It recently occurred to me that my studio is now a very happy & healthy number 8! I officially left my full time design job working at Hallmark just over 8 years ago. I had a little bit of time off & then began to prepare my very small workspace (in a tiny bedroom at my old house). I officially launched into the design world as an independent designer in May of 2008.
Wow where to begin the story, so much has happened. I really wanted to write a short version but there isn’t one. I actually have 4 in depth online e-courses running on Make it in Design, based on all my experiences, including the ultimate highs and ultimate lows, as there’s been so much to say and share. There may have been times when running my business has brought me to tears; the long hours, lack of social life in the early years and the numerous personal sacrifices that I’ve had to make. Not to mention my legal battle with the biggest UK retailer. However I don't see any of that as a negative - it has helped shaped my company, allowed me to learn & grow & made me push myself even more. I’m not a super confident person as some people may think. I’m a real worrier behind closed doors and I’m so critical of my work and of myself. The last 8 years have taught me not to give up, remain positive and that the world really waits for no one, so it’s important to really make it your own.
I feel a little emotional typing this as I finally feel in a more comfortable place. I have a good work life balance now, (well getting there) & I’m being kind to myself. When you have put in the mad hours to bring in the success for your business it can be really hard to step away from that routine. I built my business for creative freedom, flexibility with life and the spontaneity of it. A 9-5 in-house design position was just really swallowing me up. I’m an excitable person with too many ideas so the routine just wasn’t for me.
Now is the time for me to enjoy my brand, continue to grow, but live the life I imagined and dreamed of when setting it up. After all what’s the point of having a goal of a flexible work life and never actually taking advantage of the opportunity?
At times I’ve run myself into the ground - I’m not Wonder Woman & I always think I have more time, but as a new Mum I just don’t. A lovely friend, mentor & business partner recently said, “It’s time to let your business serve you”. It was the best advice that I needed to hear at the time. I’m fortunate enough to have the most wonderful and dedicated team now & it was very silly that I permanently felt guilty for taking a day off. The studio and Make it in Design teams are just magic and I’ve finally stepped back a little and it’s feels good. I’m a designer first and foremost so it’s allowed me to free up a stack of admin and management time to find more creative time.
I truly love my job and I pinch myself at times. I recently met Make it in Design’s co-founder Beth Kempton for a meeting - I carried my own bag design and my licensed umbrella design, created under my own design label, (which was such a happy/weird feeling…) I was travelling to a meeting about my other business & it dawned on me that I have two companies and a team… I suddenly realised I have rushed about so much that, at times, I’ve forgotten to reflect on everything that’s happened and celebrate the little things not just the milestones. Beth pointed out that in our four years since launching I’ve taught over 33 e-courses (and that’s just modules 1 - 3). In November the team collated figures on our 4th Make it in Design Birthday and I was told I’ve taught over 5000 individual students in 66 countries. Crazy!
Enough of my emotional chat - I just wanted to say that I’m truly grateful. To my supportive family, my very patient husband, my amazing team, my talented collaborators, my clients, my customers and to everyone who has followed my work and supported me over the years. Last but not least my gorgeous little boy Blayke Lennon for continually putting a smile on my face & inspiring my work every day.
Did you know that the number 8 has always been my lucky number? I have a good feeling about my 8th year and I’m excited to continue on the rollercoaster of following my dreams.
I just wanted to list 8 of my key highlights of the journey so far:
- Launching my solo website as a freelance independent designer
- Becoming a licensed artist and the multitude of products & wonderful collaborations that has came with it
- Launching a brand & opening an online store
- Collaborating with Beth Kempton to launch our magical Make it in Design business
- Finding my wonderful design agent Lilla Rogers
- Teaching around the world (to an array of pretty awesome students) which including flying out to the USA
- Becoming the author of 2 illustration books
- Finding the dream team
Here are 8 things that I’m looking forward to:
- Launching Sketch Doodle Draw Live (the first event is on May 16th in my home city of Liverpool. Then we are off to NYC & a destination in Europe)
- A full creative month July of just drawing & playing. I’m going to do some more exploring, traveling & just enjoy it
- Working on a top secret personal project…
- Collaborating with Jess and Jules on lots more fun furniture
- Connecting with the art scene more in Liverpool - it feels so good to be back & at home
- Creating my dream outdoor botanical workspace and drawing cabin
- Bringing more licensing & exciting products to the world
- Expanding our resources on the Make it in Design site