Growing your sales through a business pivot with Cass Deller
Most business owners make a pivot at some stage in their business journey.
Today’s guest designer Cass Deller shares how she GREW her sales throughout her various pivots all while juggling very young children.
In this Episode:
- 04.40: Cass’ business journey
- 07.14: How to keep your following when your business pivots
- 13:16: How to maintain AND grow your income
- 15.33: Income stream ideas for moving through a pivot
- 19.43: Advice for juggling mum and business life
- 23.35: Cass’ most valuable business lessons
I’m Cass – I am an Illustrator, Lettering Artist and Surface Designer based on the Sunshine Coast. I absolutely love working with big-hearted brands to create beautiful coastal illustrations, unique prints, and hand lettering for their branding, products and textile designs.
I’m blessed to share my life with my husband and our two kiddies, and together, we’re wholeheartedly pursuing a life filled with more joy and adventure whilst we run our own passion-led businesses.
If you have been in business a while, chances are your business has taken a pivot, whether small or large, from where you first began. Today on the podcast, stylist Cass Deller, is no exception. The really cool things about Cass’ story is about how her business continued to grow in sales throughout her various pivots, all while juggling two young children. In this episode she shares her advice on not only surviving, but thriving through a business pivot.
You’re listening to the Clare Wood podcast, where we talk all things business, finance, marketing, and mindset for entrepreneurs, sharing practical tips, and actionable advice to help you take your business to the next level. Introducing your host: me! I’m Clare Wood, I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, and a reality tv addict, and I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life, because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two. Now let’s dive right in to today’s episode.
Welcome to the podcast, Cass, it’s so great to have you!
Thanks Clare, it’s so great to be here!
I’d love it if you could introduce you and your business please, for those who don’t know you?
I’m Cass from Cass Deller Design. We are an art and design studio based on the Sunshine Coast, and we specialise in hand lettering and hand illustrations, mostly watercolour, for branding and surface design.
If you haven’t heard of Cass before, I strongly suggest you check out her work on Instagram, it is just incredible! And we’ll get into this later, but I have also got Cass to do some hand lettering design for me before and I can’t wait to share a bit more about that.
The reason I wanted to get Cass on today, was about something a lot of business owners do, and that is pivoting. But the reason why I particularly love your story is that not only you changed direction in your business a few times, but you’ve not only maintained your income, you’ve grown it.
So, if you could start by explaining where your business started and where it has now ended up.
Cass’ business journey
Sure! During my 20’s I did retail design and had quite a great career at a large shopping centre, and at about 29 I was in a role that just wasn’t as creative as I wanted it to be. I really had an eye for graphic design, and I studied that and I was getting married at the time so that lead me to wedding stationary design work and I got obsessed with that, honing my skills with hand lettering and illustrating, which then lead to branding and water colour workshops, then through to textile and surface design and murals. So there is a little bit of a journey there with the business, and I have just kept pivoting and following what I love to do.
What’s your big passion area you are focused on now?
Now it’s all about print and pattern design, surface design. So anything you can imagine with a surface, for example wallpaper, stationary, textiles, anything that can be printed on is what we specialise in. Everything we do is hand illustrated, so it goes from artwork, to digital to printed on the product.
I love all of your work, I think it’s absolutely beautiful. I especially love the murals you’ve done. I will pop all of Cass’ details in the show notes so you can check out her work, which is clarewood.com.au/podcast/episode34
How would you describe your style?
I would describe it as coastal, feminine, vibrant, a lot of water colour and fresh and white and whimsical.
Getting back to growing through pivoting, you have a pretty decent following on Instagram, so how has your audience reacted to your various pivots.
How to keep your following when your business pivots
Early on, with those online, my water colour illustrations was really something people wanted to see and loved. So whether it was a video of me painting or an illustration of an image I did, I made sure I weaved that throughout everything I did, and I have always worked with water colour, so that has always been my style and inspiration. So I kept that on brand and consistent, and my designs and my paintings are weaved throughout everything I do, so whether I’m doing wedding stationary, or textile design, I’m always showing that hand painted or hand lettered element, so people connect with that, they know it’s me. The more people connect with you, the more people with follow you on that journey, wherever you pivot. It’s the same for a product as well, if you have a product in skin care then you pivot to a baby range, as long as your branding is consistent, or you are behind the branding and you are consistent, then people will take that journey with you and you’ll bring those people along.
