21-year-old Lauren Portnall from Rochester started a BSc in Business and Management in 2018. In her third year, she embarked on a Selfie Year to develop her business TigTumn Tails, specialising in pet accessories.
“Surprisingly I hadn’t at all planned to launch my own business when I first became a Fresher studying Business and Management at the Medway campus.
“I am not ashamed to say that I struggle with confidence and running my own enterprise just seemed daunting. But when I attended the Business Start-up Journey and properly met Adam and Rebecca Smith later that year, I was transformed from feeling shy and unsure to thinking ‘let’s go for it!’. I decided to take a Selfie Year!
“Growing up I had a cat called Tigger. When he passed away in 2007, we got Autumn. I also volunteer walking dogs for the Cinnamon Trust. I adore animals and had previously been hand sewing pet bandanas for fun and I thought why not turn this into a business? TigTumn Tails was born.
“During the Selfie year, the guys at ASPIRE got me through. They guided me through the complicated stuff – like legal issues and helped develop new creative ideas. Starting a business can be quite lonely and having a network who are there for you, was a huge help.
“Going into the selfie year in the middle of a pandemic was not easy. However, a year on I think I can say that in some ways it helped. More people moved to online shopping. Plus, they spent more time on social media which helped with marketing. The fact my cat loved posing in a bandana was a big hit on Instagram!
“As the business developed, my main products became handmade pet bandanas. I want to create a world where pets are more fashionable than humans. With every seasonal event, whether it’s Christmas, Halloween, the Euros, or birthdays, Tigtumn Tails has the perfect bandana for you. Every single order is handmade and designed by me.
“The most amazing time for me has got to be the European Cup. I have never sold so many products over the space of 24 hours thanks to my footie-inspired bandanas. We sold out completely overnight! It was a crazy, stressful week but it was also exciting at the same time. Getting my first wholesale order was a big moment too.
“As the business grows, I would love to release a wider range of products, perhaps homeware, stationery and other products for people who love their pet. I am also very keen to work with animal charities as well. My current plan is to get a graduate job after Uni hopefully in digital marketing, and then run Tigtumn Tails alongside my job in my free time.
“If you are studying and considering the Selfie year then I’d say go for it! Take the risk and try, because if you never give it a go, you’ll never know if it would have been a success. Also, remember 99% of the time you won’t be a success overnight. It can be really easy to feel defeated when it doesn’t work straight away, but everything takes time.
“One quote that I have lived by for the past year is that “If you’re happy doing what you’re doing, then nobody can tell you you’re not successful” (thank you, Harry Styles!). When it comes to business, we all too often focus on the numbers and the money as a measurement of success, which of course is important, but happiness and enjoyment are equally important!”
To find out more about Lauren’s pet accessories brand and order pet accessories, visit the website TigTumn Tails.