In the run up to Small Business Saturday, we are supporting local small businesses by sharing their stories with you.
If you're a fan of Ems Le Tocq's IG reels, it might surprise you to learn that she hasn't always felt confident about her creativity. The modest local artist reflects on a journey that started as a child when she was constantly told off in reception for spending too much time at the colouring table.
She now combines managing her own successful business with a job in retail, assisting with Art for Guernsey and Arts For Impact workshops for children and fitting in the occasional collaboration (most recently, designing wellbeing planners and notepads for The List.)
I’ve always been interested in drawing. When I was in reception, I used to get told off for being on the colouring table for too long and my teacehrs told me I needed to let the other kids have a go. When I was a teenager, I remember seeing a letter my sister’s friend had written to her and I was so amazed by her handwriting that I decided to make more of an effort to make my handwriting look lovely too. My handwriting didn’t ever look like hers, but I do think it had a big impact on why I love to use so much handwritten text in my designs today.
I carried on with my creative journey and studied a subject called ‘Visual Communication’ at university. I started doing a bit of brush lettering in my spare time and sold a few hand painted prints here and there, but I only started designing cards in 2021. I wanted to make a Mother’s Day card, so I used the Procreate app on my iPad to draw a bunch of flowers and hand write ‘Happy Mother's Day’ underneath and then got a few printed. I posted them on instagram and people wanted to buy them which was amazing! I then realised how fun and simple the process was for me and I really enjoyed it, so I carried on.
I’ve never really felt good at anything other than being creative (and I haven’t always felt good at that to be honest!) so I never really knew what else to do! But I started working in retail about five years ago and surprisingly I really enjoyed it. I think starting my small business matches the two things together: retail - selling products to people that brighten up their day - and continuing to develop my creativity.
The biggest challenge is making enough money! Like many small business owners, I’ll have really busy months and I’ll be so positive and excited that the business is growing and then the next month might be super quiet. It's really hard to get used to that and make sure I’m not panicking all the time about making enough, whilst also being careful not to spend too much.
My Guernsey cards are super simple but I really like simple capital letters text matched with the lowercase text and the use of colours. I’m also quite proud of the floral collection of cards I recently created, especially the ‘New Home’ and ‘Get Well Soon’ cards. I love adding flowers into the design and overlapping text in different ways. But again, I think it’s the use of colour that I like the most, the colours match really nicely in these two card designs.
I love the summer here in Guernsey. The beaches and the lovely local things that are on during the sunny months. Everyone is in a more positive mood and it makes all the difference. I also love making friends at markets! When I first started the business and started doing markets I found it so daunting and lonely. But once I got going with the markets, I met so many lovely people who I would see again and again at the markets and it made me realise how Guernsey has such a lovely and supportive community.
It’s great that there are so many talented local artists making unique creations. My favourite things on my coffee table are my Hot Dogs illustrations coasters - it just makes me smile every time I look at the friendly red lobster! I also love Ellie Atkinson’s wildflowers piece, there’s so much detail in the paper cutting, the beautiful textures and layers and the gorgeous colours. And I was given a lovely personalised necklace from my sister for Christmas last year, which was made by Beau’s Bead’s and I wear it all of the time.
I take photos of myself when I cry! Not in a super sad emotional way, but I think it’s great to look back and realise that I got through that thing, or maybe reflect on it and realise it wasn’t that bad at all. But to be honest most of the tears are from watching a really sad movie or TV show and sometimes they’re happy tears!
I have recently started assisting on some workshops in schools with Art for Guernsey and Arts For Impact, and it has been so amazing to see the way children respond to art. To witness how it changes their mood and behaviour, and also how proud it makes them feel to accomplish something and then to share that experience with their peers.
I'm also a passionate advocate for The Lucky Few Foundation, a global storytelling movement that is shifting the Down Syndrome narrative to create a more inclusive world where everyone belongs. I love this organisation as they’re telling pure, real and wonderful stories about families, friends and people with Down Syndrome that are accessible to everyone across the world. It challenges us to think differently and understand that we need to make changes to our mindset and things we do to make the world a place where everyone feels welcome and valued.
We have joined forces with Ems to create a limited edition collection of planners and notepads for your desk of home office to help you stay organised and focus on self care.10% of all sales will be donated to Guernsey Mind.
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