Navina | Founder of EDENAH | Inspiring Interviews

Navina | Founder of EDENAH | Inspiring Interviews
 Tell us a little bit about yourself… 

Hey! My name is Navina and I am the founder of British UK made printed goods brand EDENAH, aiming to bring unique, bold and fun prints inspired by nature to the everyday! I’ve grown in Cambridge my whole life and my brand is currently a one-woman owned shop.
I love embracing many things in life (cooking, eating, travelling, music, long walks in the outdoors), I’m passionate about the arts/creativity.
Thanks so much to Charlotte for the inspiration she is and featuring me and the brand!

How did your journey initially begin with Edenah?
It actually began when I was 14 (around a decade and a bit ago now – ouch!). I’ve always been artistic and inspired by nature as a child. I was always running around picking and drawing flowers, making roses out of blue tac and studying birds (I loved my bird watching book). There was something about the beauty of something untouched and not man-made which just instantly connected and captivated me as a child.
I really loved art/graphic design in school and when I was 14 there was a BBC competition to have a collection at London Fashion Week. Despite no qualifications I someone managed to be chosen and ended up having a floral spring collection of dresses at LFW that year which did really well and later on was shown at places like the V&A in London.

At the time I was really clueless to be honest, but it gave me a real boost and I loved the whole experience of designing, hand painting the fabrics to seeing end products on the run way. However I was still in school so had to finish education etc, so all these years later I decided to pick up where I left off. I had visited the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge which is what initially inspired my initial sketches – some of which you can see on products today such as their own home-grown chillies!

What was your initial idea for Edenah and what you wanted to offer? How has this evolved since then?
I think initially following the collection at LFW I wanted to straight away go into clothing for my hand-drawn prints in the more luxury end of the market. However, when I started to brain storm ideas over the last year, I also wanted to make my designs/products seen on everyday items.
Then after reading a lot of about the brand SkinnyDip, how they went about starting up and meeting one the founders, James Gold, I started with phone cases. This was a good learning curve! I found that people didn’t want to stock too much of products which were constantly evolving (phone models) and finding UK manufacturing that was able to capture the designs was difficult. So I had to go back to the drawing board. Generally from the beginning, the whole point of EDENAH is to bring the glorious beauty of mother nature into everyday items, and whilst clothing is definitely on the list (and maybe phone cases one day!), I’ve started with make-up bags/pouches to kick things off.
So, you had the concept, what steps did you take to turn it into a business? Did you have a mentor, use a business plan etc?
I think finding manufacturing was the main hurdle for me to turn my designs and prints into products. I took a year to visit business shows, do research, contacted people who had built up a brand and I also undertook the Enterprise programme at the Princes Trust which was excellent and also great to meet other local founders. The business is new, and I still feel I’m in the process of learning about growing the business but I don’t think that will ever stop and I can always plan/learn more!

How was the process of making your run of product? Do you work with a factory, or make them yourself? Did you have a few prototypes, or did it work from the beginning?
I’m passionate about UK trade, supporting local products and removing fast fashion from how businesses work. These are also two of the brand principles of EDENAH. Therefore finding UK manufacturing was difficult for me as I had no know how/contacts/family/friends that do anything close to this. After the phone case period, once I’d moved onto other products I finally found a company who was able to preserve the intricacy of my sketching into printed textiles.
I ordered a few bags of each design and put them up on Etsy. The shop is still quite new having only started up recently and I’m always keen to continue testing and sampling products to move with current trends.

What were the hardest parts of setting up Edenah and what advice would you offer other entrepreneurs looking to launch their own product?
I think initially not knowing anyone doing a similar thing was really tricky as you can sometimes feel as  a sole business owner that you are bearing the brunt of all the work (and you are).
Internally, it was also the fear of failure to be honest and taking it one step at a time – both things which I still have to constantly remind myself. I read an interview of James Gold that said one of the main reasons people don’t start up businesses is that they’re scared it may not work out. After that and reading about other founders who experience the same seeds of doubt I was like “ I have to do this and not get in my own way!”. I also am someone who doesn’t have a upper limit on how I want to grow things in breadth and scale, so when things aren’t happening in the way I’ve been working towards it can be frustrating.
So on those two things I would advise anyone looking to start up to honestly try their best to take it one step at a time. Think about the things you have to do only for that day and not about the implications of them or what’s not happening tomorrow. Do what you have to do right now and don’t let what may/may not happen deter you. You can’t control the future, but you can control what you have to/can do today.

Creating your own business can come with many challenges along the way. What have your greatest lessons been along the way?
Be flexible with your idea and honest with feedback. I learnt this along the way from the initial phone case idea. The quality wasn’t what I wanted, the business model was tricky as a small start up (cant hold lots of stock for different, often changing models) so adapt with that. Even now, I really press people for honest feedback as it is what makes things better.
I also think an important lesson I learnt is that there’s only so much research you can do before you just have to take the leap. I honestly think learning by doing/on the job is the best way to learn, nothing can really prepare you 100% for that.
I would add starting up in the middle of the pandemic when people aren’t buying too many “going out” products has been challenging and its so inspiring to see business owners who have done the same and are flourishing/creating in adversity.

There is so much that goes into running a small business. From buying, to storing, to sorting out figures, to keeping customers happy – what does your day in life look like?
I think the everyday starts with looking at emails and then planning socials content and campaigns. I will spend more time on the weekend for instance doing the designs, brainstorming ideas but I’ve got so many designs in the pipeline/already done that the focus has trying to contact as many people to stock, share and promote what I’ve currently got out there!

What inspires you in your beautiful designs?
Every EDENAH design is hand-drawn and painted by myself in Cambridge, having always a love for nature an initial trip to our hometown Cambridge’s Botanic gardens kick-started the very first sketches. Now whether it be botanical Chillies from Cambridge or flowers seen on holiday and walks, nature and everyday items from everywhere inspire my designs. My admiration for mother nature's natural beauty, captured in my detailed biro sketching, with the aim to glorify your everyday items.  

In a sentence, what’s the best piece of advice you could give to another who needs some encouragement on pursuing their dreams, whether it be a business, a life change or forming a new company?
Stop thinking, just do it, silence the doubt and don’t underestimate small beginnings.
Follow: @edenahcambridge