From hobbyist to fledgling creative business, 8 top tips to get you started


Can you believe we are already in April, and the first quarter of the year has already whizzed by? It’s been a tricky start to the year hasn’t it, as we tentatively come out of both Winter hibernation and lockdown.

Looking back over the last 3 months, and as we move further into the year, I can feel my work gathering speed and developing along with the changing seasons.

A Spring shift is hatching.

There’s lots of movement happening and some of my reliable stead-fast habits have set the solid foundations to allow me to take the next step. In some ways this feels scary, as do all big steps forward, but it’s also about recognising what shift needs to happen to make way for the new projects.

Remember, there is only so much time in the day and so it’s time to get super focussed to achieve what I want to this year. So, for example, I haven’t been as prolific at writing these Blogs, and that’s not because I don’t want to, it’s simply about navigating the time and juggling my work priorities.

For the past few years, I’ve been building to this point of launching as a fledgling creative small business and due to the new things I’ve developed this year, it’s finally going to happen. I am both thrilled about this and also know it’s a giant leap of faith into the unknown, which always ups the heart rate a little!

But it does feel good that the hard work is paying off, and that The Curious Creative Club is heading into the next stage, including supporting people more on a one to one basis.

As I look back from the start of the year, it hasn’t been easy to get into a regular working pattern, due to the restrictions and to ensure I’ve not got frustrated about this, I’ve been working more at night. This is one way I’ve needed to adapt, and it’s allowed me to start my own regular creative writing club on an evening, which I absolutely love doing.

These are now running well and fit perfectly into the creative support ‘service’ side of The CCC, along with our Accountability Membership programme – WOW Wednesdays.

WOW is also growing as we get close to its 2nd birthday, we are providing more support and specialist sessions than ever, and celebrating the results with our members.

Added to the service side, the art product creation is also naturally growing, in a direction I never fully anticipated. You may have read at Christmas I sold several needlefelt pictures at a pop-up shop in Holmfirth, purely because I had some spare and mentioned them on the off chance to the owner. As it happened, they sold well, and this shop will be opening up permanently in a few weeks’ time and they have asked me for more stock to sell.

My cards, needlefelt pics, and cakes all available at Joys Coffee House!

Also, a new coffee shop has opened where we launched WOW Wednesdays. Similarly to the previous owner who supported us back then, the new owners also want to support the community and asked for local businesses to share their products to potentially sell in the cafe. I got in touch and they also loved my needlefelt pieces and art cards. These are happily now for sale there too, @joys_coffee_house

I’ll be honest, re art designs, I never imagined I would be focussing on needlefelt, but I have to admit, these work in the rural area where we live, as great unique gifts or designs for homes in this area. And I do love doing them, choosing the colours and the little unique elements of each design.

However, I am still very much experimenting, so it won’t be the only direction I go in, I’m far too curious for that, BUT it is satisfying to know that I’ve found a product that people like and want to buy (I hope that doesn’t jinx it!). Watch this space as I create a ‘needlefelt commissions’ page on this website too.

Why am I telling you all this I hear you ask?

Well, as creatives, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the joy of the work, and that’s exactly how it should be, especially if what you do is more on a hobby basis. But if you are wanting to dip your toe in the selling / service side and create your own small business, then there is some challenging (but also fun) work ahead, that doesn’t always come naturally to creative minds!

So, here are my 8 Top Tips I’ve learned over the last year; a whistle stop tour that I hope will enable you to start thinking about the steps you need to take, before you launch.

1. Creating your strategy – ask an expert to take a look.

If you do find this side tricky, I highly recommend accessing a specialist strategic brain! By this I mean speaking to someone who does this as a job or their business. If you have several ideas, then this will really help you see the wood for the trees, and get all your plans into one simple strategy.

They will look at your plans objectively and ask the specific questions that you need to answer to refine your strategy, plus I found it an enjoyable and interesting process!

It’s almost like they create a simple road map to get you from A to B, without you thinking along the way ‘Ooo, look at that beautiful sunset over there, maybe I should go see that instead and paint it’, and getting very easily distracted!  

Since I did this work last year with my friend Michelle Cowan, who uses her expertise on this in her consultancy business, I swear something subconsciously has happened, because it seems to be naturally going down the route we planned out together, without me overthinking it!

I also have my strategy plan to refer back to, (in multi-colour, I had to request that as I knew I’d never look at it if it was grey!), it’s such a useful document to check in with.

Once you’ve tapped into this kind of help, there are many more areas where you can gain great advice…

2. When it comes to numbers, don’t freak out, ask a bookkeeper.

I think this is fundamental, especially for creative businesses because if you are anything like me, spreadsheets and numbers will be your kryptonite.

If you have no experience in this area, it is easy to feel slightly terrified. Within our WOW membership we are lucky to have Angela Proud of Proud Bookkeeping, our financial hero, who keeps all of us creatives on the straight and narrow and very patiently answers our questions.

Many bookkeepers, like Angela do free initial consultations, to discover what you need help with and point you in the right direction or offer their own services. They can also set you up with easier spreadsheets to use, so you don’t get in a knot trying to create one!

Whilst this is a bit of a cost, this kind of service is worth its weight in gold to avoid the stress and hours of precious time which could be spent doing what you do best instead.

They can also help a little with questions about how you want to register your business for tax purposes, such as becoming a Sole Trader, if you are at that stage.

3. Insurance – do your research.

There are many different kinds obviously, but it depends on what you need it for, for example if you are trading at a market or country festival, you are likely to need public liability insurance. There are more specialised policies for creatives these days so have a good hunt around or ask a local insurance business for advice on what you need to look for.

