On 8th March and beyond, this campaign aims to “Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.” I think these points are so important and pride myself in being a female in a male-dominated industry (graphic design), so I often share my journey and achievements on social media to hopefully inspire other women to join this industry.
This year, I was asked to speak to FMM Collective (a Croydon-based marketplace in which my greeting cards are stocked) about my experiences as a female business owner/entrepreneur. We discussed whether I have come across any bias or challenges because of my gender and/or ethnicity.
…as a female, I don’t think we are taken as seriously in entrepreneurial positions as men unfortunately. I’ve had the question “How’s your little business going?” or when I say I design greeting cards and gifts, I’ve had a response of “Awww Bless!” which both come across as really patronising.
I think it’s so important to make female professionals visible and love that days like IWD highlight the work we do in a patriarchal society. If young girls can see the success of women, it can inspire them to enter fields that they might have previously viewed as closed off for them. #representationmatters
My advice for other female entrepreneurs would be to, of course take inspiration from others, but focus on your own journey to avoid comparison.
2020 and 2021 both seemed to go by quickly and slowly at the same time and now we are in 2022, still feeling a little confused about what the future holds in terms of the dreaded virus, work and lifestyles! Despite this, I am determined to make as many plans as I can and stay positive, so my first post of the year is my way of putting my goals and plans into the universe and working towards making them happen.
Develop new and personalised products
I was fortunate enough to get a Cricut Explore 3 for Christmas! It’s something I’ve wanted for a very long time and I know that it will open up my possibilities of creating personalised items and expanding my range of products in general.
I can’t wait to start using it and if you have any suggestions of what you’d like to see in my collection, please get in touch.
Collaborate with more brands
Building connections, relationships and friendships are great ways to learn, achieve and grow as an entrepreneur and business owner. I hope to meet more and more like-minded people and build innovative ways to expand together.
Create more videos
I’d like to build on my YouTube videos and become more active on TikTok, so it’s time to get out my ring light and regain my confidence in front of the camera. I’ll be producing fun and entertaining videos and finding ways to incorporate my love of dance into them. Who knows, I might end up being a TikTok sensation!
Review my service prices
As a graphic designer and illustrator, I’m constantly learning new skills, developing existing skills and updating my tools in order to produce relevant, high-quality and impressive work.
Over the past few months, my skills and efficiency has improved after training, practicing and purchasing tools to allow for more styles of illustration for example, so this will be reflected in my new rates. I still promise a friendly and professional service but with more detail and features! Exciting!
Sometimes we need to say “no” in order to make time for recovery. Last year, I often worked until 2am and started up again early in the morning, so I want to make sure that I factor in some down-time and not take on too much, in both my personal and professional life.
Now it’s in the universe, here’s to a successful, fun, inspirational, educational and love-filled year ahead! What are your goals for 2022?
Hi guys! I hope you’re all feeling great but if you aren’t, I’m hoping this blog will help you feel a little better.
As you may know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (10th – 16th May 2021) – a week where we discuss and highlight the importance of taking care of our minds as well as our bodies. In this blog, I will be talking about the anxiety some of us may face as entrepreneurs or small business owners who use social media to promote ourselves. I really want to talk about this specifically, as its something I’ve struggled with in the past.
Social media & business anxiety
Lockdown has been a huge challenge for a lot of us, with people losing their jobs on an unprecedented scale. This mass unemployment has lead to many of us having to start or grow our own businesses to keep ourselves afloat and a lot of that has been done through social media as it’s now an essential tool to reach audiences/customers.
So, we start our business pages with enthusiasm and hope, posting images of our products or services whilst telling the world “WE HAVE ARRIVED!” A few moments later, we are confronted by the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands of other businesses out there, doing similar work and we instantly start to question our significance in our chosen industries.
Over the next few weeks, we keep pushing and promoting our work but can’t stop scrolling through that Instagram discovery feed. We see image after image of our peers and competitors doing well and gaining more and more exposure, but if things aren’t going so well for us just yet, insecurity rears its ugly head and we start to doubt ourselves and, once again, question our abilities.
Sound familiar? Yea, it does to me too!
As humans, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others (especially on social media) but if these feelings aren’t dealt with in a healthy way, this constant comparison can have a negative affect on our mental state. Because of this, it is so important to curate a strong and positive sense of professional- and self-worth in order to maintain good mental health, otherwise it could lead to to so many issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and OCD.
If you see someone winning, celebrate and learn from them but it’s so important to maintain a sense of value in your own journey too. As successful as someone presents, they too have a story, and the snippet that is shown on social media is just a tiny percentage of the reality. They too may have started out slowly and felt the same way as you do a few months or years ago, so there’s no reason why you can’t be successful in your own time too! Social media is basically a highlight reel, so to compare your real life to their “reel life” can be pretty unfair to yourself, right? So cut yourself some slack. If you’re working hard, continuing to learning and taking steps to improve your business, then your win is coming too… trust me! I used to think to myself “Why aren’t my designs being featured in magazines too? (crying face emoji)” …then a few months later… two features in the space a month and that shut me up real quick (LOL), so now I trust the process!
My advice to anyone reading this who feels like their mental health is being affected by comparison on social media is to give yourself a break. Talk to real people you trust who can share rounded experiences and come back with an understanding that you are on your own perfect path and that everyone’s highlights have back stories. It’s so important to celebrate wins, but in reality we don’t all win all the time… and guess what… that’s ok!
Mother Nature’s healing touch
This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is nature and I have to admit it’s been a real blessing for me during lockdown. When things got overwhelming mentally, we would go for walks in parks or woods and I found myself appreciating wildlife a lot more. For me, just being around trees, water and animals makes me feel calmer and in tune with my emotions and always has done. I love the sound of running water and find comfort in the smell of fresh soil. I even have a tattoo that symbolises the beauty of nature and natural human beauty.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 45% of us reported that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health over the lockdown period, so I’m glad it’s being recognised as a natural stimulant for positive mental health. Being in nature is also a great form of escapism and helps you put your problems into perspective… it’s a huge world out there!
“Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.”
Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation
So every now and then, why not take a few hours or days away from social media (I know its hard if you run an online business but…), explore your local park, sit in the garden, grown a houseplant from an avocado seed (like I did!) and enjoy the calming reality of nature! Step away from seeing others as unhealthy competition but instead use it as healthy inspiration, because after all, a flower doesn’t care how pretty its neighbour is, it still blooms just as beautifully as it’s meant to!
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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