Luke finds the art of business success in dog paintings
PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 September 2020
An entrepreneurial former Sidmouth College student is enjoying his most satisfying venture yet – creating Renaissance-style portraits of people’s dogs.
Customers of Luke Emery’s business Vanwoof.com upload a photo of their pet to the website, and receive a canvas print of the animal dressed in historical finery.
The business sells its pictures all over the world – and yet it began as a two-week challenge.
Mr Emery explained that he and a friend, with whom he runs a business podcast, decided to see if they could make money in just two weeks from the e-commerce site Etsy, which specialises in handmade or crafted items.
He said: “I decided to do these dog portraits because I am good with Photoshop and am a big dog lover.
“I always had pets growing up, so knew the market for pet art was massive and after doing research I realised that it had massive potential.”
He now sells more than 150 portraits a month and has two full-time designers. The canvasses are printed in the US, UK, Europe and Australia, enabling him to print and deliver anywhere in the world – but his biggest market is the US where there is a high demand for novelty art.
He said: “I have been running e-commerce businesses for two years, and this has been the most satisfying because every customer loves their artwork.”
The popularity of the portraits spiked during lockdown, and received another boost a few days ago when a famous American journalist bought a portrait and tweeted a photo of it to her 550,000 Twitter followers.
Mr Emery is hoping his story will inspire other would-be entrepreneurs.
He said: “If you have an idea, create a minimum viable product and test it in the market to see if people want it.
“It’s so easy to create a website and run ads that you can very quickly test a product or service.
“You can keep adopting your idea and learning from the failures as you go.
“Most businesses aren’t created from a perfectly planned idea - they are an accumulation of adjusted failures.
“Not acting is the only guaranteed way you will not start a business. It’s best to start failing as fast as possible, so you can learn how to do it correctly.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Sidmouth Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.