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From Unemployed to Entrepreneur – Cheryl’s Designs
Published on May 9, 2016 by admin

From Unemployed to Entrepreneur – Cheryl’s Designs

When one door closes another one opens and that was definitely the case for Cheryl Taylor of Cheryl’s Designs. When she found herself at one of those cross-roads in life, Cheryl took the road least travelled; she opted to follow her passion for design and became an entrepreneur.  That was almost eight years ago, and while the journey has had its bumps in the road, her drive and love for the trade she plies has kept her motivated as she pushes on to success.

“After becoming unemployed I was trying to find out what I really wanted to do and I tried different things. I tried clothing for example and that did not work out, and so finally I enrolled in a class which focussed on pouf and drapery making. As I learnt how to create various pieces and realized it offered me the opportunity to apply my creativity, I really started to get into it.  A support system is so important when you are embarking on a venture and so I quickly found that the items I created were appealing to a number of persons who were exposed to them and they started making request for my poufs.  The response was very encouraging and gave me the impetus to go after it full time and to develop this business. I have now engaged it for almost eight years now.

Cheryl’s Designs specialises in the design of a variety of cushions, trunks, foot stools, ottomans and poufs: “The difference with my products, and what makes my poufs for example to be very different, is the functionality and multipurpose design. They are also storage pieces. One of my favourite pieces is the storage trunk with sits at the foot of the bed but also doubles-up as a sitting area. In my personal life I am always thinking of ways to eliminate clutter and so I found I could design multifunctional items which were attractive, served the initial intent but also served as storage pieces.  We are always looking for extra storage space in our homes; I found this to be a need in the market and I took up the challenge to meet that need.

“What has been integral to my success is the fact that I continually try to have what I do stand out and to be functional, the colours and vibrancy are my hallmark and I am constantly working on different designs and textures; I like to play with the textures  and to improve on what I have.  If we stop innovating our products will become mundane so the drive is always on to keep the creativity flowing. I try to produce different pieces and the materials and finishes I use make the difference.

“When you start out you have neither a fancy marketing plan nor a substantial marketing budget, so for me my work had to speak for itself; and it apparently spoke volumes. Word of mouth is still the biggest and best marketing tool and so this has worked for me. As people became exposed to my product and enjoyed the multiple benefits, they recommended me to friends and family. I also had good reception at a variety of shows; BMEX is a good example of that and so the business has continued to grow. This is my 3rd or 4th time returning to BMEX with the Women Entrepreneurs of Barbados and this year I want to have an added feature with my picture frames; some from fabrics and some from wood but the colours are vibrant.

“The primary challenge we undoubtedly face as entrepreneurs is the funding to help us grow; whether it is to assist in the production of the product or simply getting the product in the market so that people can touch it.  We need a place where our products can be displayed permanently. Sometimes the financing to cover the cost of production is restricted and so it limits our creativity and impact. Sometimes brilliant ideas have to be shelved because the cost of developing the product is expensive and consequently prohibitive. However, amidst it all I try to overcome the obstacles that come my way and whenever I review a finished product I always try to do something better the next time.

“My advice to anyone who is thinking about taking the road of entrepreneurship is to find something you are passionate about, something that you really love doing and then dedicate 110% of yourself to developing that business.  Of course you should do your market research to make sure that it is marketable. Initially that may be among friends and family; see what they think about the idea and the product that you are thinking about producing. Make it appealing and then go out there and put forth your best sales pitch to make it work.  There is little which cannot be accomplished with passion, drive, a good support system and a fair amount of business acumen.  You will hit some bumps in the road but if you are willing to push pass them, your success will come.”

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