I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series, featuring Fotini Tikkou. If you are new here, our Meet the Maker series celebrates some of our favorite leading business wisdom and a peek behind some of our favorite brands.
Meet Fotini Tikkou of Fotini Tikkou Illustrations
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Fotini: Being able to make a living from what I love (creating art) was always a dream of mine. Things just happened on their own really. I started sharing my work online and people’s response was really overwhelming. That’s when I realized that people would pay to have my work in their homes so I just grabbed the opportunity and worked hard to build my online shop.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Fotini: I would say my work is colourful, optimistic, and straightforward. Diversity and inclusion are recurring subjects in my work, too.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Fotini: I sell my work online through my online shop. There’s also a selection of my prints and stationery in different shops in Europe and the US.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Fotini: I didn’t know much about starting a small business so I had to do a lot of research and there was also some trial and error. My vision for my business though was quite close to the way it’s functioning today. I wanted my shop to be friendly to my customers with a personal touch. I wanted it to give me a significant amount of income without tying me down too much so that I would have the freedom to work only on projects I really loved doing.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Fotini: Everyday is different. I’m afraid I’m not that good at keeping a strict schedule – having a toddler doesn’t help much either. I have always been a night owl so during the evening is when I’m most productive. I’ve always liked the serenity that comes with working late at night when the rest of the world is sleeping. There’s much less distraction then. Usually, I do admin work in the morning together with handling my social media or answering emails.
After I pick up my daughter from daycare at around 15:30 I spend the rest of the day with her til she goes to bed at around 21:00. After that, I will usually sit down and work on my projects at home. I also have my own studio close by where I work on my pottery and on packing my e-shop orders. So some days I work from my studio and others from my home. Practically I would say that even though my schedule is not fixed I end up working pretty much all day except when I’m with my daughter. Luckily I happen to have a very supportive partner who always has my back when things get too demanding with work.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Fotini: I think they should think about the ‘Who,” the “What” and the “How” principle. “Who” meaning who they are and who their audience is; knowing who will buy your work is important to help you choose the right products for your shop. “What” meaning their identity, how they would like to be defined as a business. That would make people relate to it much easier. And last but not least “How” meaning what methods they are going to implement to attract possible clients and how their whole business will function. All in all my advice would be to plan and organize your business as much as possible before you launch it. There’s going to be a lot of details that you will have to re-adjust but having a good plan beforehand will help a lot.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Fotini: That is something that happens quite often lately. Juggling all the different aspects of being a freelance illustrator and a small business owner can be quite overwhelming. When I feel that I’m about to burn out I try to shut down a bit. Get off social media, slow down my production, say no to projects and take some time off without doing anything business related. It’s not always possible but even a day or two off can really help.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Fotini: I think opening my online shop was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Fotini: When I started out, I obviously had no idea how exactly to do things. There’s always a learning curve with everything. I remember calculating shipping costs gave me a bit of a headache. Dealing with the post was tricky and as I offered a tracking and a non-tracking option at first there were some incidents with lost or damaged packages. Even though I made clear in my e-shop that I would not be held responsible for damages by third parties, I did have to reimburse customers and make up for the damage. I solved this by offering only a tracking option for more peace of mind and also by reinforcing my packaging, especially for longer destinations.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Fotini: The only thing that I cannot imagine doing my business without is Instagram. That is my number one business tool. Without Instagram, my business would definitely be very different. I’m not even sure my e-shop would exist. Instagram gave me immense visibility which translated into a big buying audience. 98% of my customers come straight from my Instagram account and that is where I do all my marketing and promotion of new products. Without consolidating a significant audience that would be willing to buy your work, launching a shop would be a quite risky move.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Fotini: Hmm…that’s a tough one cause these days so many things happen unexpectedly. It’s hard to predict the future. Obviously, I would love for my business to do as well or even better than how it’s doing today even though that’s a bit of an intimidating thought for me as having a small business is only part of what I do for a living. I need to be able to work on the rest of my projects as well as creating art.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Fotini: “Don’t wait for a miracle to happen, make it happen” – I don’t know who said that.
LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you loathe doing, what would it be?
Fotini: Shopping for clothes.
Thank you, Fotini, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Fotini Tikkou Illustrations, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!