Little bit design is a small family business operating from Kuusankoski. Their products are sold through a web-store and at around 20 resale places around Finland, Sweden, and Estonia.
We, the Insider staffs had the pleasure to visit the lovely workshop of Little bit design and talk with its founder, Anniki Jessen-Munk. We were fascinated at the lovely jewelry and collectibles designed in a super creative way which Anniki would like to describe as: “Edgy, fun, attitude, with a twist, different, provoking.”
It’s lovely and terrible, at the same time. It’s happy and joys. It’s terrifying. It’s fun. It’s very stressful, it’s a lot of work. And I do whatever I want. If I do right things, I succeed. If I do the wrong things, then it’s a failure, whoosh. It’s very personal.
How did you get the idea and the concept of your business?
I had a proper education in the social work field. Well, I lost my job. Then I said: “Okay, let’s do what I do.” I started to make some jewelry. And I realized: “Oh, these are selling. People are willing to buy them.” I went to Kino and I received very good advice there. At first, they were very skeptical about this but then I showed them my profit margin, how much I have earned. They were like: “Wow, you are the first one in the jewelry field from this Kino having this positive outcome.” SO, with their help, I got good contacts and I start to work together with a marketing company. I still buy service from them, and it is very important that you can find someone who has the same aim and not just work with whoever. I mean, they understand me and I understand them. Things have been going on very smooth between us.
What do you think is unique in your business? What do you proud of the most?
I think every entrepreneur thinks that their business is unique. And I am proud that people like the things that I have created and that they are willing to buy it. It gives me the feeling that they really like what I do. However, I am not always confident because you know, I started my business around something that I knew nothing about. I don’t have any creative education on my background. So it was like just jump, and then learning how to swim slowly. So, the feeling that I get when I succeed, that feeling is good. For examples, if I go to a fair and see people wanting and buying my products, that will make me feel proud and good.
So, what is the hardest thing you faced when you building up your business?
The finance balance. I have to get something out of the business, like salary. I have a family with two kids, and a house to pay rent. So that’s the difficult part. The business would start to run slowly, however, to get to the point when you can earn a salary and that your business is serious is difficult to handle. Like the way we are now, we have big expenses, we have plenty of customers but I still have got the salary from it. So to believe that the business is worth fighting for is the hardest thing.
How do you fund your business? With your own money? Did you find a business loan for your business?
We started completely with our own money. And then when we got good feedbacks from Kino, Kino recommended us many places where we could apply for a business loan. So we got a business loan from Finnvera, it is like the institution for a business loan. Our first big step was to take a loan. This loan was very well-planned, together with Kino, on how big the loan would be exactly, what part of the loan is for developing the business and what part will be for my salary.
Usually, how is your day at work?
When I come in here in the morning, I have a lot of contacting back and forth. We have an agent who helps us sell our products to retailer places. I am working together with her a lot. I have to answer a lot of emails. People are contacting me asking about the materials to make the collectibles, about the size, about the custom-making, about whatever. That takes way to long. At the same time, I have to plan ahead for the sale and make contacts for the next collection already. Because I, all the time, have to be half year ahead. And I also have to make sure that everything will work. Our products are not made from the beginning until the end all by ourselves. We are also buying service from others. So to make sure the materials work in the final products is a long process. For examples, one of our products, a reflector. There is an idea that we should make reflectors which can also be suitable for men and boys, reflectors which are not designed in a childish, cute and somehow cheap-looking way. And even the final product you see here looks all simple, the process was not at all easy. To find materials that work, to find the right way to put things together that is technically as good as possible, to design the package,… If I had known how hard it would be to make this, I would not have done it. But eventually, I did. It looks simple but requires a lot of work. And usually, the customers do not recognize it at all. They do not see me fighting with all kind of clips to see which clip works. Not mentioning to calculate the profit margin and to see if this was even worth doing or not. That’s a long way. Basically, my work day is about 12-14 hours long.
Since you mostly sell through retailers, do you have any promotion program or something like that?
We sell through retailers, yes. And we have our shop here in Kuusankoski. And then we have a web store. The web store is bringing in orders quite okay already. So the kind of advertising we do is mainly through social media and the internet. It is mainly what people are writing about our products on their personal social media pages. We encourage customers to take photos of products when they buy it, or when they receive it if they order through the web store, post the photos on Facebook or Instagram with a hashtag #littlebitdesign. That’s my best marketing. When customers receive the products and they are happy, they will spread the words to their connections. We are working together with the bloggers also. The publicity, we have it, but we still need much more.