This September I’ve decided to celebrate all things creative biz, in particular the incredibly talented ladies I have met in my time as a small business owner. I think there is something quite magical about the creative biz community, magic that I have never experienced in my previous non-creative and huge corporation jobs, and I thought a little Q&A with some of my favourite gals would hopefully help inspire any of you other ladies who may be wanting to take the self-employed plunge!
To kick off week 1 I have the positively talented Jo Want from Hello Sunshine, answering my questions and imparting her wisdom!
How long have you been a creative powerhouse business for?
It was 3 years back in February since I started Hello Sunshine as more than a hobby! Eeek!
When did you decide that you wanted to take your craft & talent to the public?
Hello Sunshine was officially formed in 2012 after a few years of floundering and trying to be a creative jack-of-all-trades. In my spare time I was making, drawing, painting and creating all kinds of work for friends and family (which I loved doing) but nothing seemed to gel together. It was all just a nice hobby I guess.
It wasn’t until 2011 when I decided to focus on just laser cut jewellery and illustration that everything seemed to start to come together and make sense for me. I completed my first little, official collection of jewellery and after listing it in a folksy shop I was approached by a local gallery about selling my work there too. I was shocked, thrilled and so excited by this and it gave me the confidence I needed to really push myself and believe that I could actually make Hello Sunshine a real business. That was where it all started really and has grown since then!
Do you think creative businesses face greater challenges than non-creative enterprises?
I think running a business, no matter what you do brings its challenges – great and small! I imagine it’s tough whatever market you compete in but personally I think it will always be challenging in a creative business because you not only have to face into people’s personal preference over style and content (not everyone is going to love your work after all!) but you’re up against mass produced products and cheap prices on the high street all the time which often feel like they undermine what you do. Saying that though, the creative community and support for each other that you see out there is so inspiring and reassuring that it will take a lot to dampen my spirits.
What have been your highest highs?
Oooh it has to be earlier this year when I finally took the leap into full time self-employment! Eeek! To leave the security of my job at Boots and jump into the unknown world of self-employment and be my own boss was one of the happiest, most exciting but damn right scariest moments of my life. Definitely my highest high though… I think I’m still buzzing from it too!
And what would you say are your greatest challenges?
Apart from things like cash flow and spreadsheet shaped things, which will always confuse and stress me out, my greatest challenge is probably dealing with myself. I can be my own worst enemy more often than not; I put so much pressure on myself and often find myself comparing my work to others and wondering why I bother when there are so many amazing people out there who are better than me – it’s not healthy and often leaves me in a pickle for days at a time.
I LOVE what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world but sometimes the paranoid, self-confidence-eating gremlin inside me zaps all of my sunshine and I need to learn how to control it better. I’m slowly learning and talking to and reading about other creative people’s experiences has helped a lot, as it seems this gremlin is a common fiend.
What’s the work/life balance like?
If I’m honest I think it could be better as I find it so hard to switch off even when I’m on holiday/having days off BUT I am a million times better than I was a year ago. I used to make myself poorly quite often and it took a pretty big knock last year to make me stop and listen to what my body and mind needed.
I still try to take on the world and do it all and I will always work my socks off but now I allow myself to have a bit of Jo time now and then. I will take that afternoon nap if I’m exhausted or I’ll leave my phone in another room or go for a run/walk/cycle if I need to escape, whereas before I would ignore the need for a break and power through.
More and more of us ladies are taking up arms and going into business to make our own fortune. What do you think about the current state of women in self-employment/business?
I think it’s amazing and inspiring. I just have to scroll through my instagram feed and creative women running their own successful businesses surround me! I feel so lucky to be part of such a great community, both online and locally in Nottingham. I hope it continues to grow J
Paying it forward, who is your favourite female run creative business?
Oooh my goodness! There are too many to choose from! If I have to choose one then currently I would say that I am greatly inspired by Viktorija of Andsmile Studio. Her illustration style is just divine but on top of all that amazingness her attitude to life and her personality that shines through in all of her work is so positive and friendly it’s infectious!
Any advice for gals out there looking to make their creative mark?
Look after yourself, physically and mentally – this is super important!
Stay focussed and try to remain positive. There will always be ups and downs but you can achieve those dreams if you are positive and determined to do what you love.
Talk to people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, ask them questions and listen carefully to their experiences as they can inspire you greatly.
Support each other. With the wealth of online social media and networking opportunities today, it can be overwhelming but sharing experiences and supporting other designers/makers/creatives with likes, comments and general conversation can be so empowering and you can and will meet the nicest people!
Favourite quote: “If you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ― Roald Dahl, The Twits
Weapon of choice: My PEN ORGY pencil case, it contains lots of my favourite weapons… is that cheating?
Currently working to… Oh dear… it’s a bit of a mix but here goes…Royal Blood, Stornoway, Flight of the Conchords, Incubus, Awolnation, Backstreet Boys, Now That’s what I call Disney… please don’t judge me! J
Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.
Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015