They call her Debbie Doubter

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Who is this chick, Debbie Doubter? Let me tell you, you’ve definitely met her a fair few times in your life and she’ll be hanging around for many years to come. Your family know her well, and your friends hang out with her regularly. She’s that silent partner  that whispers comments that shape your mind and your destiny.

She’s pretty much bad news. 

I’ve lived with this imaginary friend of mine for a long, long time. I’m pretty sure you all have too. Does she make herself known just when you’re about to take a leap of faith? Or blindsides you when you’re just about to drift off to sleep like a heavy hand to the face?

Recently I’ve been uncovering her dirty deeds and frankly, I’ve decided to take a stand against her. If we were friends on Facebook I would be heading for the ‘delete friend’ button with no hesitation, but because she is just a part of myself it’s not so easy to sever that tie. So, what’s a girl to do?

The past few weeks (screw it, the past few months!) have been so changeable it’s been a downright head-fuck. As Paloma Faith wisely said, ‘everything is changing, and I’ve been here for too long, going through the same things, I’ve been hurting too long, got to move on’

 When I took some time away over the past 7 days, a ‘social media holiday’ as I’m calling it, I started to have a conversation with myself without the distractions around me. It’s pretty incredible what I found when I took some time to re-evaluate my goals, my dreams and my happiness; I am working hard for all these things, and they are truly achievable, but the only thing that is going to prevent me from achieving the best of me and my dreams is Ms. Debbie Doubter. And awkwardly she is a part of me.

When I think back on all the amazing things I’ve accomplished I know I would have never done them, or be where I am today, if I had taken action on what she was telling me. Doubt is indeed the poison of the mind. Doubt has been telling me, ‘There are so many other better businesses out there, are you sure you’re good enough to be one of them? You should quit while you’re ahead.‘ and another gem, ‘Are you sure you should have gone full-time freelance? You can barely look after yourself, and forget EVER buying a house.’

It’s all been accumulating together, these thoughts and doubts, to a mighty climax that coincides with the 1 year anniversary of leaving employment to follow my passion full time. It’s amazing, I’ve been freelance full-time for one whole year, and yet all I’ve been doing is paying attention to my doubts rather than to my achievements and the good things that are here around me. Of course I’m going to start to fail if all I do is listen to the nay-sayer in my mind, because I’ll start to take less risks, ignore opportunities and play it safe. And nobody got anywhere by playing it safe.

“Any truth is better than infinite doubt”
– Arthur Conan Doyle – 

So I hope that if you too have been having doubts, you will join me in tell them all to do-one and to start sharpening you mind to the fact that anything is achievable, it’s just which instinct you pay attention to inside. Say it to doubts big or small, business decisions or personal choices, real people or yourself. Because there will be people, even those close to you, who will be bad news when it comes to needing to trust your gut. So they can do-one too, just until you’ve made the decision you need to do.

There’s no way I’m letting myself get in the way of my joy, and I hope you all will never let your best self be shadowed by the doubter inside. Everyone always says that you have one life and you need to live it, and they ain’t wrong.

So here’s to all those Debbie Doubters, real or imaginary; RIP.

Deborah x

{N.B. The quote in the photo is from Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild}

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Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

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Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Pre-Order information for Limited Edition Jungle Folk Bags

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If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook you may have seen a lot of posts about my new limited edition handbags and their upcoming pre-order date. Well, I am really excited this morning to finally divulge all!

Tonight, from 8pm you will be able to pre-order my lovingly handmade bags. Each one has been made using the surface design pattern created during my Business Burst sessions 1-3; Jungle Folk. Entirely handcrafted, I have been teaching myself some handbag-making skills such as making my own piping and foldable gussets.

You can read up about all the beautiful details of my new bags in my online store however what I want to tell you about this morning is some crucial details about the pre-order which launches tonight.

: At 8pm tonight I will make my Limited Edition Jungle Folk Bag listing live :
: Only 8 bags have been made, making them truly limited edition! :
: Add this pre-order listing to your cart if you wish to reserve one of these limited edition bags before they go on general sale on the 22nd July : 
: Pre-order deposit is just £15 to reserve your limited edition bag. The remainder balance will be due on or before the 22nd July when the bags will be ready for posting  
: All customers who have pre-ordered one of my bags will be informed via email how to pay the remainder balance :

 As well as being available online I will also be bringing the bags with me to this saturdays Summer Market at The Bond, Birmingham. I will be taking pre-orders there too, should they still be available! This is a great opportunity to see the bags in person and road test them for length/feel etc.

I hope you’re as excited as I am for their release this evening! Any questions about pre-ordering or the bags themselves please feel free to drop me a comment or email and I will be happy to advise where I can!

