Learn more about City Inspired vendor AfroTouch Design
What inspired you to start AfroTouch Design and how long has your business been running?
I’ve always known that I wanted to have a business of my own, but was never clear about what industry it would fall under as I’ve always been interested in many different things, from science and English to media and art. It wasn’t until I was on maternity leave from my pharmacy role with my son that the idea of developing a card range came to mind. A Black friend of mine had also just had a baby and I was looking for a card to give her that was a reflection of her and her new family and couldn’t find one. So, I decided to do something special and make a card for her. It was a simple card with a baby buggy made out of African print fabric, thinking on it, it was terrible, but she loved it. I then started making bespoke cards for family and friends and they seemed to be really well received. At my son’s 1st birthday party I set up a small stand with some Valentine’s Day cards and they were a huge hit. I knew then that I was on to some thing and making cards that were had finished with fabric gave them that special touch and so at that time Special Touch Designs was born. I opened an Etsy store in 2015 and then decided to launch my own online store in May 2016. After three years I learned more about my customer base and the community I wanted to serve and decided to re-brand in June 2019 to AfroTouch Design – An Urban Stationery brand.
What is the process of creating AfroTouch Design products?
I’m currently a one-woman band and design and make all the products myself at home. I don’t consider myself to be a true artist, I learned how to put the designs together using Google, over time I’ve learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and the quality and feel of my products have improved over time. I used to print the cards at home, but I wanted a more premium finish so outsourced the printing and then hand finish the cards at home. I now have a laser cutter which makes the process much quicker than a pair of scissors! I select all the fabric myself and I love that part of the process. Each card is really unique due to the nature of the cut which means that my customers get a one of a kind card every time. The Mug designs and Notebooks are all design by me and then I outsource the printing. I would love to eventually have a team to support manufacturing and design.
What has been your greatest accomplishment since you started your business?
I think my re-brand has been my greatest accomplishment I gave myself 6 months to do it and it was a huge task thinking about the name and the branding and then redesigning 130 plus cards and launching new products, but I was able to do it whilst working a full-time job and looking after a family of five.
What have been your greatest challenges so far? How have you overcome them?
The greatest challenge for me is around managing my time. I have, on a good day about 3 hours to run my business and this time has to involve everything from production, promotion, accounting, wholesale management and much more so being a one woman-led business it a huge challenge but last year I decided to take on a Virtual Assistant who had been such a huge help with managing my CRM system, blog, and other administrative tasks.
What advice do you have for Black creatives that are interested in starting a business?
1. Don’t wait for things to be perfect because you start otherwise you never will. Just put something out there and refine it as you go, nothing is set in stone and so you can change your mind about things whenever you need to along the journey after it’s your business.
2. Also, stay on top of your numbers from the get-go, know your outgoings and your income and invest in an accountant early. Keep a list of how much things are costing you and how much you need to make to cover expenses, invest back into your business and also make a profit
3. Don’t let money be your driving force if you are meeting a true need for your customer and filling a gap that is meaningful, the rest will follow in time
What is your favourite product?
My favourite products are my mugs, they are so colourful and true statement pieces/ I love the fact that they are unapologetically Afrocentric!
Why did you decide to join a subscription box?
I think it's important for brand awareness and a great way of letting people know what amazing creative business are out there.