I’ve never been much of a kawaii fan (the “cute” phenomenon which is seen a lot in Japan, Korea and Taiwan) but I fell in love with Ellbie Co‘s Neon Light DIY kits on first sight! (Becci, the founder of Ellbie Co, came to 1 of my Maker & Friends pop-ups to do a workshop with the London Craft Club) Only in her 20s, she’s already come up with so many interesting products and built a great following on Instagram! I was so intrigued, I really wanted to find out more- getting the certification for an electronic kit couldn’t have been easy and how did she even think of the idea in the first place?!
You can use the DIY neon light kit to make anything, but Becci’s signature light is the unicorn.
How did you come up with the idea for these kits?
Well I’ve always liked making things from weird materials, and when I was teaching in South Korea I was inspired by all of the colourful and cute kawaii type designs and packaging – it just all looked so exciting! When I came back to the UK I realised that there aren’t really any DIY kits that offer an alternative to traditional crafting (crochet, knitting etc) so I decided to try and fuse my love of unusual crafting with kawaii design – thus Ellbie Co. DIY kits were born!
Note from Zen: Yes Korean products are amazing!! I LOVED these super cute Face Shop hand creams– in fact I used to sell Korean skincare!- now the containers are used to house my bead collection! 🙂
OMG this self watering planter is seriously kawaii and cute enough to tempt even me!! A must have for people who want to travel and still keep plants at home!!
That sounds really exciting! Tell us about your stint in Korea!
Well…umm…Going to Korea was a pretty spontaneous decision! But one that I never regretted! I was teaching with the TaLK program out there. You tend to spend 15 hours a week teaching children aged 4 – 14 and then the rest of the time is spent either travelling or in my case eating a lot of korean BBQ! I met quite a few expats from all over the world and we travelled together a lot of the time. Seriously though it was such a beautiful country, with mountains everywhere you looked on the horizon, amazing beaches and to die for food. I can’t wait to go back again!
There was a lot of work involved in getting these kits ready for sale- getting certification etc How did you know where to start?! Did you have a business mentor?
Haha! I wish I had a business mentor. I think if I had then things would have moved a lot faster than they have done. To be honest it has just been a lot of trial and error (and googling!). I’ve also had a lot of help and advice from various facebook groups for female entrepreneurs which is always really useful. I’m always learning new things and better ways to do things, it’s not been straightforward but I guess that’s what makes it so fun – it is a bit of a wild ride!
What did you do before this business (besides teaching in Korea)?
Before starting Ellbie Co. I was at The School of Communication Art 2.0 in Brixton. I was there for a year working on live briefs, and doing various other creative tasks! It really is an odd school (there are only 30 or so students!) but it is an absolute dream if you are interested in creativity and advertising. I learnt a lot whilst I was there and I apply quite a lot of what I learnt to Ellbie Co. now!
I understand you started the business some time ago but the products will only be launched in May- how did you cope with having no revenues (& presumably salary!) over the period?
It’s been tough – but I do also work part time at the moment, so that has helped a lot. I live with my partner and I am so lucky that he is supportive enough to allow me to try and build Ellbie Co. without the pressure of having to do a full time job at the same time. But it has been hard going. We never seem to have any money and at times you do feel like giving up and just taking the easy route and getting a 9-5, especially when you seem to always be eating noodles for lunch and dinner. But we both have said that we will always choose to prioritise what makes us happy and hopefully in time that might also pay our bills! I wanted to wait to launch the products in May firstly to ensure they were right. But also because I think it is important always to build a community before you launch otherwise you are launching your products to nobody!
What is your personal fave of the products you will be launching?
Oooh this is a really tricky one – as I like them all but for completely different reasons! But I think probably either the holographic butterfly necklace kit (I wear mine all the time!) or the colour changing mug kit because it adds just that little bit of magic to my morning coffee!
The necklaces do look amazing! But a colour changing mug sounds even more incredible! Can’t wait to see them!
Best and worst moments of the journey so far?
There have a been a lot of good moments – but I think the highlight so far has to be when I sold out my first two workshops with London Craft Club. I had just moved from London to Brighton and was struggling to get back into the flow of doing work. But when they sold out after only a few days it gave me the injection of motivation that I needed to keep going. Plus it was the first time that I had proof of concept that people were interested in my ideas! It was really exciting!
I’m lucky that I haven’t really had any major bad moments yet. But I’d say that the worst moments tend to be the days where I have spent all day speaking to trading standards about packaging or going through receipts and sorting out my accounts. Those days always tend to feel slow and frustrating, because you aren’t actively growing your business. But at the same time they are ultra important!
What are your 2017 plans beyond getting the products launched? Will you be selling primarily online or at craft fairs and through shops as well? Tell us where we can find your products and how we can interact more with your brand!
For 2017 my plans are to launch, selling primarily on my website (www.ellbie.co) and various other online outlets. I am also aiming to bring Ellbie Co. to some craft fairs before Christmas as it would be lovely to meet people face to face! Then after Christmas I will be looking further at wholesale opportunities and some other super secret plans which for now I’m keeping under wraps until summer 2018 hehehehe!
What are the plans for the workshop side of things?
Workshops will be continuing and hopefully will be even more frequent than before! I am already making plans for some in Brighton this coming July. But I’m hoping to host them across the UK, starting in London and then moving further north in 2018. We have hosted them previously with London Craft Club and may still do a few with them, however the majority next year will be independently hosted/collaborative efforts with other makers which is very exciting!
These pinatas look like they’ll be a cute class!
And I wouldn’t mind this cushion too!
Your IG page is incredible- over 12,000 followers in such short time! What are your top 3 tips for building an IG following?
Yeah, I still don’t quite know how that has happened to be honest, but it is really encouraging!
My three top tips would be:
1) Post regularly with bright exciting images, ideally everyday and following a specific colour pallette – keep a theme or style.
2) Use hashtags – always include lots of relevant hashtags as they are vital to getting your content seen.
3) Share the love – make sure you always spread positivity amongst your own instagram community!
I see what you mean about the colour scheme! 🙂
Personally I can’t wait to see all these kits in person! How about you? Which one’s your fave?