4. Customer data and information – understand the rules.

Again, research about GDPR and make sure you are covered. Many website hosts (if you have a website), have prescriptive text that you can add to your site to cover you, but also think about how you use customers information and store it. The key is to be transparent and not send information to customers that they didn’t ask for or sign up to – such as salesy newsletters they don’t want.

5. Spend quality ‘getting to know you’ time with your brand and values.

This means almost having a meeting with yourself to get to the absolute nitty-gritty of what you are all about. I can’t stress the importance of this part of the process enough, and if you need extra help, check out my previous Blog on strengths to help you with this and this Blog on branding too.

For me, the branding and this deep work where you really unpick the unique things about your business, is an exciting part of the journey, but that’s because it was my previous career, so if this feels like a foreign entity to you, then find a branding expert to talk it through with.

Branding is NOT just a logo and pretty colours, it’s the whole personality of your business and so important to get right and appeal to the right customers for your business.

To start you off, you could do the following:

  • Think about brands in a similar line of work to what you want to do, collect images of them on a Pinterest Board and ask yourself; what is it you like about them, what works, what tone are they setting, what type of customer do they appeal to, how often do they post on social media, what is there ethical stance and values, what do they believe in and stand behind?
  • Then ask yourself; What do people know me for? What do I stand for? How do I want to show up? How do I want to work? What can I realistically create in this time? How do I want to begin? How do I want it to grow?
  • Play about with your ideas either in a sketch book, mind mapping it out and noting title and strapline ideas, maybe sketch some draft logos. Then move on to an ap like Canva (first level is free) to play some more – you don’t have to go to a design agency at first unless you want to and have the budget.
  • If you’re wanting to create a website, look at themes of design that would work well with your ideas. You want a seamless or at least similar ‘look’ across different platforms. Think about creating a brand colour pallet so you don’t stray too far from you overall vision. Look at online articles comparing hosts. Mine is obviously a WordPress site which you can start at a free entry level, but there are many more out there, so research to find what suits your needs best, especially if using for E-Commerce.
  • Finally think about tone of voice – how do you want to ‘talk’ to your customers, formerly or in a chatty way, what subjects could you talk about that link into your business and create more content, e.g., wellbeing if creating essential oils or interior design if creating abstract art.

6. Marketing – do what you need to do, not everything at once

There are so many marketing avenues available now that this part can feel intense and overwhelming.

In order to transform from a hobbyist to a creative small business, getting your product or service out there is essential, BUT that doesn’t mean you have to cover all bases immediately. You can start off slow and build up, especially at the start or you’ll find that all you are doing is the marketing and not the making!

Many small businesses start off slowly on social media first, it’s the quickest way to get your brand and messaging out there, so that your customers know what you are offering and what your business is all about. You can build up your audience here, and then lead them to your website / shop later, once you have a loyal and engaged following.

Remember it is better to do small amounts well, than everything in a disparate or rushed manner. And if you are not savvy on social media, don’t worry there are many social media experts out there that don’t charge a small fortune or offer beginner ‘power-hours’ to get you started and so you can then do it yourself, such as my WOW partner Clair, @asocialnature

7. Structure your selling process – get your ducks in a row.

Customers will recommend you and give you repeat business, if, and only if, they have had a great experience with you in terms of service. It’s not enough these days to just have a fantastic product, if it doesn’t get to them on time to give to their mother-in-law for their birthday, they will feel disappointed, annoyed, and let down.

So, spend time creating an order process, which will make life so much easier, the busier (hopefully) you get.

Step into your customers shoes and think about the key things they’ll want to know, such as production and delivery times, what happens if something arrives broken, how will you let them know when it’s on the way, can you personalise items etc. Create a Frequently Asked Questions document with answers for you to quickly and easily send out or have on your website.

Thinking about all these things upfront, will save you lots of time in the long run, and customers will be grateful that they are dealing with someone who has thought about their needs.

8. Join an accountability group, not just a networking group.

Ok this may be controversial, but as a creative I know many others who feel this way – I do not enjoy networking! What I do enjoy is learning and building meaningful, solid connections with people who are of the same mindset. I want to be with people who are alongside me, inspiring me and cheering me on, not selling to me or saying how fantastic and easy everything is. I know not all networking groups are like that, but many I have experienced are, which is why myself and Clair set up WOW Wednesdays in the first place.

Our Accountability Membership is all about nurturing people and watching them grow through gaining confidence and learning from the group. It’s for people who want to use accountability to get things done and move forwards, not just sales chat. It’s about action and real personal growth.

Obviously, you could easily join us (It’s an online membership), but if you can’t right now, or would rather join a group in your local area, look for a group with similar qualities, or better still, create some accountability with your friends or other local businesses yourself and support each other.

Working on your own is hard going when you don’t have colleagues to chat ideas or issues through with, so belonging to a like-minded group makes it a less lonely and far more enjoyable experience. Plus, you can easily tap into the expertise of the group when you have those niggling questions.

So that’s it in terms of a very quick snapshot and obviously there are many more things to consider, but hopefully this has given you a good taster of things to think and get excited about!

However, If you have any struggles or challenges with mindset in all of this, for example, you may feel stuck with overwhelm, I recommend getting some extra support.

This can come through things like business coaching programmes (often more affordable in a group membership setting rather than individually) such as Nicola Rae Wickham’s Root & Rise programme or consider joining your local chamber of commerce, who can offer you access to a number of services such as insurance, legal, health, HR, marketing and PR to name just a few.

I know this may seem a lot to take in but there is no rush, you can work ‘on’ your business a little at a time, and spread out the costs, it’s taken me several years already so far!  It’s been worth the effort though, I can honestly say there is nothing more rewarding than earning some money, no matter how little, from what you have built and created yourself!

