I chat with Laura Clowery, founder of Front Bum Cards. Laura started sharing her brilliantly funny illustrations incognito on Instagram and soon built up a fanbase of admirers given her the confidence to launch the brand. We chat about the importance of supporting charities through the sales of her work. How the support of her followers and peers encourages her to keep doing the fantastic work she is doing and why she chose the name Front Bum for her brand.
The Gift Cartel: What inspired you to launch your own business?
Laura: I was deep into a mental health hole, I’d never felt lower, I’d completely lost who I was and I needed something for me, I had no intention of being a brand, it was just some fun for me with the hope others might like it too. I hadn’t drawn properly for over 10 years and it took a lot to share, for months I didn’t link to my private accounts because I wanted to be incognito.
GC: What inspired you to call your brand Front Bum?
L: I wanted something fun and rude but not offensive, it's also what I called my vagina as a kid.
GC: What is your vision for your brand? Has it changed since you started, if so in what way?
L: Oh it's totally changed, I have never had a plan and I wish I was better at business and marketing because I think I'd be a lot more successful. haha. My confidence has grown so much and I’m happy to just try things and hope for the best.
I only put in what I can afford to do, “so if this doesn’t work I only lose this much money and time”. I want to be in more shops around the country or the world even. Maybe branch out into different printed goods.
GC: Has your drive changed since you started?
L: It's been pretty consistent, normal ups and downs. At times I’ve thought omg I’m crap, I don’t sell anything, I only got 11 Insta likes, I should just call it a day. Then I remember why I started doing it.. for me! DUH. so I have a word with myself and think about what I love about it and what I want.
My drive is to keep going, to be more consistent with sales, so I can raise more for causes, not just money but awareness too and have the conversations.
GC: Who else works at Front Bum or is it a solo venture?
L: It’s just me! but I do bounce off my pals, bf, mum, and sister. I get all my stuff printed at Awesome Merch, they have been so supportive, they really seem to give a shit about us small brands too. I do the research, draw, branding, ordering, socials VM ( i actually used to do all the displays/windows at Harvey Nichols for 5 years.)
GC: Has your past career as a Visual Merchandiser helped with Front Bum?
L: Hmm has VM helped, it’s definitely made me more thrifty, use what I have to try and make it better than it is. We always worked with low budgets and had to make things look high end and designer. I’ve always been visual, so I like things to look good.
GC: How would you describe Front Bum Cards?
L: Drawings that look like you could do them yourself, but you can’t or haven’t tried to. with funny, rude words.
GC: What would you say is the most important thing you have learned since starting Front Bum?
L: people are a lot nicer and supportive than I thought. Still could do with some more though, please.
GC: What do you most enjoy about what you are doing? What’s the best thing about running your own business?
L: All the pals I’ve made. And that it comes from my head, it’s all mine, and it’s a bonus that other people like it too.
GC: Has anything surprised you about yourself since starting out?
L: I'm surprised I'm still coming up with stuff to draw.
GC: How has Corona impacted your business?
L: It kicked me up the bum to get better with social media. The time has also given me the space to interact more with other accounts which I really love.
GC: Apart from your Etsy Store are Front Bum products available anywhere else?
L: I feel very lucky to be in 2 of the BEST shops ever, and they are both local in Leeds and independent. Both are run by the best gals Dottie and Sam at Hypde Park Flower Club by Dotties and Tash from Flavour like Fancy.
GC: How do you deal with failures? What do you learn from them?
L: I don’t tend to look at stuff as a failure, because I am where I am and stuff happens. Not saying everything I’ve ever done is a success, but as a general rule in life, not listening to my inside voice enough, when she’s telling me something isn’t right and to look after myself.
GC: It’s definitely important to look after yourself and separate yourself from your work to get over any creative blocks. How do you do this?
L: Getting over the hurdles can be hard and it’s taken nearly 30 years. In anything I try to listen to my body and head, if something doesn’t feel right, just stop for a second, Think what might be wrong, try something else or call it a day. When it comes to drawing, if I get an idea I write it in my notes and when I start to draw, if I get stuck I stop and move onto another idea, I also try to draw something really simple and if that looks shit then I stop. It reassures Me that it’s a bad day rather than me being shit. At the moment I’m struggling with Xmas, everything I do I hate, where I don’t even want to draw. I think to get over this I’m going to narrow down an idea and start there instead of trying to do everything. I started drawing at 29 again and the last time I was 16. I was so scared and self-conscious and I still am, but I just think well I like it, but I bloody love it when other people like it, and every time I get an order I message my boyfriend and the group chat I have with my mum and sister. Like can you believe it? I am so grateful to Dottie and Sam and then Tash, for all the support in their shops
GC: How do you deal with failures?
