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Changing times at TWAW

Where it all began:

Back in 2007 when I was a fresh faced college student just flipping items on eBay to fund my fuel to get to college and the occasional night out I never imagined that I would have a career of over 10 years as an antique dealer... after all I was studying art and had no thoughts at all about career other than I wanted to make cool stuff. 

In 2009 I started The Weird & Wonderful as an ebay shop, travelling round to antiques auctions picking up anything I thought I could flip with no knowledge of the trade, no speciality and only my DSLR from college to take my ebay photos. 

As I was working with a budget of around £100 to start with (the last dregs of my student loan) I didn't have the backing to hire social media managers, or photographers or web developers so I had to teach myself how to run a business essentially through trial and error. 

Over the the next 10+ years I would learn about natural history, taxidermists, gain contacts all over the world and trade ideas and thoughts with businesses from all sectors. And it turns out I got pretty good at photography, creative marketing and web design. As a bit of a control freak I wanted to keep everything in house and do it myself, If I could do it I'd figure out how to or ask someone if they could guide me in the right direction. 

How I ended up here:

Over the last couple of years the same sorts of questions kept popping up, "Who does your photography, who does your website, how do you have 45k instagram followers?" 

And most people were suprised that I did it all myself, and thats not to toot my own horn, I had to learn out of necessity. My entire adult life I've been self employed bar a couple years where I thought it would be the right thing to get a "proper job". (Little hint... proper jobs suck!) 

So I'd do odd jobs for friends never really thinking there was a market for these skills or that people wouldnt be willing to pay me much as I was self taught in most aspects. Nothing like a bit of imposter syndrome!

Then about 2 years back I get a phone call from a guy who was an auctioneer at one of the sales I used to go... he's started his own business and wanted some advice on an e-commerce store that he was running and wondered if I couldn't do some photos and give him some instagram tips. So with the same mentality of "just happy to help out" I drove the 122 mile round trip and did a days photoshoot and I'm pretty sure I just asked for my petrol money to be covered. 

And im glad I did, this chap turned out to be a massive mentor for me and we still work together to this day, (although I do get paid a slight bit more than petrol money but I wont divulge the details) 

He convinced me that my work was fantastic and that I should be looking for more clients to offer photography even going so far as to introduce me to several colleagues in his industry. 

I started working with him on a regular basis and the people he introduced me to but again I never saw it as a business direction, just a bit of extra income when the store was quiet. 

Where we are now: 

It's no secret that the landscape of e-commerce and social media is all over the place at the moment. Increased costs, import and export paperwork, supply issues, algorithms and the mental demand that social media takes to maintain. 

And sometimes you need to change it up... 

At the end of 2021 I decided that I would try and get more creative marketing clients to supplement TWAW's income. After all the business has always been massively seasonal with 9 months of the year working towards making Christmas successful. 

What I didnt expect is that the creative marketing side would grow so rapidly that it overshadowed TWAW within a few months, and it seems like it would be foolish to avoid heading futher in this direction given how quickly it's grown. 

Where do we go from here?

Look TWAW isn't going anywhere, it's been rebooted more times than spiderman and as my first business it will always be around, even if im a 70 year old knocking round antiques fairs in the meta verse trying to flip vintage NFT's under the banner of TWAW. Buying and selling is in my nature, it's what I've always done. 

But saying that there will be some changes. As I move more in the direction of creative marketing the amount of products available will decrease and it may become more that I just find a few items that interest me and handle most of the business through instagram. I go to antique fairs and shops for fun, the profit side is just an addtional bonus. 

For now I'm trying to have a big clear out of old stock so theres a big sale on the site and I will be posting more clearance items on my instagram. 

As always thank you to everyone who's ever purchased from me. You're all a part of my journey and definitely couldnt have got here without you. 

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