Small Business Saturday: Meet Ten of Clubs
This Saturday marks the 9th annual celebration of Small Business Saturday. To mark this year’s campaign, we’re celebrating small businesses from our community that have inspired us.
Each of our winners will receive £100 to spend on freelancer service to help grow their business. Over the course of this week, we’ll introduce you to each of our worthy winners.
First up we have Ten Of Clubs, a design collective creating apparel and artwork from Banbury in the UK. They’re a creative team comprised of artists, illustrators, and graphic designers. We recently caught up with George ‘Skev’ Skevington – Founder & Creative Director – to find out their story.
How did you start your business?
Ten of Clubs was created to be design-led, with decisions being taken by our brilliant group of artists and designers: the Ten of Clubs Collective. Our designers benefit directly from sales of the items they’ve designed, with a percentage of the sales price going straight to the designer.
Having been friends for years, we’d regularly discussed ways to showcase and commercialise our skills. It’s hard for young artists and designers to establish themselves because industries tend to favour experience over potential. Our idea was to reverse that ethos.
We set up Ten of Clubs to be a platform for young British designers to showcase their work. We credit each designer for their work, whether it be an item of apparel or an art piece, with each designer getting a percentage of the profit from the sale of items featuring their work. Because we favour potential more than experience, we trust luck to some extent. In a deck of cards, the Ten of Clubs denotes good fortune, so we adopted it as our name and in it we trust!
What pushed you to take the leap into business?
We’d had the idea for the business for a long time, but it was losing our jobs to Covid that gave us the push to actually make it real. Unemployment made us reflect on our talents and how best to utilise them.
Now we use our design and artistic skills to make unique art and quality apparel, and we sell worldwide via our e-commerce site. Our aim was, and remains to take our negative experience of the Covid pandemic and to remould it into something positive and empowering; specifically, having seen that our everyday freedoms should not be taken for granted. We seek to promote an inclusive vision where everyone is able to exercise their freedom to be who they want to be.
Where is Ten of Clubs today?
Our website and shop – tenofclubs.co.uk – went live in February 2021, and we’ve been learning the ropes of eCommerce ever since. Limited resources have meant that we’ve always had to do the lion’s share of whatever work needs doing ourselves, learning and researching as we’ve gone along.
We have sometimes had to enlist the services of professionals, with PeoplePerHour having proved extremely useful as a quick and cost-effective way of plugging the gaps in our knowledge. We’ve worked with some great freelancers, not just in the UK, but also South Africa and India.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
It’s hard to get noticed as a new business. Because we have finite resources, we have had to focus efforts on organic growth from word-of-mouth, referrals, and grabbing whatever free publicity we can. There’s never enough time, but time does have the advantage of being free!
Investing time is the best way to grow any business, and there are lots of free things you can do to help get your business noticed. For example, anyone can register for free with Help a Reporter Out – an online service for journalists to get feedback from experts. When a journalist posts a request that relates to your niche, you just need to be ready to jump on it. If your feedback makes the journalist’s life easier, they’re more likely to use it and credit you.
How have you grown the business?
We’ve grown our business by staying true to the vision we agreed on when we started out. It’s very easy to be blown off course by events, and even more so by apparent opportunities. Before making any strategic business decisions, we discuss and check that they’re consistent with our core plan. Clarity of purpose is essential. As are patience and persistence.
How have freelancers helped grow your business?
PeoplePerHour has been our go-to place for freelancers, enabling us to access the skills we need as we grow our business. If there’s a job we can’t do – which in our case is typically computer coding or complex ‘under the hood’ IT tinkering – we know there’ll be someone on PeoplePerHour that can help.
We check reviews to get a better understanding of the freelancer’s skills and performance, and, because payments are escrowed till the job is done, we know we won’t be paying for work not done.
Congratulations to Ten of Clubs on being our first Small Business Saturday winners! Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of the week as more of our winners are revealed.