April Hay of Agate & Ayre
April Hay of Agate & Ayre tells us how participating in the Power Up project - Making digital work for microbusiness - at the Business & IP Centre at The Mitchell Library helped her to engage with her audience online.
Agate & Ayre create luxury textiles inspired by Scottish geology and minerals. The business was launched by April Hay, a textile design graduate, in January 2021 with support from the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Looking to build an audience for her business, April attended BIPC Glasgow’s Power Up Digital Skills Sessions to learn more about how to drive customers to her website.
April’s business journey first started after she graduated in 2016, when she was working part-time in a department store. She was keen to pursue her interest in textiles in her spare time and started making cushions featuring her original geology-inspired prints for friends and family. Realising there was an appetite for her products, she launched ‘Textiles by April’ on a self-employed basis. April describes this experience as an “expensive hobby”, with the money earned from the department store paying for materials to make her products. April felt she lacked the social media and business skills to make the venture a success, opting instead to take a full-time job. ‘Textiles for April’ was shelved.
Due to COVID-19, April was placed on furlough for six months, then made redundant. Struggling to find a new position, April used this time to reflect, and decided what she really wanted to do was return to her passion – printed textiles.
April started her business with the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme, where she received support to write her business plan. The business re-launched as Agate & Ayre with new branding to link with the geological inspiration for her products. April also established her own website and online shop. Keen to develop a following beyond her family and friends, April was eager to learn how to attract a wider audience and drive customers to the website.
While April is a skilled photographer and felt comfortable of her images of her brand and products on visual social media platforms such as Instagram, she felt she could work on developing text content to engage more effectively with her audience. With a limited budget, April also needed access to a low-cost solution that would help her develop the technical digital skills she needed.
Through a Facebook advertisement, April learned about Glasgow Life’s free Power Up digital skills online sessions for business. April attended five sessions, delivered by Technology Coaching Online, to learn about content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), eCommerce, and digital advertising strategies. April enjoyed how the sessions were structured and benefitted from the mix of presentation and break-out rooms, which gave her the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for her website and brand positioning with other attendees.
Attending the sessions gave April the knowledge to apply SEO, and she reviewed the text content on her website and social media posts to be more engaging. She also re-focussed her messaging on call to action. Furthermore, April has developed the skills to identify her target market, and has used resources including ‘AnswerthePublic’ to gain insight into the search terms potential customers are using to find her products.
This has given April the knowledge she needs to target her audience more effectively and the results for her business have been positive. There has been increased traffic to the website and social media activity has led to an increase in the number of followers and greater interaction with recent posts. April has developed a loyal customer base and is now attracting customers from the United States of America where there is an appetite for her work.
As well as maximising her presence online, April is planning to open a pop-up shop to showcase her work when COVID restrictions are relaxed, and have her products stocked in more stores. She is looking forward to diving deeper into the knowledge and information gained through the Power Up sessions to support her business journey.
To find out more about Agate & Ayre, visit www.agateandayre.com
This project has been made possible by a grant from Power Up, an initiative by Good Things Foundation with the financial support of JP Morgan.