I love that. What you said was important, no matter the industry, if your business isn’t serving you or you want to change the direction of your business, then you can do that at any stage, and if you want to keep the same audience, you do need to keep that human element behind it or keep the look and feel consistent, so that people aren’t suddenly confused if you take a different direction.
Even if someone rebrands, that’s fine, because you or the team has that element behind it. Your followers will then know the story, know why you are doing it, why you are pivoting that way. Some people can be fearful of that, think that they might loose followers, but it’s about how you feel at the end of the day, so if you are open about that then the right people will join you.
I always transitioned quite carefully, I never dropped it on people suddenly. I couldn’t anyway, because, for example when I started wedding stationary, those clients were with me for a long time, 12-18 months, once you go through the save the date cards and then the invitations and then the thank you cards. For me I just started noticing I wasn’t excited about a particular thing I was doing, it wasn’t the client, it was the work I was doing, and if it wasn’t exciting me then I saw it as a message. My intuition is telling me something here. But I never pivoted without not knowing what I was going to do next, I always had a few things on the go, and knew what I loved doing the most, so I would know what didn’t feel like work basically, and then I’d just keep following that. With wedding stationary, I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore and I really wanted to focus on branding and textiles, so I set a date. I said “Ok, next March, I’m going to stop” then I ended up pulling that forward because I couldn’t take on clients, knowing that it wasn’t lighting me up. But income-wise, at one point wedding stationery was my bread and butter so I had to make sure whatever I was pursuing, what was going to be my core business, had to make enough money in order for me to let go of the other thing. I was always keeping an eye on my numbers, and making sure I wasn’t cutting limb off and ending up with no money. There was always an overlap.
This is a perfect segway to my next question, what advice do you have around not only maintaining your income, but grow your business through these pivots.
How to not only maintain your income, but grow your business through a business pivots
With everything I do and being in the creative industry, everything I do is creative and along a similar line, I haven’t changed complete industries. With that, in our industry, we charge by the hour or by job and we have to keep increasing our prices, and that comes with confidence as well, with each client/collaboration we see that we have done an amazing job and the customers loves it, and that gives us the confidence to charge more for the next client. Then that attracts clients with a bigger budget. Keep growing and keep being confident in yourself, and increase your money mindset.
When you are talking about doing something you love, I talk with my clients about this, when you are changing something in your job to something that lights you up, it comes through in your work. When people see your passion, people are happy to pay you a premium price. Having that passion and confidence, to your point, to increase your prices, is a great strategy when you pivot, that you aren’t going to go back financially.
Absolutely! People see that they feel the energy in your work and it’s such an important point.
Speaking about growth and how you are growing though pivots, were you always exchanging time for money or did you have any other income streams that also helped with growth in sales, through pivots?
Income stream ideas for moving through a pivot
I definitely expanded past the time-poor money strategy. Once I had our first little boy, he was born in 2015, my business was at a peak, but it was just me, I was a solo-preneur. I thought how hard could it be, being a mum and running a business! I was very naïve, and thought I could keep going. On top of that my Husband had started a copy writing business. It was a crazy, hard time for us. In saying that we learnt little lessons. I was doing 1:1 clients and packages, and although that wasn’t by the hour, it was still 1:1 client work. I didn’t have the time they deserved, I didn’t have hour upon hour of design time to give. It took a lot of navigating through those first few months, as I was the bread winner plus having a newborn, so I had to figure out a way to bring in more money, through less time. That was a point where I developed pre-designed wedding stationery. I would stay you late, building this pre-designed wedding stationary suites, and that was my first taste of how I could maintain my income for less amount of time, and I’ve taken that approach into so many things along the way, and it’s been a game changer. I’ve now done the same thing with my print library. It’s proven to be so successful and it’s really about working smarter not harder. We have two children now, and I have two contractors now. So I can grow my income and I can have kids at the same time.
