At the time I became pregnant with my first baby, I was a (very hands-on) project manager in the construction industry. Physically, the work was demanding and, as my pregnancy progressed, I was advised to stop. Being home alone got boring very quickly so I decided I needed a creative outlet. As usual, Google read my mind (not at all suspicious) and an ad for a jewellery-making course popped up. It wasn’t conveniently located - I live in Tobago and the course was in Trinidad – but I made the journey every Saturday for six weeks, and it was worth it. The classes were exciting and inspiring; I learned about design, soldering, metal bending and so many other things.
(A piece I made in Koko Karibe's jewellery making class)
When the classes ended, I continued to learn. I dabbled with beading, but found it required more patience than I possess. Making beautiful wire jewellery on the other hand provided the instant creative gratification that needed. I loved it!
(a picture of one of my earliest pieces)
Over the next three years, I continued to make jewellery, but I also took on project management work, had another baby, and battled some baby blues. Then, partly in a bid to feel more empowered, I had the urge to take jewellery-making more seriously. I’ve always wanted to have my own creative business. With your own business, you can help more people than you can working for someone else and it can be an important step towards living the life that you desire. You have control. But enough about business - that’s a conversation for another post. Put shortly, I set up Nude Designs!
Nude Designs involves much more than simply making and selling jewellery and, in addition to the business, I am still juggling work, children, and my home. So, how do I do it? Well, running a business is always about riding the highs and surviving the lows. You have to be willing to adapt to survive.
If I’m honest, the success of Nude Designs has always been directly related to my state of mind. The happier and more balanced I feel, the smoother my personal and business life runs. So, to keep everything running smoothly, I follow a daily block schedule (trust me it helps, check out Jordan Page @ www.funcheaporfree.com).
(a sample picture of my block schedule)
When school was in, I spent three days on Nude Designs and two days managing projects. But then Covid-19 hit and the schools closed. I tried home-schooling in my morning block and working in the afternoon. I also became restless and unhappy. I loved being able to teach my kids and not fight with zoom classes, but my business was suffering. I wasn't keeping on top of my orders and struggled to find time to find new inspiration and be creative (it was too much with two small kids).
Eventually, I broke. I became seriously ill and everything came to a crashing halt. Orders weren't fulfilled on time. Home-schooling became so scarce, I began (in my anxiety-ridden state) to wonder if I was ruining my children’s education.
As I said before, you have to be willing to adapt to survive. So, I pivoted. I had to go back to basics and work out what I needed: I wanted to keep my kids close and I needed time to work at least four hours a day. To do this, I had to ask for help. Obviously, this wasn’t free, but it was worth it to get the help. My kids are happier than they’ve been in months and so am I. As a result, my productivity has increased and so have sales. Now, I can’t pretend I have a normal workday, but I get time with the children and enough time to get the most important work things done. For me, for now, this is enough.
Having Nude Designs satisfies my need for creativity. But Nude Designs also enables me to help your loved ones to get better gifts for you. Through Nude Designs, I can make it easier for people to source local products. Through Nude Designs, I can also create jobs and add value to the small business landscape in Tobago.
There were many times I wanted to stop, but then customers would appear and unknowingly motivate me to carry on, and to get my "shit" (pardon the language) together. I also owe a great debt to the people I am lucky to have in my life who stand in my corner, encouraging me each and every day to go further.
My advice? First, get people in your corner. To create anything great, you need the support of great people. Second, if something isn’t working, ask for help. We ladies sometimes think it's not worth the hassle of asking for help because we think that it’s easier to handle things on our own - but the easiest way is not always the best way.
What is stopping you from doing the most important things that you want to do?