Most businesses have an online presence nowadays, even if they have a bricks and mortar set up too, but the thing with social media is that everything can look so perfect, so curated, so glossy from the outside. I wanted to get behind the curtain, inside the minds and into the hearts of some of my favourite businesses and find out more about the people that run them. I figured if I was curious to know more, maybe you could be too?
Welcome to my fortnightly series The Face Behind the Business. Come behind the scenes with me, behind the perfect image we see at the store front level and meet some wonderful Kiwis doing wonderful things (and learn their secrets to success).
I discovered Sammy and her incredible art work on Instagram – have I ever mentioned just how much I love that social media platform? Nothing but love! And then I had the pleasure of actually meeting her at the Hatch’d Boutique Fair back in June. She is utterly gorgeous and as friendly as can be. I wanted to buy her entire collection but since we are about to embark on renovations and rooms will be rearranged dramatically, I decided to wait until we are completed to choose pieces for my kids rooms. I did buy the little “Chaos Resides Here” print that you may have seen featured in many of my morning smoothie shots. How could I not, it sums up my kids perfectly! I’m so excited to bring you the scoop on Sammy and her amazing talent. Read along to find out more about what makes her tick and how she started out in this business.
ABOUT THE BUSINESS
Alphabets & Animals is my little home run business, specializing in selling my hand drawn illustrations and prints.. I also collaborate and work with other businesses creating exclusive designs that are used on their products such as clothing, shoes, blankets, pillow cases, phone cases and logo’s!
Where did the original idea of your business come from?
To be completely honest It all happened completely by accident haha … To this day I still don’t understand how it became my full time job, but in saying that I am grateful beyond words that it is. One really stormy night I was in bed watching a movie and drawing in my sketch book, I thought it turned out pretty cool so I posted a photo of it on my personal Facebook page… the next morning I had a bunch of comments and messages asking if I would be selling it!
This got me thinking I should put all my work together in one place, so I started my Alphabets & Animals page, purely for my friends and family to check out my work (I had the intention of drawing an Animal for each letter of the alphabet, hence the name).
However within a week I was getting orders for commissions and prints from people all over the world!!.. Followers and work continued to grow steadily to the point that after a month of starting up I was able to leave my real job and become my own boss… and the rest is history 🙂
What are you most proud of with the launch of your company?
I think I am most proud when I see where I have sent my work. It makes my heart happy to know that I my work is known and recognized internationally and displayed in my customers beautiful homes all the way over on the other side of the world. its crazy! And it totally makes my day when I get emails from my customers telling me how happy they are when their packages arrive!
What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
Pacing myself and learning to say no has definitely been the hardest thing for me to learn haha At the beginning I was so excited and ended up going flat out every single day, all day and most of the night working on commissions, packing orders, answering emails etc… It was so intense and I burnt myself out pretty quick. But I have loved every minute of my journey and I have finally reached a good balance with work and family life.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
Hands down the most rewarding part of this whole experience has been meeting, collaborating and working with all the AMAZING hard working and beautiful women who are also running their own businesses. I have been seriously fortunate to have met so many of these lady bosses. They have been so supportive and kind right from the start, I adore them all!
Do you have plans to expand your range?
Oh good gracious you better believe it haha At the moment I have a few big projects in the works behind the scenes. It is all a bit secret squirrel at the moment but by the end of 2015 there will be some special goodies coming out including my own children’s book and fully illustrated adult coloring book!
What’s your mantra or the one piece of advice that has stuck with you through the process of starting your own business?
I always ask myself “Do I love this?”… If make or design something I am not 100% in love with, I wont go with it. I only want the best for my customers, so right down to my hand designed packaging, I only produce things I am proud of and I know they will love too.
Tell me a little about you & your family.
My name is Sammy O’Neill I am 26 and I live in Auckland NZ with my darling Husband Karney. We are Two mental peas in a pod 🙂 I met him 3 days before I moved to California because he was sitting in my seat at a convention…
The first text he ever sent me said “Hey Sam rhymes with Lamb!”
Three days later He came to the airport to see me off. Three months later we started talking and getting to know each other over email and on the phone… I thought he had a hot phone voice haha. Seven months later I moved home to be with him!
He fought hard for me and made me love him more than I thought imaginable. A year later he proposed to me where we had our first date … we got locked in and had to call security to let us out, they let us off without a fine when we told them we just got engaged.
Six months later I had the privilege of marrying my soul mate and best friend. That was four and a half years ago and I can honestly say I love him more now than ever.
What’s your favourite (family) activity or outing?
Anything to do with food!! My hubby and I are big time foodies and we are obsessed with board games haha
How do you get ‘me time’ and what do you enjoy doing to achieve that?
It is really hard to get REAL me time, I always have something to get done or someone to get back to. But my favorite times are when I get to spend one on one time with Karney. We watch movies, eat together and make each other laugh.. a lot 🙂 oh and sleeping
What words of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Pace yourself and make it work for YOU. And talk to other business owners you admire… I am so thankful to my new business friends that I have come to know over the last 10 months, they are always so supportive and they inspire me daily.
Your go to meal?
Crunchy Linseed Burgen toast with ludicrous amounts of avocado, fresh tomato and grated cheese with lemon pepper and a big fat cup of tea…. arrrrgh, we could eat that all day every day!
You can find Alphabets & Animals online via these channels, so please pay Sammy a visit:
We are lucky enough to have an Alphabets & Animals print to giveaway for one very lucky follower. To win an A2 Golden Louie Print (pictured above), please head to my Facebook page and follow the instructions there.
Until next time. x