November 2012. I was now officially self employed! When I look back over periods if my lifetime, lots of significant things always seem to happen around me in November – special people have passed away, pregnancy, meeting special people.. ..I won’t bore you with specifics but there is far more to come in future blogs- and here we are with a fresh start and unknown journey ahead.
First things first. Realisation there is no going back. No safety net of a guaranteed income at the end of the month, just a mixed bag of feeling somewhere between excitement and pure fear. During my notice period and leaving I had managed to sort myself out on all the social media platforms and build some relationships with suppliers and local customers. Thankfully the feedback was fantastic and people were happy to share the Art work on the shoes and the experience they had. I was very fortunate to have such supportive friends and family backing this new adventure I was on.
We had a mortgage break for a short time whilst I was setting up. Only a few months but it really helped balance the payload. Harsh reality hit soon after that time that passed in a flash, that it was obvious I wasn’t prepared for what came next. No income. No plan how to get an income. What now? I spent hours upon hours researching what was current, what were other people doing? How can I get a piece of the action? Marketing. Am I doing this right? What if… but… ah shit let’s just carry on. I was doing ok, people were talking about what I was doing. This you cannot buy! I really thought it would all be ok… That first year was a baptism of fire – I wanted MORE. Extra research, longer hours and expense trying stuff out, most nights crawling into bed at 1am and working that second Christmas from 9am to 3am 3 days straight to meet the demand. What I didn’t realise back then was the quality of my stuff was less than I really wanted, I could see competitors standards were much higher. Stupidly I lost sight of the artistic side and spent too much looking at the crystalisation. My eye had been turned down a path that I hadn’t planned to go down. Having invested heavily here I knew deep down it wasn’t where I was meant to be. It brought undesirable and bitchy behaviour in competitors who tried to copy, not that I was bothered as there is room for everyone but some of the stories I was reading about these people and their opinion of me was strange. I carried on regardless. 6 months later and I could see a huge improvement in my work, and, I had discovered there WAS a range of paints that was so exclusive, you couldn’t buy it on the high street. This was an eye opener, suddenly I felt part of an exclusive club that was loaded with knowledge. A secret. All that research paid off!! One big investment later and my paints arrived. It was like Christmas day, I flew down to my local art shop for fresh brushes and a top up of pens. Hot footing it back home I knew I had to test these and fast. What better opportunity than on my own converse for the up and coming Robbie Williams tour. They took me about 3 hours from memory and I felt a huge sense of pride and achievement. Bingo. Suddenly it all made perfect sense. Lightbulb moment of the most extreme.
I remember vividly that day a happy chap coming in looking around the art store. I knew he was buying it. I KNEW something special was happening – a wider plan was forming. The future was calling my name…….