Jo

Finding a reason to survive while creating a thriving business

After battling anorexia and hitting an all-time low a few years ago, Jo Watson turned to art and eBay to find her purpose.

Jo’s story, determination and fabulously creative business, Kidish, helped her win the Inspiration Award at the eBay for Business Awards 2017.

Selling a variety of handmade jewellery, cushions, cards, art prints and mugs, Kidish was born from Jo’s lifelong passion for art. 

It was during a very low point in her life that Jo turned to drawing for comfort and went on to start making her own jewellery. After feeling ‘lost’ for so long, Jo found a purpose and decided that she wanted to do something creative with her life. This gave her a reason to fight on and survive.  

After receiving compliments on the pieces of jewellery she was wearing, and made, she decided to try and sell some on eBay. She launched her creative eBay design and print business in 2005 and has never looked back.

Jo with Paolo Levoni, COO, eBay UK (left) and Rob Hattrell, Vice President eBay UK

How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?

“In 2003, I was undergoing treatment for a number of issues, including anorexia. I was 17 and very, very, lost, I literally didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and after I finished Sixth Form, I gradually deteriorated and ending up being admitted to hospital. 

“While there, I started doodling and would use fabric pens to create t-shirt designs. I realised that I wanted to do something arty – and to do so, I had to survive. It gave me a purpose and something to focus on.

“I had always enjoyed art and making things, so pursing a creative career made sense. I’d also grown up around it, as my dad was a self-employed designer. I continued drawing and this progressed into me starting to make items – initially, jewellery and charms. People would always compliment me on them and ask where I got them from. These compliments led me to start selling my creations and eBay was the natural choice.”

When did you sell your first item on eBay?

“In the beginning, I didn’t have high expectations, I just thought I’d have a go and see what happened. 

“It was really easy to get set up on eBay and the sales quickly started coming through. I began by selling handmade charm bracelets and from there added more and more to my range, with cushions and other home décor pieces. 

“I am completely self-taught and many of the pieces I sell are inspired by items I made for my son. When he was born I started making things for him, such as little cushions and other items for the nursery. These types of items have consistently remained among my top sellers, especially cloud and cookie-shaped pillows.” 

How have you grown the business?

“I'm constantly learning what works and what doesn't, and how to sew better and quicker. Every year there’s also a surprise craze that comes up – my moustache-shaped pillows being one example. 

“Today, I have a number of designs that I'm really proud of and my shop is now my main source of income, so every sale is celebrated. I also like to think that I'm setting a good example for my two children by being able to draw, sew and make anything I want. I’m showing them different crafts and skills, just like my dad taught me. 

“I love to see their reactions when I make something new, and I hope my customers have the same reaction when they open their parcels.”

Why did you enter the eBay Business Awards? 

“When I heard about the eBay Business Awards I decided it was worth a shot, so just went for it. When I got the phone call telling me I’d won an award, I was like ’are you serious?’, as I didn’t expect to win in a million years!

“Winning has really boosted my confidence and attending the awards themselves was also a brilliant experience. It was a bit daunting at first, as I hadn’t done much networking face-to-face before, but it was great to meet the other finalists and hear their inspiring stories.

“I’ve used my awards money to buy a mug press and badge maker, which has enabled me to expand and branch out into other types of products. The whole experience has really given me a boost and helped me take my eBay business forward, with the tools and inspiration I need.”

What does the future hold?

“I’m really proud of what I have achieved to date and it has exceeded all my expectations. While I’m very happy with where the business is at the moment, my focus moving forward is to grow it as much as I can. 

“I used to think I’d like a physical shop one day, but where and how people buy things has changed and is increasingly being driven online. So, I’m in the right place to be able to capitalise.

“One of the best things about running my own eBay shop is the flexibility it offers me to fit my work around my family life. My children continue to spark my creativeness and to inspire my designs, and they both love drawing too, which is lovely to see. Maybe they’ll follow in my footsteps one day.”

Established
2005
Did you know
Completely self-taught and handmakes all her products
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The eBay for
Business Awards are here

We’re offering one lucky winner up to £20,000 to boost their business, along with a fantastic bundle of marketing support. There will also be a £5,000 cash prize for each of our category winners, who will also receive a free year-long Anchor Store Subscription with access to eBay’s Concierge – our gold-plated private customer service team.

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