The struggle of whether to remain in the safety of your day-job or to pursue your passion and make it into a career is one that affects an increasing amount of people nowadays. Between the start-up culture we’ve been enjoying for the past few years, the endless amounts of information and advice online, and social media here to make marketing so much easier, following the dream of becoming an entrepreneur has never been more tempting.
Gigi Foyle, the co-founder of the highly successful London-based neon art label, has done exactly that. In 2016, she and her sister decided to turn their passion for neon art into a business that has since attracted the likes of Kate Moss, Chanel, and Charlotte Tilbury.
Gigi had spent a decade working in the field of science before deciding to take a risk and do something she’s truly passionate about – neon art. “My passion for neon lighting was first born when I moved from Ireland to the bright lights of London more than 15 years ago. I lived in Hackney and would spend countless hours exploring neon haunts across East London, such as the legendary God’s Own Junkyard. The effect it had on my mood was unreal – like nothing I’d experienced before.”
Although neither Gigi nor her sister and bag&bones’ co-founder Cavanagh had any experience in marketing or running a business, they didn’t go into it unprepared. In fact, they spent two years meticulously planning and researching, in order to come up with a viable plan for making their passion a reality, rather than just jumping into it head-first.
The research and preparation paid off: they’ve discovered a way to provide a niche product that not only was not available to private customers in the UK at the time, but also came with a range of other benefits. The bag&bones neon lights use LEDs rather than gas and flexible tubing instead of glass – making them more affordable, less fragile, and more sustainable. Gigi graduated in science, and always had an interest in green energy. She was able to put her knowledge and her values into creating something new: “when it came to neon, we wanted to find a solution – the neon feel, without the neon gas!”
When asked whether it’s difficult to find a balance between personal time and running such a rapidly expanding business, Gigi replies, “At the moment we are rarely not working but because creating bag&bones has been a lifelong ambition and neon a lifelong love, I don’t really see it as work. I mean, don’t get me wrong; it can be full on. But I love it and if I had to think and talk about neon all day long for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t mind that at all.”
Gigi’s words seem to be a direct confirmation of what Mark Twain had famously said: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” After all, isn’t that why so many of us dream of turning our passions into a career?