Posted on November 16 2016
Newnham: What have you been up to at Makelight to since we spoke at the beginning of last year?
Quinton: Oh my…it’s been such a huge year for Makelight that it’s hard to know where to start! I think the biggest thing is that I now have a team. It still feels pretty amazing to be saying that.
My husband Stef joined me full time back in April. This was a huge and incredibly risky decision for us. Not the working together full-time part but the whole family income coming from one thing part. But at that point we both really went all in on Makelight. And we are so excited about all that we have planned.
In August our first full-time team member joined us. Seb, is our growth marketer and it’s great to have him on the team. And we also have our brilliant Virtual PA Fatima and our wonderful assistant Ruth, who both work part-time for us.
This year has been all about growth and learning. We’ve done so many experiments and gained so much knowledge about where we are heading in the coming year.
Newnham: Can you tell us more about the direction Makelight is taking in 2017?
Quinton: Makelight started as in-person workshops here in London. In 2015 I got my first Makelight studio and taught more workshops that year than I could have ever dreamt of but at the same time my online audience, which is very international, were calling for my workshops to go online. In 2016 this side of the business has grown so much and I’ve now taught almost 2,000 people through the Makelight online courses!
Workshops are much harder to sell and they are not scalable, so we’ve made the decision to do a handful of workshops in 2017 and really focus on the online side of the company.
Back in May of 2016 we launched the Makelight Membership, a monthly subscription to courses, Live Q&As, our tools (Makelight Insights and our Hashtag Library), a supportive and inspiring community and more! And it is this that is our main focus of the coming 12 months. Moving to membership model means that we have a smoother cashflow, which will really help us to grow.
Makelight started with Photography but we always knew it was going to be bigger than that, especially when my husband, Stef, joined me. The majority of people that we teach are small business owners and we want Makelight to become a learning platform to support all areas of building a business. We have both worked for ourselves for the past 20 years and learnt so much that we can share with this growing community.
Newnham: We are currently taking your Makelight Tech course and really enjoying it. What led to you start the tech course and what more can we expect on the techie side moving forward?
Quinton: We started the Tech course because we constantly had tech related questions from our community and we could see it was something that so many of our students could benefit from. Stef knows so much and we wanted to be able to share this and really support our community to build their businesses.
There will be lots more of this in 2017. We will be listening to the questions and building new courses and Makelight tools in response.
Newnham: The Makelight community is vast and dedicated. How do you grow and nurture such an international community of followers?
Quinton: It takes a huge amount of our time and dedication but it is the side of Makelight that makes it a special place to learn. We are really committed to the community and as we are building our team, we are very conscious that our team have to be committed and care too. Community happiness is at the core of our every day.
Newnham: I first discovered you a few years ago now when you were writing The Startup Wife blog. How does it feel to now be the startup founder yourself? And how do you find all the elements of startup life, working with your husband and being mummy to four little ones? How do you find balance? Any tips for others to do the same?
Quinton: Yes, that blog got me through some tricky times! I had taken some time out (well hardly time out…I was looking after three little children and blogging with the Makelight plan in my notebook!) of running my own business (I used to be a Wedding and Portrait Photographer) and Stef was deep in a full on startup. He was working the most ridiculous hours and very often wouldn’t come home and sleep in the office instead! It was tough.
But I always wanted a startup of my own in my 40s! And we often talked about running something together one day. But I don’t think either of us knew what that would be. I thought that Makelight was the thing I was doing while my children were tiny and once they were all at school, I would find my "big thing."
About 12 months ago I realised that Makelight was rapidly becoming the big thing and six months ago we realised that it was going to be the big thing that we do together. It’s amazing! I have gone from blogger to the founder of a tech startup, almost without realising.
We are in the middle of a fundraise and there’s nothing like speaking to investors to make things clear!! I love working with Stef. It’s not always easy but we’ve worked together on different things for the past 12 years, so it’s not new. We are going to be writing and talking about building Makelight together on Makelight and our YouTube channel soon, so look out for that!
And yes, the small matter of being a mother to four young children. Oh goodness. It’s incredibly difficult right now because we are in a particularly tricky spot but at the core of everything that we are planning for 2017 and beyond is family and balance. We have some exciting family things planned for 2017 and I really believe it’s going to be our year to finally start getting the balance right. We have made a promise to ourselves and to them.
While we’re getting the balance right I make sure that I have enough balance each week. So, not my ideal balance but enough family time for us all to be okay. And Stef and I review things each month too and make sure we have enough time for each other (without work) and for the children.
I find balance for myself through running, swimming and meditation. I find that if I do these things I can give myself as fully as possible to my work and my family.
To do what I’m doing right now takes a huge amount of grit, energy and belief. It’s certainly not easy but it’s not impossible either. If you have an idea that you believe in and the right support around you to make it doable, then go for it but remember to really look after yourself as much as you possibly can. As a female founder and mother I think that bit is even more important. Lots of people need you and you can only give when you’ve taken care of yourself first. I think we can often feel guilty about that kind of thing. Don’t!
Newnham: What is your ultimate mission with Makelight?
Quinton: I want to build the go-to online space for creative entrepreneurs, with a strong, inspiring global community.