Posted in Indie Business, Random Utterings

Clearing Out

We’ve been doing a load of clearing out at home, rejigging our house in anticipation of some visitors in March. It’s a good excuse to get organised, paint the hall and all sorts of other things we hadn’t gotten round to in the nearly three years we’ve lived here (I know, THREE years – some sort of record for us!).

The next major project I have to sort out is my office space/studio/shithole. Once you get started rationalising possessions, streamlining and such, I find it very easy to carry on and apply those principles to everything and that means business, too.

So, you’ll have noticed a much sprucer and slimmer catalogue of products, which will be honed further still and you’ll also see that over 80% of products are now HALF PRICE. That means that when current stocks are gone, they’ll be gone and won’t be coming back for the foreseeable future.

For example :

Zines, banners and keychains remain full price currently, but have all had a price review to keep things current. I suggest you take advantage of my rationalisation and bag yourself some bargains before they’re gone!

Posted in Living, Random Utterings

Change Is Good

New year, new me, etc, etc. Perhaps it’s slightly late to be saying that,  a full 17 days in to 2018, but the intention is good. I haven’t been a regular blogger for the past couple of years, and was largely absent for most of 2017, preferring to hang out over on Instagram, mostly, for instant gratification. But I miss not having somewhere to vent/share/write and so I thought I’d offer a little update to anyone who still reads this as to where the hell I’ve been.

Since last spring, I have:

  • Taken redundancy from my job in broadcasting and left the world of access services after nearly 9 years with a cheery wave.

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  • Spent 5 weeks in America, gadding about, house-sitting for family and friends. I started a new instagram account (@everythingiateinamerica) to document, well, everything I ate. On days like today, when I’m feeling hungry and homesick for my second home in Cincinnati, I like to browse it and relive every bite.

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  • Spent a week on a beach in Kos, drinking cocktails and swimming in the sea every day. It was top notch super fun.

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  • Fell in love with a new horsey beau, Monty. We took part in a dressage competition and we only bloody came second!

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  • Released my collaborative zine with Marceline and sold out of the first print run very quickly, yay! I have others in the works.

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  • Worked in a variety of places, including looking after a college’s website and serving people terrible coffee
  • Started and completed working at Sainsburys supermarket for the Christmas season which was a lot more fun that it sounds. Checked off a life goal of working on a checkout – I really enjoyed it but it did mean I didn’t get any days off at all for about 4 months.
  • Had two teeth removed. I got IV sedation which I’d heartily recommend. Look after your teeth, kids.
  • And after skipping away happily from access services and the world of broadcasting, starting a new job at STV – in the wonderful world of access services! There’s no escape from television, it seems.
  • Spent a month or two looking after my neighbour’s pony Lark, who I immediately rechristened Mark. He is a good sort and we spent some lovely time together roaming around the woods.

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Took part in the Etsy Made Local market in Glasgow, which was hands-down my most profitable market day in over 13 years. It was good to get the old team together.

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Did my first foreign language cross stitch commission, a piece in Russian which my Russian sister-in-law tells me is quite insulting, but the customer loved it nonetheless.

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And rounded off the year seeing my favourite band, Rocket From The Crypt, who as ever, put on a truly amazing show.

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But by far and away the best thing about 2017, was this:

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And now you’ll never forget how to spell diarrhoea either.

Posted in Living, Random Utterings

2016

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Looking back on my year, it has been much busier than I expected, but that has been a good thing. I started it off with great excitement about the surprise New York trip I’d planned for Lee and I’m finishing it off with great excitement about what 2017 holds, as there are going to be some major life changes happening, of which, more later.

One of my personal goals was to be healthier, after discovering in the summer that I am diabetic. Above, on the left, me in February. On the right, me in December, 23 kg lighter and FOUR jeans sizes smaller, back to being blonde and cradling just out of shot, my brand new faux-niece, Rowan (HEART EYES). I am super-pleased with my accomplishment and hope to continue the good works into the new year. It is still early days but the medical professionals reckon I could well have even just about reversed the diabetes. Inspiration to carry on, that.

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Look at me gadding about in my skinny jeans and my too-big jumper.

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Big changes this year, more big changes next year. Ch-ch-changes.

If you want to buy a I Survived 2016 badge, you can do so here.

Posted in Random Utterings

Moving On With Life

It’s been a whole month since I retired! I can barely believe the time has gone so quickly. Perhaps if I wasn’t flat out at real work, I’d have noticed it pass.

What have I done, apart from work down the TV salt mines for what feels like 27 hours a day?

>> I’ve taken in some musical divertion – Belle & Sebastian (sweaty, joyful, a solid gold evening) and at the other end of the scale, The Melvins (weirdly air-conditioned, too loud, not my bag, really).

>> Lee and I have been doing some home improvements, finally putting some art work up in the kitchen and hallway, and my Jimbob Art plates are in their new home above the sink. Everyone jokes that we’re putting stuff up now because we have finally decided to stay – psychologically, that’s probably not that far wrong, given our previous housing woes. We’ve also been painting some rooms in varied shades of grey and I’ve been teaching Lee the subtle differences in seafoams.

