Understanding your product market is an important aspect for small businesses. There are so many things to consider starting a business (and you can see a great checklist to get started here).

We teamed up with Alice Thorpe, owner of Soul & Fire, to talk about how she established her product market and how to continue to evolve.

Business inspiration

“My business all started with my YouTube channel,” Alice explained.

“I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember. The minute I left school I set up my channel to express myself. On my channel, I share my creative journey as a freelance graphic designer. From this, I’ve gained an audience who were keen to have my designs in physical forms. This is when Soul & Fire came about. Because of my passion for creating things, and also my huge love for stationery, it was the perfect next step in developing myself and my career.

“I personally really thrive when I have colourful and uplifting things around me. Soul & Fire allows me to channel my creativity and graphic design skills into physical products which other people can enjoy”.

Alice adds, “It gives me butterflies when I get sent photos of people using my products - it’s always such a pinch-me moment.”

Product market - personalised products

Understanding the product market

"The purpose of Soul & Fire products is to be cute, yet practical,” but she explains that she always asks her audience what they would like to see from her.

“For example, back when I was in university I was desperately in need of some organisation in my life. This is when I created my very first weekly planner. Those planners were a huge investment at the time but I knew that there was a market for them. I took the leap and luckily it paid off.

“Now I’m older and a homeowner, my products have shifted slightly. We now stock to-do list pads, shopping lists and even mesh shopping bags. Soul & Fire will always be evolving, and I always embrace that change and any new challenges that come alongside that.”

A memorable business

For Alice, what keeps her business memorable is that she “keeps things personal”. Explaining, “I work solo in the studio Monday to Friday, then after a big launch I employ my mum who comes in and helps me pack and post orders.”

“I like to share what we’re up to online on Instagram and also with vlogs on my YouTube channel. The transparency of what we do really helps people get on board with us as a brand. They can really see what work goes on behind the scenes, and they can invest in not just a product but the whole process behind them.”

Business journey surprises

The biggest surprise for Alice was that “there is so much admin, and it never seems to end”, confessing, “I always have to make a conscious effort to not get stuck in just simply running my business, and instead make sure that I make time to actually grow the business.

“It’s very easy to get stuck in the day-to-day runnings and feel comfortable with what’s going on, but I’ve learnt the hard way that you need to pause and take time to create. Otherwise, the business will stay stagnant and never grow, which is obviously not what we want.

“Sometimes I find it really hard to pull myself away from my really long admin to-do list, but I now know that a few hours of design work will go a long way in the grand scheme of things.”

Biggest business tip

“My biggest tip is to do your research.

“Make sure you know who your target audience is, what it is they want, how much they are likely to spend and be sure to be thorough with your findings.

“When I started, I had my YouTube audience, which meant I almost did it backwards. They told me what they wanted, and I made it.

“Whereas now, I definitely focus more on researching and looking for what can work rather than being told what can work. I find this usually gives you room to grow and think further outside the box.

Alice - Small Business Owner

Understanding your Product Market with Alice Thorpe

We want to say a massive thank you to Alice for sharing her experience as a small business owner! Follow more of her experience of being a small business owner on her Instagram and YouTube channel. And don’t forget to check out her website here.

Want to read more about starting a small business? Check out our articles here.