My next blog post was going to about ‘Why I had a Selfish Christmas?’. This was supposed to be written and posted back in January. I even got you guys to do a poll on Instagram about what I should talk about and this is what you wanted. Well, I’m sorry, it’s the end of February and March is literally days away and posting something about Christmas now is pretty much useless/pointless.
If I had myself organised I might have been able to upload a post about my visit to Glasgow Botanic Gardens in November. I’ve written the blog post, I’ve just not had the films developed yet. I should throw that post up as it’s something fun and I shouldn’t worry about waiting for my film negatives to be developed but again I keep telling myself not to post it. (Let me know if you think I should just go straight ahead and just POST IT ALREADY).
But here I am now rambling about why I’ve had zero motivation to do a blog and that needs to change. So instead of it being ‘Why I had a Selfish Christmas’, I’m changing it to ‘I’ve had one of the most positive winter periods in a long time.’ Bit of a mouthful though.
A lot of people are affected from the lack of daylight in winter. Although I haven’t been officially diagnosed as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), I’ve just diagnosed myself with it. I’ve struggled through winter months for years. Usually it’s not always so bad or other circumstances have heighted it. But winter makes me want to turn into a fuzzy little ball, sleep a lot and eat.
This time last year I was severely depressed. I’d only been on antidepressants for maybe a few months, it could have been longer. (I’ve lost track). I’d been self-employed as well, which over the Christmas period was brilliant. But January & February was hell on my mental well-being. Luckily about a year ago I was offered a job working with Wild Leaf, which has dramatically changed my life.
So last year, I was in a pretty dark place, but this year I’ve been distracted. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy and I doubt I’d be able to be cope what I’m doing if I wasn’t taking antidepressants. Maybe distracted isn’t the correct word but busy. Wild Leaf has taken up quite a large portion of my time over the past couple of months. It’s given me something to focus on, rather that dwelling on bad thoughts at home alone.
Other contributing factors to having my most positive winter in years is because David and I are living in our first flat alone together. This move has definitely had a positive affect on my mental well-being. It’s so light and warm, my plants are loving it! It also meant David and I could have our ‘selfish’ Christmas.
I don’t like Christmas at the best of times but this year we decided that it was time to do Christmas alone. Trying to decide which family to go visit, trying to fit in everything around our working schedules it just too much for me to think about. December is pretty stressful for most, and knew that I needed to have a selfish one for my own mental wellbeing.
And you know what? I’m glad we had our own Christmas. It just meant that I started 2019 on a better foot. I was more refreshed, I was looking forward to getting back to it. Now I know that at stressful periods like Christmas I do need to put my own well-being first and will be trying to do same this year.
Most people warn you away from starting your own business. The risks are high and you’ve got to put in a lot of effort for not much initial reward. Starting your own business is hard at the best of times, but throw in depression and the darkness of winter it makes it that little bit harder. People either tell you you’re crazy or they congratulate you in doing your own thing. This is what I’ve learnt so far on my journey.
Depression won’t stop you but it might take a little longer.
Now, depression affects everyone differently. Mine definitely gets a bit worse when the days get darker and it’s cold out. It’s hard to get that motivation to get out of bed to actually do anything. My body just wants to go into hibernation and I want to eat constantly. Exercising goes out of the window and pretty much all my daily habits are forgotten about.
But since taking antidepressants it’s definitely made this winter period a little more bearable. Of course staying in bed would be way better, but who’s going to do the work when it’s just yourself? Working alone means you’ve got to do all the work with very little help. Give yourself a time frame. It’s going to take you a lot longer to complete some tasks than you think. Give yourself a little leeway and things don’t always go to plan. Also make some reachable goals. Last year I gave myself six goals to complete and managed to fully complete five of them.
Write these goals down and carry them with you at all times.
Set yourself tasks
Setting yourself tasks on a daily basis really helps. Every evening I try to sit down and give myself three tasks to really focus on the next day. If I’m going through a really good positive phase, I can complete these tasks and more in a day. If my depression is at the forefront it’s much harder to complete them. Sometime I’ll give myself a personal task like ‘stay positive’ to help with my mental wellbeing which can help.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete all the task. Some tasks are more than a day’s work, break it up and spread it out. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to complete them you can always roll the tasks onto another day. This is where being your own ‘boss’ comes in handy. And sometimes other projects take priority or a task pops up that needs to be completed there and then. You’ll need to be flexible.
Every evening write down three tasks to focus on the next day.