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>> Spending a fair bit of time in medical waiting rooms, as I discovered a few weeks ago that not only am I now diabetic, but I probably have been for quite a while without realising. I’m now on the medication I need to be, and making the changes in my life that I need to to be more healthy. I swam a whole mile before work yesterday!

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>> Voted in the total fiasco of a referendum that has brought our country to the state of catastrophe it’s in now. It’s hard to explain to Leave voters that the reason us millenials are so cheesed off about it is that everything we’ve based our life decisions on has been pulled out from under us by their close-minded myopia. Still, it’s heartening to know that at least Scotland largely has its head screwed on.

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>> Bought this guy a tie. I think he likes it.

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>> Oh, and I’m blonde again. Hooray! I also realise that in all my photos of myself recently, I look like I have a wonky eye. I’m fairly sure I don’t, and that it’s just my insanely curly eyelashes on my left eye showing up the flat ones on my right eye. Just to clear that up.

Business-wise, I can’t say I am missing it too much, though after a full month away, I am missing the extra spends somewhat! But I think it’s thus far outweighed by the feeling of freedom and ability to take off and do whatever, whenever. I will change my mind come Christmas about that, I bet. But for now – freedommmmmmmmmmmm!

Posted in Random Utterings

Having Enough – A Tale In Motivational Quotes

Twelve long years ago, I started a business. At first, with my best friend and then latterly, just me. It was a roller-coaster. I did some cool things, I had a following, life was good.

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It was hard work but I hustled hard and I loved it.7a1f1d762d7af6ebde5fdf99c42d4907

 

I worked on it every single day, alongside my day jobs, even when I moved to Thailand. Sometimes whilst I should have been doing other things, like seeing my friends and family and living life and having fun.

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After about 9 or 10 years, I began to question what my motivation was. Why was I literally running myself ragged?  What was the reward?

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I shook it off and rebranded – big mistake. My lofty search engine position was gone overnight. I stopped selling stuff. I handled the rebranding badly, and fell into a bit of a cycle of having great ideas but no enthusiasm, and I guess was a bit business-depressed.

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Time went on. I sold less and less. I still had ideas, but I kept them to myself. My confidence in myself and my abilities withered away.I still kept at it though, plugging away making a tiny, tiny profit.

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Progress is progress, right? However small the step is. But you know what? I kinda stopped caring about progress. I started to think about freedom instead. And I felt guilty.

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I have no idea why I felt guilty. Who was I letting down? No one was picking up what I was putting down, so what was I feeling bad about?

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Dear reader, I was afraid of letting myself down. Like somehow I was going to have some sort of internal tussle forevermore with myself.

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The third cure for me is immersing myself in water. I talked it over with family and friends, my closest confidantes and the answer seemed so clear.

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I had seen this quote a while ago and it stuck in my head, bouncing around the empty walls but it took me nearly 2 years to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t giving up at all. I have simply had enough of this path and wish to find a new one.

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Why should I feel like I’m letting myself down? I shouldn’t, so I won’t feel guilty. I will celebrate the 12 years of success and think of all the things I’ve achieved in that time. It’s actually pretty cool to be able to say – I was awesome at what I did, and now I don’t want to do it anymore.

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I’m almost at the other side of the bridge already and I’m loving it. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I still panic a little about being bored (ha!) or not sharing my creativity with the world, but then I remember – I AM AN ADULT AND I CAN DO WHATEVER I LIKE.

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I can do all of the things.Thanks, tiny potato!

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I am so ready for a new challenge and doing things to make myself and my loved ones happy.

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Ain’t that the fucking truth?

So, the end is literally nigh. At midnight (GMT) on Tuesday May 31st, 2016, The Bellwether will close its virtual doors and I will give a massive sigh of relief and drink a bucket of wine to toast all that I have done.

And it feels fucking fantastic.

More news shortly on the final month and the treats in store for you, which are many and varied – think major discounts, exclusive never-before-seen items and free shit.

You can find the original sources of all of these images at this Pinterest board.

Follow The Bellwether’s board Having Enough & Not Giving Up on Pinterest.

Posted in Random Utterings

Honest Business – Juggling A “Proper” Job & Being A Designer

Following on from my post last week about not quitting your day job, I wanted to highlight how it works for someone other than me. Looking at my local designer peers, I was drawn to Sally from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes as I know that not only does she design the brightest jewellery around, she is also a bona fide fancy doctor. I am slightly in awe of her, so we had a virtual chat about how she “does it all”.

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Claire: So, Sally – tell me about your day job?

Sally: I’m a doctor, specifically working as a registrar in Acute Medicine. No one ever knows what that is (even some other health professionals) so I’ll try to explain a bit – a registrar is a mid- to senior-grade doctor, over 4 years after graduating from medical school. I work in the field of Acute Medicine which covers the medical receiving unit; this is the place you go when you are initially admitted to hospital under the care of the medical team from either A&E or your GP.

