Recently, I have been working on a non-work related project. Nine years ago I spent six months in the African bush training to become a safari guide, and subsequently worked for two and a half years as a horse-guide South Africa. During my training I wrote a blog for family and friends to keep them up-to-date with what I was doing and learning. It has taken far too long, but I wanted to add many of the photos I took and create a book, so I will be able to remember the experience as the years pass. It has been a wonderful walk down memory lane.
One of the posts, way back then, was entitled “Counting my blessings” and was a list of things for which I was grateful. I thought I would revisit this idea and, at the same time, let you know a little more about me (I should say that this list is in no particular order).
1. Working from home:
This is not always easy, but I love the freedom it offers. Over the past few years, I have wondered whether I should go out and get a part-time job to support my business and my shoe-buying habit, but have resisted because of its restrictions. It is incredibly easy to get distracted and requires discipline, but I can wear whatever I want, shop when others aren’t, and work long into the evening when inspiration takes me.
2. The Countryside:
I am a country girl, and always have been. I grew up in Scotland, just north of Glasgow beside a loch. I now live in a village in Hertfordshire near St Albans. We are very close to two motorways, so it is not quite as rural as I would like it, but we live on a farm and, as soon as the gates are closed, we look over open countryside in a little oasis. Nature, and particularly, flowers inspire much of my work, so I am extremely fortunate to have inspiration on my doorstep.
3. My dog:
We have two dogs in our household, a miniature dachshund, who my husband had when we got together, and who is incredibly bossy, and my dog, a worker cocker spaniel called Molly. She is almost six years old but still a big puppy, who is frequently known as “the hairy bear” and also “Molly, the bringer of joy” because that’s what she does. She is a more than a little bit crazy, obsessed by tennis balls and enthusiastic about life, but is always by my side and is completely sympathetic when I am having a bad day.
4. The support of my husband:
Quite simply I couldn’t do what I do without my husband’s support, both emotionally and financially. I would be back in the nine to five, doing something I feel less passionate about. He is also self-employed and so running my own business allows us the flexibility to get away for a long weekend here or there and to organise family life around our work.
5. Make it Design and Rachael Taylor:
I came across Make it in Design (www.makeitindesign.com) about three years ago. I started by taking “Winter School”, one of two annual global design challenges organised by Make it in Design. I enjoyed it so much, I signed up for their more in depth courses. More recently, they launched “the Colour Gang”, which is a monthly subscription service, offering inspiration, amazing guest contributors and a wonderful community of designers and this is a constant source of inspiration and information for me. The chief instructor of Make it in Design is Rachael Taylor, a successful designer herself, is unstintingly generous with her guidance, sharing information and sheer enthusiasm. Without Rachael and Make it in Design, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today, and for that I am exceptionally grateful. See also my blog post My Journey in Surface Pattern Design: the journey so far.
6. Using my creativity:
I come from a creative background and have always tinkered, making gifts for family and friends, but for most of my career up until now, I have had the privilege of looking after beautiful objects (as a curator and then auctioneer). However, having taken a different course (moving to South Africa), on my return I wanted to express my own creativity and this has developed into my current business.
I love travelling and would do much more of it if I could. My particular passion is for Africa. I have had the immense pleasure of living in both Namibia and South Africa and it is not just the wildlife, but the wide open skies and beautiful landscapes which inspire me. I also met my husband in South Africa. We are hoping to travel to India next year, to celebrate my Mum’s 80th birthday and I am looking forward to the design inspiration that this will offer.
I am lucky to have a wonderful group of friends, who offer support, friendship and fun in different ways. My oldest friends have been there for me during a lot of life changes and some of my more unusual (some might say crazy) life choices and have always supported and encouraged me.
I might have said summer, my favourite season, but actually, there is nothing better than a sunny cold day in winter. Having grown up in Scotland, where it can sometimes feel as if the grey sky is sitting on your head, a blue sky brings particular joy.
10. What lies ahead:
Having been stuck in a bit of a rut for a while with what I call “the fear” (of making the wrong business choices), I am really excited about what lies ahead. I am working on new products and new designs, which I am planning to launch over the next few months, so there is a lot to look forward to.