Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m 34 and live in Bath, UK. I’m an artist, writer and crafter! My short stories and poems have been published both in print and online, in magazines and as part of anthology collection books. Most of my art is done on a commission basis or for my own projects.
My crafting is varied, and covers many forms of jewellery making, costume design and pagan tools. I also work in polymer clay and wood.
What did you do before you went into your business?
I spent most of my working life in offices, including five years in the civil service and four years in the NHS. At the end of last year, I decided to go into business for myself, and The Creative Pagan was born.
What made you choose to create your own business?
For most of my life I have suffered from depression, and this affected the last two “career” jobs I had. When I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety Disorder, I was happy that I finally had an idea of what was going on, and I could be treated. However, my last acute episode (in 2016) led to the loss of my job.
I felt that trying to continue to create an office career was detrimental to my mental health, and no matter how much I wanted to, I could not work in a way that would allow me to succeed in such an environment. After a great deal of soul searching, I realised that what I needed was to be in control of my own workplace, to be able to manage my mental health in a way which was positive and good for my well being. Working for myself seemed a clear choice.
Previously I had worked as a freelance writer, but I didn’t enjoy that type of work, preferring to write as a hobby. After considerable research, I decided that making a living doing what I loved - crafting - was the way forward.
How long have you been running your business for?
The Creative Pagan opened in January 2017 as a primarily online business, and in March I added market stalls in the local area to my platform. Since then, I have increased my sales month-on-month, and my brand is becoming more coherent with each market that I do.
Have you come across any sexist issues in owning your business?
So far I have been made very welcome everywhere I’ve been, and I have not felt any particular sexist issues with the market side of things. The artisan craft business is heavily dominated by women, which may affect it.
I am struggling to find products within my brand for men, however, and have been given some rather strange advice by customers about jewellery being “for women”, with the only product that was suggested for men as cufflinks! I’m determined to develop gender neutral and more masculine lines to compliment the jewellery I am already making.
What are your 3 pros and 3 cons of owning your own business?
Not having a boss! Knowing that I only answer to myself has been very important to maintaining good mental health.
Structuring my own time is a godsend. I am very much a night owl, and often work long into the evening when I’m at my most productive.
Learning new skills - everything is new to me, from finance to new styles of crafting. It’s wonderful knowing that I can turn my hand to so many different things, and that if I want to try something new, I can.
Financial stability is a worry, of course, especially since I am still in my first year and not making great margins. I sometimes miss a guaranteed paycheck!
Being proactive - I have found that seizing opportunities (market openings, commissions etc.) is vital to the business, and I have had to learn to be brave. I’ve kicked myself a few times for missing out on things!
Confidence - it’s hugely important that I believe in myself, because I don’t have a work support network to pick me up if I feel down or feel like a failure. I’ve made a great network of friends and professionals who help with that, but a lot of the time I have to do the picking up for myself!
What are the main things that drive your passion in relation to your business?
My business is my way of bringing my love of creativity together with my spiritual journey. I want to focus on creating beautiful things with meaning to me, which also have meaning to my customers. Constantly learning new ways to do that, meeting new people and learning from them, and developing The Creative Pagan as I develop keeps me driven and engaged with my work. I love it!
What’s your proudest moment in your business ownership so far?
Probably a comment from a visitor to a market, when I explained what my business was about and my hopes to develop my skills into silver work, she was really enthusiastic and told me it would be wonderful to have a pagan silversmith in Bath. It made me realise that I was creating something unique and that I was only just scratching the surface of what it could become.
Who inspires you in relation to your work?
Huge inspiration comes from my best friend, Cara, who featured in this magazine (Kustom Kulture Tattoos in Worle). She’s fierce as hell and believes in me so much, and her own experiences working for herself inspire me. Her art is also amazing, and gives me so much keen!
I’m also massively grateful and inspired by Vikki Yeates who has been a friend for many years, and helped me set up my first stall in Frome. She’s incredibly generous with her time and her knowledge, and her art is stunning.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Plan. Plan plan plan! Plan as much as you possibly can before you start - how are you going to support yourself while you’re starting up and have little (or no) income, how are you going to fund the start up, what is the business going to be, what platforms (online, markets, in a shop etc.) are you going to use. How will you connect with customers, and how will they find you. As you are planning, read everything you can about the industry you want to become part of, and if you’re not sure, google it or ask for help! The internet is an incredible resource.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about/add?
Thank you to Warrior Women magazine for the opportunity to talk about myself! But seriously, this magazine and others like it are of huge importance in today’s culture, and being able to showcase my work in this way is a wonderful thing.
You can follow and support The Creative Pagan here:
Photo credit for jewellery https://www.facebook.com/JamesFenwickPhotography/
Credit for The Creative Pagan logo https://www.facebook.com/photographynikita/