I've been under the weather to say the least over the past three or four weeks. Most days I've looked and felt like an extra for Shaun of the Dead (ah, how I do love Simon Pegg). I feel better today. So much better in fact, that I decided to get in to a fight with the AGA and a burning hot pan and I now have a line of burn blisters along the tips of the fingers on my right hand. You don't realise how much you use the end of your fingers until despite soaking them in iced water for 30 mins they still feel like they are on fire. I digress.
I have been running on a bare minimum of getting orders out and sulking back off to bed when I could and so haven't been blogging or getting much else done (thats a bit of a fib actually - I've re-read the entire Hunger Games set and slept A LOT). I have however just ordered lots of new materials for the coming year for the splendid new direction I'm taking the Alfies Studio brand. My smallest is at playgroup twice a week now and I'm starting to find my feet with business again. Next year will see some big changes as I begin to have 2.5 days (DAYS) a week to work rather than stolen moments and the twilight shift. I have already begun to shape my product offering and how I want to share my expertise and am excited about getting to work on some branding and event projects again now that I have more time. At the moment I have four spots open for large scale projects (wedding/event stationery, branding etc), if you have something coming up that you want to share with the world then do get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.
I fear that it will be the new year before I manage to cover some things I've been itching to post about (such as properly sharing the new Alfies Studio branding) as I'm working on something very close to my heart (Hunger Games styled invites!) but for now wanted to share a discount code with you in lieu of missing Small Business Saturday and everything else that has been happening of late. Use the code 15JUSTBECAUSE at the shop (http://shop.alfies-studio.com) before 9am on the 20th December for 15% off your order.
I hope you are all well and weathering the storms / colds / Christmas rush well. I'm so desperate for the colder weather now. Do any of you have snow yet?
Image from http://keithroysdon.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/movie-classic-shaun-of-the-dead/
Last week was a great week. Most specifically Thursday. I got to dress up in my "me" uniform rather than my "mama" uniform and head off to London for a private view at a shop that is stocking some of my Christmas cards (SMUG - read about it here and here).
On the train, speeding away from Leeds to London I looked down at my beautifully blood red nails glinting in the sun that was pouring through the window and fully evaluated that moment in time. I think to myself, I'm on a sunny train, wearing my kind of clothes, dressed how I like to dress, mixing business (private view) with pleasure (catching up with my long time friend who I haven't seen for a good number of years). I had a realisation in that moment "this is how work looks like for me, this is how a dream job (MY dream job) unfolds". Even now I sit writing (partially as a part of my "job" and partly for me) with blogger open in one window and a live stream of the Hunger Games premiere in another (regular readers will know of my love for J-Law and the Hunger Games) and I know that I am building my dream, I am in control of my path and my destination. Life is by no means perfect and I have a long way to go before I reach my goals, but the journey, it's a big part of it. I've been on a train speeding along to get things done before and started to realise I was missing the getting there. I love to travel and this is just an extension of that.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, take care of your journey, its just as important as your destination.
I have the good fortune to have eyes like a hawk for great finds when it comes to Pinterest and spotted a call for submissions from the lovely people at SMUG for their Christmas pop up shop.
You can buy this exclusive for SMUG colour way online (click here) or pop in to their lovely shop in Islington.
I've been working this evening on updating my shop / site / online presence and like to have a little bit of Spotify or a movie going on in the background. This evening I've had the lovely James Bond in the corner of my screen. Aside from feeling like an ultimate geek (looking at web code and having James Bond in the corner of my screen whilst I'm doing it makes me feel like an uber geek and I love it!) I have come up with a "conspiracy theory". Non Bond fans, please feel free to hop on over to SMUG now if you haven't already... My theory is this. It was always "assumed M was a randomly assigned letter", however, in Skyfall when Bond introduces her to Kincaid the reply is "nice to meet you Emma". Is this a slip on Kincaid's part for assuming Bond said "Em" rather than "M"? As it seems that in the world of Bond we are no longer travelling in a straight time line I am putting forward the notion that it is in fact E.M - Eve. Moneypenny. "M" says she always was a lousy shot and we know that Moneypenny shot Bond. I wonder...
Digression over. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and what your favourite Bond film is. I'm currently working my way through the box set so am still undecided. I like "The World is Not Enough" for sentimental reasons but would love to hear your suggestions on what I should be watching and who your favourite Bond is.
Chorus from United Visual Artists on Vimeo.
My love affair with UVA (United Visual Artists) began back in 2003 (wow, ten years ago) in an airfield in Liverpool as they headlined Creamfields. I was blown away by their collaboration with Massive Attack on their live performances (they have an ongoing relationship which I believe is still going).
I didn't blog back then (was blogging around then?) but if I had I definitely would have shared the love.
I encountered UVA in an all together different setting at Opera North back in 09. The whole thing was beautiful. I was pregnant with Dominic at the time and the whole "Chorus" piece felt a bit like I imagined life in the womb might be like (or should be) with the surreal lights and sounds. The video in this post is of that installation (albeit in a different setting).
What I always love the most about UVA is their ethereal presence and choice of light as a medium. The fact that they usually have an amazing collaboration going on with someone I'm pretty keen on only adds to the love affair.
The (reasonable) camping season is coming to a close for this year sadly. As I'm already daydreaming of next years adventures and creating a wish list the length of my arm of camping gear for our adventures, I want to kick off my new series "Talking to..." with Andrea Stannah of Baker and Bell, a one stop shop for boutique camping.
What did life look like before your business and what inspired you to take the leap into being an entrepreneur?
Formerly in web development, I had always wanted to start my own web based business having helped lots of clients to do the same. Also, as mother of 3 young children I needed to find something that I could fit around them and do from home.
Describe your future vision...
Future plans include launching my own range of stylish camping kit starting with enamelware which can be sold as a brand through other retailers. I am also planning on repositioning the brand to cover stylish outdoor goods and gifts in general to make it less seasonal so will be adding sections such as sailing, skiing and other outdoor activities
Your glory moment...
Originally storing stock in our box room and a storage facility and posting out orders myself I realised within a matter of weeks that the number of orders had far exceeded my expectations and I was going to have to quickly outsource order processing to a great fulfillment company. After a few teething problems and ironing out processes it was a huge relief to have this part of the business taken care of.
Words of wisdom or advice to entrepreneurs starting out on a new business venture...
Outsource the things that you can't do well or don't like doing - it's often quicker and cheaper to pay an expert than use more of your precious and valuable time.
A couple of last questions...
Favourite camping product and why...
My lovely large vintage enamel teapot. It's always great on those chilly early mornings being able to provide tea to the whole camp.
Advice to family campers venturing out for the first time...
If you can, have a practice putting up your tent in the garden before you go so you can get it done more quickly on arrival. Take snacks and activities for the kids to keep them busy while you set up camp and it's also a great idea to prepare at home and take along first night dinner such as a stew that can be quickly warmed up and served.
Thanks again to Andrea. If you like what you see above then you should head over to Baker and Bell.