Small businesses are the very lifeblood of the equestrian and rural industry, and I’m delighted to use my blog as a way to help showcase these. This might be through ‘a few minutes with…’ or similar interviews where I interview people from small businesses I love, or even including small businesses as part of blogs I’m writing in the form of collaborations. I also use my blog to help educate small business owners, providing information and tips to help them really make progress in their businesses.

In addition to the articles you’ll find here, I do also put out a lot of content on my social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in particular, and also on my YouTube channel, to help inform and support small businesses on their journey.

And don’t forget about the Small & Supercharged Facebook group. This free group allows small businesses, particularly those connected to equestrian, canine and country industries, to chat, ask questions and network in a closed group. Search ‘Small & Supercharged’ on Facebook and answer the three questions to join in.

The Fish Hotel BroadwayThere are going to be a few blogs about Hiho Silver’s amazing Style, Skills & Silver event, because I’m still buzzing from it. Last Thursday (6th September) was the day of the event we’d been working towards for a while. And I say we because it really was a we. The event was the brainchild of Hiho’s Queen Bee, Emma Warren, but the two workshops that were held were a huge team effort, that I will tell you about in more detail soon. Today, we’re focusing on the beautiful venue – The Fish Hotel, Broadway.

The Fish Hotel, Broadway

Based on the Farncombe Estate, The Fish Hotel is a real hidden gem. And it is properly hidden too! You clamber up a hill called Fish Hill (and it’s a serious hill with some quite surprising bends!), before taking a left down a long drive. The Estate is massive and contains three amazing venues/hotels – there’s The Fish Hotel, Dormy House and Foxhill Manor. As you turn off the main road, you are taken down an incredibly long drive. It would have been useful if I’d measured the length of the drive but this thought only dawned on me as I started to write the paragraph. The thing is, the length of the drive isn’t the thing you remember. It’s the view. I headed to the venue with Ruth (Dressage Anywhere) and as I’d been there before, I wittered on about the view for most of the drive down the drive. I’ve seen the view before but it was no less impressive second time around. Worcestershire stretches out beneath you and it’s just a sight to behold. I took a picture when I went for a recce, but it doesn’t do it justice. The scale can’t be appreciated in a picture. The entrance is impressive and sets the tone for everything else.

Springfield House

The Fish is made up of a few different areas. The Hook is the restaurant were we had a very nice pizza for dinner the night before, Springfield House is where we held Style, Skills & Silver, we stayed in the Coach House (I think). They also have a number of other buildings in the grounds, including some stunning shepherd huts by Blackdown Shepherd Huts that people can stay in too. It’s clearly a big place, but the careful design of it all means it all feels rather private and lovely. There’s also a lot of greenery – when we walked up from the restaurant the night before (we didn’t stop setting up until gone 9pm so dinner was quite late), it was lovely – tree lined, beautifully lit… heavenly.

Springfield House has quite a different vibe to the restaurant but it’s absolutely lovely too. It manages to strike the mix of modern, cosy, funky, quirky and practical. And that’s quite a combination! We had four rooms in total on two different floors. The first floor was where we held the workshops – the space and the light were lovely and worked so well with the practical workshops. Up a level we had a lovely lounge where we met at the beginning and end of the day, and the room next door where we had lunch and chatted too. The rooms were lovely and having the space over the two floors worked so well with the way the day ran.

Where we stayed

The night before I stayed in the Coach House. I shared a twin room with Ruth and it was the most beautiful room. Lovely fresh white bed linen, Galaxy hot chocolate (yes, I’m very easily bought!), a huge bathroom with lovely toiletries. Everything was beautiful. But like with Springfield House, it was beautiful but very cosy and comfy too. There was a handwritten welcome note, really lovely blankets on the bed, a wooden book with ‘All you need to know’ written on it including all the important things you needed to know, like how the wifi worked. The decor was so pretty, but so comfy. I couldn’t fault it.

Breakfast was included but as I made my way down I got summoned by Sophie and Harriet, who were also staying in the same building, to have a look at their room and give opinions on what to wear. I say summoned. Sophie shouted out the window and I decided I’d rather spend time with them than eating. I felt a little nervous anyway and the last thing I need when feeling a bit nervous is food! Their room was as lovely as ours. It was a slightly different design. It had a little hall and a gorgeous outside terrace space with a glimpse of the stunning view I have spent a lot of this blog wittering on about.

