Networking and Self Employed Life
One of the best decisions I made while making my business has been hiring a studio space to work. Most of my work involves sewing and having a dedicated studio to do that work has helped clear the mind. I find people who have studios in their home amazing people as I find it hard to balance my work/ life time without having a desk in my face full of work that is needed to do. It is part of the reason why I have to have a clear desk at the end of the day. I hate seeing my work, mocking me in a messy pile. I like to leave the day knowing that when I come back to my work the next day everything will be in order and ready for me to pick it back up.
One of the biggest problems with being a one woman operation is that I spend most of my work days alone. I do miss working with others and having creative people to bounce around from. In the past, whether at university in the studios or at home I have always been surrounded by creative people. Even while I worked in retail I had my lovely work friends to creatively bounce off of. Having creative people in your life is, in my opinion, the best way to make sure you don't burn out. Currently, as I write this, I am alone in the studio having been here for about 30 minutes. I have done two tasks on my list, plan out the rest of the week as I went home early yesterday feeling poorly and doing my 25 minutes of Pinterest maintenance. I have a cup of tea cooling beside me, I'm listening to my music and contemplating what the write next and how to structure this. I am alone and I am fine. Happily getting on with work. It is maybe by Thursday that I will feel differently. It won't be loneliness but a weird feeling of wanting to communicate with other people. I find anyone who works well always alone kinda amazing. I need the peace and quiet at times and sometimes other people can be jarring when you are in the frame of mind but I do also feed from having other creatives near me.
Now I know I'm not saying anything ground breaking here. We all know what it is like to go a little stir crazy when alone at work but I write this mostly as a reminder to myself to through myself out there and get to know my fellow creatives. For the last few years I've been building myself a nice creative nest and not really venturing out of it much. This year has been the year I've decided to throw myself outside of my comfort zone and get out there. I want to connect with my customers more. While alone at one of my two desks it easy to forget that an actual person has bought sometime from me. It sometimes blows my mind that there are people out in the world wearing my clothes that I made with my hands. Like wow brain explosion moments. That makes every moment worth it to me. That someone liked my work enough to buy it and wear it! In attempts to not be weird I'm trying to be more open on Instagram, write a regular blog about my thoughts with my "brand" and show you what is happening in the background. I've even now got a mailing list (shock horror!- link is below). I've been working on clearing the mind and working out what my story is and how to articulate it. Doing the challenge on Instagram, March- Meet the Maker has been amazing as a prompt for think about different areas of my business and how I got here and that is something I've really been loving.
One thing I've started doing to make sure I'm not always alone is making a list at the beginning of each week listing the friends I know I'm going to see that week. This way I don't go forever before seeing people. In the last few years my friends and I always seemed to be commenting on how we never see each other (this has just prompted me to message a friend about dinner plans- yay for socialising!) and being like"life huh?". This has made me really think about my time and how I'm using it. I want to be successful but I also know that a happy Alice means a Alice that can be creative and work hard.
So in attempts to throw myself out there and not be the hermit I seem to naturally want to be I've made the effort to start going to the Brighton Etsy meetings again. I used to go many years ago but lost track of them or made excuses for why it was inconvenient for me to go. I went to the most recent one in March and while feeling a little awkward arriving by myself, I had a good time, chatting and catching up. It was nice to meet the new team and I look forward to seeing where this year takes us all in the Brighton Etsy team. I know that I want to meet more creatives and have people around me who know the on going Etsy struggle to try and get people to buy your unique pretties.
Another thing I have done which was possibly the most scary thing I've done in a while was joining "Girl Tribe Gang". This is a a female group which aims to give support through networking to woman entrepreneurs and /or ladies looking to create a side hustle or build what they already have to eventually quit the 9-5 jobs they have. Now my older sister (7 years older) joined the group in her area and seemed to be coming away from these monthly meetings a snazzy business woman and full of all this knowledge and so she persuaded me this year to give them a go and get a guest ticket. To say I was a little terrified and worried about the whole thing was to understate what was going through my brain, but I went to that first meeting and met lots of very nice ladies who all seemed to have their sh*t together and talked about themselves (in a good way) and their work with such passion and confidence all I could think was, "I want to feel like that about CAS". So I joined. The second meeting was definitely less scary and it was so nice to be recognised and welcomed back. I'm looking forward to going every week and getting that vibe back. I seem to be coming away from the meetings with a real feeling of "yes! lets do this!". Which is all I could ask for from a supportive network!
And last but not least, The fore mentioned sister. I feel like we message each other multiple times a week to check in and ask each other questions about your thoughts on business.... stuff... She makes me question everything with her lists and everything. I'm in awe of her drive and thought processes. Ella really makes me think about how I use my time as she is a mum to my two beautiful nieces but yet still has time to work on her new illustrations, her online presence, networking and you know, living her life. Although I do wish she'd get some more sleep. Even as I type she and I are messaging about online business stuff..... It is never ending.
So yeah, it is not perfect, but as I sit alone in a room with chill music blaring, a now very cold cup of tea beside me and more lists than I thought possible. It has made me smile to think of all the different ways I've brought people into my cave of cozy creativeness. They might not all be here with me (anyone is welcome to visit- I have tea and i'll make sure its warm for you) but I'm not so isolated as I work. It's definitely a work in progress but it's working for now.
Have a good week all!
Lots of xxx
(a somewhat crazy and alone blogger but who is working on it ;) )
See more at:
Shop link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CuriousAliceStudio
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curious_alice_studio/ or @curious_alice_studio
Mailing List: https://mailchi.mp/74f6f88dce43/curious_alice_studio