Business or Pleasure
A great thing about starting your own business is that you should be working towards a goal or passion. This leads to your work and personal life almost merging together. There’s blurred lines when you have your own business because work can feel like pleasure. This one gets me all the time. I love being hands on in my business and some days I feel like I’ve done no work because I’ve had so much fun. My business and personal life overlap a lot, especially creating a personal brand. I’m trying to put myself completely into the business. Remember to take some time for yourself. For me it’s the little things, taking a walk, grabbing a morning coffee.
Don’t over do it, schedule some down time.
This a biggun. The one people fear the most and boy it’s scary. How will you pay yourself? Will you be able to pay yourself? Can you afford to set up your own business? It’s terrifying that you might not have a stable source of income for a while. But it can strive you to really go out there and get it.
I packed my secure job at a Roastery about four months ago and each month I have a tiny little mental break down about my financial situation. This is a big trigger for my depression as well, I’ll start telling myself that my businesses is not sufficient, that it was a stupid idea to start my own business, just give up already and get that regular paycheck. I try not to listen to those thoughts.
If you focus hard enough on creating the money you need, more than likely you will be able to reach it. Focus on that one bit that brings the money in. It’s gonna get tough before it gets better and be aware that you’ll have to put a lot of your money into the business.
Part-time work is always an option.
If you’re a creative opting to start your own business, more than likely you have no idea about the business side of things. At least that is for me. I’m having to learn a whole side to running a business that never even crossed my mind. You’ll find that you’ll probably be winging a lot of it to begin with and until you learn it, it’s all about winging it. What it does mean is that you’re learning. Teaching yourself something you didn’t know anything about.
Loof started as a hobby, I was just creating work because I could. There were no boundaries. But once it was becoming more serious, I knew I had to get some help. Enrolling for the Prince’s Trust was great, and they’ve put me in a clear direction of what I need to do. My workload has increased dramatically but that’s just another part of it.
If you want to make your business a reality, get help. Apply for the Prince’s Trust or find another charity or establishment that helps entrepreneurs. They’ll send you in the right direction and you won’t be completely winging it!
Every time you challenge yourself, you acquire a new skill.
Just do it already.
If you want it, you’ll do it. My depression was probably a catalyst in making this decision to start this business, or at least pursue it as my career. The thought of going back to a ‘normal’ job scares me and I love the freedom having your own business gives you. I’ve got loads of hurdles to overcome and I’m sure my depression is going to make it a super bumpy ride. But to hell with it. Fuck doing things for other people, I’m doing this for me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you found it interesting and insightful.
If you have any questions or fancy a chat, I’m just an email or personal message away. Robi x
Images courtesy of Beth Evans, Abandon Ship and not my own.
Welcome the first Meet The Maker. In these posts I’ll be taking you through the wonderful makers I have collaborated with. You’ll get to know a little about them, why they’re doing this and how they got to where they are. And, hopefully we can inspire you to get creative. Where better to start than with myself. Buckle up guys, this is going to get personal.
Hi, I’m Robi. I’m 25, I like be surrounded by nature and I always seem to be ill (I have a lactose intolerance and IBS). I also like photography, walking around woodlands, speciality coffee, getting tattooed and dogs. Oh, and I suffer with anxiety and depression. I’ve been taking antidepressants since June this year, and I’m in an okay place. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m working on it.
Let’s start with a bit of background of myself. For as long as I remember being creative has been a huge part of my life and so has the outdoors. I was given a small film camera when I was a very young child and loved to take photos of anything and everything. I also loved being outside, I loved going out riding around where I lived on my bike and exploring the woodlands near my home.
Being dyslexic I struggled a little in my academic studies but excelled in creative subjects. At secondary school I took art and textiles, I thought about being a fashion designer at one point! However, my depression (I wasn’t diagnosed but believe I’ve had depression since a young age) made me believe I wasn’t any good at this because I told myself the work I was creating wasn’t good enough (In fact, I was getting very good grades).
My Grandpa had a huge influence on me. I loved nothing more than the time we spent together. I’d spend my summers walking along the coastline with him and looking for creatures in rock pools. I never realised that he was a photographer himself and actually had his own photography business. I didn’t find this out until after his passing, which happened in the last year of secondary school. I really struggled with coming to terms with the death of my Grandpa, as he was such a big part of my life. But art and photography helped me through this dark period.
After my GCSE’s I decided to further my studies in the creative field by studying art, photography and media. I went off to Weston College to study my A Levels and then an Art Foundation course. My Art Foundation was great, I got to study artistic fields I hadn’t done before. I received an Honours for my Final Major where I finalised in Graphic Design. After finishing my Foundation I wanted to leave schooling and get out into the real world. But I was told I had to apply for University. Teachers and parents are so focused on their students/children getting a degree they don’t think about what the actual person wants. I quickly scrambled an application together and somehow got into Camberwell.
