Vlogger / Presenter / Artist
At school the creative subjects were always the one’s I embraced the most - art, music, creative writing. After sixth form I went on to Wimbledon School of Art, which would allow me to trial different mediums and disciplines and help me decide what areas of art excited me most. After gaining a distinction and realizing that I liked the freedom of being able to experiment with material and method, I decided to study Fine Art at uni, choosing Southampton Solent University to do so. I gained First Class Honours, but left uni feeling very unsure about the direction I wanted to take. My Final Degree piece has been in the form of a multi screen installation, and video wasn’t something I ever thought I’d go into. This was one of those moments when I realized rigid plans weren’t going to be for me and my life would be very much a case of adapting, experimentation and listening to the gut. In my confused state I decided I want to see other ways I could use creativity within my career. I embarked on numerous placements within the fashion cupboards of magazines like Vogue, Elle, Glamour to name a few. I loved being on shoots and helping with styling, but I think my interest in writing was reignited at this point as well as a NEED to create art. I decided to leave one of the placement slightly early when I got the opportunity to create artwork at Alexander McQueen. The intensity of this work, and the accompanying long hours served to showcase a huge decline in my health. Although it was unclear at that time I had M.E (and some other health problems) and the next few years I spent the majority of my time trying to find ways to use work from home, writing for various online lifestyle and entertainment publications and doing a rare bit of styling when I felt well enough. As the world of journalism changed what the online publications wanted to changed too, and it wasn’t long before I was doing on camera work, mainly interviewing bands (eventually interviewing for big brands and official festival content) . Fast forward a number of years and I’m now focusing my energy on my own blog and YouTube channel, have an online art store via Etsy, and have just launched a new website called Sound of Mind which is a hub for Mental Health, Invisible Illnesses and Disability with an emphasis on music. I finally feel now that I have all my passions covered.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
A lot of online work requires self promotion, and this is something I struggled with initially, but still find incredibly difficult even now. I have a self deprecating type of humour and have always been quite shy, so I find it hard to promote my work or achievements without worrying how it will be perceived. I am currently forcing myself to do it more often, in the hope that frequency will reduce how unnatural it feels to me. I don’t know why I find it hard to feel proud of myself or my work, but it’s something I need to investigate and improve on, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing what you’re doing or letting people know when you've done something great!
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
When you are someone that has got good qualifications that would allow them to go straight into a secure and stable job, it can be hard for people to understand why you would choose to venture into a highly saturated industry, with no financial stability or guarantees, and one that requires you to work 7 days a week (sometimes for very little financial gain). While they will always be there for me, I know they have more than a few moments when they worry about the pressures of the industry (trolling, chasing invoices, freelance unpredictability) and question whether it’s worth it. I think some people from older generations can find it hard to get their heads round industries that function online, so I make it my point to try and inform my family as much as possible, and remind them of some of the important reasons why it’s worthwhile, and more importantly why it works for me. I have a lot of very understanding friends, but there are a few that struggle with how consuming my online work can be. The internet doesn’t shut down, and there is always more you feel you could be doing, not to mention all the events you should be going to to help your profile and network - you are often left with little time for quality time with your loved ones and that can create tension. It takes time and trial and error, but we should all at least try and work out a balance that allows us to look after our health and important relationships, while not sacrificing our ambitions completely. This is definitely a work in progress for me.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Perseverance and being myself: People have tried to mould or guide me to be someone I’m not to try and accelerate my progress. While the road to success may have been speedier or easier, I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t have felt the same satisfaction, knowing I’d done it without authenticity.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Just how resilient I’d have to be: I have experienced a lot of disappointments and knock backs, and at times they have been completely devastating and demoralizing . If they’ve been particularly gutting or have come in abundance, you can find yourself wanting to completely give up. What I’ve learned is that something else always comes along, and it’s often better suited to who you are and what you value. Sometimes the things you think you want aren’t actually a good fit, and somehow life has a way of giving you what you need to work that out. I also wish I’d known how thick skinned you’d have to be. As soon as publish anything online you are vulnerable to judgement and unlike many jobs your don’t have a boss to counteract any negative opinions you may get in the comments, with a ‘well done, you’ve done a great job.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
-Don’t try to imitate others. Of course it can be helpful to be inspired by others. But rather than try to copy their ideas, work, style etc, instead you should try to emulate their impressive work ethic, their ingenuity, their grace, their determination or even their kindness.
-Everyone has something special and unique to offer, so it’s about working out what your strengths are and utilizing and showcasing them as much/best as possible.
-You also need to be willing to adapt and change as the industry you are in continues to grow or evolve. Something which I need to be better at, that I can see others benefit from hugely is collaboration.
-Finding likeminded people to spark off, brainstorm with, or create with by combining skills. There can be great power in effective team work.