Vanilla Retro is my baby. Not my *actual* baby, obvs, but for the amount of time, dedication and effort which I have applied to make it what it is today, I sometimes think raising my daughter was significantly easier and less stressful. Did I mention I did both at the same time? Yup - we're talking plenty of sleepless nights for both a screaming child and for worry over how the business was performing.
I've told my story lots so many times, I now tell it in autopilot. But it deserves better than that. It deserves a blog post, at the very least.
Let's hop aboard my timemachine and travel back to 2011. It was mid May and I was holding a newborn baby in my arms. I had become a mum. And just like that, I lost my identity. I defined myself so much by what i did, what I wore, where I worked, that I relied on these things to feel comfortable. But that all vanishes the moment you become a parent. It's not a bad thing - but it's certainly scary. For months, I was this shadow of my former self. No longer did I have any tasks to perform daily beyond making bottles, changing nappies and trying to get my daughter to stop crying. I continued in a daze, having no energy to pursue any hobbies or do anything remotely creative. I briefly returned to work after 9 months, but I despised my job and was desperately unhappy there. So one day I left, and never returned. I found myself in a predicament where we needed a second income, but I wanted to be at home with my daughter. I set up my Etsy store, but sales were few and far between.
Out of work and barely making ends meet, I approached The Prince's Trust in Liverpool. I attended their "Exploring Enterprise" course for a week and began working on my business plan. I was awarded a £500 grant and an additional £1000 from The Printing Charity. With this, I was able to begin the process of setting up my home studio. I worked every night until the wee hours, chained to my desk, determined to create new designs which would sell. And before I knew it, sales were coming in. Sales were coming in regularly, almost daily. My business mentor put me in touch with local businesses and I began doing graphic design work and commercial printing, and I was directed towards a local networking group for mumpreneurs. I blinked, and two years passed. I was still in business and I was doing better than I had ever dreamed.
I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn't contacted the Prince's Trust, if I hadn't made that phone call. I can't imagine for a second I would be where I am without them. The support, and the funding, allowed me the breathing space to get the business running. They were always there for me, whenever I had a problem or a question.
So there it is: my story. If you have any questions about setting up your own business, would like to know more about opening an Etsy store or building your own website, please get in touch via my contact page. I am always happy to help wherever I can - afterall, I would not be where I am now without the help and support of fellow businesses and individuals.