Anna Parkinson always had a passion for design, technology and sharing information, but what made her give up her job at a luxury online fashion magazine to go out on her own? Was it the thought of being her own boss and building something on her own? Or was it the freedom to create a space to share to a sophisticated audience the visual delights that she herself lives for?

Can you tell us a bit more about AnnaVP

AnnaVP.com is a website which shares news, information and visual delights to a sophisticated audience on their areas of interest including art, fashion, architecture, food, design and soon travel. I attract a loyal readership by presenting content in a unique graphic way which is immediately engaging. All content is curated by one person, me, which my readership trust and respect.

As a result, I have created a desirable online space for brands and businesses, who want to be ‘seen’ in the context of my stylish site and be exposed to my valuable audience. AnnaVP.com attracts brands that understand the value in communicating with audiences/consumers in a fresh, digital way.

The offshoot of my website is my graphic design and consulting business. I offer advice to businesses on branding and social media as well as my creative graphic design services which include creative art direction, logo designs and social media content as well as social media ‘take-overs’.

Where are you based?

I am based in London, which is rich of content for my website. I am fortunate to have been born in and grown up in London and so have had the privilege of knowing wide and diverse groups of people and having lots of incredible experiences.

Who would be your ideal target audience?

My target audience are the people who appreciate ‘good taste’, new experiences and regard quality and good design in high esteem. This effects where they choose to dine, what they eat, how they spend their weekends and what they wear. I cater for these people in the way high-end magazines as well as ‘what’s on’ guides do but appeal to this target audience on a digital platform and in a style that suits their preferred aesthetics and way of receiving information and content. 

And what makes your business unique compared to your competitors?

AnnaVP.com is unique because I understand my highly visual readership and know how to engage them in an effective way using my graphic design skills. I designed my website in a way that emulated a modern art gallery, being spacious with clean lines, plain interiors and white walls. This lets the art do the talking and helps visitors focus and become engrossed in the art whilst feeling relaxed and calm because of the clear surroundings. This design aesthetic helps my website stand out from other often cluttered, text heavy websites which those with high standard aesthetics switch off at. My animated visual content also manages to retain those with short attention spans.

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Tell us a bit more about how did the idea come about

I love creating for an audience, communicating with and informing people as well as passing on recommendations (I’m good at analysing and then summarising). Thanks to the internet I can do this on a wide scale and reach people beyond my friends and family. I enjoy creating something new and fresh which stops people in their tracks. I saw that there was a lack of attractively designed websites so I wanted to make one to fill the gap. The idea for the content of my website developed as I honed in on my creative and technical skills as well as identifying what my key unique assets were. Over the last five years I have noticed the shift of power when it comes to who people listen to and the opinions they respect. A lot of people now prefer to listen to individuals rather than a large corporation.

And your personal background?

My background is in graphic design for the luxury sector. My last time as a full time employee was working for a luxury fashion e-commerce website who had an online weekly magazine – think Vogue, online – but which also sells the product. So I got to see the value of high-end digital design and the types of audience it attracted.

I also saw that there was a demand for digital editorial content and that understanding where readers/consumers were viewing this content was important. Phones and tablets have overtaken desktop viewing. Therefore my website is responsive and so adapts the design to suit any size screen.

When I worked in the corporate world I realised the importance of being active creatively outside my working hours so as not to become too institutionalised and only think and do things in one particular way. I found that once I put my mind to it I could carve out time in my evenings and weekends to do freelance projects and build my website.

This extra curricular work gave me confidence in my own abilities to say yes to more opportunities and helped build my contacts and reputation. It was also a way to test the market and confirm that there was definitely a need that I was able to fill. When I started to create my own content for my own readers on my website I found this to be extremely stimulating, satisfying and rewarding. A new calendar year was the final push that helped me to make the jump and leave the corporate world full time. 

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Did you have any entrepreneurs in your family for example who inspired you to follow your own path?

A lot of my family have worked in creative fields. My grandfather was a tailor and owned a few factories in London, my other grandfather went to art college, made sculptures and paintings and became an art teacher and my dad is an architect. My mum is an inspiration as she is a great example of someone finding what they are good at and applying those skills and talents to making a living. She was a professional ballet dancer and after she retired she trained to become a Pilates instructor where she is able to use the lessons she learnt from ballet to help her clients improve their bodies. My brother has always been very entrepreneurial and now heads up a media production company. He has combined his love of technology with his creative flair. My parents have always been very supportive in anything I do and advised both my brother and me that we do what we are good at and enjoy.

Tell us about the toughest moment – in running your business or life in general?

Turning down a great feature offer from a brand because the product did not fit with my brand nor would be of value or interest to my readers. Going through the process of assessing whether to feature something on my website has been really useful as it maintains the integrity of my website and reminds me why I am doing it. Anything I feature literally has my name on it which is what I am accountable to.

And the most inspirational?

Having the opportunity to make my ideas a reality. For example, before I had even designed my website I knew I wanted to visit a tailor and learn about the craft that goes into making a bespoke suit and share that story with readers. Then, just recently I was invited to collaborate with the most well known brand/tailors on Savile Row. Instances like this are what re-confirm that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now and give me extra drive.  

And was there ever a strange weird moment in your life where you thought you are just destined to do this?

There was not a particular moment as such but a definite theme throughout my life that involved creating things to share with an audience. As a child I was always making up dances and sketches to perform, I took colouring in very seriously – considering what colour to use for each section at a time so the page worked visually as a whole.

School design projects were always imaginative and got a lot of attention… About 11 years ago I used to take photos of my restaurant food – especially in foreign countries. I wanted to end up having an exhibition of all the plates of food I had eaten from different parts of the world. Then Instagram came along and now pictures of plates of food are not so original. Now with my website I am able to wrap up all my creative energy and ideas and put it in one place for people to enjoy.

And finally for someone considering starting their own business, what would be the one bit of advice that you would offer him or her?

Persevere and wake up each day and remind yourself why you wanted to start the business in the first place and what the end result is. This will help to get through the growing pains.

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