See you at 8pm!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Malt Cross Mural

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Last month I was awarded the amazing opportunity to illustrate inside one of the original Victorian archways in the basement of the Malt Cross. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to get the chance to do this as I’d been hankering to do some large scale hand drawn pattern work for a while (check out my Pinterest board), made even better by the fact that it was in one my favourite hidey-holes in Nottingham. So armed with the smallest paintbrushes known to man (thank you Handmade Nottingham Shop for lending them!) and 2 pots of gold and copper paint, I took to creating my William Morris inspired hand drawn wall design.

The above is the result of a true labour of love, created over 4 days and up to 25 hours worth of work. I won’t deny that there was unbelievable back, hand and hip ache but it was so completely worth it.

Photos courtesy of Daniel Hughes Photography

You can visit the mural at the Malt Cross for the next 6 months before the next artist comes to add their mark to the historic walls!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Pentultimate Business Burst session!

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I can’t believe I’ve been writing these business burst posts now for 5 weeks! I’ve really enjoyed structuring my time and working through each element week by week, it’s been so wonderful to see the fruits of my labor come together!

Last week I was focussing on social media marketing, and through ready Hilary Pullen’s book Online Marketing for your Craft Business I’ve now implemented a year long marketing strategy. I never truly appreciated the value of my blog before reading Hilary’s book, so to your joy/dismay my new marketing strategy has an emphasis on really pushing my blog forwards! I’ve already started planning some different and exciting posts so I hope you’ll like them in time to come.

This week I will be focussing on the wholesale aspect to my business, something I’m very lazy with! I’m always waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ to re-do my wholesale look book and get in touch with previous stockists, but the reality is that there isn’t a perfect moment unless you carve one! So this week is carved out for such activities.

Things I’ll be considering this week:
: Selecting which of my new products that I have designed (from weeks 1-3) to include in my new look book :
: Making sure the photos are ship shape – no one wants to buy anything that looks blurry! :
: Getting my previous list of stockists together to contact, plus a new list of potential stockists to pitch to :
: Begin to consider when to release my Christmas look book – buyers like to sort this in advance! :

I’m excited to work on this wholesale book as I haven’t redesigned my previous one in over a year *slaps wrist* and I want this one to be a breath of fresh air for my previous stockists!

Now it’s over to you guys – do you have any hints and tips for wholesale? How do you find sorting wholesale orders and finding new stockists? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments box below or tweeting them to me (@DBIllustrations) using the hashtag #dbbizburst

Happy wholesaling!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Best of British Father’s Day Gift Ideas

June 21st is not too far around the corner which means it’s time to start thinking about gifts for those special dads. Take a look at 5 of my handpicked Fathers Day Gifts, all handmade and created here in the UK.

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For the traditional Dad, I love these custom engraved pocket watches.
£23.84+ from WildLifeDesignsUK via Etsy.com 

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For the chef Dad, these monthly subscription boxes of round the world spices are a great unusual gift idea!
£20 from the Spicery via Notonthehighstreet.com

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The the child-at-heart Dad, spend the day making these personalised paper planes!
£9 from Claire Close via Notonthehighstreet.com

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For the soon-to-be Dad, this foot-print kit is on hand, ready to preserve those precious memories.
£10 from Elizabeth Jane via Notonthehighstreet.com

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For the dapper Dad, I have to share my latest one-of-a-kind bow ties that are handmade in my Nottingham studio.
£20 via deborahballingerillustrations.bigcartel.com

Me, I think i’ll be enjoying an overdue long dog walk with my own Dad who unfortunately I don’t get to see that often.

However you spend Fathers Day with the man in your life, be sure to have a good one!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Week 4 of the 6 Week Business Burst

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WOAH. What a week Week 3 was! If you were hungrily anticipating to see load of new products popping up on your social media pages I’m so sorry to have disappointed you! I may have been a little quiet online, however in the studio I have been beavering away designing new products which I hope will blow all your socks off.

I don’t want to divulge too much information on these new products but I am excited to say that they should hopefully be with us by July, perhaps even sooner! It’s been really refreshing taking stock of my current products and seeing where there may be holes in my product lines.

So, without further ado I bring you Week 4 of the Business Burst: Marketing. Now I’m very lucky to already have such a strong and wonderful following on my social media sites, however I sometimes really struggle with the kind of content I post and also how salesy I may be coming across in my posts. It’s a constant struggle between being really personal (my favourite thing to be) and also trying to sell something (my absolute least favourite thing to do!)

Imagine it; you’ve spent weeks, months, toiling over a new product and it’s ready to launch! You do your Facebook/Instagram/Blog post and somehow it doesn’t seem to sparkle the way it does for you. Been there, too many times! Why isn’t everyone jumping around in excitement like I am? There are so many factors that may contribute to this conundrum which I have discovered over the 3 years I’ve been selling my products online:

time of day posting
tags used with post
quality of photo used
tone of the content

So rather than just concentrating on followers and ‘likes’, because I’ve come to realise that although this is a confidence boost it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a strong following, I want to concentrate on how I deliver my marketing posts and how to be more engaging with them. I want to learn how to get someone from not bothered by products to totally in love!

