Over the next few weeks and months I'm going to be asking my friends and other inspirational women for their stories. Hopefully, one of them will strike a chord and help you along with your own story. The first one I want to share with you is mine…
Have you ever just stopped and quietly thought to yourself, is this where I thought I’d be right now? Where I want to be? Have I achieved everything I wanted to? Are the things I once thought important still relevant or have my views shifted somewhere along the way without even realising it?
Now I'm not saying this is the case for everyone, but for me it definitely was at the end of 2015. I'd suddenly woken up to the fact that at 30 years old, I most certainly wasn't where I always thought I'd be, a high-flying career driven woman working in fashion with a nice little nest egg ready for buying my first home.
In reality I was working in fashion for a company I adored with the best bosses and colleagues a girl could ask for but I'd not moved jobs repeatedly like most of my peers and risen to dizzying career heights. I'd been in the same job for over 8 years. Feeling down about the fact I wasn't quite where I thought I should be.
The turning point came when I was working at our annual sample sale at work and was chatting with one of our customers, who I’d never met before. We got on so well that we decided to meet up for drinks the following week. Over drinks my new friend said that she thought I was such a positive and vibrant person but that I looked a little sad and I was quite negative when talking about myself – she was the most fun/driven/fiery woman I’d met in a very long time. She told me about this book she’d started to read called ‘You are a Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life’ by Jen Sincero and that I should read it. Now let me tell you folks I was an absolute self-help book cynic but boy did I love that book and ended up enrolling on her online course, but more on that later.
I woke up to the fact that my old dreams were just that, old. I definitely wasn't the same person I was at 21 just graduating university, I was now 30 and my values were different. I had new dreams and new goals that were so different to my original ones that I knew I needed to stop beating myself up over not having achieved that out-dated dream.
The world was now my oyster, I'd woken up to the reality that if I wanted something to change in my life I had to make it happen. That's when I went soul searching and thought, what do I truly want? It was pretty simple - I wanted to make other people happy in some way whilst using my creative skills, become more financially secure and travel more. I started loving my job more, now realising that I wanted to do something extra in my spare time with the intention that it could become full-time at some point in the future.
My favourite part of my job was designing the prints for our clothing collections so I thought, that's it I'll create prints in the evening, sell them online and eventually get an agent. Whilst putting this plan in place I was looking for a phone case featuring inspiring words, as I love a motivational quote (finding quotes on Pinterest is a slight obsession of mine). Needless to say I couldn't find anything with a quote that spoke to me or wasn’t extremely naff and badly designed. I thought to myself – I could create something better than that! The seeds for Lalla had been planted.
So I’m going to go back to the book that changed it all for me, let’s call it the Badass book. I signed up to the author’s newsletter and two weeks later I received an email asking if I wanted to sign-up for her 8-week online course, my immediate thought was hell yeah I want to do that. But the course was the sort of price I’d pay for a holiday and it was there and then I made a decision with myself. I was going to invest in me! Boom – course booked and paid for. Shit just got real!
The whole point of the course is to set yourself one big goal that you will have reached by the end of the 8 weeks. It could be to stop smoking, getting a new job or, as in my own situation, starting your own business – designing prints. There are different lessons and exercises set twice weekly to help achieve your goal and a private Facebook group with all the course members in one place to spur one another on. I met my good friend Angela through the group and we always encourage each other. Positivity breeds positivity.
Part of the book and course is about opening up your mind to new possibilities and changing the way you’ve always seen yourself. To know that you are pretty awesome and that great things will happen to you if you just open yourself up to it – oh and working hard. The first time I truly felt this happen to me was not long after setting my 8-week Badass goal – I was going to be a freelance print designer. I began doing all my research and notes on how to go about this. A week or so before the course started I’d set up a meeting with a friend I’d met through work who owned her own Digital Marketing company, I’d wanted her advice about the phone case thing. I nearly cancelled the meeting, as the course said ‘don’t get distracted and focus all your attention on your goal just for these 8-weeks’. The quote idea wasn’t part of my plan but I met with her anyway. It was the best decision I made and it was her advice that night saying – ‘I love your quote phone case idea, I really think you could make it work’ that gave me the confidence and push to switch my goal to Making a phone case business and boy did I kick that goal’s ass! I believe that sometimes you should listen to your gut, believe that people and events were put in your path to guide you – just make sure you pay attention.
To quote one of my favourite Vicar of Dibley end jokes… … A man was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you." The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me." So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you." To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety." To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!" To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"
Sometimes you’ve just got to listen to the signs and know that the universe has your back!
I’m not going to go into the details of the creative and technical process of setting up Lalla, that’s not really the story I wanted to share with you as it’s all still small and new. What I’m hoping is that my words inspire you to take that leap of faith in yourself, if you’re not quite where you want to be and have been standing on the edge getting ready to jump but scared to try something new – my advice is to just jump because nothing changes if nothing changes! I’m definitely a much happier, more positive person since taking control of my life.
My hopes and dreams for the future of Lalla is to grow the business with more stylish and inspirational gifts, stationery and fashion accessories – watch this space!
Thank you so much for reading,
SideNote – When naming my company I wanted something snappy, memorable, that inspired me and meant something personally. I called it Lalla, which is my mum’s nickname. My mum’s actually called Althea but when she was younger her sister and brother couldn’t pronounce it properly and ended up with AlthaLalla – so Lalla stuck.