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Get to know: Our Founder

Meet Natalia, founder of the small business designed to help your small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

In 2016 Natalia founded ID&EA and has since created websites, branding, and supported countless clients with business strategies to grow their small or medium businesses.

During your time with ID&EA, you’ll get to know Natalia. But even if you’ve worked with her before, there are some things you might not already know about her…

Why did you found ID&EA?

I saw a need for SMEs that I knew I could fill.

After college, I studied Contemporary Crafts at the Plymouth College of Art. I struggled to comprehend why everything we were taught was mainly focused on the making and artistic elements… like how were we meant to make it as artists if no one taught us how to sell our art?

So, as a once-up-on-a-time start-up myself, I experienced first-hand as an artisan that there is more to starting a business than the making of products. There is also setting up a shop or an e-commerce website, and creating strategies for sales and marketing and business. I founded ID&EA to help with all of the above. I wanted to design great websites and branding, but also help clients with strategies so that they can actually see results – having a good website or nice logo is only half of it!

Did you always want to run a small business?
child laughing

From the age of 5, I was an entrepreneur.

Growing up I watched all of my family members run their own businesses, so I think I subconsciously adopted it as I never really saw another career path for myself.

My first business was selling scoobies. The craft lace was the childhood school obsession of my time. I would make and sell the scooby bracelets and key rings in the playground to kids who didn’t know how to or didn’t want to make them themselves.

I first started working with textiles in secondary school. I would often make items that I would then sell at craft fairs. This is when I also started upcycling (something that I still try to find the time to do now). Actually, whilst I was developing my craft products, I went on a course to learn how to profesionally gift wrap in order to present my wares the best possible, and subsequently went on to teach gift wrapping to others.

After university, I worked for an extensive portfolio of brands in the hospitality industry as an in-house designer and helped out with the business and marketing. I enjoyed this blend of business management and graphic design… so then a few years later ID&EA was born!

I think that I’ve always liked being self-sufficient so the idea of having my own business has just always felt very natural to me. It definitely helps that I was very lucky to have learnt the ins and outs of how a business works from watching my family. I guess starting my own business was less of a scary prospect as I felt like I knew what I was getting myself into -- I don’t know if that makes me more, or less mad now that I think of it. Sometimes blind courage is a strong advantage!

What important lessons did you learn from your family about small businesses?

My Polish Grandad Józef in particular really taught me how to be steadfast in my beliefs and strive towards my goals no matter what obstacles were in the way.

I saw the passion in him, he was born at the end of the war, lived through communism and still followed his creativity through his pursuit of jewellery. During my childhood, I spent a lot of time picking amber in the very early hours of the morning on the Baltic sea coast after a storm with him. And, I spent hundreds of hours in his jewellery workshop (an old WW2 shelter) learning from him and about his business – I can still smell the metal shavings and the dampness that lingered there.

He really influenced me a lot in life, and I count myself very lucky to have been able to learn so much from him.

Family photo in front of bus
The bus company really is a family affair!

My parents were influential too.

My Dad runs the family business which is a bus and coach company that has been in the family for 49 years and is still running now!

Whenever I go home, I get stuck in with all sorts, from helping with the accounts, staff, or other office-y things, to the actual physical coach repairs -- I’m a sucker for getting under a bus, between the parts of an engine or anything like that.

My Mum also inspired me so so so much.

She started her business from the ground up in a foreign country to her. She’s Polish and moved to London at the age of 21, and without knowing the language she took on lots of different jobs. One job was as a courier on coaches (which is how she met my Dad), and also doing Avon -- I remember being in a pram while she dropped off the Avon brochures!

While she did Avon she started leading fitness and wellbeing lessons. Her business took off and she ran it for over 25 years and became an expert in her field and the go-to guru in our area. She now supports the family business with my Dad.

All three of these businesses have impacted my knowledge of what goes into service-based business versus product-based, and each of them in turn has inspired, motivated and educated me.

What small business ideas have you had and created since?

Beyond my scooby bracelet days, you mean?

I did a lot of jumping around between various businesses before I settled on ID&EA. One job that I particularly remember, that I somehow had the energy for (alas the days of youthful stamina), was an upholstery business that I ran alongside my graphic design day job. I was 21 and I re-upholstered a whole nightclub/pub as part of my upholstery business between the hours of 4 am until 10 am as the club had to remain open and functional.

My brain often wanders and explores ideas for new businesses and I think about how I would start them. In hindsight this probably really supports the work I do with ID&EA: throw me a business idea and my brain switches into gear about how to create and grow it.

What do you do outside of work?

people making Pierogis
A Pierogi Party where we made over 300 Pierogis with our guests (it was Polish Independence Day)

I'm a part of the Couchsurfing community. I have been hosted in many countries and have enjoyed hosting numerous guests over the years - we've even hosted quite a few Couchsurfing events. I love meeting people from all walks of life and having interesting conversations, however, I'm known in the community as the person to talk to if you want to start a business. It always falls that at every event or party, I get talking to the person who dislikes their job and has an idea for a business. I'm always there encouraging them to follow their dream!

I also love making something crafty or upcycling. I’m always so surprised to see how much people throw away, but I have managed to salvage a lot of it and use my upholstery or woodwork or metal skills to upcycle the items.

I’m also a bit of a plant lover. Like furniture, plants are often left out by bins (which I assume is from when people are moving out of their flats) so I adopt them!

And truthfully, I do spend a lot of my time working on small businesses. Outside of ID&EA, I’m also currently working on two other start-ups of my own. I genuinely live, breathe, and sleep business.

What tech do you use?

I mostly use trusty Merlin (my laptop, a ThinkPad P1 Gen4). Merlin comes everywhere with me so I’m not restricted to a desk which allows me to travel. It is useful to have the flexibility of being anywhere with a laptop when we work with clients in different time zones. I often use Alrick my PC, for supercharged work, like visual brand development and any type of packaging design etc – he’s a graphic design beast.

Does all your tech have a name?

For as long as I can remember, I have always named my mechanical and tech items. As you now know my laptop is Merlin and my PC is Alrick, but I also have; Camera is Penelope, Typewriter is Garnock, Tablet is Cosmo, Monitor is Mona, Printer is Hope (a classic printer, you're always hoping she decides to work) and it goes on...

Why should small business owners choose you?

All of the above has formed me into the person I am today.

My family, experience running various small enterprises and work as an in-house graphic designer have made me better at what I do.

Through my experiences, I have gained an understanding of the inner running's of a business, faced the challenges that artisans and craft people face, and understand people better.

It is my passion to support SMEs and guide them through a period of growth. Some graphic designing businesses just do the design, but with ID&EA we will chat and collaborate, and I will share my expertise – I don’t want to hide the secrets of business, I want to show clients their potential and watch them flourish.

That’s why I also publish a monthly newsletter. Don’t worry, it’s not more content of me rambling on: It has useful monthly trade tips, motivational stories, freebies, and offers on my packages.

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