Starting a business is tough I’ve learnt, we’ve decided to make it even tougher by doing it as a newly married couple. We always intended to start a blog from the very beginning to document our ups, downs, triumphs and disasters right up to our inevitable divorce! Unfortunately we got carried away with designing and so have only come to this stage(the blog, not divorce-yet!) as we hit our first hurdle. So firstly a quick catch up on where we’ve got up to.
After over 10 years of working for other people across various sections of the design industry, we decided it was time for a change. My background is in graphic design, which evolved into placement print design for apparel. I’ve found it hard to rediscover what I actually enjoy designing,having worked for other brands for so long.
My wife has a background in textile design and womenswear print, and originally worked for fashion brands before moving to a textile studio. Whilst remaining more creative and fashion-led than the pathway I had taken, it was a very time pressured environment. Designs had to be churned out on a weekly basis, to try and make the commission based salary worthwhile. In short both of us needed to escape! Unfortunately we have a mortgage to pay, so for now one of us escaped, one of us goes into work everyday and pretends to work whilst doing as much for our own company as possible, when people aren’t watching.
We toyed with many different business ideas, but finally settled on a printed Stationery business. This came from how much we’d enjoyed making our invites for our wedding and seemed like as good a place as any to start. We both wanted the name of the company to to be a reflection of the fact this was a joint venture, but embarked upon a ream of names which were either too bizarre, longwinded or just plain awful. Just when we’d both given up hope of ever finding ‘our’ name, my wife had a flash of genius and suggested combining our initials and so CL.AM was borne. I am CL, she is AM- it’s one of those modern marriages I’m told, or rather Annahita has never been fond of my surname, or the adoption of it.
The first couple of weeks went ok, the design part of the process was relatively easy. Annahita worked on the design range, whilst I struggled to find my style and get the shell of a website up and running. Its still only a holding page but its getting there-www.cl-am.com
I’d also found someone to produce the envelopes. A specialised printers that did high quality all-over digital and litho printing, and made-up bespoke envelopes called Baddeley Brothers. Based in London Fields, East london they were rare and perfect. We got prices, and although an expensive thing to do, it seemed like we could make it work-for a minimal profit at least.
This is when we hit our first hurdle and brings you up to date with where we are today. Everything was going swimmingly, we sent our final designs off to the printers and then discovered a small miscommunication meant the price suddenly doubled. We were already stretching ourselves as much as we could cost-wise, were ordering larger quantities than we were comfortable with to get the unit cost down, and now discovered it was completely unaffordable. We were crushed,despondent, and back to square one.