Holly’s on a mission to inspire a new generation of female founders

I used to earn way more in my corporate career, but the pounds that I earn this way are worth so much more to me now. As Holly Tucker says, its all about ‘Doing what you love, loving what you do’ and I couldn’t agree more! See main image!

I may not be a millionaire any time soon (sorry kids!) but that doesn’t matter, I’m building a small business that I love, and I am very proud of, and I hope giving my children another avenue to think about as they grow up.

Until next time…enjoy the Spring sunshine and a bit more freedom,

Juliet, the Curious Creative x

The power of a simple letter

Who doesn’t love to receive a hand written letter, and even more so when it’s sent through the post? Well this week for my turn on the Yorkshire Writers Lunch Blog, my piece is all about just that.

I’ve recently got involved with a really lovely project – Give a Few Words, and if you are a writer yourself or even if you just like making a difference to someone’s day, I urge you to take a look, because you can use your love of writing in a really powerful way.

But for now, I’d love you to read my piece as I get ready to write my first letter for the project:

Dear Imaginary Friend – by Juliet Thomas

I hope you like and I’ll be back next week with another creative Blog post and you can always catch up with me regularly over on Instagram – @thecuriouscreativeclub or @soothedbynature, if you are a nature geek like me.

Have a fab rest of the week, not long now to the next restriction lift! :-), I’m starting to get excited…

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Discover your strengths to get closer to the life you desire and deserve

Hi everyone, apologies for the lateness of this Blog but the last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind, in a good way, as we all attempt a bit more normality now the kids are back at school.

At the end of this post I’ll share what I’ve been up to because it all links, but firstly let’s talk about your strengths and where this has all come from.

We’ve been talking a lot about this in our WOW Wednesday Membership as a crucial part of doing the background work that makes the upfront work a whole lot easier. So that includes all the things I’ve been talking about so far in the Blogs this year, like working out what your values are, the direction you want to go in and using guiding words and creating a vision board to help that process.

So why is it important to work out your strengths?

Digging deep into this may feel awkward and maybe even a bit icky, we are not great as humans at celebrating ourselves, especially in the UK, it’s just not the British thing to do BUT it is a hugely important piece of work if you want to grow and move forwards.

In simple terms, if we don’t understand what are strengths are, how are we going to utilise them in our lives and the work that we do? It’s like working out what tools you have to assist you in climbing a mountain, one step at a time.

It can take a lifetime to figure out our strengths, I’ll be honest, it’s only in the last 4 years since I’ve left corporate life and tried new things that I now know the direction I want to go in and what my real strengths are.

And that’s why giving yourself permission to experiment with new experiences is also key to this discovery work, because you may find strengths that you never knew existed when you stretch out of your comfort zone and test yourself.

So how do you discover yours?

Some may seem obvious to you (hopefully!), such as qualifications and jobs that you have that validate or increase your skills plus family and friends appreciating and telling you! But there are other ways to discover your strengths too, through the clever questions in personality questionnaires. These then pool the answers and shine a light on your key personality traits, including your top strengths.

I’ve found a few to be particularly useful, and you may have done some of these already, but it can be useful to go back and do again after a few years, to see if anything has changed, as we grow and adapt through our life experiences.

The first one is the Myers Briggs, or 16 personalities quiz. This one is the most in depth I think, and of all the people I know who have taken it, seems the most accurate as participants gasp as the end at their collated results, usually exclaiming ‘Wow, that is totally me!’.

What I like about this quiz is that it gives you some direction, such as careers you may flourish in, how to approach relationships, or thing to look out for that may not suit you.

Mediator (INFP) personality
The INFPA type also known as a Mediator

I’m an INFPA type, or Mediator as it’s otherwise known, and we are one of the rarer types of the 16 personalities, making up just 4-5% of the population. Everything about its description is spot on for me, and knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, gives you a more insightful view of your future. Once we are aware of our strengths, we then know where to channel our focus and efforts for the most personal, and purposeful success.

The Four Tendencies Quiz – Gretchen Ruben

Understanding how you work and respond to outside influences and expectations is an absolute game-changer in terms of motivation. Taking part in this quiz brings shows you how to use your tendency to get things done, the different types being; Obliger, Rebel, Questioner, or an Upholder.

And this type can change throughout your life. I used to be an Obliger, especially as a marketeer working towards deadlines in my previous career, but now I’m more of a questioner. Gretchen writes that Questioners wake up and think ‘What needs to get done today and why’ and only tend to take direction from people they respect – yep that’s me to a tee!

Meanwhile my husband is a Rebel, and boy does that bring challenges, but knowing his ‘tendency’ armours me with the knowledge of how to approach things and find a compromise – the key with him is making him think it was his idea all along as they don’t like to take direction from anyone else but themselves! – see there are definite benefits understanding the different types!

Which brings me to the last quiz – The Love Languages Quiz! There are 5 love languages apparently:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical touch

How you rate these in terms of importance to you, helps you to find your ‘love language’. Now if one of you is speaking in a ‘thoughtful words’ way whilst the other is reciting ‘acts of service’ then it’s going to take some learning to communicate, but at least by knowing this we are all less likely to take offence if we feel like our partner doesn’t care – they may just be speaking their ‘love’ in a different way. Taking this quiz, may just save your relationship.

Personal Growth

Understanding all these things about yourself can only help you to move forwards and identify what you truly desire in life and where your passion and purpose lays. Truly knowing your strengths inside and out builds your confidence too, because for once you believe it about yourself. Knowing your strengths helps to eliminate doubt, it simply becomes fact and the more you believe it, the more others will too and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And that’s not being big-headed, we all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses, but the key is to not let your weaknesses undermine your strengths and let them take over – easier said than done I know – i.e., go away imposter syndrome!