This isn’t a TripAdvisor review – I mean, why be conventional?! But I wanted to explain a bit about the venue as it was really special. It’s not your average hotel, or conference room, or meeting place. It’s way more special than that. I’m looking for an excuse to return as soon as I can!

Find out more about The Fish Hotel here…

To see more about the event, see Karen & Clan and Sophie Callahan’s vlogs.

Super X Country SXC Sports LeggingsIf you wandered over to Super X Country’s stand at Burghley Horse Trials, you may have seen the company’s new SXC Sports Leggings. I say may, because the stand looked absolutely stunning and was bursting at the seams with beautiful pieces. From sequin hoodies to bespoke cross country colours, new gloves to breeches galore. I took a bit of time to catch up with the lady behind the brand, Becci Harrold, to find out more about the SXC Sports Leggings. And why they’re so special.

Behind Super X Country’s SXC Sports Leggings

Leggings have become so popular, haven’t they? Why do you think that is? It always nice to have different riding pieces to choose from according to your style and the weather. I think the leggings make you
feel less restricted and also make you look more normal in the shops, when you’ve had to nip out!
What makes your SXC Sports Leggings special? I have designed these with affordability in mind. I know what it’s like wanting a new pair of breeches or leggings every few months; who doesn’t want something new! I have always found the problem is the cost! These leggings tick a lot of boxes and come well within most people’s budget at £38.99. They use good, strong, high quality Lycra that is not see through! They feature the all important gel knee, and in keeping with our practical ethos, we opted for two pockets on each side of the leg which, again, fit the biggest of iPhones. They are super easy to access too. I went for piping detail in a contrasting colour, which makes them really flattering from behind. The Lycra sock and top of pocket detail also match. The wide waistband is super strong and supportive, offering great comfort and support.
How did you choose the colour combinations you did? I have found our new colours for this season aqua & turquoise have been so popular in base layers, so with that in mind I wanted to add a touch of colour to
the grey & navy base colours we went for in leggings. Everyone loves matchy matchy too, we even have a hat silk, tops & saddle pads to match them!
What features do the SXC Sports Leggings have that make them must haves? The pockets on either side of the leg are real must haves for me. The gel knee is also a must. For the leggings, being made from Lycra offers extra support too. I love the waistband and the piping details too, anything remotely like them would
cost a hell of a lot more!
Have you been wearing them and testing them too? Yes, I wear and test all my own designs before going to manufacture with them. This ensures I get all the details exactly right. I also have fantastic sponsored
riders who help with this job too!
To find out more about the new SXC Sports Leggings, have a look at the over on Super X Country’s website here.

Lavenham Leather Tote - Rainbow Edition - Annabel BrocksIf you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Annabel Brocks. Not just the brand and the stunning products, but the lady herself too. Belle is one of the sweetest, nicest and most creative people I’ve ever met, and is an absolute joy to be around. I love seeing her Annabel Brocks brand continue to grow and develop, so you can imagine my delight when the new Lavenham Leather Tote popped up on my radar. As this style of bag is new to the brand, I took the chance to catch up with Belle, to find out all about the Lavenham Leather Tote… are you ready?

Behind… the Lavenham Leather Tote by Annabel Brocks

I’m really excited about the new Lavenham Leather Tote – it’s gorgeous! Can you tell me how you came up with the design?

Thank you for your kind words, I am glad you like them! Following the success of our Pina Festival bags lots of customers asked if I could design a larger bag. It had to be roomy enough to carry  a laptop/tablet, bottle of water, make up and generally fit in everything you might need in a day.

I wanted to offer two base colours which work well to complement other products in our collection. I am a tan girl in the summer months but the navy is equally eye catching and can be used in the cooler months too. I wanted a strong colour pop and classic bag so I designed two variants. The classic Lavenham is your day to day bag. Elegant, but with the tassel and contrast stitching it can be dressed up or down. I played around with trims and just fell in love with the rainbow. To me this sums up my designs – contemporary,  fun and the colour pop will brighten any outfit.

Tell me about the special edition lines – what made you create them and how have people received them?

I wanted to introduce Limited Editions for those customers who like to have exclusive products which are not mass produced. We are offering a certain number and once they are gone they are gone. We have loyal customers who like to have something unique.

Tan is a big part of the Annabel Brocks range with many of the belts having a tan base – what made you pick navy and tan for this range?

