Studio Cotton: Q&A
Aime and her rosy aesthetic launched @Studio.Cotton, a Bristol based agency because she couldn’t find one that she wanted to work for. They were all too corporate and yawn for the types of clients she knew she could work well for.
With a talent for web builds, copy writing and marketing, Aime has taught some invaluable lessons in The Collective this past year about how we portray ourselves as a business via our websites and our strategies!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background..
I run Studio Cotton, a marketing agency for small creative businesses. Together with my small team we create beautiful brand identities, build wonderful websites, and run effective marketing campaigns all from our pretty little studio in the centre of Bristol.
I worked my way through the ranks in local marketing agencies, but I actually have a degree in Applied Genetics. After university I had no idea what to do with my life, so forayed into retail management, then found a role in healthcare communications. Eventually I just dropped the ‘healthcare’ side of my career.
What made you decide to set up Studio Cotton?
I got fired. Seriously. The last marketing agency I was employed by was, for want of a better word, dodgy. I was threatened with a gross misconduct investigation for something which with hindsight I realise was ridonkulous, so I left and swore off the marketing industry.
I still had bills to pay though, so did a little freelancing and give me time to work out what the heck to do with my life. Turns out that once I was working on my own terms, with lovely clients, I actually quite liked marketing again.
Where has your job taken you to?
I like this question as it lets me emphasise what a lazy entrepreneur I am. I am self-employed because I love the autonomy and the agency it allows, including the fact that I don’t often have to leave my home town.
I really hate commuting and travelling for work, so decided pretty early on that it wasn’t for me. Apart from one or two days a month in London, my job only really takes me a 6-minute cycle from my house to my desk.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I don’t think any single achievement shines way above the others. For me, it’s an aggregation of little and medium-sized wins that feels the most like ‘success’. Speaking at Creatival this year, holding workshops in our studio most weeks, booking some actual dream clients and helping lovely small businesses make more money - are all pretty amazing.
The more significant moment so far was probably getting the keys to our studio. It is a massive investment in the business, and transforming it from a plastic-carpet fluorescent-lit neglected attic into our lovely pink palace has been so dang satisfying.
What’s the one piece of advice you could give to someone who is starting their own business?
Find your support network. Attend real-life events, research and join the right groups and communities, just find nice people who might understand what you are up against. I started Studio Cotton alone, the isolation was horrible and I was miserable – nobody should feel as bad as I did in those early days.
How important is it for a small business to have an online/social media presence?
This is where I get controversial. It might not be as important as you think it is. You should absolutely have a totally banging website, I can’t emphasise that aspect enough – your website is your shop window, your product packaging, your display cases and your till.
If any of those are broken, you don’t stand much of a chance of converting every customer who wants to buy from you.
Social media is a different beast though, and although it is an amazing tool for finding communities and telling your story – it’s not actually great for selling. That’s not to say you’ll never make a sale via Instagram, just that you’ll have to work a lot harder to do that consistently.
Other marketing channels can be much more effective, like email in particular. It’s important we assess each platform objectively, and not just get sucked into #instalife because we’re as addicted as everyone else.
Why is it so important to be able to communicate your brand and work?
Being a small business is our biggest advantage over high street brands. We can tell authentic stories, we can make people laugh, empathise, and buy into our ethos and what we make.
If we don’t take advantage of our smallness, we’re missing out on a great marketing opportunity.
In what ways do you think creative communities like The Collective are important for building your brand?
Creative communities are amazing for supporting you and your business. They can help you get professional feedback, help you spot great opportunities and help you jump right past the bad ones.
You also get access to some incredible experts who might not be available to you otherwise, so make sure to take advantage of every group chat, every workshop and every digital download.