Wow, what a year! 2017 has been scary, exciting, rewarding, tiring and so much more...my first full year in business after two or three years spent ‘dabbling’ beforehand! I quit my job and upped my game. I met an amazing bunch of industry peeps who push me to achieve every single day. I watched my daughter take her first steps, and grow into the little madam she is today (honestly, so much sass). I took a week off in June (shock horror) and spent it in a caravan with my parents. And...I also put myself out there in a big way at The National Wedding Show, guest speaking on wedding stationery trends...like some kind of expert (?!).
Darla: much bigger now, but always my inspiration...
In short, it has been a pretty big year. I have learnt so much about myself and my business, and also, about how life does give you the lemons to make your own lemonade...if you nurture that little lemon pip . So it seems only fitting that my first article on my ‘new direction’ blog should be a round-up of 2017 and my key learnings!
Get it gurl…
Or boy, you know...I ain’t sexist. But it’s something I say quietly to myself every, single goddamn day…”GET IT GURL”. Because nobody is going to do it for you...am I right?! Having a bit of a mantra, especially on the slow days, can really lift your spirits and remind you of why you are doing what you are doing. I talk to myself a lot (don't get me started) and here are some of the crazy things I say to myself on the daily…
“A rolling stone gathers no moss”...usually around 10.30am and all I have done is opened my laptop. JOKING...I am so organised and on it…*rolls eyes*
“No, next”...quite often when I have started a design and realise that it’s just not going to go anywhere.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day”...probably my fave. It’s true. Building a one-woman band wedding stationery and branding empire won't happen overnight!
Being a toddler mama, house-girlfriend (seriously, I’m throwing all the hints but he’s catching NONE), business owner and writer is pretty tough on the old body and mind (I’m also preggo again...I know, I am such a rockstar). It can be hard to keep on top of everything sometimes but having a clear end goal and an amazing planner helps (I use a Life: Styled Planner). I also have a weekly workflow spreadsheet alongside numerous other spreadsheets; one of which keeps a track of all the quotes I have sent out vs. bookings (so I can keep a track of my conversion rate, yes ma'am). I love a list too...which Rich finds hilarious.
Get your Life: Styled Planner now! Worth it's weight in (rose) gold!
Obviously, it’s never going to be plain-sailing looking after a toddler and managing a business but daycare helps take the pressure off. The days where Darla goes off to her grandparents are the days where I get the bulk of my work done for the week...the big design jobs and any mounting admin I need to take care of. The rest of the time, I work when she naps and I am up past 12 most nights...thankfully, she sleeps until 8am (praying I've not jinxed that)! It’s the nature of the beast though isn't it...and I make it work…!
This year I have really put myself out there. I started out the year having contributed to one styled shoot EVER. By the end of this year, I’ll have a further twenty three under my belt; six of those being my babies, which I have planned, coordinated and to some extent, styled myself. Cray.
Out of those twenty three, I have been published on some amazing blogs, including Rock My Wedding (huge personal achievement), Bride and Tonic, Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, Festival Brides, Wedding Chicks and Aisle Society. All of which have given me incredible images to utilise on my social channels...but more importantly, have enabled me to make some ruddy good mates in the industry!
Image taken from my 'Waiting For You' shoot, published on Rock My Wedding
I also managed to haul my pregnant ass to The National Wedding Show recently, and although it was just a little 3x1m stand that I had, I worked my butt off to make it look amazing...with the help of Rich and a couple of industry buddies (Vintage Garden Weddings, Finishing Touches and Anthology Vintage Hire). I was also asked to guest speak on both days...about stationery trends...little old me! Can you believe it! And people actually came to listen!
In terms of social presence, thanks to Zoe of The Golden Letter fame, I set goals for social media back in January. I wanted to increase my followers and engagement on Instagram, so I set a goal of 2,500 followers by the end of 2017. I have surpassed this now, and have upped the goal to 2,750 (I MAY push for 3,000 but hey, we'll see). Alongside that, I have worked hard to research hashtags and display content which accurately fits my aesthetic. And it seems to be working!
In short, working hard to raise my profile has led to more couples finding me who fit my ideal client profile. And that is a great feeling!
Stay true to you
I cannot emphasise this enough. Way back when, I used to try and appeal to everyone; I had fingers in all the proverbial pies. I would design anything and everything and feel slightly lost in doing so. But over time...I found what I loved to create. And ever since then, I have been much happier and confident in my skill.
I love all things floral, delicate and boho. And my aesthetic has grown to be just that. I will, from time to time, take on work which either pushes or breaks away from my usual style, usually because it’s a project I am passionate about. But having a streamlined, well-thought-out brand leads to confident clients...confident in your ability to deliver exactly what they want.
And lastly, there is always room for improvement
Nobody is perfect. If anyone says they have everything in order...lies. There is always something more you could do, something you could have done, or do, better. I’m pretty happy with where I am at right now, but I know there is a helluva lot I want to achieve. 2017 has been a huge learning curve; I have made mistakes and I have had great successes but 2018, for me, will be all about improvement...streamlining my processes, developing and honing my aesthetic and of course, working with more lovely, lovely couples.
Hope I haven’t sent you to sleep!