THIS MONTH, I MOVED CURIOUS TWIST INTO A NEW STUDIO, IN A COMMUNITY HUB ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN TO THE BUSINESS’ PREVIOUS HOME. ON MORE THAN A FEW OCCASIONS, I’VE HAD TO PINCH MYSELF TO BELIEVE THAT THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING TO ME – IT’S BEEN A FAST AND CRAZY RIDE!
It was only October of last year that I moved Curious Twist HQ into my existing studio, and I did so without really knowing if I could afford the space or if I even really needed it. Like I think many women who reach personal successes do, I suffer with imposter syndrome; even though the evidence of my hard work shows that I really have no need to. So many of us seem to be ready preparing for failure when we take a risk or make a change that we lose sight of what we achieve when we do. And as women, we’re so often expected to remain humble, as celebrating success is seen as arrogance or ‘pride before a fall’. Well, I say fuck that.
Anyone who works hard on something and finds success from it can and should enjoy moments of pride and shouldn’t shy away from admitting so. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else and have to fight the urge often downplay my achievements and swiftly reject compliments. I catch myself doing it often; it’s a constant battle I seem to have with myself, but I won’t stop fighting it.
My journey to entrepreneurship and taking on Curious Twist as my full-time role may not be much different to others’ experiences in launching a business, but it’s mine and I’d like to acknowledge and celebrate it.
At the time of writing, it’s been about 18 months since I left my ‘proper job’ – and everyone who knows me thought I was mad to do so… although I don’t think they were overly surprised. I’ve always struggled with the stereotypes made about us all based on what we do professionally: you know, that accountants are boring and methodical, teachers are nurturing but need a drink to blow off steam, that IT departments are best run by shy men who never leave their rooms, that you’re only able to be successful in a career if you have a degree. The list is endless, but it’s also total bullshit.
That said, I bought into this mentally (albeit unconsciously) and it dominated my sense of self for much of my adult life. I could never find my place in the world work and as a single mum even felt like I perhaps shouldn’t be there at all. I was expected to raise my daughter as though I had every minute in the day to do so but work enough to instil a strong work ethic into her; and of course, to get in enough hours in the office to not need to rely on benefits. Just the term ‘single mum’ holds negative connotations which don’t exist for a single father. I always felt like I sat between a rock and a fucking hard place. Add in my being an over-anxious introvert and it’s really not surprising that I ended up travelling down numerous career paths before realising they weren’t for me.
I’ve served in the Royal Navy, been a Teaching Assistant, an Autism Support Worker, a Shop Assistant, a Barmaid, a Waitress, and a Recruitment Consultant. I even went back to University at 32 and got a BSc in Psychology… but none of them worked out for me.
Just over 2 years ago, I opened my Etsy shop selling completed cross stitch designs. It was my hobby, and I was totally self-taught at both stitching and design creation. I sold mainly pop culture inspired designs, but pretty much just made whatever I was into at the time. Not long after, I started taking custom orders and commissions, and found myself in the position where I had to turn down work because of time pressures. I even developed repetitive strain injury in my wrist! I’d never intended for Curious Twist to go far but enjoyed it as a hobby in the evenings after work and used the income to supplement my salary.
Professionally, I was becoming more and more unhappy with my day job and spontaneously handed in my notice when I felt it became too much. I didn’t have a plan, didn’t mull over the pros and cons and just snapped (which is annoying, because am I capable of making a small decision in my daily life? Never!).
With me having already exhausted most career paths and becoming pretty disenfranchised with the traditional ‘world of work’, I decided to focus more on what I enjoyed: Curious Twist. And once I’d started working for myself, I couldn’t stop. It was a classic case of ‘UGH. WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?!’.
Now, Curious Twist is a successful business and it’s still my passion. I love every day! I’m still not able to do everything and I involve others with skills I don’t have to help me run things to the standard I want, but I’m able to choose who I invite in to work with me. My husband helps me with the packaging and posting, a marketing assistant nags me and helps me gets shit done and an e-commerce specialist advises me on how best to list items. Best of all, I get to meet loads of great independent makers through the internet! There’s no working with or for people I don’t like or respect and no feeling of my being easily replaced. I surround myself with those I’d like to hang out with outside of the office and all of them (OK, bar my husband) are smart, self-employed women, which is just about my favourite type of person.
My advice for you if you’re looking to take your passion and make it your job? Go for it. It’s fucking hard work and there’s a lot of foundations to be laid before you take the plunge but if you never try it, you’ll never know how far it can go. And as far as success goes? Celebrate. Every. Fucking. Win. You deserve this. Enjoy it!