A word on weaknessesyes we have them too

Knowing your weaknesses is a strength in itself, so long as it doesn’t belittle your confidence by dwelling on them. Understanding what you are less good at, just allows you to be more efficient, AND may give others a sense of purpose and confidence by you allowing them to help you.

For example, I am useless at most things numbers and forms related, they are like my kryptonite and bring me out in a cold sweat, BUT because I know this, I seek help, from the people who have this in their skillset, so what does that achieve?

Well, it means the person I ask feels good that they can help me, and it won’t take them long to do because they are highly skilled at it, which saves precious time. I am eternally grateful because I can focus my time on what I am good at, and working together in this collaborative way helps both of us and boosts our relationship. Meanwhile there may be some written website content or creative skill I can help them with, it’s a win-win all round.

USP – Your uniqueness is your diamond, make sure you polish it – as Holly Tucker (MBE) always says.

Holly certainly knows her strengths, helping to create a strong community of empowered female founders

If you are creating a business that is a personal brand, Holly recommends selecting 5 unique things about yourself that then becomes your brand heart – and these are the parts to share on social media to be consistent. You can easily use your strengths as part of this exercise too.

Think about the main aspects of your life and which parts are uniquely you, this could include where you live, the materials you use in your work, your worth ethic, so many different things. All about what you’d like to be known for, and the values and strengths you represent.

For me it would include these topics and features I think:

  1. Yorkshire, Countryside, Love of the sea, Nature geek (including the dog in this)
  2. Collaboration, Connection, Community Champion (as in me championing small businesses)
  3. Encouragement, Inspiration, Support, Social justice & Resilience
  4. Ideas, Enthusiasm, Joy, and Imagination catalyst
  5. Colour and Design– in my art designs, photography, and in my home, especially in my little cabin (the main picture in this post encompasses all of this!)

These are all the things that I regularly talk about and share images of via my social media, so it becomes consistent, and my followers know what to expect from me and what my strengths are.

What would be the components of your brand heart? I’d love to know.

Once you know all this, what next?

So that brings me to the next part. Once you know all this stuff, it makes life so much easier, including the things to say YES to and the things to say a ‘firm’ no to.

Which brings me to what I’ve been busy with lately, the new writing groups I’ve set up. Pre-lockdown and pre-cancer, I used to run writing workshops at a local café, and they went down really well. Since lockdown and everything else, I’ve really missed this challenge, coming up with prompts and ideas to fire up my participants imagination, and watch their stories take off on the page as they beaver away writing.

That was until some of the WOW Wednesday members asked me to consider doing a regular online writing group. I set the first one up back at the beginning of Feb, and 2 weeks ago a second one. And this is how you know when you are in your lane and using your strengths because I absolutely LOVE doing it. And here’s why:

  • It challenges me as much as them, to come up with unique, different ideas for prompts each week.
  • I have no idea if it will work, so I have to think on my feet (but so far so good!)
  • The sense of satisfaction when I see the lightbulbs flash above their heads is immense.
  • Which only grows further when they read out their brilliant creative stories.
  • The sessions are so much fun, and inspire me further.
  • It allows me to build another supportive mini community (like we have done for our WOW Wednesday membership) for people seeking new hobbies and a creative outlet, especially in lockdown.
  • The only downside is I often can’t sleep after because I’m buzzing with ideas!

I gain so much from running these groups, and that’s why it’s so important to understand your strengths, because it can bring you so much joy when you use them wisely. If people hadn’t known that this was a strength of mine, they would never have asked and trusted me to set up these groups, that they now belong to.

The more you use your strengths, the more you are polishing that diamond and finding your passion and purpose.

So, take the time to discover yours, via your own thoughts (trust your gut, it’s rarely wrong), those closest to you (if in doubt ask 5 close friends / family) and the personality tests I’ve suggested.

Then write your strengths list and start thinking how to use them to your advantage, and go get that happier, more fulfilled life you desire and deserve.

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps If you would like to register your interest for one of my writing groups, please click here. There are just 2 spaces left on the Friday eve session – 6-7.30pm but if that time doesn’t suit, I’ll add you to the waiting list for the next one.

PPs If you are local to Huddersfield, I’ve now started selling my needlefelt pictures and art cards at the newly opened Joys Coffee House in Kirkburton. They are open 8.30am – 4pm most days for take-aways for now until restrictions lift, serving breakfast, brunches, lunches, cakes and hot drinks, pop along and support local :-).

And finally have you noticed the stories I’ve been putting on my Instagram to support Shannon of @mockingbird_makes #makemarchmagic project? Each day a creative small business (31 in total) is sharing a unique offer, so keep an eye out each day and I’ll be sharing my offer too on the 31st of March!

These are all the lovely small businesses taking part in #makemarchmagic

Putting dreams into action – creating a new Vision Board for 2021

Hey everyone, hope you are well. It’s been another busy week and the weeks seem to fly by, which is good because it means the kids will soon be back to school!

Helping to keep me distracted until lockdown is over and busy in my work, is our accountability group WOW Wednesdays. During this difficult time, myself and Clair who founded the group are constantly looking for ways to keep our members motivated and happy as they navigate the daily routine / Groundhog Day in lockdown, whilst still trying to move forward with their goals.

Since it’s become a membership group, we provide several new benefits, such as prompts through the Facebook group, our accountability meetings have moved online, we’ve created a monthly newsletter and we’ve added in specialist sessions, all to support out members at whatever point they are in their journeys.

