Interview with Ayesha Asantewaa… The founder of Purple Turtle Beads (P.T.B)
Hello Ayesha, how is it going today?
I’m good thank you! Working hard updating my site today, recently had a photo shoot done with the students of Amersham University, and they took some fantastic pictures of my products, so now they’re all up on my site looking pretty! www.purpleturtlebeads.com
I must say, this is a very good idea you got going, how has it been so far?
It’s been a journey I can tell ya! The response I’ve had has been absolutely amazing, I’ve had nothing but constant support from family and friends. One friend in particular , Denzel, is always willing to help me whenever I have a craft fair coming up or carnival of some sort. He’s here till late beading with me. It’s nice when you have the company. And to think .. This all started completely by accident..
Can you give everyone some background information about yourself?
I’m 21 years old, ( I share my birthday with Bob Marley - 6th Feb!) and am from North West London, Harlesden to be precise. Family from the Caribbean and Africa, but I was born and raised here.
From the age of 14, I’ve been into presenting, and by the time I was 16, had my own show on BBC 1Xtra. I then moved to BBC7, and was a presenter on the Big Toe Radio Show for 2 years, moving through to CBBC presenting shows such as Level Up, Do Something Different and working with Basil Brush all from the age of 18. At 19 I moved on to Cbeebies Radio, then went to work in Spain as an entertainer when I was 20. This included dancing, singing, performing shows etc.
In my spare time I am a children’s entertainer, which requires face painting and balloon twisting, I’ve been a samba drummer for 3 years, dancer for 12, trained in first aid by St John Ambulance for 8.… and now… I BEAD!!! :D
How did Purple Turtle Beads come about? What inspired you to start and also push it forward to create a business from it? And why also the change of name because i remember it being called Build a bead?
The name Build- A- Bead was only temporary as I work at Build -A-BEAR. It seemed ok to run with at the time. But then I thought it just sounds far too much like it. So I thought… Purple is my favourite colour… Turtles are highly under-rated. And they’re the only word in the English language to sort of rhyme with Purple. So I decided to go with that! I had to put the word “beads” on the end though… as the phrase Purple Turtle is actually quite common… ( and there was me thinking I was all clever.. :P)
It started out with literally me making silly smiley faces and watermelon slices… and just putting them on face book. Then I started asking for challenges. Then I started getting people asking me to make specific things… and then they were willing to pay me.
What inspires your designs?
Anything from my childhood. Funnily enough I was never allowed a games console as a kid ( Mum thought I’d get addicted… NO idea where she got that idea from! :P ) but I was always longing for one. I just loved the way the old school 8 -bit characters looked. So I get a lot of inspiration from that. I ask friends what cartoons were their favourites, and I just jot them all down. I think of all things cute.. Hello Kitty.. Betty Boop… and just jot them down until the time is right. My mother acts as Creative Director. She always has lots of ideas too!
So how do you promote your products?
Plain and Simple. I just WEAR THEM! I will walk outside COVERED in beads. Necklace, earrings, glasses, bag, and usually with a bright top.. Or something game related. And I’m very picky about who I sit in front of on the train.. I choose those who wear clothes similar to me…or kids. Cos kids just shout out anything.. Which is great for me! I have business cards, and flyers.. And my Nintendo Dsi which literally has everything on it. ( including a Mushroom beady on the front ) Just by walking into shops on the high street I’ve already had an interest from a number of stores, including Year Zero on Beak Street and Tokyo Toys in London’s Trocadero. Both have stocked my products! :D it’s amazing what just wearing your stuff can do.
You’ve just recently being asked to attend a fashion show with your products in Florida, how did that happen and how do you feel?
I was gob smacked! I didn’t even think about HOW I’m going to get there… I’m just so excited to be asked! What’s good as well is that it’s a charity event called Project Strength, which is basically protecting women and children against Domestic Violence. It’s a great opportunity for me to really spread my wings with this.
I was simply scouted on face book.. The same way you found me
Where can we see and buy your products?
I do craft fairs from time to time, and I’m planning to do two carnivals this year, Acton and Greenford. But the BEST place to get my products is through my site, www.purpleturtlebeads.com That way everything is paid through PayPal, fast, safe and secure.
Do you have any competitors?
Not that I’m aware of. I’m not the ONLY person to do this. I’ve seen MANY MANY bead sprites ( game sprites that is) before, just not as jewellery. I’ve seen much smaller things.. I converse with other beaders on forums etc, its not a competition, its just doing something I love… and making others happy.
What do you feel makes your product unique?
It has the Ayesha Factor! I add things to my products, e.g. rhinestones, bows, charms, bradlets, anything that’s small and applicable with Gemtac. Also because some of my pieces are just sooooo bold and out there.. You have to have a certain confidence to be able to pull them off! :D And I’ve always been the sort of person to not worry about what people think of my dress sense. As long as I’m comfortable, I’m happy.
Have you had any setbacks so far and how have you bounced back from it?
I’ve had people promise me things that they can do for me and just simply not deliver. But I understand that there are many sharks in this business. So rather than chase them up… I leave them. You wouldn’t chase a shark in the water would you?
What is your favourite quote?
Funny thing is.. I used to question myself.. Why DO people pay me for this? What is it about what I do that makes them willingly hand over cash in exchange for my products and a smile? Then I realised, its because I always do it to the best of my ability. This quote sums it up I think :
The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do, well.
Henry W. Longfellow
What would you like to say to anyone out there, that got an idea and looking to turn it into a business?
JUST DO IT. Seriously, I had no idea this was gonna be this big. And you will find that the more people who know about what you do, the more support you’ll get. If they don’t support you… Jealousy could be a reason why. And no one should bother to pay jealousy any heed. It’s not worth it.
Do you have any role model/influence? Do you read any books that you think will be useful for any entrepreneur out there?
I look at the people who started off these huge companies like Facebook.. Google… Ikea… Virgin.. And I think… they all started off in their bedrooms.. Or sheds or whatever. I started with a duvet wrapped around me one day when I was off sick from work. Miracles can happen! As far as books go… I’d like some advice my self! I’m a business newbie. But I talk to a lot of people.. So I’m gradually learning the ins and outs..
What should we be expecting from you in the future?
PLENTY more fresh ideas… PLENTY more people wearing my stuff.. And hopefully PLENTY more shops stocking P.T.B!!!!
Thank you for your time.