The Back Her Business fund is currently over-subscribed and we are not accepting any new applications.

FFAUN: An alternative to big-brand stationery

by Back Her Business | Jun 03, 2020 | Stories

FFAUN: An alternative to big-brand stationery

From buying new notebooks to printing posters, every choice we make has an impact on the planet. After realising how the paper cycle is contributing to climate change, a woman from Scotland set out to make a difference.

Single use plastic has been named one of the major contributors towards climate change but what about paper? Masses of water, energy, and chemicals are needed to create the 400 million tonnes of new paper that is used each year. 

When Amy McIlhenny from Glasgow, Scotland, found out these statistics, she knew that it was time to do something. A designer and bookbinder by trade, she had a love of working with her hands and using her design skills to create beautiful things. After researching the paper cycle, she discovered that recycling one tonne of paper saves around 380 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 17 trees.

This inspired her idea of creating sustainable and timeless notebooks and diaries that were made using 100% recycled paper. By binding them entirely by hand, using vegan leather covers, and sourcing all materials from UK based suppliers, she could challenge the industry standard and produce beautiful stationery whilst keeping them affordable and lessening the impact on the planet.

Though, in order to create a range of notebooks and diaries for 2020, she needed £2,000 which she decided to raise by crowdfunding with Back Her Business. 

Amy explained, “I had always liked the idea of running my own business but I had been too scared to take the leap out of nervousness that it would fail as well as an absolute certainty that it would involve an awful lot of hard work. I sort of ended up being thrown into it by accident but that turned out to be the push that I needed. I still wouldn’t have made the leap by now if I had continued waiting to feel ‘ready’.”

A helping hand from Back Her Business

By taking the plunge with our programme designed to help close the gender gap in business, Amy received coaching from Crowdfunder’s expert coaches, networking opportunities, and a match-funding grant of £1,000.

Amy said, “Being part of Back Her Business was an absolute joy. The programme came along just when I needed it. I had been toying with the idea of running a Crowdfunder and Back Her Business was the extra bit of motivation that I needed to make it a reality. It was wonderful having the backing of other women and being able to see the successes of other women making their dreams a reality. It made it so much easier to visualise my own projects becoming a reality.”

In 28 days, 35 supporters had raised £2,125, including the grant of £1,000 from us as part of the programme. 

“Receiving the extra funding felt amazing. When you’re spending the majority of your time working alone and pouring your heart into something that you’re passionate about, it’s easy to become disheartened and question whether you’re going down the right path. The Back Her Business funding was a big boost for me in showing that people really believe in what I’m doing by supporting me and my business.”

Since her campaign closed in October 2019, Amy’s new products have been stocked in some local shops around Glasgow and on the website. Her future plans involve expanding and getting them stocked in more shops further afield.

She said, “The business has really benefited from being part of Back Her Business. The benefits haven’t only been in the form of a financial boost but also in the extra publicity that came from the Crowdfunder campaign and the outpouring of support from the people who were involved in every aspect. Since the campaign finished, I’ve been busy making and sending out all the rewards, and I’m now working on increasing ffaun’s wholesale output for 2020. If there are any shop owners out there interested in stocking hand-bound, sustainable vegan leather notebooks and diaries be sure to get in touch!”

Top tips from ffaun’s Amy McIlhenny

After having such a successful experience of the Back Her Business programme, we asked Amy for her top crowdfunding tips!

“Just go for it! The best advice I can give is just to dive in head first. There’s no real way to know how a crowdfunding campaign is going to unfold, so obviously do your research and planning beforehand but, really, you won’t know what to expect until you’re right in the middle of it. It’s a wild ride but it’s worth it.”

She went on to say, “Make sure that your business is something you’re truly passionate about. There will be moments when you wonder if what you’re doing is really worth it, but if you’re doing something you love then those moments will pass and you’ll remember how fulfilling it can be!”

Looking to take your business idea to the next level? Check out our Back Her Business programme and find out if you could be eligible to receive expert crowdfunding coaching and grants of up to £5,000.