Self employed people contribute strongly to the UK economy, with over 5 million self employed people and represent over 15% of the labour market. This blog aims to shout out to just some of the self employed people I know.
This week we profile Marcus Kirby from The Future Mapping Company aka Fututremaps. His maps have become iconic in east london and further afield, and bring graphic geographic joy to the homes and businesses they adorn. What is more is that he has been doing it for 17 years, so they must be doing something right. Here they answer some of my nosey questions which I hope you might find interesting too!
Describe your business (and your big idea):
We love printed paper maps and in today’s screen obsessed world there are very few reasons to print them. That said, people love a map so we felt that maps-as-wall art was the best area to focus on if we wanted to be map makers and continue to print paper maps.
What is your background? How does it link to what you are doing now?
I did a Fashion Design degree course and ultimately ended up working for a Tailor, designing ready to wear collections that complimented his business. It was a really inspiring place to work. He had set out to remove the stuffiness of Savile Row and give the process of having a bespoke suit a more contemporary feel. It certainly gave me the confidence to consider other products and sectors that I admired and that had maybe become shall we say a little stayed.
What was your breakthrough moment?:
I showed our first map to Simon Alderson at the destination design store TwentyTwentyOne in Islington. He loved it and we still sell our maps in his store 17 years later.
What is one of your proudest business moments?
Continuing to run a niche creative business 17 years on.
What was your plan?
My plan was to create modern, functioning wall maps.
How and when did you launch?
TwentyTwentyOne - Winter 2003
How have you continued to build your brand? On the wonderful World Wide Web.
What challenges have you faced?
Staff, Business Rates, Property, Cash-flow, Printing, Map-Data, VAT, Sales.
How do you stay motivated?
It’s never been an issue for me, I am lucky that there has always been enough going on to keep me entertained. I still look forward to waking up and seeing what is in my inbox.
I know that for some designers, the idea of sticking with the same product for 17 years would be an issue but for me it’s not and I guess that’s why I make maps. They are a labour of love, there is no quick design fix, you have to indulge over a prolonged period of time to make a good map. They are also out of date the minute you print them!
What have you got your eye on for the future?
A late 60’s Porsche 911. In today’s climate it’s apparently not such a good idea to invest in property, right? ;)
How can people get in touch with you?
Check out our website: Futuremaps.com
Follow us on social - come and say hi to us.
We will be doing a giveaway with futuremaps really soon so keep your eyes peeled on our Goodordering Instagram for details. We are so pleased that Claire and Marcus were so open in talking to us about their business successes and challenges. If you also have your own business and would like to be on our next 'Self-employed Buzz' please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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