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Diary of a start-up: Introducing Lisa Edoff

The first-time entrepreneur shares her story so far

Meet Lisa Edoff. Over the coming months, Lisa will be writing a monthly blog for Startups, taking us behind the scenes as she prepares to launch her own range of homeware products and accessories. In her first piece, she brings us up to speed with her progress so far…

My name is Lisa Edoff. I am a graphic designer/illustrator from Sweden, who's been living in London for the past seven years. I'm in the process of launching my first range of home products and accessories for my company, Lisa Edoff Design.

I decided to start my own design company two years after I graduated from university. The decision stemmed from a desire to create my own designs – and the frustration of not being able to find a permanent job in the graphic design industry.

I had done internships and worked freelance for lots of different design companies in London for two years. They all seemed happy with my work, but none of them offered me a job. On top of that I wasn't happy with the kind of freelance work I was getting. I wanted to get into a different kind of design sector – surface and pattern design.

The idea of becoming a pattern designer came about when I decided to create a background pattern for my blog “A Piece of Lisa“. I discovered I had a passion and talent for creating repeat patterns with my drawings. I was already registered as self-employed so I decided to make more patterns in my free time and try to sell them to larger companies, to use on their products.

I got some great feedback and interest from huge companies such as IKEA, but in the end they decided my designs didn't fit into their range of products. However, the fact that they were interested and asked me to come and meet them spurred me on.

The idea to start up my own company and create products under my own name came when I was walking around Stockholm with a friend. We looked at some designer kitchen trays and found that they were produced and sold by a young designer just like me. I thought to myself: “If she can do it, I can!”

I had been working on several pattern designs for more than a year, and I knew what kind of products I wanted to make with them. All I needed was some start-up funding.

I'd heard about a new funding grant that an organisation called SEE was giving out to creative start-ups. SEE works together with the University of the Arts London, so to apply for their grant you have to be alumni or a current student at the university. The funding they offered sounded great, since you don't have to pay it back or offer them a share in your company, so I decided to apply.

The application process was a great learning experience in itself because I was forced to really think about my idea and what I wanted to do. Before that I had never written a business plan or implementation plan.

The application also included a video pitch, in which they wanted to see your personality. My fiancé, who has worked in video and film production, helped me film and edit the one-minute video. A month later I got an email from SEE offering me the full grant of £5,000!

Here's my video pitch:


And that's where we are today. I have just received £4,000 funding (the remaining £1,000 will be released if I hit certain targets within my first year) and am ready to start my business adventure!

My next step is to finish off a couple of designs and then start the production of the products. Lisa Edoff Design will offer a range of products including bags, iPad/laptop cases, kitchen trays and coasters, fabric and stationery.

The unique selling points (USPs) of Lisa Edoff Design are: … Unique, modern designs … Practical and fun accessories … Great quality products that are locally produced … Visually stunning and imaginative designs that are on trend My goal is to get the products ready within the next three months and also to launch an online store in that time. My long-term goals and hopes for the business are for my products to be sold in shops all over the UK and Sweden, and to eventually open up my own stores!

For more updates on Lisa's start-up story, follow her on Twitter: @LisaEdoff


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