This quarter we are delighted to chat with Priscilla Fernandes, pattern designer and founder of Slow Moon.
Priscilla creates handmade organic eye pillows for relaxation, yoga, meditation, hot and cold therapy and natural pain relief.
Priscilla tells us about the power of local collaborations and how joining the Hive Collective network provides useful insight into running a small business (and the lovely people who run them) and has boosted her confidence.
We learn about her vision for creating a whole range of patterned wellbeing products and her desire to create a business to make her family proud — and inspire her daughter.
I design and make eye pillows that are great for relaxation, yoga and meditation.
This is the first product I have made but as a pattern designer, I hope to create a whole range of patterned products around wellbeing and slowing down to relax. I have decided to wholesale my product as well as directly sell to customers.
I launched during lockdown, but I’ve been formulating the idea for a while now; probably since the beginning of the year.
My first stockists are local, and they have been brilliant! Caroline at The Every Space has helped me to make the decision to change my packaging. Being able to talk to her about my ideas has helped me formulate ideas on how to grow.
Like these guys, my stockists elsewhere in Britain are small independent businesses with a passion for supporting other small businesses. It feels like I’m part of a community that welcomes supporting each other.
I live in Highams Park. I moved to this part of Waltham Forest last December from the Wood Street area of Walthamstow. I’ve been in Waltham Forest for about 6 years now and this borough is full of creative life; small businesses seem to be popping up everywhere! I was initially drawn to the creative buzz, but I have since discovered there is so much more on offer. My family loves walking in the outdoors and Epping Forest is perfect for this. I also love how diverse the borough is and, of course, I love how there is so much creativity to be found in the area too. Lots of shops sell local and I’ve also met lovely people on the E17 Art Trail.
I had been itching to start up something of my own for a while and my partner saw an advert for a Hive Collective networking meeting at The Magistrates. He bought me the ticket and I was very nervous about attending. I thought I’d be the only one there that was not established as a business.
At that stage, in the Summer of 2019, I didn’t even have an idea of what exactly I wanted to do. The event was welcoming though, and there were people at all stages of business there. I found it very inspiring.
Hive events are extremely welcoming. Nat and Carmel have created an atmosphere that allows people to feel comfortable to ask questions and share ideas. No one is ever made to feel small or irrelevant. We all help each other to grow.
There’s always been a diverse range of business owners that have been guests at the events and all of them have contributed in piquing my interest and growing my confidence.
One of the Hive events had Therese from Small Business Collaborative as a guest speaker. At this stage, I had decided on my business idea and was constantly researching online for the answers to my questions around wholesale. This event seemed to provide answers to all my questions — and it was that week that I felt ready to launch Slow Moon.
Getting recognised is one of the challenges of being a small business. It takes time and effort to promote yourself via social media and email. I’m keen to keep my environmental footprint as small as possible, and so the other big challenge I faced was scaling up the business. It was not straightforward to find British suppliers and manufacturers that are willing to keep to low volumes.
There are advantages though. Independent businesses seem to want to help other independent businesses, and I have begun to slip into this community. People really do buy from people. It’s easier to engage with small business owners. They have more time for you and often share similar values.
I have got to know other small businesses in the borough. As well as The Every Space, Grace and Albert and East of Eden, I met Rachel from Yellow Tiger Design at the Hive Meets during lockdown. While our businesses are different, we have a one-hour chat once a month to help us stay accountable to our goals.
The idea of accountability meetups was something Hive brought to my attention. At the event where Lucy Freeman was a guest speaker, I remember she said that she met with a group regularly and they called it the ‘Shit Sandwich Meet Up’. The idea being, that people that worked from home quite often ate leftovers for lunch — and so why not meet others to chat business over their shit sandwich lunch!
My Hive Success Story is… a big one for me. It’s the mindset I now have on running a business. My confidence levels have grown. I believe in my ideas and my abilities. Hive has done this by showing me the real people behind business; and how they are just people - regular people like me!
Hive highlights the everyday challenges around business and how regular people that own businesses overcome them. If they can do it, I can too! The added bonus is that I can now contact these people through the Hive network, and I continue to be inspired by all their stories and successes.
During the ongoing pandemic, these unprecedented times have created the final push I needed to commit more time to starting a business. It has been challenging doing so, amongst managing family life.
However, one thing I have realised is that you cannot ever achieve everything on your to-do list. I do what I can, focus on that, and then don’t beat myself up over what doesn’t get done. I have naturally prioritised what is important to me in these current times.
Starting a business and making my family proud is that.
I want to model behaviour that will inspire my daughter. Starting a business was part of what I needed as self-care for myself. It has really boosted my mindset and self-esteem. I believe that prioritising self-care is the most important thing anyone can do for themselves and their family. And so, it felt important to me to create a self-care product.
The Slow Moon eye pillow is just that.