We have members just starting their new businesses, changing their direction due to the pandemic, building on what they’ve already achieved or simply setting life goals that they are aiming towards – it’s a diverse bunch of people who all support each other too with their vast knowledge and skills.

And this brings me on to today’s post because this week we delivered the Vision Board workshop. We did this last year too, but obviously face to face and it’s always a popular session. I always think February is a good time to do something like this, as you are through the January fug, and starting to think more about what you want to achieve that year.

WOW Members last year creating their boards at Charlottes beautiful guest house – The Scarlet Hen Norfolk House

You may have also chosen a Guiding Word for the year and perhaps have started mapping out some plans. If not, this may help you with direction for your vision board, find out about the selecting a guiding word process here.

Creating a Vision Board is an ideal way to get all those dreams and ideas down visually, creating some action around all those wishes and thoughts and begin the journey to bring them into reality, whilst having a lot of fun doing so!

So, how can it help support you in everyday life?

To find out more about the benefits, and tips on how to create one, click here (otherwise this post would end up being half a book!). Plus there are some extra tips below, taken from a Breathe Magazine article a while ago.

And if you want to see how my last vision board worked out for me, then you can read all about that here – it is spookily spot on in a lot of areas!

My 2021 Vision Board – Manifesting as much magic as possible after the year we’ve had!

After delivering the session, I was keen to get started on a new VB for myself and so yesterday, surrounded by magazines, I started tearing out the images I was drawn to and that I could relate to my goals and dreams for this year. The only issue I have, is knowing when to stop!

Thankfully, I’d chosen a slightly bigger board this year, but it still ended up pretty crammed, which I always think sums up how much I want to do!

So, I thought I’d talk through my new board to give you an idea of the kinds of things that can go on there, and why I have chosen the things I did.

However, please remember, your board is personal to you, so you need to be led by your heart, your own personal plans, and dreams, and not worry about what you think ‘should’ be going on there.

Go with your gut, what images you are instinctively drawn to and what you feel passionate about.

The beginning of the process

The first thing I did was write my words down the middle of my board – Balance and Breathe

The first thing I did was find a suitable board -which is actually just part of some-packaging, and a nod straight away to one of the things I want to do this year which is to reuse and recycle more. The shape also lent itself to what I wanted to do, which was to place my guiding words down the middle, – always a useful reminder to have it/them on your vision board too.

Next it’s about finding some quality time, alone and searching through a pile of magazines, and selecting images that speak to you, link to a dream you have or resonate with the direction that you want to take this year.

Originally, I wanted to group certain aspects together, which may appeal to you if you like things in an orderly fashion. Some parts worked like this and naturally went together, but then some shapes simply didn’t fit together well, so it became more about how the images would balance each other out across the board – see my guiding word ‘Balance’ is infiltrating the task at hand again!

From left to Right – my images and why I chose them.

The left section

The quote – I am not afraid – I was born to do this.

I chose this because one of my lovely writing group members said I was made to do this (the writing group), which really boosted my confidence but it’s also because when I am doing that group,  I am not afraid at all, not even nervous, and that is always a sure sign I think when it feels such a natural thing to do, so it’s a reminder when something feels that good and second-nature to run with it.

It’s okay to shine in your own way – postcard.

This is one of my own designs and a reminder to get my wellbeing postcards out into the world more. I created a set last year, but haven’t put them anywhere to sell yet. Plus, the message is an instruction to stay in my lane and not compare myself to others.

The number 400

I’ve never set myself a money target before (which is probably why it’s not been a focus), but this year I’ve set a simple low target per month as more income streams to my work come onboard. I’ve changed my mindset on money lately, in a good way, as a way to support me moving forward, i.e paying for Coaching training further down the line for example.

The abstract Painting – Jessie Ford

This is a new type of art I want to try as I’ve never done it before, and I love this particular one by an artist I really like. It’s also close to the next image, because ideally, I’d like to create a piece for the bedroom, so that gives me a focus to practice! I’m also inspired by one of our WOW members Charlotte @charlotte_balderstone, who has recently got back into her abstract painting and has created some brilliant pieces for her home.

The Pink Bed

Re-decorating the bedroom is our next big project in the house! In an ideal world I’d love a pink bed like this one, but I can’t see that getting approved by the hubs, but we are getting a new bed, and wardrobes which will instigate the whole room re-design. I’m desperate to get some @hannahnunn wallpaper too, which I’ve had a crush on for years!

Decisions, decisions! How do I pick when they are all beautiful?!

Quote – The Sky is the Limit – you never have the same experience twice.

This is just a nod to all the new experiences I want to have when lockdown is over. I was always one for new experiences anyway and throwing myself in, but when I’m released back into the world, well the world better be ready!

The Tree growing out of rocks.

This tree I tore out from Country Living, and is not too far from me so I want to visit it, but also, it’s a reminder of how much things can grow out of difficult circumstances (i.e., the rocks) plus, you know I’m a tree-worshipper!

The woman in a swimming costume

One thing I’ve really missed since my diagnosis is swimming. With treatment involving a pic-line, I couldn’t go and then obviously during lockdown the pools all got closed too, so I’m desperate to go swimming again.

The woman above in the pink jumper and skirt

I’m so bored of lockdown style. My friend Claire of @myhousecandy still dresses up at home and looks v cool and glamourous, BUT I’m always so cold in Winter and walking the dog so it’s jeans, joggers and leggings and warm layers for me! I like this jumper and skirt style, but probably with some trainers, I want to be braver with new style options this year.

The black and white image of the woman leapfrogging.

Sometimes I can get so engrossed in my work, I forget to be daft and have some fun with the kids, so this tells me to be more playful now and again.