L: I have a moan, say I’m a bit shit or be defensive. Then I think about it and try to see all the angles and what I’d do next to make me better
GC: What part of the process of running your own business do you enjoy the most and why? What do you enjoy the least and why?
L: I don't really have a process as such, I draw, post, see what people like, what I like, get the minimum printed and hope for the best.
GC: What’s the biggest thing you have learned about yourself since you started?
L: I never saw myself as an artist, but the more I do stuff and draw and interact and see how others see me, makes me think 'yeah, I’m not too bad at this' hahaha.
GC: What are your favourite free resources? What do you use them for and why?
L: fave free resources are talking to people on insta, I have met so many fab people, that I go to for advice and support, we share each other's work and buy each other's work and just try our best to keep each other going. I use all my new insta friends to pimp my art out.
GC: Which markets do you sell through?
L: I have done a few with Headrow House and the best to date was my last one organised by Tash at Flavour.
GC: What's your favourite Front Bum Design and why?
L: Oh stop! how could I possibly decide? my 'cunt, made for each other'
GC: How would you describe your creative process?
L: So if I get an idea I write it in my notes app, I also take thousands of pics of stuff and see how I can bring it together.
GC: When are you most creative?
L: When I should be doing something else. haha - I wrote my dissertation while on shift at Cineworld.
GC: How do you deal with a creative block?
L: I put down the pen, tell it to fuck off, and come back to it later. it has to be fun, if I’m not enjoying it I stop.
GC: Front Bum has such a strong style and unique look how important is this to your brand?
L: Oh so strong, it would be a dream for someone to see something and go oh that has to be 'front bum' imagine! I’m also a hustler and will create anything if I’m getting paid to do it.
GC: You often sell products where the proceeds go to charity. Why is this important to you and your brand?
L: it’s just important to me as a person, period! I’m always on the charity committee at any job I’ve had. I buy and donate to charity shops. My fave thing to do is rummage through the racks. I don’t make a lot of money in my day job and from Front Bum, but I can always support where I can.
This year I have raised money for the Lebanese Red Cross by donating a week's worth of profits from all my sales. I designed a BLM Tote for Reclaim the Block in the US and proceeds from each sale will go to them. I also used the same design for My BLM prints available from Flavor like Fancy all proceeds from these will be donated to BLM Leeds.
GC: Is there anything you wish you knew before you started? What would be your advice to you now?
L: Get cracking with social media quicker, interact more, people are bloody lovely in the maker’s community.
GC: What brands, designers, businesses do you admire?
L: I love Mr. Bingo!
GC: What would be your top tip for anyone starting their own business?
L: Do it for you! but if you wanna make money, don’t listen to me. hahaha, find what’s missing in the market, where you’ll fit, and how you’re going to be different.
GC: What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome to date?
L: My own bloody mind
GC: How important is social media to your brand?
L: It’s the only reason I could start Front Bum, so its a lot to me, like a best pal.
GC: What’s next for Front Bum? Any sneak peeks you can share?
L: I’m in early talks with a few collabs, and ill be working on xmas! Stay tuned!
GC: The Gift Cartel is all about the meaning and power of gifting so what’s the best gift you have ever received and why? What was it?
L: my dog, lady baba
GC: What’s the worst gift you have ever received and why? What was it? Who was it from?
L: someone was bigging up a gift for ages, saying its the best thing ever, that I will absolutely love it, it was some bookends that were globes.
GC: Do you enjoy buying gifts for other people? What do you enjoy most about it?
L: Yeah, seeing their little 'gift face' when they open it.
GC: Do you have a favourite person to buy for? Who and why?
L: My mum, she loves anything you give her. I could give her a dead plant and she would love it and also, probs bring it back to life.
GC: What's the best gift you have ever bought yourself?
L: I buy myself loads, like ariana. If I want it, I got it.
GC: Is it better to give or to receive?
L: Receive, I'm sorry but I love presents. even a mars bar I find romantic.
GC: How important are gifts to you? (honestly)
L: Love em! I ask my boyfriend for them all the time and he thinks I’m joking. if you're reading this Jonny, I'M NOT.
GC: What does a gift mean to you?
L: That you love me. Haha.
GC: If you could only have Christmas Presents or Birthday presents what would you choose? Why?
L: Birthday, I find them to be far more personal and special.
GC: Finally if I was to give you a gift right now, anything at all, what would want it to be?
L: For COVID to fuck off. and selfish wise - a holiday in the sun.