During this time (and always!) it is so important to support the local business in our communities. Plus it’s great for the economy too! We are constantly inspired by the ambition and resilience of local business founders. We feel that the risks that they take lead to innovation and help in moving the world forward.
Inspired by these entrepreneurs and their stories, we recently chatted with Charlotte Louisa Leake – founder of My Own Brand Absolute Colours Promotional Gifts Preparing), about being an entrepreneur, running a local business while also running a family, and any advice she has for other local businesses!
What is your business about and why did you start it?
My Own Brand offers unique fun, bold, beautifully designed affordable art prints, cards and gifts for everyone.
Having worked in HR for over 15 years, I was unfortunate (like so many others) and lost my job due to COVID redundancy in 2021. Having been in the UAE for 10 years, I took some time and reflected on what was next for me.
The journey of My Own Brand started on my sofa with my dogs, cats and husband. I was doodling away on my iPad to take my mind off COVID lockdown and my recent redundancy. That’s when Cathy my Camel was born and not long after that, my other animals were born too!
What do you love about your business?
I love making other people smile with my designs and gifts. I don’t class myself as an artist or a designer. When people ask me what I do, I say I ‘doodle’. The last few months have been incredible taking a completely new, challenging but fun, direction in my life. It’s completely different to HR. I wake up with an idea in the middle of the night and by the next day, it’s been drawn and ready to be turned into something I can share with others.
How do you manage your time between running a small business and family?
I have huge respect for anyone running a business and a family. My husband and I have been trying for a baby but haven’t been blessed with one yet. Having said that, I am blessed to have my husband and 4 fur children. I must admit, I find it hard to manage my time as my business is ran from my home. I try to structure my day with set hours, taking time away from my desk and designing of an evening to have dinner with my husband and walking the dogs. My creative mind kicks in at night, so I tend to write my ideas down and come back to them in the morning.
Any piece of advice to other small business owners or anyone wanting to start their own business?
My advice would be – ‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great’! This is a quote that has stayed with me and resonated for a long time. Every day is different, every day I learn something new. Ask questions, brainstorm ideas, be patient and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. There will be days that you wonder if you’ve made the right decision, especially when you don’t sell anything or get interest in your business.
There are some amazing, talented people in the UAE that are more than happy to help you. If something doesn’t work the first time, it’s ok. Don’t measure yourself on other people’s success, ask what success means to you and set yourself achievable goals. It can be hard, it can be frustrating, but hard work is the most rewarding.