Thanks 2018, It's Been Cool

As I sit down to write this, I find myself having to take a real moment to reflect. Alright, this whole blog post is about reflection, but there is so much to think on. So much has happened this past year. Quite honestly, where has the time gone? It feels like only last week that I wrote about my first year in (almost) full time business and now I’m most of my way through my second. So much has changed.

Life has become a little more hectic, with the arrival of Rex in February. Added to that, I launched my second business, Wed in The Wild (an inclusive bohemian wedding blog for the free-spirited couple) on October 1st. I’ve just launched The Boho Edit too, in partnership with my lovely friend Laura of The Rustic Dresser; The Boho Edit is the first-of-its-kind bohemian wedding styling and business retreat, set on the beautiful land of Browning Bros’ Teybrook Orchard near Colchester. 2018 also saw me launch Instagram workshops, win an award, design ten new house collections, complete a full rebrand of Wonderland Invites and allow two photographers to actually take my photo.

Jenna sat on castle ruins with fedora hat

I’ve also booked more of my ideal client than ever before as part of Wonderland Invites, which shows my marketing is aligned with where I want my brand to be.

Despite all of the above, there have been tough moments. Moments I’ve cried and moments I’ve really wanted to throw the towel in. Running a business is hard, no matter how simple Instagram leads you to believe it is. For the most part, it’s not glamorous. It’s tiring and hard-going. It’s emotional. It’s difficult.

But most of all. It’s amazing. So, what have I learnt...

I’ve gotten even better at saying no

Last year, I wrote about the turmoils of weighing up opportunities. When you start out in business, it feels almost mandatory that you say yes to opportunities. Something in your gut tells you to go for it, so that you get your name out there, sell more product, etc. And I guess in some respects, it’s true. But for every cool opportunity that comes along, there are one or two which aren’t so cool. This year, I have said no more than ever before. 

Jenna sits at a table playing with stationery flatly

Whether it be a shoot someone has asked me to collaborate on, an influencer who has asked for money off in return for exposure, or a couple who have approached me for something I don’t offer, saying no has sometimes been my saving grace…saving me time, resources and sometimes, my sanity. 

I now question every opportunity, and I ask myself…

  • Will this provide me with good imagery for use on my social channels?
  • Will this provide me with tangible exposure?
  • Will this drive more business in my direction?
  • Will the effort and money spent to create this give me a good return on investment?
  • Do I have the time to dedicate to this project?

I’ve learnt to be more honest about what my capacity is

With two young kids in tow, learning how to manage my time and understand my capacity has been a real learning curve this year. I have to be very strict with my time, and there is no messing about when it’s time to work…no YouTube, no Instagram, no WhatsApp. Most days I am up into the wee hours of the morning working on client designs, amendments, approvals etc.

Jenna walks through Old Leigh fishing village

Its tiring work, but because I love my job, it doesn’t feel like a hardship.

However, there have been times this year where I have had to admit I have been at full capacity. There have been opportunities I have had to say no to, as I knew my work elsewhere would be at a detriment. It isn’t a sign of weakness to admit you are at capacity. In fact, you are doing yourself a favour and it might just save your sanity!

Instagram is a great sales tool…when used correctly

I legit bore the socks off my other half going on about Instagram, but it is the most important tool in my business ’toolkit’. I have spent the best part of this year properly honing my aesthetic and creating a seamless, identifiable brand on Instagram, ensuring that my ideal client find me. And it has worked. Most of my business comes in through the platform, and it is the main driver of traffic to my site.

I’ve organically grown my following; I have an approach to posting which really works well for me, and I have an engaged audience. If you want to learn more about how to get the very best out of Instagram for your business, then you can join me on one of the workshops I am running (find out more here) - dates in London coming soon!

Sometimes, you have to separate your emotions from the job

Working on one of the most important days in peoples lives is a tall order; on the whole, it is an amazing experience and some of my couples have turned into great friends, but on rare occasions, it can be fraught with mishaps…largely at the printing stage, where (because I outsource printing) I am only as good as my print suppliers. From time to time, there are small print errors…but very rarely, there is a major cock up. And I have to haul ass to get it sorted. 

Jenna stares whimsically into the distance by a moored boat

This is where emotions have to be stripped from the situation. In that moment, you have to just pull your big girl pants on and get stuff sorted out, and quick, because stationery has a lifespan in terms of dates and deadlines (RSVPs, meal options). And quite literally, invites are gate-holders to the wedding…without them, nobody would know where to be and by what time, they wouldn’t know where to stay, which taxi service to book, what their meal choices are…

When things go wrong, when you are self employed and are the butcher, baker and candlestick maker for your business, you have to crack on and sort it out calmly and professionally. Cry about it later, into a glass of wine…

Find your tribe and love them fiercely

In a world of self-employment, with no colleagues to chat to whilst you make a coffee, you can get a little lonely. So finding your tribe, whether it be through social media or mates you’ve made through local networking events, is so important. I have pocket pals, Instagram pals and real life wedding pals...we all build each other up, lean on each other when times are hard and look out for each other in this crazy ass world of weddings which can be cattier than a cat sanctuary.

In conclusion…

…have fun, be professional, have a plan and work hard…but don’t forget to look after yourself.

Jenna walks off into the distance surrounded by castle ruins

All images by the supremely talented Megan Elle

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