How does one go about starting your own business from scratch? Furthermore, how do you make sure it will be well-received and has the potential to succeed?
For 24-year-old Stuart Clague, lockdown on the Isle of Man was a chance for him to think more about what he really wanted to pursue as a career. He founded Isle of Man Prints in August this year, assisted by his two younger brothers, Marcus and Nick – otherwise collectively known as ‘The Three Clagues' – a nod to the Manx triskelion.
(Stuart, Marcus and Nick Clague AKA The Three Clagues).
Stuart worked with Nick at a café in Port St Mary after coming back from travelling, which closed just after lockdown was lifted. It was during this period that he started to utilise the skills that he'd learnt from marketing at the café to develop his own idea.
Reflecting on his beginnings, Stuart told us, “I saw somebody in England who had started selling photos and I thought about how my other brother, in Milan, who's background is videography, can also take some good photos. I went around the Island with him for a couple of weeks and it's kind of snowballed from there.”
“I've always wanted to learn new things and thought about how I could set up something to just keep myself busy. I thought about formulating a new business model and how on the Isle of Man, there's quite a few entrepreneurs and always thought that the marketing of it has been poorly executed. One of my biggest ‘things' is a business being easy to buy from, so that's why I went for Etsy. From there, it went into a transition into how I could grow it, and I thought: prints.”
It wasn't all plain sailing for Stuart though, as he explained, “I had a knee injury and was stuck at my laptop on the sofa. I started playing around with some graphic design stuff - I don't have that much experience, but I want to get into marketing, so considered how it would ‘double it up'. I merged the two together and I love the feedback I'm getting and just enjoying it.”
Stuart's previous jobs were more of an athletic nature on completing his studies in Sport Business Management at Leeds Beckett University. Reflecting on this, he said, “After I graduated, I managed to get a job at Leeds Rhinos, but it was more customer experience, with some marketing and events. Those were the two routes I wanted to go in but it didn't materialise, so I went travelling and when I came back I started looking for event and marketing jobs – but during lockdown these were cut back. So, I thought about using my time wisely after lockdown and came up with Isle of Man Prints.”
“Since I came back to the Island, I read into the history and heritage a little bit more and thought there were quirky things to share. The history was something I was a bit naïve about, or dismissed when I was younger, and I wondered if there was any way of making it cool.”
Stuart says he is grateful for the encouragement that his friends and family have shown during the process of developing his business and loves the freedom of creating work with his personalised touch. “Being able to wake up in the morning and thinking, “What do I want to do today?” Taking your own initiative and putting your own personality into your own business I've really enjoyed. It takes a bit of ‘working out' from time-to-time, when you do struggle, but I've got friends and family who I can ask for help.”
“The IoM Department of Enterprise has been helpful too. It takes a bit of courage to start-up something and do it, but one of the best things about my business is that I don't have stock or overheads, which has been really helpful as a start-up.”
When asked about his thoughts on what role recruitment agencies play in helping people looking for jobs, he explained, “I think that the message that recruitment agencies are there to help find the jobseeker a job could be stronger. I know it sounds daft, but young people gravitate to the internet so much for one reason or another. Agencies tend to be viewed as approachable and helpful. It is within their interest to develop a relationship with agencies as they can unlock doors that perhaps the internet can't.”
Considering the current global pandemic and seismic shift in how people feel about their career and whether or not they should take the time over Christmas to consider their own path, Stuart said, “We're very fortunate here and I don't take that for granted. In terms of jobs, people will be struggling, and if you have an idea or think something might work, have a play around. I'd work long hours into the evening doing a business plan. Ask as many people as possible – my mates are probably bored of me asking them: “What do you think of this?” They quite like it and have always been supportive. During these tough times, just communicate with your friends and family and if you have got an idea, let your close ones know and hopefully they can help you.”
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