I always design around what I would wear or need in my wardrobe (so I can of course steal samples!) and the tan to me is such an easy to wear colour for Spring/Summer but I know I will use this year around. However the navy is such an easy to wear colour and I am not really a fan of black bags as I wear blue or white jeans. The navy is so striking worn with one of our sweatshirts or t shirt and jeans. I looked at other colours but you can’t go wrong with tan and navy.

I love the tassel detail on the Lavenham – what made you add this to the bag?

I just wanted to add a bit of interest to the bag and our contrast trim tassel does just that.  I have also incorporated the contrast stitch detail so it matches the design on other areas of the bag and who doesn’t love a tassel?!

What kind of testing period did the Lavenham have? Did it take a while to perfect the design?

I always do all the testing on any protypes and used the bag around the house and used it to go to the office. I wanted  to see how much I could cram in and used it on my daily errands. The children used to laugh as I  used it as an additional shopping bag. Could it carry wine (yes) , crumpets (yes and yum),  a magazine (yes) , a bottle of squash (yes), M&M’s (yes)?  I thought bingo, it ticked all the boxes for me so I was happy to sign it off as an approved new product.

What details about the Lavenham Leather Tote do you really like?

I am biased but I love the simplicity of them, but being a horsey girl, I love the fact both saddle and bridle leather are used to make the bag. The smell, the way it’s a natural leather which is strong and provides the structure which will wear and soften, and I think every crease in leather adds to the charm. The detail is subtle from a distance yet strong when inspected closely. The rainbow Lavenham Leather Tote is one of the best things I have designed. I literally squealed when the sample arrived and I am not letting my one leave my side

To find about more about Annabel Brocks and the gorgeous collection of bags, including the Lavenham Leather Tote, see the Annabel Brocks website.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/annabelbrocks/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/annabel_brocks/

Twitter – @AnnabelBrocks

Website address- www.annabelbrocks.com

I’m beyond excited to be part of Hiho Silver’s Style, Skills & Silver, which will be taking place at The Fish Hotel, Broadway on Thursday September 6th. I’ve had a few people ping me messages about it, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to have a little chat with your about this fab event. Whether you’re a business, a blogger or a vlogger, I KNOW that you’ll love this event!

What’s #styleskillsandsilver all about?

Well, that’s the hashtag for the Style, Skills & Silver event – but as for the event itself, read on…

The event, hosted by Hiho Silver, has been designed to bring together Hiho’s brand ambassadors, team, brand friends and more under one roof. The day will be lighthearted and fun, but also packed with value. There will be…

  • A style workshop run by Melanie Clarihew from Mackenzie & George, Harriet Edwards aka A Girl About Country, and Karen McConnell aka Karen & Clan
  • A skills workshop run by Rachel Bragg from Sweet Images, Sophie Callahan from Sophie Callahan Photography, Emma Warren from Hiho Silver and Ruth Chappell from Dressage Anywhere, and me too.

And they’ll be lunch, tea, cake and the most amazing goody bag.

What will happen in the workshops?

I’m heavily involved with the Skills workshop, so I’m going to focus in on that! I know that we’ll be learning all about flatlays and have expert advice on how to create them and use them on in our businesses, we’ll have real life examples of how flatlays can work for all businesses including service based ones too. We’ll chat about the power of social media and how to harness it for what you want and we’ll be looking at how to repurpose and use the content you create, to help ensure that all your effort works as hard for you as possible AND generates the response you want. We’ll also be talking about how to manage that little voice in your head that suggests you shouldn’t do things and you shouldn’t try… because what if you’re not good enough? What if you fail? We don’t like that voice… we appreciate his good intentions but there’s no need for that kind of madness in #styleskillsandsilver.

In the Style workshop, the three ladies will be looking at how they style outfits, how accessories make all the difference, and how you can dress up and dress down looks with a few minor tweaks. I’m excited.

But I won’t know anyone at Style, Skills & Silver?

You know me, don’t you? In all seriousness, I know all the ladies involved and they are all absolutely lovely and within a few minutes you’ll feel like you’re lifelong buddies. I also reckon that you’re connected to a lot more people than you think. That’s the beauty of social media. I know a lot of people from my Small & Supercharged group are going, so if you’re in there, it’s a great place to meet the people you chat to. In real life. And if you’re not in the group, you should join now… here’s the link.

