Sophie King’s obsession with hair accessories led to the organic growth of her business, Crown and Glory. Based in Cornwall, UK, Sophie’s original and stunning pieces have been picked up by Teen Vogue, Rock’n’Roll Bride and Company magazine. Crown and Glory has evolved from a hobby to an international brand with stockists in Dubai, Japan and the USA. Her approach to her creative passion is fantastic. Sophie has the precious mix of creative talent and commercial mindedness towards which we all should strive.

Whole Lotta Rosie HeadbandAt Two Red Trees we’ve been working on a book that aims to help creatives who’d like to become more commercially minded. Get Paid For Your Passion is due to be on sale from late November. As part of the book we asked Sophie if she would be happy to answer a few questions and share some of her experience for the benefit of others. Here is an extract from her interview:

There are a lot of hair accessories on the high street, how do you differentiate your product from these?

The real difference between our products and those available on the high street is that every piece is designed with durability and high quality in mind. When I first started Crown and Glory there weren’t that many fashion-led hair accessories around – more a quick nod to it at the end of the jewellery section in each store. But as these collections have expanded, the quality actually seems to have got worse. For us, being trend led doesn’t have to mean throwaway fashion – after all, trends tend to stick around season after season with a very slight twist each time.

Your product is quite niche, could you explain the benefits and drawbacks of this?

Having a core range of products and designs really enables me to hone in on my craft and ultimately aim to ensure that Crown and Glory hair accessories are market leaders in the field. I think people would be surprised at how much return custom I get – I think if you ‘get’ hair accessories, like costume jewellery, you can never have enough! Adapting for the colder seasons has been a challenge, but international orders actually increase during our winter months so it balances out in the end.

Do you let what’s popular influence what you make, if so, could you explain how you let the market steer your creations?

It wouldn’t be good business sense to not listen to what is selling well. But similarly, just because a product isn’t selling as well as initially hoped it doesn’t mean you should write it off entirely – tweak the photography, play with your prices, is your wording right?

Floral CrownCould you explain how you identified your target audience and how this influences how you sell to them?

This business grew out of a very selfish hobby – I made products that I liked to wear! This enabled the brand to develop a genuine identity and I guess I struck lucky that plenty of other people liked what I was doing, too. I am most definitely not the sort of person that could try to peddle stuff I didn’t believe in, and I think jumping on the bandwagon with trends and not staying true to your own identity can be detected a mile off. After all, people buy from people. I look at the places I buy from, and regularly sit down and digest why it is I’ve been drawn to purchasing those items – are they photographing it really well? Has it been endorsed by another company I like? Is the copy really punchy? Mind mapping is a great tool for this – map out all the reasons you were drawn to buying the item and then what it was you like about that particular reason, finishing with any ideas about how you could apply this to your own marketing tools. Repeat several times, leave it and come back to it, and you’ll soon notice a pattern. Often completely unique marketing ideas will spring from letting influences in from all areas.

New sellers are often bewildered when it comes to choosing a site to sell on. We noticed you sell on a few sites, could you offer some advice on choosing the right sales channel?

I personally sell on a number of different platforms, as it seemed the most cost effective form or advertising and SEO when I was first starting out. I soon learned that whilst some channels work better than others, it is pertinent to keep them all of the same quality as you never know what opportunity may land in your inbox from that particular site!

Obviously it depends on how comfortable you are with computers, what type of item you’re selling etc – but I would say maybe choose three different platforms to start with (if you’re struggling to whittle it down, my top 3 are Bigcartel, Etsy and Two Red Trees) and then go from there. Spend a little time each week or month evaluating the performance of each platform.

Look at the other work on the site – for example, I joined Two Red Trees in its very early stages and whilst there weren’t many ‘big name’ sellers signed up, their mission statement rang really true to me.

For more details on our book Get Paid For Your Passion and to sign up to the mailing list, visit the site here.