I treat patients with all kinds of conditions, including strokes, heart attacks, pneumonia, meningitis, etc and our unit is open 24 hours a day. I also look after the High Dependency Unit at my hospital which is where people who are critically unwell go for organ support treatments unavailable elsewhere in the hospital.

As well as all these sick people I also see a lot of patients who can be managed as an outpatient and I help to run the General Medical Clinic. I work a lot of long shifts, both days and nights and a lot of weekends, but I love my job and I don’t intend to give it up anytime soon.

Claire: And could you tell me a bit about Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes?

Sally: I design and make laser-cut acrylic jewellery and sell it online on various platforms and very occasionally at craft fairs, although less of those recently. I’ve also branched out into enamel pin badges and stationery in the past couple of months and it seems to be going well so far (fingers crossed!).

I run my business on my own, including designing and making jewellery, marketing and PR, accounting, photography, packaging and shipping items, emailing customers and retailers and everything else that comes along. The tasks are never ending, but I try to keep my to do list up to date!

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Claire: How do you make time to take care of business alongside saving people’s lives?

Sally: I set aside certain periods of time to dedicate to my business – if I have an evening or day off, I prioritise my to-do list so I can get the most important things done first. I try to prepare for times when I know I’m not going to have much time to work on business-related things, for example, if I have a week of night shifts, I’ll cue social media posts for that week so that my online presence doesn’t just shut down for a week. The lead-times on my orders are significantly longer than other similar businesses but it’s difficult to avoid; I try to make up for it by producing original products you can’t get elsewhere.

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Claire: How about job satisfaction? Do you get a different sense of achievement from the two different jobs?

Sally: Definitely! I love the high-pressure, fast-paced environment of acute medicine and I like to counter that with the creative process of designing and making jewellery. I also develop skills in one job that I can use in the other, for example, the fine motor skills I’ve practiced whilst making tiny items of jewellery helps me perform fiddly practical procedures in the hospital. Communication with patients, relatives and other hospital staff has helped me effectively communicate with retailers and deal with difficult customers. Prioritising tasks is very important in both of my careers; I think they complement each other more than most people realise.

Claire: Would you consider giving up the day job to concentrate full-time on HOYFC?

Sally: I don’t think I would. I love being a doctor and if I gave it up I would miss it and the many challenges that come along with it. At some point in my career, I may go part time and dedicate more time to Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, but then again, I also have the option of closing up my business for a while if I need to concentrate on medicine. I like having the option!

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Claire: Where do you see yourself a few  years down the line?

Sally: If all goes well, in a couple of years I should be able to apply for Acute Medicine consultant posts which will mean I will likely settle down in one hospital (rather than moving all over the place as I do at the moment) which will give me a bit more stability and hopefully less night shifts!

In terms of Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, I’d like to expand to have some more international stockists and I’m enjoying my foray into other non-jewellery products and I’d love to design more. One day, I might even hire an accountant to help me with my tear-inducing tax return!

Claire: Ha, you and me both, Sally! God bless Excel. 

And that’s that – hopefully you enjoyed this little insight into a fellow full-time/full-time worker/designer. Give me a shout if you’d like to chat about your own situation – I’d love to hear how other people make it work for them, and why, too.

Posted in Random Utterings

You Want The Truth? You Can’t Handle The Truth!

Honesty is the best policy, so they say, and honesty and transparency in small, indie business is something that you don’t see a lot of. So many one-man bands portray the image of “we” and “us” when it’s just one person in their pyjama bottoms all day at a laptop.

I guess they feel that they have to project this image to appear professional, but NEWSFLASH – people LIKE supporting small businesses. They like your personality and they want your stuff BECAUSE it’s made by you. If they wanted another faceless corporation, I assure you, they’d still be on Amazon. They want the “I” and the “me”.

Personally, as a business owner and an indie shopper, I actively seek out the behind the scenes snaps, the true reflection of life in the creative lane, and it all adds value to my purchase or sales. I like to get to know the person behind the brand, how they work, and all the love and sweat and tears that go into producing their ace work.

Yesterday, I spotted Kim from Finest Imaginary‘s snap of her workspace – she was, ironically, supposed to be taking a photo for a magazine of her workspace – and this is what it looked like:

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Firstly, let’s take a moment to pause and respect the majesty of that mug.

Secondly – and I am sure Kim won’t mind me saying this – what a mess! A happily creative clutter of things. You can almost sense the activity just looking at it. This is what the desk of a busy, creative person looks like. Just like their brain, it’s got 18 things going on at once, and although to the outsider it doesn’t look ordered, I bet she knows exactly where everything is.

I mean, I do love a neat and tidy desk as much as the next guy, but the reality is that very few people live and work in a Pinterest fantasy. Here’s my spare room office from 2 weeks ago, before we floored the loft:

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Truly a mess.Not even much of a creative one, at that. I couldn’t do anything in there, but have since rearranged it so whilst it’s still busy, it’s a bit less bomb-sitey. It did make things a bit more ordered in my mind to tidy up, but really, I think I’ve accepted now that I’ll never be featured as anyone’s Desk Idol. I’m happy with my creative clutter. It’s better than idle neatness, as another wise Kim once said!

Hit me up with your own messy desks!

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