In Good Company: “How I built a business to encourage inclusivity in an overlooked industry”
In the latest instalment of our series profiling small business owners, we talk to inclusive greetings card business founder Avila Chidume… 

When Avila Chidume expressed her frustration with not being able to find greetings cards that featured Black people on one particular shopping trip, her brother Nyasha suggested she do something about it.

Avila started working on designs as she studied for her law degree, before launching her idea full time in 2018.

The result, Avila.Diana, is a greetings card business on a mission to normalise depictions of all underrepresented groups.

Through Avila’s own designs, as well as work by other artists who sell though her website, she’s created a business that’s steadily growing and changing the greetings card industry for the better. 

Here are her best tips on channelling your creativity… 

1. Find a support network

“Find someone you can confide in about your dreams and visions. When you’re running a business, you might feel like you can figure it out as you go along. But when you’re trying to grow, you get to a certain stage and you realise there’s so much you need to learn - especially if, like me, you don’t have a business degree. One thing I found really useful is Google’s free 1-to-1 mentoring sessions, which helped me structure and understand the direction in which I’m taking my company, and introduced me to tools like Google Ads. They’re open to all small businesses and charities, and they work around your schedule.”

2. Don’t be afraid to be selfish

“Prioritise your health – both mental and physical. When I first started out, I was constantly working, even during breaks between seminars. Then it got to a stage where the work I’d put in was finally coming to fruition, but that’s when I started experiencing burnout. You really need to focus on your health and not get caught up in this hustle culture that tells you that you have to work every hour under the sun.”

3. Have confidence in your idea

“Don’t be intimidated by competitors. You bring your own unique and creative flow to an idea that can revolutionise your whole industry. Having long-established, large companies that have been there for years doesn’t mean anything if they aren’t catering to a market that you know exists or that you know could greatly benefit from your idea. So have confidence in yourself and that what you know, or are willing to learn, will actually take you to the stage that you need to get to.”

Avila’s Google toolkit
1:1 mentoring
Get help growing your business with an experienced mentor from Google who can talk you through your strategy
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Customise your ads depending on your business goals and let Google take care of reaching the right audience
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Take a deep dive into stats and simple analytical tools to refine your search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing
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In the past 18 months, an average of 5,000 British businesses a week sold online for the first time. Google provides companies like Avila.Diana with tools and training to support their growth. Whatever your mission, Google has free tools to help your business today.

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Image credits: Google; google
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