I took the opportunity last week to go to a talk at the British Library, hosted by parent blogger Honest Mum aka Vicki Psarias, and founder of JH Public Relations and Colour Blind cards Jessica Huie MBE . We had the opportunity at the end of the talk to highlight a challenge with our business. I bagged a chance to stand up and state my case for help and offer something in return. Now, I'm starting to get a little seasoned with telling people what I do, having been to quite a few networking sessions and workshops over the last couple of months. You often only get a couple of minutes to sum up who you are, and what you're up to. My schtick goes something like this "I started a Kids brand almost a year ago. I make and sell Americana and Vintage for Kids. Oh, and I blog about my misadventures in launching a brand and keeping two small people alive. Oh, and I'm also moving to America (recently added caveat!)!
I sometimes feel a bit cringey after declaring what I'm up to. I wonder if people think, here we go, yet another Mother jacking in the day job to start a Kidswear brand. Yet another Mother blogging about Motherhood. But I kinda swallow that self doubt down, because I've learnt you've just got to be brave, and put yourself out there. Some people might not be into you, or what you're doing, but you've ceased the opportunity to put it out there in the universe. You never know when there may just be that one person in the room to sign post you to an opportunity, or pass on some words of wisdom.
If I get the opportunity to talk to people more after my declaration of Mom-dapendence I like to tell them more about my 'WHY' and my 'HOW'. My motivation for taking the leap into running my own business runs deeper than just wanting to do something for myself, and spend more time with the boys (both the smalls and big one!).
If you've read my bio you'll know I've worked as a Designer in the Fashion industry for the past 17 years. For the most part I've had some amazing jobs, and designed things I'm really proud of, and worked with some wonderful people. But I've also worked a couple of places, where I've seen the icky side of the Fashion industry. It can be very cliquey, competitive, and disingenuous. I've seen some major arse kissing which has made my cheeks hurt just observing the daily pandering to managers. I've been on the receiving end of some horrible back stabbing which left me in tears on far too many occasions. I've seen many friends suffer from the stresses and insecurities of the fickle world of Fashion. I think anyone that has worked in a competitive field will have similar stories to recount, whether as an observer, or being on the receiving end of judgement and criticism.
That said, for the most part I have had some great experiences in the industry. Some of my oldest and greatest friends are people that I have worked with. I guess I've also realised that having my own business goes beyond wanting to design my own collections. I want to work with people I enjoy working with, I want to be authentic, keep it real. I basically want to continue to work in Fashion, but do it on my own terms. I've no idea where this business will go. It may well continue to be a small hobby, it may slowly grow to be a sustainable business that I can draw an income from, I may be invested in by some Oligarth, and achieve world wide fame and success, who knows?! But it's important to me that no matter how big or small I become that I establish some principles to remind myself why I'm doing this in the first place.
So here's my terms, this is my muklet manifesto if you will!
1. To have fun and be happy. Being your own boss gives you the freedom to not have to put on a front to impress people. I'm doing this because I enjoy being creative, I enjoy meeting people, I like doing silly stuff, and having a laugh. Laughter and fun is often lacking when you have to Adult all day long in a corporate environment. I don't want to be too grown up and sensible.
2. Spend more time with the boys (both the big one and the small ones)
3. Hopefully make some money so I can keep having fun, keep spending time with the boys, and keep designing some awesome threads for kids
1. Be my authentic self. Keep it real, be honest, be humble.
2. Support flexible working. Whether that be someone helping me with a bit of social media, some sewing, or hopefully one day employing people. Flexible could mean work hours, it could mean bringing kids along to play while we have a chat and a coffee.
3. Collaboration not Competition. There's room for everyone, we're all doing it our own way. I've tapped into the small business/ Sisterhood vibe, and I LIKE IT! We can all help each other along. There's power in collaboration, it could simply cost both of you some time, but you're helping each other out, meaning you don't need tonnes of money to start or grow a business.
4. Pay it forward. If someone helps me, I then go on to help someone else. It's a much more genuine way of working rather than 'if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours'. I've managed to get this idea off the ground because a bunch of people have given me advise, guidance and helped me to get started.
5, Support Kids being Kids. Might sound silly, but through my brand, the clothes, my photography, who I collaborate with, it advocates Kids being able to run, to play, to fall over, to learn. Childhood is precious, and it goes by so quickly. A child opens your eyes and reminds you what life is kinda all about, reminds you to have fun, to not take things too seriously. It's through play, and not being afraid of falling over or failing that we learn and grow.
Right, so there it is. It's been written down, so you can hold me to it! Now let's:
Eat natural food and bake twice daily
Fill your nostrils up with gravy
Don't drink tea and don't drink coffee
Cover your chin in Yorkshire toffee
Thanks Sultans of Ping, now where's me Varsity Jumper, where's me Varsity Jumper?!