I had the immense pleasure of meeting Zara Afflick a few years ago at a social event in Shoreditch and I was immediately inspired by her incredible generosity of spirit, work ethic, and talent. Zara is a social entrepreneur and textile designer and even with her amazing portfolio career she still has time to organise brilliant events for young entrepreneurs. I was so excited to catch up with her and ask her a few questions.
Could you please tell us about your career journey so far?
It has been six years since I launched Box of Prints and it's been a rollercoaster of a journey. Presently, I celebrate the time so far. We have been able to fulfil most of our goals with much more goals in the pipeline. Launching Box of Prints was a difficult challenge and I took the risk! That risk left me leaving my previous job as a support worker for SEN children with big hopes of becoming an Art & Design Teacher later. I wasn’t expecting to have dips and dives in my bank account as the ideology I had was "once I became an entrepreneur, I will automatically become a millionaire!" Quite hilarious even thinking about it now. I experienced financial stress, and feelings of regret but my highs outweighed the lows. The six years as a business owner involved confidence building, networking, and understanding the market, one year of the Covid-19 pandemic, another year of Covid-19 recovery, and moments of absolute joy!
I have understood what it takes to start a creative company from the ground up and understood how important it is to build a community around you which had led to our popularity among local authorities, communities, and commercial groups. This had aided our success as an organisation and has encouraged us to keep on going. My aim was simply to start a business to showcase the creative arts, especially the textiles industry not only for my case but also to give a platform for others. I'm still on that journey and believe that I will be able to reach many other creatives and encourage them to also push their mountains.
What are the most important lessons you have you learned as an entrepreneur?
The most important thing I have learned as an entrepreneur is to embrace your failures and understand that the failures are to build you, not break you. I've learned many lessons as a business owner and as I matured throughout life that dedication and perseverance are what is needed for every success and without that in mind, I wouldn't be the entrepreneur I am today.
I know that generosity and integrity are some of your core values – what advice would you give to someone who would like to mentor or give back to them community?
I think the best thing is to be your authentic self and be transparent as possible, especially when supporting others to grow. It would be hard for someone to gain knowledge from a broken vessel so with that said ensure that you, yourself are set to be a prime example for others to follow and learn.
What is one piece of stationery that you cannot live without?
Oh, one piece of stationery, that's a hard one. I will say a pen, I love a good biro pen, especially one that has a nice soft grip. A nice ballpoint pen allows me to write beyond measure.
Please tell us a bit more about the Box of Prints events and workshops.
Box of Prints has a social element where we like to connect with other people, learn more about the world we live in, and provide creative opportunities. One of the most engaging events we have is our Print & Prosecco nights, where we host games and teach a mini screen-printing session to encourage others to find joy and get creative at home. We also engage with the local community by providing creative consultations where individuals or groups who are keen to get started in the design world and need advice on starting their creative journey will book hourly 1:1 sessions with approved design practitioners.
What is one book that inspired you and why?
Besides the Bible which is my everyday guidance book, I would say "Rich Dad Poor Dad" as it allowed me to think deeper than just getting all arty and farty and got me thinking about how to maximise my talents and get rewarded as a creative. When I left university, I thought that there was nothing I can do, and my work won't be able to pay the bills, so I found myself settling at one point into a job that never allowed me to explore my creativity as much. This book increased my knowledge and find loop strategies on how to build a living in creativity and arts. As a creative, it's hard to look past your paint brushes and easels and think like a real boss. I have finally bossed up!
Thank you so much Zara for your thoughful and inspiring answers to my questions! I would encourage everyone to check out Box of Prints and consider booking them for a memorable workshop where you get to have fun expanding your creative side.