Entrepreneurial Lessons: Emily Canino, Founder of Doodlemoo

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Graphic designer and illustrator Emily Canino is the proof that when you have a clear vision about a product, you shouldn’t miss the chance to create a business. As the founder and managing director of Doodlemoo, a platform for art prints and accessories and design studio Loro, she turned the dream of being you own boss into reality and aims to inspire kids and grown-ups to be even more creative. In this interview she talks about the everyday challenges of running a business, the importance of knowing your target beforehand and how to make time for yourself:

Project M: What motivated you to launch the brand?
Emily Canino:
 I have always wanted to be my own boss and found it hard working in office environments with so many people and time constraints (I guess there’s a bit of a rebel in me). I am a graphic designer and illustrator so when my kids came along I needed a business that I could do around them and that would also excite me as a creative. When my 1st boy came along I decorated his nursery with some characters we created and it all grew from there. I’ve always loved creating images, designing and doodling. Ever since I was little and my mum got me to make cards for the whole family (I’ve never bought a greetings card in my life). My husband studied fine art so we combine forces to develop designs for Doodlemoo. I also love the blur between being a kid and a grown up so I wanted to create prints that could work well in any room around the home.

Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Emily Canino: I would say doing everything myself. I’ve had to learn pretty much everything about marketing, business mindset, blogging, social media and accounts! I’ve loved learning and pushing myself but there have definitely been tears along the way. One thing is setting up a company and another is growing this into a viable business, especially with products that are not a necessity. We have been totally self-funded so there are always money challenges too. There’s so much you have to invest in when starting and you need to persevere for a few years before things begin to happen and you can see any results of the hard work. Time is definitely a challenge. When my little boy started school I thought I would suddenly turn into a super woman and would have so much time but I still have to work most evenings after they go to bed or at weekends. But luckily I enjoy what I do so that is a plus.

Another big challenge I am getting better at dealing with is shouting about myself and my work. When you create your own designs it can be difficult to disconnect from the emotional side of things. So my mantra now is – not everyone will like what I do and that is totally fine!

Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Emily Canino:  Just do it! If you have an idea or a product go for it and don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Having strong branding from the beginning really helps. Be aware that 40% of your activity in a business should be marketing, basically letting people know about your product in many different ways. Make sure you find ways to invest in yourself both for learning and time. Make connections in real life as it opens all sorts of possibilities like collaborations, ideas and help with things you might need. Look for where you might be able to outsource certain aspects of your business that might save you time in the long run. Have a clear goal. Something that would have saved me lots of time and energy would have been to know who my customer was from the very beginning. I also had an incredible business mentor who helped me a lot at one point and can’t recommend enough if you are feeling lost or need a little push.

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