Welcome to the second in our continuing series of Small Business Spotlight posts, highlighting the hard work of amazingly talented small and micro retail and ecommerce business owners. This article, written based on my own experience gives an insight into the workings of another of our countries micro businesses. 

As with our previous article on The Owl & The Dragon we’re not just blogging about our clients, but about businesses we have found via social media and where one or more of our team made a purchase that led to a “WOW!” moment when receiving the ordered product.

This time the “WOW!” moment came courtesy of an order from MLSPaintings, via their Etsy store that showcases the fantastic artwork of owner, Morag Simpson.

Based in Crieff, Scotland, Morag paints wonderful original artworks encompassing landscapes, sunsets and the wildlife of Scotland. Via her Etsy store Morag sells canvases of varying sizes – with something for every budget – along with greeting cards.

It’s the greeting cards I purchased, along with an included handwritten note, that gave me a “WOW!” moment when I opened the envelope containing my purchases from Morag’s Etsy store. Two cards, printed with Morag’s gorgeous landscapes of the Killen Hills and Perthshire Hills, and a puffin greeting card. Having grown up on the North Coast of Cornwall puffins always remind me of my time spent there before moving back “up country” to Swindon so this was a “WOW!” moment combined with a trip down memory lane.

The order was delivered with a handwritten note from Morag, which was a lovely touch, and an extra card was included with the order, also an added surprise as it was a card that hadn’t been listed on Etsy. I spent a good 10 minutes admiring the beautiful scenes on the cards and reminiscing on my day’s puffin spotting. In this time where there is division between how the Coronavirus pandemic is handled in Scotland, who’s beautiful scenery and wildlife is depicted in Morag’s work, and England where I grew up the puffin card made me think of the similarities between our two nations, rather than the differences.

With the UK still battling the Coronavirus pandemic it’s more important than ever to support micro businesses, whether local or at the other end of the country! Spending money with small businesses goes directly into the pocket of the micro business owner and at times like these puts food on the table rather than into the bank accounts of shareholders.

I reached out to Morag and asked if she could tell me a bit more about MLSPaintings and her work so that I could write this blog post so at this point, I’ll hand over to Morag to let you know more what drives her and her business.

In the words of Morag of MLSPaintings

“I have always loved drawing, painting and all things creative. I have had a go at countless crafts, from jewellery making and silversmithing to clock making, crochet to clay work, but always come back to my first love of line, colour and tone. Being a primary school teacher it is easy to utilise this love in a variety of ways in my day to day job, but having recently dropped one day a week, I now find myself with more time to create just for myself. This has led to an abundance of canvasses and boards taking up increasingly large amounts of space in my attic studio, so I decided to have a go at selling on Etsy.

Having had cards printed last year for a Christmas Fayre and pop up shop, I was surprised and pleased with the success I had with these. Therefore, I decided to try out some card sales in my shop along with original paintings in oils and acrylic. Selling a few pieces so far has enabled me to splash out and try some media hitherto unexplored. I have discovered a new love of pastel painting using artist quality soft pastels – the difference between this and the cheap ones bought in high street discount stores is unbelievable!

Although I am just at the beginning of my selling journey, I have been inspired and encouraged by the supportive creative community I stumbled across on Twitter. This has undoubtedly led to more sales for me, and an encouragement to keep going even when sales are not forthcoming. Achieving a wide audience is the biggest challenge for small businesses selling on Etsy or other online platforms – the number of businesses trying to get noticed is vast, and it is easy for a small business to be lost in the general melee.

To this end, with the orders I have received, I have tried to make sure the personal touch and my gratitude to the buyer is evident. I have included unexpected little freebie cards, written personal messages, and tried hard to ensure that orders are dispatched quicker than expected. I also email to let the buyer know that their order is on its way, and to thank them personally for their purchase. Hopefully this will ensure that customers will share their good experiences with friends, and perhaps even return themselves to buy again.

I am truly excited and grateful whenever someone has chosen to make a purchase from me. It is not only a welcome source of further income (I can buy more arty stuff!) but also a wonderful validation of my work and the assurance that what I am creating really is being appreciated by others.”

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