Well another year has gone….where did that one go?!
It’s been a really tough year for me this year, both for my business and my family. Even though it’s been a great year in many respects; we’ve loved getting to know our country again, we’ve loved showing the girls all the beautiful places where we grew up and holidayed as kids ourselves. Visiting Europe and letting the girls see other cultures, taste different foods and see different types of architecture. And we’ve loved climbing some big hills and getting out and about in the lovely countryside and coastal areas that the UK has to offer. Watch out Cornwall, we’re back in May and can’t wait!!
It’s also been hard starting again from scratch, settling the girls into new schools (two schools in my eldest daughters case as she started Hight School this year too) My poor little one has taken a full year to settle into Primary School, with daily tears and very high anxiety, being in and out of hospital with one thing and another all year hasn’t helped either, making new friends and becoming adjusted to new habits, routines and day to day stuff. It’s actually been much harder coming back to the UK than it was going out to Australia to be honest. Growing up for the past ten years in Australia and bringing our kids up there, our eldest was 10 months when we landed, we had changed, we had probably changed a lot more than we thought we had. And getting used to Brits and their little ways has been harder than we expected after being used to the laid back Aussie way of life for so long. We are a lot more Aussie than we ever thought we were and probably a little less British! Does that make sense?
It’s been hard starting the business from scratch too. I’ve worked so hard all year. I’ve created a brand new website and shop, created new, more commercial (hopefully more sellable) designs, new products, found new suppliers, taken endless photo’s and then had some professional photos taken of all my products (as mine were all terrible!).
I’ve been out and about showcasing all my new work at many markets and events, trying to gauge my customers opinions and of course trying my hardest to sell what I do! It’s been hard, hard work and the return has been very little to be honest (as you know, I’m always honest!). Christmas markets are fabulous as you can imagine, but the rest of the year is so, so. In September I tried once again to be accepted to sell with Not On The High Street (A selling platform in the UK), but was turned down again because my product wasn’t commercial enough (or maybe not personalised enough) even though I had spent all year trying to design my product so that it would fit in with their concept/customer and changed what they had told me to change when they initially turned me down a year earlier.
So towards the end of the year I had to do some deep thinking about my product. Did I want to create a more commercial/sellable product or did I want to carry on doing what I believed in and create what I loved? Well, I tried the commercial stuff (albeit only a few designs if truth be told) and it just wasn’t me. Yes, I realise that that is how to make money (which is totally what I’m trying to do right?!!), but for me I was selling out, my heart wasn’t in it and it just didn’t feel right. I got very down about things and for the second time this year I really did think about giving the business up. It just wasn’t making me happy anymore. It wasn’t like in the early days where I felt like I had a real connection with my customer out there, the customer who chatted and laughed with me daily on Facebook and who came back to order from me again and again. It’s not like it was back then unfortunately, now it really is like talking to myself when I’m on Facebook and turning those very few likes into sales is getting harder and harder! It felt like it was all effort and very little gain, plus I hadn’t actually done any designing since March and I really did wonder what the point to it all was. I was a textile designer, who didn’t design?!!
So after a few down months, after a long and hard think, I decided to just get back to designing again – for fun! Just to do what I love and what I was born to do. I’ve been doing that for the last three weeks and it’s honestly the happiest I’ve felt all year. So, I finally found my answer! Get back to doing what I love, relax and see where it takes me!
Thanks for sticking around, commenting, liking and sharing on FB, buying my stuff and just being there. All that stuff really and truly does mean a lot to us small businesses who are trying our hardest to make a living from doing what we love! 🙂 Have a wonderful Christmas – Love Ali xx