Fabulous, coming up with a way you can make money not in exchange for your time is a great way to grow your sales, regardless if you are pivoting or going along in business.
You have had two children while running a thriving business, and my journey is similar in that my husband started his business when I was 7 months pregnant and I was the solo bread winner.
Advice for juggling mum and business life
Creating templates and a “passive” income stream. Templates helped me heaps too. Email templates, logo questionnaires, wedding questionnaires setup online, anything I didn’t have to do over and over again, that the client could do on their side, saved a lot of time. Building things that you can sell multiples of, something pre-designed. With my print and pattern library, a lot of work goes into it, but it’s done in bulk.
I know you had a podcast with Emily Osmond, and spoke about memberships and online businesses, anyone can set this up for their business you just have to get creative about what your clients want and how you can deliver that for them.
Outsourcing is a huge one also, and I know you are a big fan of that too. So I coached with Clare a little bit before I had my second child, and I was going in naïve again, thinking I’ve done it before. But you told me to outsource, and I had had some bad experiences with outsourcing before, so I was gun shy about it, especially hiring designers, but over time I’ve learnt a lot and really learnt to trust my gut and the people I have now are awesome, it’s really paid off. Outsourcing things at home, looking after the kids, book keeping, anything that takes things off your plate as a mum is huge. It takes a village, is a philosophy we adapt. We are thankful we have both our parents o the Sunny Coast, but as much support and help around you as possible is great, because you can’t do it all yourself.
On that point, if you have gone through that outsourcing journey and you’ve had a bad experience, you are not alone. But what I always ask is, “did you marry the first person you fancied?” Sometimes, you have to kiss a lot of toads to find a prince. And it’s the same with staff, some people have 3 bad experiences and I say maybe you’ll have 20, but when you have a fantastic experience you’ll find someone who falls into your team and changes your business life as you know it, and it’ll be all worth it.
If you are a mum in business please think about ways to outsource things, in a paid capacity or even get people around you to help you.
Last question, what has been your most valuable business lesson you have learned over the years?
Cass’ most valuable business lessons
So many! I think it’s coming up to about 7 years since I’ve been in business and started Cass Deller Design, and I honestly think that your mindset is everything. Coming off a corporate job and straight into my own business, it’s not an easy road, but working on my mindset is huge, and trying to go deeper and working on my blocks and where my self-worth is. I think investing in it is so important, find someone you resonated with. The other thing is knowing your numbers, knowing your finances, it’s all well and good to have a business, but is it profitable and what are you growing and taking home at the end of the day. You need to know where you are going. Both my husband and I know our numbers so well, and that drives our goals sometimes too.
You can imagine I am sitting here giving you a high five, because mindset and knowing your numbers is such a huge part of a successful business.
On that note, talking about mindset, I’m a practical person, if someone does want to work on mindset, who do you like to listen to or follow?
I’m a massive podcast fan! Jenna Kutcher is a big one, Denise Duffield-Thomas, The Life Coach Podcast and Jess Lively is another podcast I love. One social media, there is talk about comparison but if you are looking to other people, that act as expanders for you, you look up to them and see what’s possible, rather than looking at them and being envious of them. Follow people that inspire you and show you the way.
I did say at the start of the podcast that Cass has done some design work for me before. I had a guest on my podcast, Lisa Messenger from The Collective Hub, and Cass designed some beautiful visual/graphic representations of some of her most popular quotes, as a freebie. So if you want to get some motivation quotes to keep, print them off and put them up to keep you on fire and optimistic. Grab a hold of them at today’s episode clarewood.com.au/podcast/episode34.
Thanks so much for joining me today Cass!
Thank you so much for joining me today, if you enjoyed this episode, please make sure you subscribe to receive future episodes, and I’d be so grateful for a review on apple podcast! If you’d like a copy of the show notes or any of the links mentioned today, please jump over to clarewood.com.au/podcast and remember that Clare is spelled CLARE, have a wonderful week and look forward to chatting to you again soon!
About your host
Hi, I’m Clare Wood – I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, a reality tv addict, and a passionate business coach. I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life; because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two.