Spotlight on Spouses – JJ Bartram
The Gin Fox
What’s your career background?
I started in an administration role straight out of art college and this led to me working in HR & Recruitment, which I really enjoyed as I was lucky to work for some really lovely businesses and people.
Where did the idea for The Gin Fox come from?
I was living in Lincolnshire in the middle of nowhere & as a Non-Driver, It was my first posting as a ‘Military Wife’ and I found myself miles away from my friends and family, with a newborn and a husband who was away a lot. I decided I would start doing Craft Fairs and sell my card, jewellery & print designs as I used to do this as a hobby & always enjoyed being creative.
How did you move from the idea to the actual business?
Well, actually it was after a disastrous craft fair. I decided the people of rural Lincolnshire were probably not my target audience, so I took a leap and opened an Etsy shop and that changed everything. It was singlehandedly the best decision and chance I could have taken, I found my audience and learnt a lot about how to sell and create a brand.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I never shut up about it, I think that helps! But, seriously word of mouth is an amazing tool and of course Social Media. I love Instagram as it is very visual and works well with the design & graphics nature of what I do.
As a Military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/ kids/ your spouses military commitments?
Finding time is probably my biggest challenge. I work every minute that I can spare and this means a lot of late evenings designing, and promoting my brand, I wouldn’t change this for the world though as it has meant I could spend so much time looking after my daughter & watching her grow up.
What has been your proudest moment?
The fact that I started, that I was brave enough to take the chance on myself and my abilities. It can be tough and social media is bit of a double edged sword as it can be so easy to compare yourself & your business to other peoples & comparison is definitely the thief of joy, But I am proud of what I have achieved in only 2 years of business, which along with everything includes hitting almost 3500 units sold.
Why is work so important for you?
I think to begin with it helped to get my identity back after feeling a bit lost after having a baby and leaving the place I grew up and the people I knew to start on this new military family journey. In a very short time it’s become so much more than being able to earn my own money, I really miss it when I am away, not to mention all the other amazing women in business I have met & the friends I have made through my business.
What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to start their own business?
‘The start is what stops most people’ Find something you are really passionate about, have a plan, work out your brand and prepare for some hard work but most importantly start! You will learn so much on the job & it can be scary but unless you start you will never know what your business could become.