At 19 I found myself packing up to move to London to study Fine Art Photography. I did not know what I was getting myself into. I hated university, the students were pretentious and I felt like a complete outsider. Also, what is Fine Art Photography? People weren’t even taking photos. Continually I said to my parents that I didn’t want to be there and that I wanted to drop out. I think during this year my depression and anxiety was really taking over my life without me knowing. So instead of studying I did the classic student thing and was drunk for the majority of that year. Alcohol is a great way of blocking feelings.
Somehow my parents convinced me to complete the year, which I ended up failing (yup you can fail your first year, who knew?!). After having a bit of a breakdown, my parents again convinced me to carry on studying. I applied for a graphic communications course at LCC and the following year I was still in London.
I don’t think I even got through the first semester without wanting to drop out. Luckily, I got rushed to hospital to have my appendix removed. During my recovery I repeatedly told my parents that I wasn’t going back and wanted to drop out. Still they tried to convince me to stay, but after having an anxiety attack a few days before moving back to London, I think my parents finally realised that I wasn’t messing around.
To this day I wish I never went to Uni, it’s definitely a dark part of my life that I don’t like to think about, but I guess it’s also helped me become the person I am today. After dropping out I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I went back to my job as a catering assistant and fell into a depressive routine. You don’t always realise you’re depressed. I was eating well, exercising and I could hide my feelings from my friends and family pretty well. No one knew, or that’s what I think anyway. My depression had really taken hold of me by this time and I was coming home crying most nights after work not really knowing why. So I quit my job, took a month off and I guess I was trying to find ‘myself’. Well I didn’t find myself but I did find David and I landed myself a new job on our first date. Two birds, one stone.
At this point in my life, coffee had sparked my interest. So I found myself in the cute little cafe/coffee shop on Whiteladies called Brew. I spent about 2 years there learning and growing my knowledge about coffee. During this time my interest in anything artistic had completely gone out of the window. Years of telling myself that a creative career would never happen and is extremely difficult to get into, I succumbed and decided that coffee would be my calling. I liked my job, I got to drink coffee and got to meet such a varied amount of people. But once I got home I would be tired and in a foul mood. I’d lash out, say horrible things and blame it on ‘only having a certain amount of happiness for the day.’ But that’s complete bollocks, that’s depression. I was living with David by this point and things only got worse.
Now depression is different for everybody. I like to think of mine as a little devil on my shoulder whispering things into my ear constantly. I would hear ‘You’re rubbish at your job’, ‘No one likes you, you have no friends’, ‘Even your own boyfriend doesn’t love you, who could love you’. You add fuel to the fire by drowning it out with alcohol or drugs, but that only makes it worse. This is another very dark point in my life that I try to black out. Things got really bad between David and I, it was affecting my job but I couldn’t go on like this anymore. I went to the doctors, got some counselling. With this ‘changed’ me; I decided hospitality wasn’t for me and still thinking I wanted a job in coffee, somehow I wangled myself a job at Extract.
I started Loof in 2016, I was still working at Brew at the time. The main inspiration came from when we visited Amsterdam, and found this secluded florist selling these small cute terrariums and I just had to have these gorgeous indoor gardens in my life. That’s when I realised no one was making or selling terrariums in Bristol.
It was just a bit of fun to begin with making some for the flat, and then selling to friends and family. The more I got into creating these small worlds the more I wanted to know more about them. I began to study how to make them, the plants you need and how to look after them. And I’m continuing to learn so I can give you the highest quality product I can give. Things really start to fall into place when I was invited to my first market, which was held at Harts Bakery in Sep 2016. From that market onwards I knew this is what I wanted to do. I enjoyed it so much that I knew I needed to focus on it a little more.
I built this business from nothing, just a glimmer of hope and whatever money I had spare in my bank account. Nothing has made me more happy and proud of myself than starting this brand. There’s so much that I envision for Loof and I’m so excited for future projects. But also terrified, but that’s kinda the fun of it. And here we are, new brand, new website and collaborations with some fantastic artists.
I have to give David a large portion of credit, as it was his idea for me to start the business. If it wasn’t for his love and support I would never have the confidence to do this. I’ve also got the support of family and friends but it absolutely terrified me when I had to tell them I was quitting my secure job at Extract so I could focus on this adventure. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support from everyone.
I’m still struggling with my depression but creating Loof has really helped me to become a person a younger me only dreamt about. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be running my own business but getting to do things I love on a daily basis. As I get older I realise I want to be doing something that’s fulfilling with my life, creating work that people enjoy and experiencing new things. And there’s no time like the present.
I really hope you enjoy following my journey and hope to inspire people on the way.