Amy Nolan of Ginger Rainbow explains the importance of really listening to what your customer wants

Amy Nolan had been hand drawing designs on to bags and T-shirts and selling them at market stalls as a side venture for a while before taking the step in February 2016 to become fully self-employed. She set up Ginger Rainbow, a mainly online business where customers can buy pillowcases, bags, washbags, cards, banners and other items that they can then colour in at home with fabric pens.

“I create all of the designs myself,” explains Amy. “I am inspired by simple lines and happy themes.” Currently she is concentrating on creating appealing images that work well for both boys and girls, and has sketchbooks full of ideas. She also offers a bespoke design service for customers that are planning parties or other events.

“I only use screen print and sell all of my products with a pack of fabric pens for the customer to then colour in the image and customise as they see fit. I wanted to sell a product that was accessible for all different ages to customise and make their own. However, if you buy one of my products and don’t colour it in, it still looks striking by itself – black and white always looks good!”

Amy has been using the screen printing services of Flippin Sweet in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, since owner Danny Donald liked one of her posts on Instagram – it is, as she points out, an excellent marketing strategy. “I had been struggling to find a printer who would even send me a quote or understand what I was trying to do. They had appeared put off that I wanted printed pillowcases and were not able to explain to me the print process so that I would understand things like the design being totally flat on the pillowcase. It was becoming really disheartening.

Printing pillowcases for Ginger Rainbow

“I got in touch with Danny and he understood straight away what I was trying to achieve. He said he would happily do the job if I sent him the pillowcases as he didn’t have a supplier for those. It’s gone on and developed from there.

“I would definitely recommend Danny to other people. He is brilliant at what he does and I feel like he really has my back. For example, when I was trying out different pillowcase suppliers, he received a delivery of blank pillowcases and knew straightaway they weren’t the quality I would be happy with. He got in touch and let me know and had them couriered down to me so I was able to sort it out. In my view, that is quality customer service and absolutely priceless.”

Amy now uses pillowcases from Thomas Kneale & Co in Manchester, while her bags and other items are Westford Mill products that Danny supplies for her. “They are great quality, sturdy, and wash well,” she explains. “This is important to me as I’m obsessed with delivering a quality product.”

She has some advice for decorators thinking of working with creative startups such as Ginger Rainbow: “Don’t forget that not everyone has all the professional printer lingo to describe what they are looking to achieve. Have vision and don’t write off projects that sound a bit strange, they could grow into something brilliant! Seek out artists and makers on Instagram – there are a lot of us out there. It can be so hard to find great printers – the choice can be overwhelming. Be easy to find and easy to do business with.