How I got published

This is a section that is always in Writing Magazine and I’m using this to future manifest! I want to be the one featured in there with my none-fiction book that I am writing – I HAVE to finish that this year!

Friends drinking wine.

The most obvious one, but the thing I most crave right now. It’s been 15 months so far for me, since I’ve been out for meals, and drinks with friends, because of my treatment and lockdown. I AM DESPERATE for a good night out!

A job that connects me to a friend, art and nature is a joy.

That statement sums up where I want to work really. There are so many options with this that I still want to develop, retreat days for one – I would LOVE to set these up once Covid is over.

The black woman smiling.

This image reminds me of Nicola Rae Wickham of @lifemoreinspired (she has a similar style) who I’ve been working with this year through her ‘root and rise’ membership. She’s someone I deeply admire for her passion, voice and how she runs her business and so is a role model for me.

This last year she has particularly used her voice, speaking out against racism, and I also want to use my voice more on issues I am passionate about, because it’s just so important we don’t ignore it and bury how we feel. I’m currently reading ‘Speak your truth’ by Fearne Cotton and it’s interesting to understand how we are silenced though the years, in so many ways. I also want to listen to more diverse voices and their stories, and so this is a reminder to do this.

The middle section

The woman gardening.

I enjoyed more time in the garden last year, so this year I want to build on that, get out there more, and add some plants around the Cabin area decking too.

She believed she could, so she did – Jesse Ford.

Another piece of artwork by Jesse and this is hung up in my home. I say it a lot to my daughter, and it’s a reminder to always boost her confidence and promote women doing their thing, especially in small businesses, I always want to support women more, it’s so needed, and to set a good example to my daughter.

The artist by the edge of the sea

This lady paints outside close to the sea to capture the energy of the waves and be immersed in the process. I love this and want to paint or draw outside more, it’s such a joyful experience.

Suzy Walker and Loraine Kelly

Both women I think really embody being confident in themselves later in life. Can you believe Lorraine is 62? She’s a consummate professional, stands up for things she believes in and I’d love to be on her programme one day promoting my book!

Suzy is the editor of Psychologies Magazine who I worked with last year on an interview and the series of ten Lives I did. She’s so creative, lives on a houseboat (which I think is very cool) and is just incredibly talented, I’d love to work with her more.

1 Brilliant Female Eco

Essentially what I want to be! Working by/for myself, but collaboratively with other creatives too.

Toes in bubbles

A hint on the self-care, I love baths but don’t have them often enough, it’s a sensory experience and a reminder to just chill and enjoy!

Kitchen shelf & Wallpaper

This was one of the first images I tore out, I just really like the wallpaper and the country flowers. Flowers in my kitchen make me happy, I just love the feel of the image and this wallpaper would look lovely in my kitchen!

Picture of Positano and the drawing hand

These go together because one day this would be my dream trip, an art holiday in Italy with friends would be my absolute heaven. Positano is one of my favourite places there but I’d equally like to go to @elenapellecchia58 villa in Tuscany, that I’ve been stalking and dreaming of for a long time!

Scallops, Amsterdam and Escaping

These images go together too, a few years back me and the hubs went to Amsterdam for the weekend, staying at The Dylan, a fine-dining hotel and it felt like we’d truly escaped from being just Mum and Dad. It was an amazing weekend, riding bikes around the city, visiting the Van Goff museum, and eating gorgeous food! We NEED another trip like this.

The orangutan

Okay we are getting into longer-term aspirational territory now. After watching a programme on an orangutan nursery, I’ve been wanting to go out and volunteer there, so yes this is on my board, but may not happen for a while…just putting the manifestation in place!

The right section

Cornwall Minack Theatre

Last Summer when we escaped t to Cornwall, we tried to visit this beautiful open-air theatre overlooking the dramatic coastline. Sadly, there were no spare tickets and so when I saw this picture with views from above, I felt a pull to go back!

You got this.

I have a mug that says this too, just a reminder that after the last few years, I can get through pretty much anything!

Hot air balloon over Masai Mara

A safari trip is something we all want to do as a family, before the kids get too old, I’m not sure when it will happen, but it WILL happen I’m certain and what an experience that would be!

Every day is a beautiful adventure – Jesse Ford.

Another piece of Jesses and a reminder to treat every day like the adventure that it is and savour the present moment.

The ‘shop small’, rising hand.

This covers many things! Firstly, it’s a ‘Not on the Highstreet’ advert, and I want to get my artwork on to an online shop, it may not be NOTH, but it’s a reminder to get it sorted.

NOTH was founded by Holly Tucker, another one of my female heroes, and this advert in particular is about celebrating female founders, which I’m also passionate about.

Finally, the fist rising feels like positive action and activism to me, being an active part of the female founder community, and celebrating its unique strengths, which of course I fully support and will continue to do more of through my social media channels.

Sunset and sea

Last year sunsets, views of the sea (on the Cornwall trip) and walks in the wood are what got me through some difficult times. These are my constants, every new day will come with different challenges, joy, and experiences. I savour it all and this is just to recognise the sun will always rise and set and tomorrow is a brand-new day, and if I can spend it staring at the sea, all the better!

So that’s how I created my board and I think some definite themes have emerged:

  • Adventure, travel, and experiences – not surprising after being cooped up for so long!
  • Positive role models who speak out and deeper connections – definitely something I want to take on more this year.
  • Beauty, both at home and in nature that then translates – I’m often inspired visually and drink in views to then use in my creative work.
  • Continued growth in self-belief and confidence – this last year’s events have massively boosted my confidence that I can (and will) get through anything, so long as I have passion and purpose in spades (which I do!).
  • Good Energy – I like the energy of this board, it feels like it has fire in its soul and that it wants to accomplish ALOT and live life to the full (which is exactly what I want to do!)
I think Barley is worn out by all my plans!

