Howdy, I’m Lisa, and I believe the old adage that everything happens for a reason and everything is exactly how it’s supposed to be. But I would also add to that: what are you going to do about it?
I left school at 16 and worked in various retail jobs for almost twenty years! Just typing that makes me feel a bit queasy. Throughout that time I would always be given the role of ‘creative go-to gal’, and people at work would tell me I was wasted in the job. When I was passionately gushing about my latest project or drooling over new cameras my friends and family would tell me: “do something with your talents”
Creative talent is something a lot of people find a bit embarrassing or even shameful. They keep their dirty little secret to themselves, beavering away when no one is around, hiding their craft stash at the back of the wardrobe or even feeling that sense of (imaginary) judgement from strangers when they take a photo of something that catches their eye out in public. I was no different to this.
Many of us are trained in our younger years to believe that cultivating this kind of talent will get us nowhere in life. At school we are encouraged to focus on topics like memorising the dates of all major wars, long division and the periodic table. All this information will serve you well when it comes to answering questions on quiz shows, but if you are a creative type, shying away from your natural craftiness is never a good idea. It can lead you down the path to an unfulfilling work life that does nothing to stimulate or inspire you.
I quit my job in January this year after a series of contract changes, staff shortages and moves that just weren’t working out for me. At that stage I guess things were how they were supposed to be: a big red flag begging me to take notice and do something. Once I realised it was only me who could really change anything significantly, I found the seed that had planted in my mind was growing rapidly. I was fortunate enough to have a small buffer of savings that would last me a few months but also, more importantly, I had a strong sense that everything would turn out perfectly.
Last year I opened my Etsy store and originally posted some really badly drawn, edited and printed cards, most of which I cringe about now. I knew nothing about product photography, SEO, promotion and so on, but I’ve wanted to have my own card shop since I was at school, so I thought I’d give it a try. Within the messiness and mistakes of setting up in business, there was one gem: ‘Hello my name is the Boss’
This is still one of my most popular cards. The rest of the first batch have now been reworked or discontinued but this one still attracts people, and I am rather fond of it. I once heard a great quote; “the best way to be in business is to be in business”. This card illustrates this perfectly. If I didn’t create this one, I wouldn’t have gone back to PrintsOfHeart this year and I wouldn’t have built the momentum it has now. I don’t earn my old day job wage but at the moment that is not my goal.
I am so glad things at my day job got to that boiling point. If they hadn’t, I’d probably still be there. These days I get to design prints and cards all day that people actually love and I am a part of people’s lives in such a humbling way. When someone picks one of my Father’s Day cards it makes my stomach flip. To me it feels like I am now part of that happy day. I had an amazing customer a little while back who couldn’t be at home for Mother’s Day and he wanted to make it special for his wife. We worked together over a few days to create a custom family portrait and this was extremely rewarding. His reaction to the finished product took my breath away (and brought a tear to my eye).
Now I’m not suggesting that anyone quits his or her job without a plan. I also clean an office round the corner for a few hours in the evenings to top up my savings – in case anything unexpected crops up. This has done me the world of good: I get exercise whilst being paid and a bit of ‘real life’ social interaction too. (Warning: starting a one-woman home business can lead to cabin fever).
I want to plant the seed of an idea in your mind: if you were driving down the road and you came across a tree blocking your path, would you stop and sit in your car in front of the tree for eternity, waiting for it to move?
So what’s next for PrintsOfHeart?
Well, I am always being asked for larger prints in my store, so I am working on a ‘Kickstarter’ project to help me get this off the ground. You can search for me there or click the link and read more about my products and my journey. Someone else suggested cushion covers, so we’ll see how that goes, too. I also found a great solution to my card printing needs so I can increase my range. (Hint, they’re pink and you’re on their blog now).
I hope you enjoyed my story, let me know how you get on with your dirty little creative secrets X