To help me this week I will be using this handy piece of literature: Online Marketing for you Craft Business by Hilary PullmanI’ll be implementing advice from this day to day so keep your eyes peeled for some new social media facelifts!

I’d love to hear from all you social media moguls: What do you struggle with most with online marketing? Do you have any advice you could offer to others?

As always follow my hashtag #dbbizburst to see how my marketing adventure goes, and also to see when my new products will be released!

Have a happy social media week ahead!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Week 3 of the 6 Week Business Burst

business burst week 3

So we are now into week 3 of the Business Burst and by far this is one of my favourite parts of the process – New Products. It must be the left-sided of my brain, but theres something so satisfying about designing a product and doing the costings. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of left-sided brain activities that give me a headache, but I love the challenge of trying to find suppliers, good costs, materials and then seeing it come to life before hitting my virtual shop shelves.

Take a look at yesterdays post and you will see that during weeks 1-2 I created a truly tropical jungle pattern. I will be focussing on creating products for this new pattern, as well as considering if these new products will carry some of my other designs too. Things I’ll be considering, and maybe things you can take into consideration too!

:Where do I want it used?:
So far I’ve created a lot of small giftware pieces with my previous designs, could this design be the one to take me into a more interiors approach? or perhaps to develop more accessories? Think about the design and where it will handle well.

:What is the maximum someone will pay for this product?:
You could design the most beautiful china set, but it’s kind of useless if your costings mean that you’ll have to charge £1,000 for it. Not a great deal of people have a spare £1K lying around to spend on chinaware so be thoughtful of your customer and the financial climate without losing out yourself. If you’re not getting a great profit margin, perhaps it’s best to go back to the beginning and find a better manufacturer/supplier.

:Does this product fit in with your ethics and your brand?:
If you are sourcing materials for your products, or manufacturers, think about how they work and what kind of ethics they have. I am all about supporting small businesses and spending my money in the UK to help the economy, so I find suppliers who are local or UK based. I also want to help towards keeping our environmental future a bright one so I will always try to source recycled paper. Sourcing abroad may be cheaper, but think about if it reflects your business’ values and if those companies abroad are caring for their employees and the environment.  

As before, keep up to date with my progress through the hashtag #dbbizburst. If you have been joining in feel free to share some images with the hashtag too!

Good luck with week three!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

End of weeks 1-2 of the Business Burst

jungle tile a4 sample

It’s been a pretty hardcore couple of weeks starting my Business Burst program, and whilst some days have been a little stressful trying to design new patterns whilst working on existing client work, it’s helped me realise a few things about myself that I never realised:

1. I am definitely more in control of things than I often feel I am
2. I always hold myself back from doing things because I believe I will instantly fail, even if I haven’t yet tried.

So although I only managed to produce 1 new pattern (with my incredibly high standard and unrealistic expectations I had set myself the challenge of designing 3 new patterns – am I mad?!) I am completely in love with it. It has colour! My previous enemy seems to be my new best friend, and it’s been great experimenting with dark backgrounds instead of light.

As well as this piece I’m also midway through designing an entry for the Tigerprints competition which I’m feeling pretty excited about. More about that soon!

Also during weeks 1-2 of Business Burst I read a very interesting book by Lloyd Field PH.D, Business and The Buddha. It was an extremely enlightening read about how to run businesses with more compassion in order to actually create sustainability. Although it sometimes reads like it’s aimed for larger corporations, the ethos of it is so relevant to anyone, self-employed or employed by a company. Since reading I’ve certainly started thinking about how to implement some of the wisdom given, even if it’s just starting small and setting up a designated recycling area in the studio!

So, tomorrow I will introducing the next part of my Business Burst program, which I am REALLY looking forward to. In the meantime let me know if you managed to set aside some time in the past few weeks to get designing some new lines – did you reign victorious, or was there something that you realised was holding you back?

As always I’d love to hear your feedback and comments so please feel free to drop your messages in the comments box below.

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Human Bones sublimation tees, now available online

Fresh to my online store, Human Bones Sublimation T-shirts

It’s been a little while in the making, but since releasing my bones design exclusively for my Kickstarter campaign (which was successfully funded thanks to YOU) I am so excited to now have them available through my direct store, Etsy and Notonthehighstreet.com

I’m perhaps most proud of this design due to the wonderful comments I have received from medical students, doctors and nurses alike who were most impressed with the accuracy of my anatomical drawings! I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was  to hear that they were…

There also will be another post coming up soon about our shoot day as lots of exciting and new shots were taken of existing favourites, all courtesy of Daniel Hughes Photography.

As always I’m keen to hear what your thoughts and comments! What do you think of this anatomical look for spring/summer15? How would you style this design?

Leave your comments below or drop me a line via the contact page!

Deborah x


**6 Week Business Burst update**

Week 1-2 is going well so far! I have completed my first pattern and am working my way through brief number 2. I hope I can get another design done by monday! As always follow the hashtag #dbbizburst to see my progress or to log your own! 

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015