Q & A: Millistrations
Milly McDougall, 24, is the founder and owner of Millistrations. During lockdown she created her own print company and it has since been a huge success!
Images and copy by Milly McDougall
1. Please can you tell me a bit about yourself and why you decided to start Millistrations?
My name is Milly, I am 24 years old and for as long as I can remember I’ve been creative. From making little scrapbooks when I was about 7, painting at school, studying Fine Art in London and then going on to complete a degree in Graphic Design and communication in Leeds. Although, above everything I always find myself drifting back to photography, it’s something that really brings me joy. I started Millistrations after I was furloughed from work during lockdown, having so much free time and so many photos I’ve collected from over the years I decided to do something with them and this is where Millistrations was born!
2. How would you describe Millistrations?
Millistrations is an independent print company. Selling both photographic and illustrative prints from various cities around the world. All of the photos used to create the prints are taken by myself from places I have lived, visited or travelled to over the years.
"Millistrations tries to capture the different locations in a way that really resonates with people, to offer an everlasting and true memory of that place."
All prints are produced on high quality, thick paper and sold at a reasonable price.
4. How much are your prints?
The prints vary in price depending on the size and whether you’d like it framed or not. They start at £8 for A5, £12 for A4 and so on. I wanted to keep the pricing fairly low and affordable because my target audience has mainly been University students.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from?
All of the photos that I’ve used for my current prints were taken over the course of 4-5 years or so. From my time at University in Leeds, holidays, traveling and so on. I didn’t necessarily go out with inspiration or a plan to later sell them, I just liked what I saw at the time. When I take photos of a city I really try to capture it as authentically as possible, all the different quirks and nuances which make that place unique and special to the people living there.
"I always like finding the beauty from the everyday and mundane."
6. Do you have any plans to expand your business?
At the moment I am in the process of creating a list of different cities I’d like to visit and take more photos. Hopefully this will help create a wider audience for the prints because currently they are mainly students from Leeds. Other University cities like Manchester, Bristol and Newcastle are definitely on the cards. Also, I’d like to create my own website at some point, although Etsy has been great for getting the business up and running there are some limitations with what you can do, so that is also on my list.
7. Do you have a specific target audience in mind when you created your business?
Initially I didn’t have a target audience in mind, I created the prints and started advertising them on Instagram and in different groups on Facebook. The Leeds prints really hit off in one of the University ‘buy and sell’ pages which I have been a member throughout my time at Uni. Instantly people on the group started buying the prints and following my channels, so the target audience kind of formed itself!
8. Do you take requests on location and/or can customers send their own pictures to be printed?
For the city illustrations the majority of those prints have come from commissions and for these I charge slightly more as they can take quite a long time to complete. The photography prints on the other hand, I don’t officially take requests but I’m always asking my followers where they’d like me to capture for potential future prints.
I do however have a personalised option where the customer can send me their own photo and a choose a title to go at the top.
9. How did you find the process of creating your own business?
It’s been very fun, I’ve really enjoyed it so far! I think studying Graphic Design at University has definitely helped with creating a look for the brand and the promotional side. I made my own logo and all of the social media posts. I think these things (without some sort of background knowledge of Design) are very challenging, although I believe there are apps now that can help you! I also had help from my mum putting the orders through and paying my invoices, without her helping me in the first few weeks I don’t think I would have been able to keep up with the pace of everything.
10. If the Covid-19 pandemic/lockdown had not happened do you think you would have created Millistrations?
I’m not really sure to be honest. I’ve always loved photography but never thought people would be interested in buying my work. After University I went straight into a job as a Graphic designer, so being in lockdown and being furloughed has definitely given me so much more time to just sit down and be creative in a way that I enjoy rather than it feeling like work. I don’t think I have had the opportunity to do that in many years.
11. How has lockdown impacted your sales?
I think lockdown really helped Millistrations grow quickly! I received a crazy amount of orders in the first couple of days after promoting my brand. I think a lot of that was down to students having there time at Uni cut short because of the pandemic and therefore wanting a little memoir of Leeds. What better way to remember a place than a photograph!
I don’t think the prints would have received as much attention if lockdown didn’t happen but I can’t say for sure!