But in all seriousness, I get it. It can be really daunting to think you’re going to be spending the day with people you don’t know and you’ll be on your own and isolated. You won’t be. The way the workshops are designed means that you’ll have lots of chances to engage, interact, chat and enjoy. Yep, the day will be really interesting and you’ll be learning new skills, but you will also have chance to speak to people, pick up ideas to help you grow and develop your business or blog, and meet new people. And if you’re feeling funny, I’ll be the tall one eating the sweets and the cake – we can have a chat, OK?

OK, you’ve twisted my arm, how do I book a ticket for Style, Skills & Silver?

I know that #styleskillsandsilver only have a few tickets left, so crack on! You can book up through EventBrite here. If you have any other questions, just drop me an email or a DM. I promise you that I won’t bite and that I’m really looking forward to the event. I should be able to answer your questions, but if I can’t, I will find the answer! Hope to see you on 6th September in Broadway!

Butler Stewart is a lovely British brand run by Anna Butler. Actually, it was Anna who very kindly let me borrow a couple of her beautiful Jemma Jackets for my TEDx talk in April. But it’s not all about jackets! In addition to the beautiful Jemma, Butler Stewart also has a range of coats, waistcoats, jeans, shirts and accessories for men and women with a passion for country life and shooting. Now, to fill you in on the brand and its Game Fair activities, it’s over to Anna.

Stands to see at The Game Fair – Butler Stewart

How long have you been exhibiting at The Game Fair?

2018 will be Butler Stewart’s third year as an exhibitor but I have loved visiting The Game Fair for many years prior to launching Butler Stewart.

Which product are you most excited to show the people visiting The Game Fair?

The whole of my new shooting collection for men’s and ladies! I am passionate about stunning textiles and colours and I am thrilled to have sourced some beautiful tweeds for this year’s new arrivals.  Sharp tailoring combined with a refined style and attention to detail sets apart our fresh and stunning new shooting collections. I can’t wait to launch them at The Game Fair

What’s your newest product? What makes it special? 

Our new men’s shooting vest, designed with a similar cut to Butler Stewart’s previous vests but with the addition of lapels, overall a smarter tailored finish.

If you could sum up your brand in a sentence, what would it be?

Butler Stewart is an exclusive clothing brand with a contemporary take on tailoring and textiles creating luxurious collections to be sought after.

Do you have a typical customer? Or do you find your products have a broad appeal for all ages?

Butler Stewart appeals to all ages but especially those who have a love for exquisite garments combined with the countryside.

What are you most excited about for this year’s event?

Being back at Ragley Hall, it is such a stunning location and a perfect backdrop for this prestigious event.

Where can visitors find you at the event? Are there any special offers they should know about?

Stand G887a in the Green zone. We have a number of show offers including ladies shirts and waistcoats. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our stand to browse our collections.

Find out more about Butler Stewart by looking at the website here, and find out more about The Game Fair here.

It’s Game Fair week! So, this week, there will be a blog each day about a fabulous stand to see, and today it’s all about Tom Lane! I’ve been aware of Tom Lane for a little while now and have really loved seeing the product range they produce grow. I also have heard nothing but great things from my friend Harriet Edwards – aka A Girl About Country. She absolutely adores Tom Lane’s Lambswool Jumpers, so I was keen to find out what further delights will be at The Game Fair!

So, without further ado, it’s over to Jayne Ireland from Tom Lane.

Stands to see at The Game Fair – Tom Lane

How long have you been exhibiting at The Game Fair?

Our first Game Fair was in 2016 at Ragley Hall (as we only launched in 2015). I am really excited to be going back there this year!

Which product are you most excited to show the people visiting The Game Fair?

I will be launching my new collection of shooting socks this year at the Game Fair, which I can’t wait to share with everyone. The collection has a huge variety of styles and colours. I have also created a larger range for ladies (starting in a size 3) for the ever growing ladies shooting market. We specialise in Merino and Alpaca for our shooting socks and they are all made in the UK.

What’s your newest product? What makes it special?

My newest products are my ladies zip neck jumpers. I have chosen some pastel blues and pinks for this range and they have had a great reception so far.

If you could sum up Tom Lane in a sentence, what would it be?

Tom Lane is a lifestyle brand proudly designing and manufacturing clothing, luxury socks & accessories in Britain.

