TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
I just opened my two new businesses under one umbrella, Arunika Art and Arunika Store. Arunika Store is an online shop based on Etsy, and Arunika Art is catered to personalised greeting cards, postcards, and wall art.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
Everything started with an idea from my best friend. Last year I learned digital art by myself, and my best friend asked me to do her wedding logo. She ended up liking it and gave suggestions if I were open to opening an online store or a service that takes customized logos. I put the idea “to bed” because, at that time, I didn’t feel that confident. I wanted to learn more about digital art and drawing digitally. I was also still in the mindset that “I’m not made for entrepreneurship” simply because I don’t know how to sell and that I am an introvert (being an introvert, I was afraid to make pitches and to “shamelessly plugging” my business).
I ended up “marrying” my hobby of drawing and something that can make money: greeting cards. A lot of people in the Netherlands love sending greeting cards on all occasions, and I see this as potential. I also see the trend that people also like sending personalised cards. Therefore, I created Arunika Store for pre-made cards and Arunika Art for people who want to make personalised cards for any occasions.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
I am still working full-time as Content Writer in a digital locking company in The Hague. It is my second year here, and I think I would love to stay for a few years more. Arunika Art (and Store) is my first real business.
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I would say to go for it and to think about the details later. Sure, you need to know your rights and obligations as an entrepreneur and other things such as tax and company registration… but in regards to products, idea, and business plans, you can always do it as you go.
Another advice would be to network. For some people (like me), networking is hard. What I do to overcome it is by joining different networking groups on social media and attending their Zoom meetings. I also have a social media coach that helps me to navigate Instagram without having to feel overwhelmed (as an introvert; this sounds so true to me). At the very least, I found my “tribe”, and I feel that I’m not alone in this journey.
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:
My greatest obstacle (at first) was the mindset to JUST DO IT. I have a tendency of overthinking and sometimes downplaying myself, but I just decided to learn only the basics and register my business.
Currently, my obstacle that I am trying to deal with is the consistency of maintaining my social media presence. Thank goodness, I enrol on this project with an upcoming social media coach, and she helps me to create a content calendar and to brainstorm about the things that I can share on my social media, without having to sacrifice my privacy (I’m a big advocate on privacy on social media!).
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
Dipping my toes to the pool of entrepreneurship is one. Another accomplishment is when I started to receive commission requests from friends and acquaintances. It shows that people remember me and my business, and they like my art style and that being consistent always pays off.
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
First, I made some boundaries about how many hours I want to set for my business and how many hours for personal time. I have a husband and a life outside writing and illustrating. Then I try my best to stick to it. Also, on weekends I tend to draw in the morning when my husband is still asleep, so I can do whatever I want afterwards.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
Travel, coffee, vibrant colours, new recipes, Art Nouveau, blogs, articles about mental health, and painter Jan Toorop.
WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:
As I mentioned before, currently, I am running a business and working full-time. Therefore, this is a hard question for me to answer. I have always liked writing, and therefore, I always want to stay as a writer, but I also like drawing. So I think in the long run, I want to keep doing this, maybe eventually working full-time as an illustrator and writer on the side, or keep being this way. I’m just enjoying this life path I am currently on.
HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
I don’t really prepare for success because I want to take everything as a learning opportunity. I am still new in the world of entrepreneurship (I’m not even doing it full-time), but I always try to be as flexible and as accommodating as possible to my clients. If they’re happy with my way of working and if they like the end result, I consider that a success. I always try to celebrate little successes like this rather than saving them for big ones.
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
I don’t really write a detailed business plan (simply because I’m more looking-at-the-big-picture person), but I spend some time to think and write about my target group and what products I want to offer. I renew this periodically to look back, reflect, and add/remove the target group according to the season/occasion/trend.
So far, it’s an effective tool because it allows me to be creative in thinking about what kind of people would need my service and gives me more ideas on what products I can offer them.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMAN BUSINESS OWNER?
Not really specific advantages or disadvantages because there are plenty of women entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. However, I am glad to be living in a country that supports entrepreneurship, and I think that’s an advantage of building a business in the Netherlands.
MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…
An invoicing app for iPad called Billdu (free on App store). You can create invoice and track them; you can even put the payment method on that invoice so your client can pay you directly.
For drawing, I always use Procreate as my main tool. Afterwards, I do the final touch-up on Affinity Designer.
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…
Don’t think too much when you want to start something new. Everything else will fall in to place as long as you’re consistent in doing what you want.