Start-Up Stories – Claire Close

Today we welcome Claire Close, a successful Not on the High Street seller

Claire Close runs So Close, a gift company based in Exmouth, East Devon with her husband Tarot. So Close is a gifting company that specialises in quirky, colourful, personalised gifts which Claire, Tarot and their team design, make and dispatch from their studio in Exmouth.

What does your business do?

So Close is a print and design studio creating personalised gifts and cards.

How long have you been in business?

As it is now, since 2011. Before that, we had a print and copy shop for local businesses called Re:solution which we started in 2007.

What’s the story behind your business / how did you get started?

From printing business cards to screenprinting artwork to creating colouring products to personalised gifts and cards, it’s been an amazing journey.

Both Tarot and I trained in design and had a print shop called Re:solution that would do design and print work for local businesses – designing flyers, printing documents, that kind of thing. We’d sold our big Victorian townhouse and were renting a small flat in between finding a new place. It was Christmas and there wasn’t space for a real tree, so Tarot designed a colour-in tree poster we stuck on the wall and the kids coloured in. We printed more of the posters out and sold them to friends and in the shop. The next Christmas we did the same again, and gradually began to grow our product range.

At about the same time, I decided to invest in myself creatively and joined the Double Elephant print studio at Exeter Phoenix. As I grew more confident and built my portfolio to a range of designs I believed in, I applied to be a Not On The High Street seller. I was accepted and we suddenly had a whole new way to reach customers who wanted our products.

We called the new business So Close, a play on our last name, and as it grew we closed Re:solution and moved into a bigger studio and took on staff to help us. We’ve been So Close for eight years now and it’s changed our lives.

 

Claire Close - So Close design and print studio for prints and gifts

 

What do you enjoy most about your business?

Creating the products and seeing customers start to respond to them.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your business?

Building audiences on social media; downward turns in retail; bigger companies copying ideas.

What is the must-have item on your desk or in your workplace?

A notebook – I’m forgetful!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Aim to get an instant reaction from the customer whether it’s with humour or affection – target the emotion.

 

Claire Close designer, So Close print and design small business inspiration Exmouth East Devon

 

What have you learnt about yourself from being in business?

I’ve learnt to trust my instincts

Who or what inspires your business?

Popular culture and social media – it inspires and annoys me equally!

What piece of advice would you give to someone beginning in business?

Be adaptable.

 

Find out more about Claire and So Close…

Claire Close designer, So Close print and design small business inspiration Exmouth East Devon

Website > www.soclose.co.uk

Instagram > @claireclose

Facebook > clairecloseuk

 


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