Do you have a typical customer? Or do you find your products have a broad appeal for all ages?

I find that we don’t really have a typical customer. We certainly have a broad range of customer ages – I like to think we have something for everyone.

What are you most excited about for this year’s event?

We have taken a bigger stand for the Game Fair this year, my business has grown so much from our last visit to Ragley and it’s exciting to be able to showcase all of our new collections.

Where can visitors find Tom Lane at the event? Are there any special offers they should know about?

Our stand number is D325. I am putting on lots of show offers across the ranges to celebrate the Game Fair. See you there!

To find out more about Tom Lane, see the website here. And to find out more about The Game Fair, see the website.

Mackenzie & GeorgeMackenzie & George – I couldn’t do this kind of series without including them!
I have the absolute privilege of working with Mackenzie & George… which is more than a little useful given my addiction to the company’s hats, brooches, keyrings and leather accessories. But more about that another time!
Mackenzie & George’s stunning products are an essential part of anyone’s country ‘kit’, but more than just looking gorgeous, everything is beautifully made to last. The leather belts are crafted in the company’s Shropshire workshop, the beautiful feather brooches are made by Wendy Goode and are something else… it’s all lovely. What’s more, Chris and Melanie Clarihew who are co-founders, are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and the team are so lovely too. Now, over to Mackenzie & George.

Mackenzie & George Cartridge KeyringStands to see at The Game Fair – Mackenzie & George

How long have you been exhibiting at The Game Fair?
Since 2013, our first full year of doing shows. We started in Rural Crafts and then took the decision to go outside two years ago, and so pleased we did!
Which product are you most excited to show the people visiting The Game Fair?
We are launching our dog collar range so that’s going to be really exciting; it is something we are asked for all of the time, and means we get to meet some gorgeous four legged customers as well!
What’s your newest product? What makes it special?
We’ve got quite a few new pieces at the moment.  Along with the dog collars which are all made in our signature vegetable tanned leathers, and have personalisation or branded shotgun cartridge options, we also have our new solid brass cuffs which we are doing in an exciting range of colours and

Mackenzie & George Wycombe

textures – I completely adore them! Then we also have our new Marlborough belt and clutch, and keyring all featuring our branded M&G solid brass shotgun
cartridge

.

Which product do you expect to be a best seller?
The Wycombe is an everyday classic that has that touch of shooting inspired design, works for men and women and looks beautiful personalised!
If you could sum up Mackenzie & George in a sentence, what would it be?
Timeless design that lasts.
Do you have a typical customer? Or do you find your products have a broad appeal for all ages?
I don’t think we do, I think quality speaks to people of all ages.

Mackenzie & George at The Game Fair

What are you most excited about for this year’s event?
Our dog collar competition! The prosecco stand & seeing all our lovely customers!
Where can visitors find you at the event? Are there any special offers they should know about?
You’ll find us on stand F704.  Yes! We will have show discounts, lucky dip scratch cards
with each purchase, an amazing dog competition AND a free glass of bubbly – what more could you ask for?
Find out more about Mackenzie & George here, and find out more about The Game Fair here.

Albion England LogoHave you heard of Albion England? When I started in this industry, Albion was really well known for exceptional quality saddlery. Many of the top horses strutted their stuff in Albion saddles and bridles. And I can still remember the much adored Albion dressage saddle in the tack room on the event yard I used to work at. It was a thing of beauty and was so nice to ride in. Even if the horse who owned it wasn’t always the most cooperative, at least you had a comfortable seat!

Albion is now more actively promoting other strings to its leather bow. In recent years, Albion has rebranded as Albion England and has started to make a serious dent in the country lifestyle and shooting scene too.

This leads me nicely to The Game Fair. I’m really excited to be going to The Game Fair this year (and was delighted to write a guest blog too), and as I was scrolling down the exhibitor list, I found a number of stands I was really excited to go and visit… and one was Albion England.

I saw the stand at Badminton Horse Trials and meant to go back and have a look around as it looked absolutely stunning. I did also want to go and sniff the candles (I know I’m quirky, but the names sound divine!) and, also, if you’re horsey, there’s something about the smell of good quality leather. Don’t you think?! Anyway, I digress. When I saw Albion England were on the The Game Fair’s exhibitor list, I took the opportunity to catch up with the team about what we can expect to Albion England The Game Fairsee at the event… over to Albion England.

