and ceramics exhibition. It would also have been OK if they had never seen the light of day though.

In the early days of growing your business, a whole day a week might not be feasible, but hold on tight to even a few hours of unstructured creative work until you have the people and systems in place to free up more of your time.

2. Surround yourself with the right people

In 2010 I joined forces with Pearl Thompson, who’s insanely efficient, who manages the business side of Skinny laMinx. She deals with pricing, ordering, communicating with wholesale clients and analysing data, so I can get on with design and communications. Without her and the rest of my amazing team, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

3. Technology is your friend

Technology has always been an integral part of Skinny laMinx’s success. From our very first Etsy store, taking payments from around the world with PayPal, to our Shopify stores (still using PayPal for safe and easy payments) and the incredible power of social media to make connections and share our story. Which leads to my next point.

skinny la minx soft buckets

4. Think international

We did things in reverse at Skinny laMinx, establishing ourselves around the world before building our base at home. It was an obvious and easy thing to do, thanks to Etsy and PayPal. A global view is coded into our designs; Scandi-inspired, mid-century modernism, with a distinctly African twist.
Today I travel regularly for inspiration, to connect with my communities through pop-up shops and workshops and to tap into my industry through trade fairs such as Maison et Objet in Paris.

5. Collaborate

Give your designs wings by collaborating with like-minded creatives. You’ll be amazed and inspired by what they see in your work and how they give your designs new life. Earlier this year the clever people at Cape Town-based leather goods brand, Chapel, took fabric from my newly launched Brise Soleil collection and transformed it into their popular backpack, The Rider. A match made in heaven!

We’ve also collaborated with Heath Ceramics (our long-time San Francisco stockist) to design and produce a bespoke textile collection based on their Dimensional tile range and seasonal colour selection. This kind of synergy is what makes creative work so exciting.