As part of our ongoing ‘Freelancer Spotlight’ series we speak to Kayleigh Ballands, who runs the online store Midnight Rose Emporium. If you are self-employed and would like to take part in ‘Freelancer Spotlight’, get in touch to find out more.

Kayleigh Ballands - Midnight Rose Emporium

Q1: Tell us a bit about what you do?

I run an online store selling mainly giftware with a Gothic/Fantasy theme, mainly figurines and display pieces but also some jewellery and accessories.

Q2: How long have you been self-employed?

Just over 9 years.

Q3: Why did you choose to become a freelancer/self-employed?

I dropped out of Uni before the end of my first year as I absolutely hated it.

I lived in Merthyr Tydfil at the time and there wasn’t much in the way of job opportunities except for shop work, so after a while of trying to figure out what exactly I could do – I decided to go down the route of self-employment.

I still wasn’t sure in what capacity I wanted to do this, I played with a few ideas including body piercing, looking into tattoo apprenticeships, then a dog walking business, and then selling dog toys on eBay. The competition for dog products was absolutely insane and I wasn’t really getting anywhere, so I sat down and thought about what I enjoy.

I’ve always been into more ‘alternative’ things, metal music, Gothic fashion etc, my bedroom was painted hot pink and black at the time! So this is the route I chose, I already knew of brands that sold relevant products as I already owned quite a lot of them, so I also knew they were good quality! I started applying for trade accounts and built it up from there.

I was lucky enough to get a start-up grant from the Welsh Government and my business advisor also nominated me for a small business of the year award, I think that was in my 2nd or 3rd year.

Q4: Can we see some examples of your work?

Everything I sell can be seen on my website: www.midnightrose-emporium.com.

I like to take a lot of my own product photos:

Skeleton ornaments
Woman and dragon ornament

Q5: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you and your business?

It’s actually given us a boost, after an initial worrying period when a lot of the main suppliers had to close during the first lockdown, website sales were actually higher than ever with lots of people being at home more than usual, and high street shops being closed.

My fiancé lost his job during the first lockdown and we decided to take this as an opportunity to invest more time into the business to keep it growing, he came on board as a company director and we registered as a Limited company in August!

Q6: What's one tip you would share with other freelancers to help stay positive through the pandemic?

Honestly, it’s been really hard at times, and there are many days when I’ve struggled to be positive about anything, but I think about how far I’ve come and the possibilities going forward, thinking positive keeps your motivation up and you need that to be successful.

Q7: Where can people go to find out more about you and your services?

The website is the main place, we also have Facebook and Instagram which we use a lot to connect to our customers.

Q8. Can you tell us a project you are really proud of?

I’m really proud of the website. I started out as an eBay trader and it was a huge leap to break away from that and launch a website. It’s the thing I put most of my time into and currently looking to take it a step further by having our own website custom-built and moving away from the Shopify platform.

Work is starting soon with the aim to launch in the new year and I’m super excited!

Q9. Who would be your dream client/customer?

I would love to have someone from the bands I listen to to order from us, it would just make me so happy to know I’ve sent them something that they’re enjoying in their home.

Q10. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming new freelancer?

Don’t give up. Even when it seems like everything is against you, nobody is seeing you, and you just want to give up. You can’t give in to it, you have to keep pushing and pushing and striving for your next goal, and you WILL get there.

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