Category: Leanne Creates

An insight to how & why I do what I do…

Being an introverted entrepreneur

Leanne Creates blog header

Growing up I was a very shy and quiet child – a classic introvert. I enjoyed playing with close friends and family but felt very uncomfortable speaking in front of people I didn’t know or large groups. I would happily play by myself and found large gatherings where I had to say hello to aunty, uncle and great-aunty’s second cousin quite daunting! 

Fast forward several years and I’m much more confident. I enjoy meeting new people and seeking new experiences, however, my introverted tendencies do pop-up now and then. I’m grateful for them as I find myself being more productive and happy during these times. I feel more than content when taking time to myself or with a partner and escaping the bustling city-life for something more calm and isolated and I’ve found that being this way has helped me grow as a creative and well-rounded business woman as well. 

In this blog, I explore what it’s like to be an introvert determined to be a successful entrepreneur and how I’ve made it work for me.

What is an introvert?

Introverts are often labelled as shy, reticent and reserved. We tend not to seek out special attention and social engagements leave us feeling exhausted at times. Society often sees these traits as flaws and mostly rewards extrovert behaviour – think Instagram and Love Island – but I know that introverts have so much to offer the world, albeit behind the scenes.

We may not be the life and soul of a party or the loudest in the room but we tend to be extremely thoughtful, reliable and strategic problem-solvers, who are good at building strong and meaningful relationships. As Caroline Castrillon, a Forbes contributor said, “Introversion is often misunderstood… it can be an advantage if you follow the right strategies.” 

A study showed that qualities that make a good CEO include:

  • Being relationship masters; building good relations between clients and the business
  • Reliability; being able to stick to a plan and be there when needed
  • Decision makers; the ability to make a decision with conviction and speed
  • Adaptability; being able to rise to the occasion, whatever is thrown at you

As mentioned above, introverts tend to excel in these qualities and so there is no reason why we can’t be successful employees, business people and entrepreneurs. After all, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and J.K Rowling didn’t do too badly!

Making it work

I love being a graphic designer/illustrator and enjoy going to events to promote my work but some may say that being reserved is a hindrance to my growth as a business woman. I disagree – it’s just a different route from extroverts and I strongly believe that I can make it work whilst staying true to who I am. 

My sales style is probably more personal; I find doing the ‘hard sell’ technique quite difficult, so striking up a conversation with people and getting to know what they are looking for is more comfortable for me. It allows me to really listen and build genuine connections with my customers and I find that they are more likely to invest in my brand this way. Don’t get me wrong, I know when it is necessary to grab opportunities that lie outside of my comfort-zone, but don’t beat myself up about not being the centre of attention every time. 

As Ghandi said “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

Stepping outside my bubble

In January 2020 (on my birthday), I definitely shook MY world and stepped outside of my introverted comfort-zone! I was blessed (and brave) enough to have the opportunity to speak about my greeting cards and gifts on BBC Radio London with Aurie Styla! Me… on the radio… speaking to thousands of people… I know right! It was a crazy experience that I am extremely grateful for and shows that I can and will step up to the plate when the feeling is right!

I also dance which has taken me on amazing journeys, performing in front of thousands at venues such as Wembley Arena and Hammersmith Apollo. Dance allows me to really take hold of an extrovert persona where I can portray huge amounts of confidence (and even cockiness at times) which makes me wonder… am I actually an ambivert? An ambivert is someone who possess both introvert and extrovert qualities depending on the situation.

Just doing me

At the end of the day, us humans are complex beings. Whether introvert, extrovert or ambivert (or anything in between) we are all just making our way through life, doing the best we can to make it work for us!

Have conviction in your goals, make a plan, stay true to who you are and you’ll be able to build a business in your own way, in your own time… maybe just a little quieter than others! 

Check out my small-business; illustrated greeting cards and gifts, here.

Written by Leanne Armstrong

Not just a greeting card

Leanne Creative blog header about Not Just a Card

Some say the greeting card is obsolete or they prefer to send a text or meme, but as an illustrator and designer of greeting cards and gifts, I have a love for traditional greeting cards and here’s why…

For me, physical greeting cards are a more personal way to stay in touch and there’s something about being tactile in a digital world that makes it feel that little bit more special. Selecting, spending money (especially with an independent company) and writing a bespoke message in a card really shows the recipient that you have put thought into how you’d like them to spend and remember their special day. Cards can also be a great way to express how you feel about someone if you’re too shy to tell them in person, helping you to break the ice and connect with them on an emotional level – who need emojis and sliding into the DMs?!

A piece of art with a story… and made with love

My cards in particular, are created with great attention to detail and I pride myself in creating not only something to be given on a special occasion but kept for years to come; some of my customers even frame them. 

The majority of my card designs start off as intricate portraits on vivid colourful backgrounds, each adorned with headdresses or hairstyles which give them their own identity and I sometimes even imagine their back story! The colours, diversity and detail really brings them to life and I find that many customers connect with each card more like art than an accompaniment to a gift.

I then hand-finish each card with gems and package them individually, making each one slightly different. They are really made with love and I am genuinely humbled by the fact that I am able to share them world-wide with people on their special days. They really aren’t just card for me; they are an dream, a story, a passion, a talent and a creative piece of art. 

Representation matters

I have recently written a blog for JAMMI called Addressing the Balance. This piece is about the need for more diversity in our gift shops (and beyond) and highlights the fact that cards are powerful in helping people feel celebrated and loved and what better way to feel celebrated than with a card that features artwork that looks like you. The representation of minorities and a variety of ethnic backgrounds really does matter and my cards are a small but valid way to help people feel empowered and uplifted, one card at a time. Read the full article here.

Happy Birthday greeting card

Small but mighty

As an small business owner, I am always encouraging people to buy greeting cards and gifts from independent shops. Campaigns like Just a Card encourages people to value and buy from designers that aren’t on the high street because there are real people behind these items who have worked hard to produce them which means that every sale (no matter how small you may think it is) means a great deal to us. It’s not just a card, it’s supporting a dream, vision and a lifestyle and there are benefits to you as a consumer too…

  • You tend to get a more personal, memorable and ‘hands-on’ service
  • You have access to more diversity and exclusive items
  • It creates a sense of community
  • And you will definitely feel good after pressing ‘purchase’ and knowing that a real person does a happy dance once they receive your order!

The facts

In February 2020, The Guardian released an article on how greeting cards are indeed surviving the ‘smartphone era’ which is great news for us card designers. The British in particular have been sending cards since the Victorian times and we send more per head than any other nation! There has been an drop in Valentine’s Day card sales but new born baby, Father’s Day, Easter, empowerment and rude cards are on the up!

According to the Greeting Card Association’s 2019 market report, the British public spent £1.7bn on cards with Generation Z (18 to 24 year olds) buying more than any other age group. The thinking behind this is that Millenials are wanting to empower more and mental health awareness is increasing so cards that make us feel good are becoming more popular. 

This is great news so let’s keep spreading love in creative and expressive ways. Visit my online shop to find the perfect card here.