Now I just have to keep it visible, take action towards these dreams and let the board (and me) manifest some big magic!

So, I hope that this has given you some ideas about how to put your board together, but I hope most of all that it comes across as very personal to me, and that that is the most effective way to create one for yourself – it’s YOUR VISION, no-one else’s.

I’d love to know if you’ve created one this year or if this post has now spurred you on to get busy with the scissors! I do find a physical one works best for me, but if that doesn’t appeal, you could always create a board on Pinterest where you can search specifically for things you would like on there. You could then use that as a screensaver to make it consistently visible.

And consider getting the kids involved, it’s a great activity to do in the half-term holidays!

So long as it works for you, that is the main thing, so enjoy the process and set those intentional hopes and dreams off into ACTION, you’ll feel all the better for it, I promise.

Until next time…

TC Keep Safe,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps, If you would like to take advantage of the next offer to join our WOW Wednesday Accountability Group, for support to move forward with your dreams and goals, then please click here for all the details.

PPS, If you are getting increasingly bored in lockdown and would love a relaxed creative outlet, then please click here, to find out all about my new weekly online Writing Club.

Using your values to guide how you want to live and create.

Hi everyone, how’s it going? Hanging in there? Ready for half term?

On Friday I had my vaccination, which was a big relief, although I was shivering that night, but feel ok now. Having spent months shielding and managing to avoid Covid all this time, despite being in and out of hospital, I just can’t wait until everyone is done and restrictions start easing. It was all very well organised and I do feel more protected now, I just hope that people do go when called.

Wearing my vaccination sticker!
All done at the John Smiths Stadium

Over the last few weeks, all kinds of opportunities have come up including being asked to start a writing group to replace the workshops I did, back when we could see each other face to face (those ancient times), and so I’ve been re-evaluating the directions I want to go in, again, whilst trying to keep hold of my guiding words for this year, ‘Balance and Breathe’.

Re-visiting my values

The work I’ve been doing as part of my Root and Rise membership with Nicola Rae Wickham has helped with this, as we’ve been working on alignment and how using your value’s power can help clarify your direction.

As someone how has worked with values many times in my Marketing career on different projects, I enjoy this piece of the overall picture, in fact when I set up The Curious Creative Club, it was one of the first things I did, but Nicola reminded me that values are not set-in stone and can change and move as we grow in our work.

And as well as your guiding words, your core values can really help clarify the direction you want to take. When you are starting out as a creative business or going up a level from hobbyist to a seller, especially if you’ve been doing it a long time, you may not consider this too deeply and be keen to crack on with the other more attractive creative tasks, such as branding, creating graphics or designing your website.

However, I can’t stress enough, how important defining this part is, because it genuinely drives everything else and makes it all so much easier.

Defining your values can help in so many ways, here are just a few:

  • How you want to work
  • What you want to create
  • What excites / drives you?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Who you choose to surround yourself and what causes you support?
  • And very importantly what you will say NO to

Essentially creating values is about getting to know yourself, really, really well. Which sounds crazy right? Of course, you know yourself well, but when have you taken the time to sit down and ask yourself the important questions? It’s not something we regularly do.

So, taking the above questions to explain it further, have a go at asking yourself these questions and make notes of your answers.

How do you want to work?

Whether this will be your primary work, a side business, or simply a hobby, this relates to so many variables and leads to further questions – Do you want to work from home, in a studio, or fresh air? How much time realistically do you have to dedicate to this? What time of day suits your creative energy best? This all comes under how you want to work, and can bring you a value related to it, for example – Committed could be a value, or Collaboration could be a value if working with others is important to you.

What do you want to create?

This is possibly the most personal, and could look like a million different sentences, but if you were and artist for example it could look like this: I want to create bright bold statement pieces that people talk about – so ‘daring’ could be a value or it could be I want to create intricate pieces that take time and evoke a feeling in people’s homes – so ‘thoughtful’ could work for you.

Or maybe you don’t want to be so specific and would rather be open to creating all kinds of art, and so being playful or experimental may be a central value to be aware of, to remember that feeling.

What excites / drives you?

This is a big one, about your passion and purpose to create in the first place, knowing this one is essential to action, especially in those moments when you are not feeling it. You can also think of many of these questions in the reverse to understand what your values are not, so for example – what demotivates you or upsets you?

I’ll give a personal example to answer what drives and excites me;

What drives me is making a difference to someone’s life, for the better, so that’s why I write this blog and why I run creative groups in the hope that it will inspire people to make changes that will then improve their quality of life.

What excites me is learning new things, problem-solving, discovering a new passion for something, having new experiences, travel, music, creating, challenging myself and not being afraid to experiment. All this gets my creative energy flowing and is the fuel to kick-starting action in my work.

In reverse, what demotivates me or I find annoying or energy-consuming is anything technical, over fussiness, things that don’t work, complicated messaging or content. I like things to be simple, to work and be straight to the point!

All of this plays a big part in my work and how I like to live my life.

Who is your ideal customer?

I’m no expert on this one and this is the one area that I’m keen to learn more on for my own business, but as a start, ask yourself what problem you are addressing for your customer.

This may be a broad ask, so it may be worth digging deep and asking yourself the 5 Why’s, which really gets to the crux of the issue, so for an example type of customer;

Problem – Women have reached a point in their life where their passion and purpose are lacking due to several issues such as children being a priority or leaving home, and they are at a crossroads, unsure of their identity and wanting to do something for themselves, that they really enjoy.

Solution – Encouraging women to take up something creative to provide a focus for change and ultimately a richer life.

