This is a super quick brain dump of some of the history that has led up to what was quite an exciting day for me yesterday – handing my notice in at my 4 day a week proper job. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, finding the pressure of balancing 2 children and trying to start a business all at the same time, a bit too much. I’ve had a couple of bouts of illness since the start of the year, simply because I’m doing too much and not looking after myself.
But the decision came quicker than I expected, I’d requested to go down to 3 days which would have meant a) we could cover school pick ups and drop offs between myself, Chris and my mum (Eric my eldest starts school in September) and b) I would have a precious couple of mornings to spend on the business while Herbie was at pre-school. Working for a charity that advocates for responsible business practices at the core of what it does, including flexible working, I thought the request would be approved. I was wrong. Denied. This made me really angry, I felt undervalued but also just incensed that flexible working is still so far away from being a reality, if an organisation that publicly promotes these types of behaviours can’t even provide this, what chance does anyone else have? Anyway, this is another story. What it provided me with was the push I needed to go. Above all else, I want to be around for my children, to pick them up from school and to not be so tired that they never get my best. So something had to give.
I thought I’d use this blog to tell you a bit about me, as the decision has got me thinking about my life and what I’m doing and all those deep questions! This decision has reminded me that I’m really an entrepreneur to the core! The first pic is of me in Paris on a work placement after uni, and I opened a cafe with my brilliant friend Becca, when i was a couple of years out of uni. It was called ‘Rest’ and it was ace, but the location wasn’t great, and we couldn’t make it work. But it was 2 years of hard work, brilliant experience and something I don’t regret. The picture below is our cafe and me and Bec flopping on the sofa after another exhausting day.
After this I had to get a ‘normal’ job, but I always had this ongoing desire to do something creative, and where I was the boss! I’m always coming up with ideas (this is my problem, I lack focus), and I once bought a job lot of bird boxes and french string bags to sell at a festival, roping in my best friend to come and man the stall with me, which involved sleeping in the stall on hard concrete. Unfortunately that one didn’t fly.
I look back sometimes and thing, did i just make decisions based on safety, and needing a proper job? Should I have pursued something creative years ago? Maybe. But I did follow one of my passions (which are many) and studied for an MA in Sustainable Enterprise, and had many interesting jobs in the field of corporate responsibility and sustainability. I think a I always had the desire to do something more creative but never fell on the right idea until now. To put this into context, I’m nearly 40 now and I opened the cafe when I was in my early twenties, the intervening years have been spent in proper jobs!
So, back to the present day. I’ve been working at this thing I call ‘Cotton Clara’ since 2014, after my second son was born. Slowly I’ve been learning what my style is, what the market is like and what I can bring that’s unique and different. I have worked really hard, alongside work for the last three years and sacrificed fitness, friendships and a clean house amongst other things but I’m passionate about this, and about building something that allows me to pursue a creative career. But i am now where near this looking like a profitable business YET!! I’ve had some great exposure, and really positive feedback and the sales are heading in the right direction, but this is a real risk. I wanted to tell you this, because I know I always look at other people who are pursuing similar careers and think wow, they’ve really made it, what’s their secret? Well, I am sure many people have made it and are doing amazingly, and I hope I’ll get there, but I want to be really honest and say I’m not there yet, but I have made the leap! And it’s going to be hard! I don’t have a rich husband (but I do have an amazingly supportive and tolerant one) or big savings to fall back on! We’re going to have to really watch every penny, and we were never flush! But I’d rather give this a go, and be poor for a while than never take the risk.
Starting a business when you have 2 small children is hard, and when you have to work because you are the highest earner in the house it’s even harder. But i’ve come to the decision my health, and my children are more important than a stable job. I will put my hands up and say I may have to get another job in a few months time, but hey, that’s fine! At least I tried! I’m believing in myself, in what I know I’m good at and in what makes me happy. Anyway, I feel like there is much more to tell you and maybe you’ll be interested in following this journey with me? I’m going to keep posting blogs to let those of you who want to know, how it’s going.
Credit for the title to Will Smith, via Makeandmendlife, thank you for the inspiration!!!! One of my biggest fears, I feel scared to admit is what if I get ill and we have no work benefits to support us? Freelance seems so scary for this and other reasons. But, you can’t live your life based on fear can you? It’s like the quote, ‘but what if I fall? Oh but my dear, what if you fly?!’ for me it’s probably more like ‘but what if I die? oh my dear but what if you live?!’. There’s probably another blog post here, about my mental health issues (possibly stemming from my dad dying 10 years ago), but there I’ve told you and that’s a start isn’t it!
Think this Friday I deserve a (cheap) glass of wine!!!!