I’ve been doing it on the quiet for a couple of years. Not many people have noticed. I’ve been a little backward in coming forward, because it’s hard to create something new.
It’s hard to believe in your idea when it’s just a crazy notion in your head. You start by envisioning everyone laughing at you, and soon move into all the things that could go wrong. But you must start creating anyway. As Brendon Burchard puts it, “No matter how small you start, start something that matters.”
I’m known for the costumers’ online magazines Foundations Revealed and Your Wardrobe Unlock’d. I love my small business. I love what it does for my team, for the writers, and for the readers. We’ve created something awesome that continues to change creative lives, nine years on (we launched in November 2007).
But the gift and the curse of a creative mind
…is that there’s always a new idea nipping at your brain weasels.
Since I’ve learned an enormous amount about running a business since Wardrobe and Foundations launched, it’s naturally become something I talk about, and something people ask me about.
I began hosting group coaching business courses for friends and colleagues in January 2015. So far those courses have seen websites launch, clients found, new directions taken in teaching, writing and manufacturing. Thirty people have found both kindred spirits and the confidence to move forward.
That’s enormously rewarding because I see myself in my students. I remember what it was like to sell my soul to a day job that did not light me up. It’s not so long ago that I was dependent on a partner who could cope better with fluorescent lights and office politics than I could. I was both useless and wasted in that world, with little perceived value to those who would reprimand me for removing my shoes in the office (gasp!)
I had little self worth, because the corporate world and I were measuring this little fish by her ability to climb trees. At my lowest point, I got by on a minimum wage, taking credit card applications in an enormous call centre.
So much of me was wasted.
The costume shop that was visible from the office window also paid minimum wage, but it gave me a little of my soul back. I made costumes for tacky medieval banquets. They were the most fabulous garments in the shop, but they weighed ten pounds. No-one picked out my dresses to wear, but I didn’t care. I did what I could in cheap polyester velvet on Saturdays, and was back in the headset on Monday. At least I was sewing.
Demi Harman – the Harman in Harman Hay Publications – rescued me soon after this. I got to experience the other side of the struggling artist’s coin: the pleasure and the shame of being a housewife who sews a bit. That person who makes a few “business cards” on the home printer and takes a few commissions. I was still unfulfilled. There were dresses in my head that were much more ambitious than my clients’ ideas. MUCH more ambitious. 😉 And a little extra pocket money wasn’t working for me.
With a handful of commissions, a dream of attending a costumer’s convention in Los Angeles, and a budding online presence, I stumbled on an idea for an online magazine… and the rest is history.
But it had to start somewhere.
I may seem like a pretty put-together business owner at this point, but if I close my eyes, I can still feel that call centre headset. I remember the meagre paycheck. I remember crying in the restroom because I couldn’t take the noise and the bright lights a moment longer. I remember feeling as though I was nothing much to write home about. I remember. And it kills me to be in this place – travelling with a laptop for months at a time, creative, respected, and in demand – knowing how I did it. Knowing that there are so many others who are still slaving away toward someone else’s goals from 8am sharp, daily, battling the same anxiety and depression as I did. I consider it my obligation to take their hand, if they want to leave that place, and show them what I did.
So no more coughing quietly in the corner and whispering about a little course that you might be interested in next year. 2017 is the year when I will begin my greatest mission yet. I want to get 1,000,000 artists, creatives and makers out from under those headsets, out of the barista’s apron, out from under the fluorescent lights and out from the shadow of their partners, and into a world that needs them desperately.
Why? Because the world’s energy is flatlining.
People are desperate for meaning in their lives, and it is artists who can lead them to that meaning. It is the writers, the painters, the artisan bakers and the candlestick makers (and yes, the seamstresses) who can give us comfort, inspiration and individuality in a homogenised, mass-produced world. Being an artist or maker is not about getting away with doing what you love and earning a little to get by from it. The world NEEDS you. It is time to begin.
So no matter how small you believe you are, no matter how broken the world has left you: if you feel deeply and you feel drawn to create, create something. Create something big or small. Create something beautiful. Create something that matters. I promise to help you all I can.