But why is that important?

Because it’s important to live a contended life, because we only get one shot.

But why is creating important?

Because it will improve feelings of self-worth

But why is that important?

Because it’s important to feel proud of yourself outside of the societal roles of being a ‘mother’ etc and it will also help boost confidence

But why is that important?

Because it will lead to increased courage to try new things

But why is that important?

To live a full life that is enriched, purposeful and enables you to reach your full potential – which hits the mark on the self-actualisation point on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, see below.

Image result for maslow's hierarchy of needs

These aren’t perfect answers to the five questions above, but it can give you an idea of what is important to you in terms of your ideal customer and the problem you are trying to solve, as a refining method.

Who do you surround yourself with and what causes / communities do you support?

This comes round to who you want on your team, both personally and professionally, because these people become a big part of your World and therefore have an impact, whether you like it or not!

Again, this follows a deeper understanding of who you are as a person. For example, if you know you are an introvert, surrounding yourself with only extroverts and in situations that don’t suit your energy, will be totally draining. On the opposite side of the coin, extroverts need that social interaction to boost their energy and feel more content.

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person? That doesn’t mean you can’t have the opposite kind of people in your life, as that would be practically impossible to do, but understand your own needs too, so if you are having a bad day, surround yourself with positive people.

If you are feeling great, be as supportive as feels right, but limit time with negative or critical people, it’s just about being aware of the effect other personalities and characteristics can have on you. Humans are largely empathetic creatures and pick up on the vibes of others, so we need to be a bit more conscious of it and protect ourselves if need be, especially in current times.

There are also the inherent belief systems we all have or have grown up with, how we feel about societal issues, so again examine these, what forms part of your belief system?

Are you religious, vegan, part of the LBTQ+ or BAME community, do you believe in justice, equality, climate change, keen on making a difference in other cultures or communities that you may not be part of but care deeply about?

The list is endless, but how passionate and active you are within these areas, will form part of your inner belief system and how you want that to show up, both personally and in your work and may have an impact on who you choose to include in your circle too.

Belief systems are powerful but also challenging, it can be hard work fighting for something you believe in, but can be immensely satisfying if ‘making a difference’ is one of your core values.

A great example of this, is the recent BBC 4 programme hosted by Jenny Éclair that a friend told me about. It’s called ‘Craftivism’ and follows some inspiring artists, trying to use their voice in a different, less aggressive way than say a protest march, whilst getting their message across extremely well using their crafty talents.

Craftivism with Jenny Eclair on BBC 4

A crafter on the programme, Helen Baker created little pants signs with messages on to encourage more women to attend their cervical screening appointments. She then places these little pieces of art in Doctors surgeries, charity shops, and behind toilet doors to get the awareness out there. See the clip from the show here…

This really appealed to me, and I’m now thinking about ways of doing this in my own work because it just goes to show that there are many ways to approach a problem or issue and it seems this notion of ‘craftivism’ is growing.

And finally – What do you want to say No to?

Once you know most of the answers above, it will become a lot clearer on what you will say ‘No’ to, because it doesn’t feel right and doesn’t align to your values. The key thing is to pick out what words keep coming up for you, and the meaning behind those words – why do they matter so much to you – do they give you fire in your belly and sit well with the work you do?

When I originally set up The CCC, I chose the words above, almost like a roadmap for my ‘customer’ journey, I realise now but because it has grown so much since then and I am fully immersed in what it has become, there are new things I want to add in which I’m currently working on.

Don’t forget to think about your strengths.

Nicola recommends also looking at your strengths as another way to help guide you, to make sure your values are aligned with you in an honest way. If you are unsure what your strengths are, as sometimes we can struggle with this, then ask five of the closest people to you, who know you inside and out.

Collect these words and highlight the ones in common. Hopefully, the words that will come up will feel good and you’ll find yourself nodding!

Since I started, I’ve joined many social media groups or followed people on Instagram who all have similar passions and purpose to me and that helps solidify what I’m all about too and the direction I want to go in. You feel part of a community that you choose to support, because you believe in their work, and they support you too.

However, equally with all the ‘noise’ in social media land, it will also help you to define what doesn’t represent you out there and helps to create boundaries.

So in summary, what I’m trying to get across to you is this:

  1. Your values are your guiding principles, the things that help define decisions and direction on a daily basis in your life and creative work, often on an unconscious level.
  2. They make up a big part of who you are as a person, you can find them in a gut feeling, an increased heartbeat or sweaty palm and just as much in a heartfelt hug, raucous laughter, or empathetic tears, listen to these signals and you won’t go far wrong.
  3. Thinking about values as part of the bigger picture is a really useful tool to help guide your work and brand – get this right early on and it will make things like writing your ‘About You’ section, for example, so much easier.
  4. You can use your values in your voice and how you show up, whether that be standing up for something you believe in on a social media post, protest march or craftivism opportunity, our values can make a difference, if we choose to use them in an active way.
  5. Consider putting words from the answers to the above questions and your strengths into a word-cloud – that way you can see them in an easy visual way, and it may make things clearer for you, see below as an example.
  6. Knowing and understanding your values and beliefs means that that you come from a place of whole-self and authenticity– putting your heart, soul, and stamp into everything you do.
  7. People and your customers then easily come to recognise and trust what you are all about and what you are known for, another win-win.
Creating a word-cloud based on feedback from our Accountability Group members, helped us to then create our branding

I hope that’s been helpful, and personally I’m excited to do some more work on this because it feels like the time is right. I want to go back and reassess, two years down this journey, and clarify my values once again.

I’d love to know if this resonates or helps, or what key values are important to you, so please share in the comments below.

Until next time take care and stay safe…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x