Joanna Miller of Bespoke Verse
Did you see Bespoke Verse’s witty pitch on Dragon’s den? If you didn’t, it’s worth a watch!
I’ve been a fan of Joanna Miller’s poetry for several years, following her journey from kitchen table writer to inspirational award winner. But every business has to start somewhere and I managed to grab a chat with Joanna to find out how it all began:
Me: How did the idea for Bespoke Verse come about?
Joanna: I’m a former English teaching adviser and I started writing poems for friends after they heard me read out my own wedding speech in rhyming verse. However, it was after the fantastic reaction to the speech I made at my 40th birthday that I set up my website. The business grew organically from there.
Me: Where did you write your poems in the early days?
Joanna: I wrote at my kitchen table with my dog at my feet. Working from home meant I could pick up my children myself at the end of the school day. I had to work hard, sometimes late into the evenings in order to free up that precious time in the afternoon between school pick up and bedtime, to focus on the children.
Me: Do you have a particular way of getting the creative juices flowing when you receive a commission?
Joanna: I always start by asking lots of questions about the people involved, their likes and dislikes, habits, hobbies and funny stories. .
Me: Tell us about your range of ready made poetry prints?
Joanna: My aim is to create wonderful poetry prints-combining high quality writing with fabulous design and the best materials available. Our vintage style poems have increased business dramatically. We source all our materials in the UK and in buying our products you’re supporting at least eight small British businesses.
Me: Where can we find your prints?
Joanna: My growing collection of poetry prints are now stocked by John Lewis and online retailer notonthehighstreet.com as well as being sold in boutique shops throughout the UK.
Me: Tell us about your team:
Joanna: I have four studio assistants and four poets. I write all off-the-shelf poems while our remote poets work individually with customers on bespoke poems specially commissioned for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. I would describe Bespoke Verse as a family run business, everyone helps out in different ways.
Me: You employ several other mums don’t you?
Joanna: Yes, it’s wonderful to provide other mums with the opportunity to fit work around home life in a way that suits them and of course all mums have the ability to multi-task which is such a great skill to draw on when heading up a blossoming and constantly evolving business! I’m a strong believer in offering flexible working hours-there are so many talented mums who have taken career breaks whilst their children were young and it’s great to offer them the opportunity to use those skills again.
Me: Thanks so much for chatting to me Joanna. Congratulations on your Dragons Den pitch and I wish you continued success!