Last year, Laura Robinson left her job at one of London’s biggest media agencies to develop My Icon Story, her personalised gifting business.
A year on, she is aiming to become a million-pound business and be internationally recognised within the near future.
Business Advice sat down with Robinson to hear more about what inspired the concept, her lack of funding and her proudest moments.
(1) Who are you and what is your business?
I’m Laura Robinson, the founder and creative director of My Icon Story. I started the business in January 2017, but I have only been trading on the website myiconstory.com since July 2017.
My Icon Story is a personalised gifting platform that lets customers create bespoke art prints through icons. From capturing special memories or amazing experiences, to world travels and life moments. You can turn any story into a personalised icon art print using our custom-built design-your-own functionality on myiconstory.com.
(2) How did you come up with the concept?
We tend to cherish experiences over possessions and material goods. We fill our camera roll with all our amazing memories. After returning from my own sabbatical, I wanted to find a way to display my experience and capture my memories in a product that was personalised to my travels – but stylish and artsy at the same time.
I decided to create my own print by designing minimalist icons of all the places I visited on my sabbatical. Before I knew it, others were asking to design them a print of their own stories and experiences and so I came up with the concept for My Icon Story.
(3) What was key in terms of getting started?
It was key to be sure that my idea was not just an idea and that it actually had legs. I tested the idea offline for nearly a year, just designing prints by hand myself. Only when it got to the point where I could no longer dedicate enough of my spare time I decided to leave my job in advertising to really focus and develop My Icon Story as an online platform where customers could create their own print.
I also needed the time to save up money for the web development – so having enough money at the start was a big deal. But even then, I didn’t save enough.
(4) What makes My Icon Story different?
My Icon Story is also the first personalised print product that uses icons for art and storytelling. This means every print made is completely unique and different. Just like two people are never the same, two icon story prints will never be the same – unless someone is creating two of the same story of course.
We are an online company with a very human feel. The creation of a My Icon Story print is as special and enjoyable to gift as it is receiving it. When someone creates a print, they search and select all the icons that reflect their stories and experiences.
What also sets us apart is our personal service where we offer free icon requests. So, any icon you need to make your print tyranny is unique and special to you, we will design and add to the myiconstory.com icon library.
(5) What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?
Not having enough money to be able to market the website. I had spent all the money in the development phase and then had nothing left to be able to promote it.
I found working as a solo founder tough and lonely, especially with my experience working in a huge agency background. Overcoming my lack of status and self-worth was hard but I kept motivated with the support of family and friends.
(6) Describe your marketing technique – what strategies have you used?
Word of mouth has been great for My Icon Story. I post on social as well as spend money on advertising on Facebook and Instagram. But PR is a game changer for a startup business like My Icon Story.
(7) What has been your greatest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement was getting featured in the Metro paper before Christmas which made a huge difference to my first year of trading and being able to buy Christmas presents for the family. I hit well over my first 100 orders through the website and business has gone from strength to strength. Receiving orders from customers who have no relation to me was such a big milestone.
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