Stands to see at The Game Fair – Albion England

  • How long have you been exhibiting at The Game Fair?

6 years

  • Which product are you most excited to show the people visiting The Game Fair?

The Albion Sporting Classic Collection – our most prestigious collection and the one we have become known for. Not only is this collection visually stunning, but also of uncompromising quality. The pieces are built to last for generations and this is demonstrated by the outstanding feedback we receive from customers.

  • What’s your newest product? What makes it special?

We are super excited to be launching an all new sporting collection, including a leather gun slip, cartridge bag and cartridge pouch, at this year’s Game Fair. The new cartridge pouch is something we have had many requests for and we are delighted to be bringing this to market for the very first time at this year’s event. This simple yet practical piece is made from a beautiful full gain Italian leather, lined in suede and will no doubt be a stand out piece for The Game Fair.

  • If you could sum up Albion England in a sentence, what would it be?

An array of beautifully handcrafted country lifestyle products, blending artisan craftsmanship with revolutionary innovation and state-of-the-art technology.

  • Your rebrand is incredibly smart and marries the lifestyle, equestrian and shooting elements of your business together in one place… why did you decide to do this? Do you feel there’s a strong cross over in the different areas?

Albion England The Game FairAdding a complementing range of lifestyle and sporting lines is the natural way forward for us and the country lifestyle community have embraced our ever-evolving collections, just as they have so warmly with Albion Equestrian, which has acquired an incredible standing over its 33 year history. Albion England continues to be heavily committed to its equestrian roots, while our evolution now includes the creation of an equality premium portfolio of luxurious leather accessories. Collections are especially designed for the shooting and country lifestyle fraternity, with every product boasting the distinguished effortless style and extraordinary efficacy that is synonymous with Albion.

  • Where can visitors find you at the event?

Stand Number A109 – near the Gunmakers Pub

  • Are there any special offers they should know about?

We will be offering free embossing and complimentary Prosecco to our guests while they wait on our beautifully new redesigned stand. Personalisation is available across an wide range of our leather goods, making them the perfect present for the country sporting aficionado.

Find out more about Albion England here, and find out more about The Game Fair here.

colour palette for your brandOh- colour. It’s such an important thing… and something that is devilishly difficult to get right. While I am far from an expert on colour (I’m working my way through two fabulous courses by Fiona Humberstone – one all about colour psychology- so she is!), I wanted to shed a bit of light on how to pick a colour palette for your brand, based on my experience of mine. In addition, I want to talk about aspects of selecting a colour palette that I think are really important. Well, a few of the points that I think you should consider if you’re in the same boat.

How to pick a colour palette for your brand

You have to like it – before we go any further into what colours means, etc, etc. This point is a really important one. You have to like the colour. It doesn’t have to be your favourite colour, but not something that repels you! You might be wearing heavily branded clothing in this colour, your business cards and stationery will be this colour. You have picked this colour to represent you, your company and your beliefs. You have to like it. And then you need to start looking for the exact shade that you like. A good way to help you if you really don’t know where to start is a good bit of mood boarding. Get magazines and literally rip out bits in colours you like. Don’t overthink it, just pick out ones you like. Don’t add any ‘I like this but…’ caveats, just get ripping. You can sift things at a later stage. You’ll probably notice a theme in the kinds of colours (pastel/neons) and shades (pinks, greens, etc) that you like… and that might help you find the colour/s.

 

Colours mean certain things – this is very much a beginner’s guide to how colour works, but I am just explaining my process on things. Yes, you have to like it, but then you have to realise what the colours mean and if that aligns with what you’re doing. And you’ll also find, at this stage, that many businesses offering similar services have a similar colour palette. And there’s a reason for that. So, you might love the colour red, which can mean love and passion, but also anger and warning. Now, for some brands, this would be absolutely fine, but if you’re an alternative therapist, for example, it’s giving a strange message. Blues, greens and turquoises are associated with calmness, tranquility, even healing… so these make more sense. It’s also one of the first things people see, the colour of your branding. Before they even read a word or have an opinion on what you do or who you are. So for some services and businesses, colour at this stage really makes a huge difference.

 

Think of your audience – if your perfect customer is female, then using colours that appeal to ladies (in general) is a good call. If your business is aimed at men, the same applies. One great example of this, I think, is the Female Entrepreneur Association. The name explains who its target customer is, but the pinks, gold and blush colours really help to emphasis this. This is a great example of how the right colour palette for your brand can communicate a message.

