One of the main things I am asked in my profession, is how did I get started? I am a graphic designer and I work from home self-employed, running my own business Daydreams and Ice Creams. I absolutely love the creativity that my work provides me and the flexibility that working from home offers to my life-balance. I have two young daughters Belle and Olivia and it’s really important to me that I am there for them too, at the school gates, for school assemblies, to make their dinner when they get home and to be the best Mummy that I can be for them. I think some people look at what I have achieved and they want a slice of the freelance lifestyle and the work-life balance that it can provide, for working Mum’s like me. I am therefore asked frequently ‘how did you get started?’ So my first blog is going to tell you my journey and how I found myself at 37, married with two beautiful daughters, running my own graphic design business Daydreams and Ice Creams and absolutely loving the work that I do!
As a child I used to love going to McDonald’s but not for the reasons you may think! It wasn’t the lure of a chicken nugget happy meal that attracted me to visit, it was the amazing styrofoam boxes that my food was given to me in that caught my inspiration. I used to daydream about what I could create with my new box; I used to imagine covering it with sparkly sequins transforming it into my new jewellery box, or any number of exciting creations! – However, my daydreams were short-lived as my parents always refused to let me take my new box home and therefore the creative transformation was never able to take place.
By the time A-levels came around I was performing well in Mathematics but struggling to find inspiration in anything other than Art. My heart desired a career in fashion design, however at college they told me my figure drawing skills weren’t adequate, so I had to abandon my initial dreams and set off on an academic journey in graphic design. University was so much fun, I met my long term best-friends there and began to love graphic design and the creativity that it provided me with. I was advised to narrow down my professional design route and only apply for jobs within my specialist field. However, I couldn’t understand why I should only apply for a small range of graphic design jobs when I loved creating everything, so not being one to conform I followed my heart and literally threw myself at every design-related position that came my way! As a result of my enthusiasm for a wide-range of opportunities, I received a lot of rejection, but I never for one second considered that I would end up doing anything other than have a successful career in graphic design. Despite many disappointments I remained focussed about what I wanted and passionate about graphic design and creativity.
Eventually, a position came up working for the city newspaper within their ad-creation team, I’d previously done work experience for them. They remembered me and offered me the position, finally my hard work was beginning to pay off! I subsequently then turned down a position at a chocolate company (I can’t quite believe that either) and focussed my time and energy on my work within the ad-creation work at the city newspaper. The hours were not your average 9am – 5pm, if there was an emergency we’d be expected to drop everything and come back to work. I of course always said yes and one night I even recall going back in close to midnight! I thoroughly enjoyed my graphic design job at the newspaper, I learnt so much and it’s where my passion for design really flourished.
An exciting personal development in my life was that I found love and so I made the decision to relocate to the West-Midlands to settle down with my husband. One real bonus of the alteration in area, was that the choice of graphic design work suddenly available to me was incredible! Shortly after the move I started working for the graphic design team at a gadget company, where they created everything from La-Z-Boy armchairs to Robosapiens. A year later a position came up at Poundland head office and wanting to gain some experience within retail, so I jumped at the chance to work for them! The graphic design team re-branded all the store categories and took them from looking like jumble sales to neat retail stores, with new packaging and branding. It was great to be part of such a big project and when they discovered I could draw my role really changed. I began to design my own stationery ranges, Santa sacks, party plates, baby bibs. I remember one of the buyers screeching with excitement when we got the first samples back, I was so excited to see my designs in store!
I went to many interviews at this period of life, I wanted to see all the design jobs that were out there. People turned me down for being too creative, people told me I’d be bored in certain positions, however I remained focussed and positive and took it all as experience. My next design adventure saw me move onto a licensed toy company, where I gained experience designing for big brands; such as Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and In the Night Garden. The hours were long and the commute was slow, but it was a fantastic job and I loved every minute of it.
In 2007 I saw an amazing job for a babywear designer and thought I’d have no chance of getting it, but I applied anyway. To my shock they offered me the job and I just could not wait to start! Unbelievably, I was sent to our head offices in India for my first day of work there! We only had a small office in England which started out as an empty room, however with hard work and dedication, the business grew. The team I worked with there were so dedicated and amazing, I absolutely loved working with them and they became really good friends of mine. We regularly worked with the major supermarkets and high street customers, zipping backwards and forwards to London for meetings on a regular basis. We flew to European cities for shopping research and trade shows, getting through the tiredness with endless bottles of diet coke and packets of biscuits. The fashion industry was vast, fast paced and exciting, I absolutely loved it!
I thoroughly enjoyed my work within the professional graphic design world and I was even able to start a family and juggle my career and home-life successfully. However, after my second baby, my career altered in direction. I had a content home life with my husband and two young daughters and life became very happily full. I loved being home and being there for my family, but my passion for graphic design was still present and I didn’t want to give up that part of me. My second daughter was very young, when an amazing freelance opportunity came my way and I grabbed it with both hands!
I had no idea whether my new sparkly direction of graphic design, would appeal to anyone else, so I took a real leap of faith in starting my own business and working from home. However, I began to connect with other working mothers via the social media platform Instagram. To my surprise, there were so many inspiring people out there, working so hard just like me and with fantastic business ideas that they were willing to share. Many of the working Mum’s that I connected with assisted in shaping my business Daydreams and Ice Creams. Through sharing inspirational stories, putting their faith in me and providing me with amazing business ideas, this really instilled the confidence in me to make my own business a success!
Running Daydreams and Ice Creams and getting to wake-up and do a job I love every day has become a reality for me! It is an absolute privilege and something I will never take for granted. I am the best mother I can be, I am there for my children and I work extremely hard running my dream design business! Here’s to many more years of Daydreams and Ice Creams! If I can do it – then you certainly can too!