I started my own Creative Business all because of this little fella..
Well, I don’t think it was this exact mouse, but it was a mouse that started off a chain of events which ended up with me leaving my well paid, secure job to start up a creative business!
It was January, 2010, and I was at work, sat in the office when my phone rang. I was employed as a Housing Officer and my tenants had my phone number to call me directly.
I answered the phone and a woman, who was one of my tenants, launched into a 5 minute tirade about the fact she had seen a mouse in her kitchen and how this was all my fault (I’m not sure how!). Anyway, she went on, and on, and on, and on…
This may seem slightly bonkers to you all but it was at that very point that I had a breakdown in work. I don’t actually remember what happened after the phone call, up to the point that I was sat in the Doctors. My workmates told me I just sunk to the floor in tears and wouldn’t stop crying. Luckily, my Doctor was on the same road as the office so they sent me straight there.
When I talked to the Doctor about how I was feeling, and how I had been feeling for the past few months, she told me she was surprised I had lasted as long as I had before coming to see her. I was diagnosed there and then with Post Natal Depression (my son was 11 months).
I have never felt so relieved as I did at that moment in time. So many things started making sense; my feeling of not being able to cope as a mum, the forgetfullness, the lack of wanting to do anything etc. I just thought I wasn’t very maternal and it was something that I would get better with as Alfie got older.
The Doctor initially signed me off work for 6 weeks. When I told family and close friends that I had been diagnosed with PND, some of them said ‘we knew there was something wrong..’ Oh thanks very much for not telling me! I had no idea that I had been acting like I was losing the plot!
Anyway, after about 2 days of being at home doing nothing, I started sorting through Alfie’s baby clothes and then my old clothes. The next part is still very hazy for me but I basically threw the lot on Ebay. This kept me busy for a few days packaging clothes up and going back and forth to the Post Office.
I used the money I made through my Ebay clear out and bought myself a book on how to make jewellery, plus a massive box full of beads, elastic and charms from China!
I have no recollection of when or why I decided I wanted to teach myself how to make jewellery. Anyone who has suffered with PND will know how hazy things are. A friend of a friend with PND took her kids to see a travelling circus and came home with a miniature donkey! She persuaded the owner to give him to her as he was minging and was just being left to rot-she felt really sorry for him and they were made up to get rid of him! Her husband came home from work that night to find the horse in the kitchen eating a bag of Wotsits!
When my goodies finally arrived, I spent hours every day making jewellery while Alfie was at nursery. Even though I had never done anything like this before, it turned out I really enjoyed it and was quite good at it!
I was signed off work for a total of 4 months. In that time I had made A LOT of jewellery. My friends and family all wanted some of it and suggested I start selling it. I laughed that off. I had enough to think about with going back to work!
It seemed that being creative was like therapy. It kept my mind off things and gave me something positive to focus on.
Back To Work…
Off I went back to the day job. I hated all the petty things people would phone me up about and it wasn’t long before I was still stressing about work at home in the evening. Don’t, get me wrong, the job was really good. Everyone at work was lovely but my head was in a ‘there must be more to life than this’ kind of mode.
Not wanting to end up back off with stress, I asked my boss if I could go part time for a few months to see how I got on. Luckily, they agreed. This helped to take some of the stress away.
One day, I was in the office on my own and a lady turned up. She was a housing student and was there to shadow a Housing Officer. With me being the only person around I took her with me on my visits. We got talking and she told me about how she had been self employed up until recently. She used to buy jewellery from wholesalers and then sell it at pop up events. She had to stop as she was getting rid of her car which effectively ended her business.
For the next few weeks, my mind was more muddled than ever!
This chance conversation had me thinking non stop about having a go at starting my own creative business.
The plus point was I had a car. On the other hand, I would be losing my regular wage, I knew nothing about running a business, had no idea where to start looking for events, didn’t have any spare cash to buy stock or marketing materials, didn’t know much about social media, online selling platforms or marketing… oh, and I had a child to feed.
The next day, I walked into work and handed my notice in! I had a month left as an ’employed’ person. After that, it would be down to my creative business that was still mostly in my head.
So Now What?!
I ignored it for a few days and then I wrote a list which you can see below. The only thing I knew for certain was my type of business. I wanted to focus on Ladies and Children’s beaded jewellery. Have a look at my 107 different types of crafts post if you want some inspiration yourself!
Type of Business
Business Bank Account
Credit Card Machine
THINGS I NEED TO BUY FOR THE EVENTS!!
WHAT AM I DOING???!!!
I needed to think of a business name which is a lot harder than it sounds! I ended up with Charmed By Allison. In hindsight, I would not choose that, mainly because of the fact my name has 2 ‘l’s in which is an American spelling, so no one could find me on Google as they would only put the one ‘l’ in (thanks Mum!). Another annoying thing about my business name was about a year in, a woman in America bought charmedbyalison.com and set up a near identical website!
The next thing I needed was Insurance. To be able to attend any markets or events you need to have Public Liability Insurance with cover for up to £5 million. I went to Hayes and Parsons and bought Market Traders Insurance which costs me £50 per year.
It was a case of shopping around for a Business Bank Account. There are dozens of offers on to entice people. I went with HSBC and got 18 months of free banking. Their fees were pretty reasonable as well.
I ordered a card machine from a separate company. It’s a waste of time even going into that now as times have moved on. Now I use Paypal Here which is a gazillion times cheaper to use. I will explain about Paypal Here in another post.
I was lucky with my website as my cousin was just starting his own web design business so he built my website for free to build up his portfolio. That website is no longer running as I had a new one redesigned a few years ago. Any new websites (like this one) I now build myself. Again, I will go into that though in another post. I needed a Paypal business account setting up so I could take payments on the website. My cousin did that for me but it’s really easy to do.
Facebook was my Social Media platform of choice so I decided to stick with that. I set up a business page but didn’t do anything with it straight away.
Once I had my business name and website address I ordered some basic flyers from VistaPrint. I was working on a very tight budget so thought that once I had built my creative business up a bit I could order some posher ones. I looked online for Vistaprint discount codes and found one for 25% off which was an added bonus!
That was all the easy stuff sorted. Now I just needed to work out where I was going to start selling!
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