 

What season is your business in? – this is something very much from Fiona Humberstone and my learning through her fabulous books How To Style Your Brand and Brand Brilliance, but also something that’s mentioned in her courses too. The season of a business doesn’t mean you can only use certain colours, but you might find that certain shades of a colour tone better with the season of your business. I think this aspect of colour takes a little getting your head around if I’m honest, but it’s very useful if you can. I have linked to Fiona’s Colour Psychology blog area here to learn more about it, and you’ll find free downloads too.

 

And now for the palette – most brands have more than one colour in their branding. This might seem like a pain, but it’s really useful. It allows you to subdivide product ranges, use different colours for different aspects of your social media and more. These colours usually complement the main colour.

In my case, burgundy is my main colour, I have a sage green as a secondary colour, and do also have a blue too. And I use a lot of white. Of course you can also knock back the opacity of the colours you use too. And don’t forget the colour of your fonts- this is part of it. Mine is grey.

It’s a good idea to work with a pro when picking a colour palette for your brand or, if funds don’t allow, do a lot of reading and research. I genuinely love Fiona and find her knowledge on the matter incredible, so go and have a good read of her blog, follow her on social media and, if you can, buy one of her books or do an online course.

 

The other thing to note is that while colour and picking a colour palette for your brand is important, it shouldn’t stop you from actually launching a business. A nice font in a good colour is all you need to get going. Design shouldn’t stop you progressing with your business, far from it. It should help you further communicate your message and elevate your brand. Keep that in mind!

when to make a business leapThis was a question I was asked a few weeks ago. The question I was asked was actually connected to tradestands at big events, and knowing when to invest in these – when to make the leap, if you will. However, the advice I gave can be applied to any ‘business leap’. Hence why a blog that started off as a very tradestand focussed blog has now somewhat morphed into something general – how to know when to make a business leap.

What’s a business leap?

In this blog, a business leap is something out of the ordinary, unusual and a comfort zone demolisher. It’s a decision that feels scary and daring. It might not be to anyone looking from the outside in but, to the business’s founder, it does.

Are all business leaps huge?

No – and that’s a very important point. Some business leaps are HUGE and cost a lot of money and time – and there’s a lot on the line if it goes wrong. Moving to an amazing new warehouse to increase the size of your operation is a big leap, for example. But the good news is that there are many, many ways you can test the water first, to make sure that your decision is founded on strong evidence and results. This makes the leap a lot more calculated, which should help to reduce any anxiety surrounding it. Yes, it might still be a big leap and it might still be risky, but you can take the sting out of the tail… let’s work through a few examples.

Starting your own business. To some people this means quitting the day job and going all in. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you’re a little more cautious or want to test an idea first, start the business in your spare time. It’ll mean your weekends and evenings will evaporate… but running your own business can be like that when you’re full time too. This way, you can test the market, see what people want, and not compromise your income. You might find the idea is a roaring success and you need to stop your day job to meet demand. And that’s brilliant. But at least when you hand in your notice you can be excited about the next chapter. Don’t get me wrong – it’s STILL scary, but less so.

Taking a tradestand at big events. For many business owners, this is seen as a beacon for how well you’re doing. But if you want your business to survive, you need to care a LOT less about what other people think. Sod the beacons of greatness, just be great! However, there’s no doubt that some events are great for business – from a sales, a marketing, a social media and a market research point of view. Now, a word of warning… even if you have the money, brand and great product, this does not mean you will get the stands you want at big events. It just doesn’t work like that. The more prestigious ones require you to apply and be considered… but with so many people after a limited number of stands, a lot of people end up disappointed.

However, there is another way.

At many of the big equestrian events there are larger tents, like Rural Crafts, World of the Horse, etc. These are still in very high demand but with smaller spaces and more retailers sharing the space, it can be a very cost effective test. Another idea (if allowed by the event in question) is to work with someone who has an existing stand that your brand complements. I’ve seen this done a few times and it can be good for all concerned – as long as you’re not in breach of the venue’s Ts and Cs.

Calculated risks are good

Calculated risks are good. They help us to feel a lot more confident in what we’re about to undertake. However, there is still that moment when you do have to jump (or leap!). But if you do the groundwork, it’s not a jump into the unknown…