Welcome! Before you get comfortable - I have moved! Please come over to my new place, Do What You Love

Monday, 31 May 2010

Making your creative business fly (advice from a woman who knows)

Today’s Do What You Love interview is with Kathy Heslop, an incredible woman who has lived many lives already, as professional musician, nautical globetrotter and serial entrepreneur who has seen multi-million dollar success for her creative businesses. She also happens to be one of the funniest women I know.

British by passport, half Scandinavian and a NYC/London girl by heart, Kathy was once a professional violinist, working with UK orchestras, theatre and opera companies. She was the first female electric violinist to perform at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and co-wrote the trailer music for the movie Notting Hill. In 1998 Kathy co founded the digital recording studio Serious in London with her polymathic husband David. Within a year it had morphed into a digital publishing company and by the summer of 2000 they had moved to New York City to open a sister office. Serious went on to win multiple awards and employ over seventy staff with three offices worldwide, (London, NYC & Singapore). In late 2007, Kathy and her husband sold their stake in the company and moved back to the UK. They have since founded a boutique management consultancy in London and also operate a software development company. They consult to clients across the entertainment, sports, technology, food and beverage, celebrity and lifestyle sectors, and Kathy specialises in helping companies establish brand identity and market position.

Here Kathy shares some very valuable insight and practical commercial advice for those of you trying to start or grow your creative business…

What is the most important thing for entrepreneurs to remember if they really want their creative business to fly?
Well, firstly, if this is you dear reader – congratulations, you have the privilege of having a vocation. Lucky! Even more so if you have mastered flexible working hours to achieve a good work-life balance too. And what great timing you have. Many consumers are returning to an appreciation of quality workmanship and individuality over the mass produced and manufactured, and are rebooting their values and choices in life. So crafting can now become a career. Plus we are living in this amazing networked ‘global’ village with its opportunities and new markets. You no longer need retail real estate, your brand can be virtual and if you’ve got something unique on offer too - you can potentially transcend all borders. On top of this, social media has also created the open source movement, so it’s now easy to join or build communities that share creative information and expertise, and these types of like minded communities are all potential ecommerce customers for you.

... However, drunk as it is easy to be on the fantastic opportunities available today, sober consideration needs adding to the mix too, because if you are serious about making the leap from hobbyist to professional ‘doing the thing you love,’ a leap of faith alone will not be enough. I don’t need to touch upon the sources for creative inspiration here, (ideas, self-belief, listening to and caring about your audience, finding support etc), because this blog is all about the concept that you can build positive relationships whilst doing something you love, and it is already attracting like-minded souls, cruising by full of ideas and encouragement. However, may be where I can proffer help is to add some science to your art, to help you monetise your dreams. 

Whether you’re a sole trader or thinking of starting a company, creativity needs to be twinned with enterprise if your ideas are going to be viable. Building and running a business, be it a boutique independent or a multi-million pound retailer, demands organisational control. It also takes patience and dedication, so if you are a start up, you are going to need other means of financial support during this period because most businesses don’t bear fruit for a long while. Then factor in that we’re all still bruised from the global recession, which is mooted to turn into a depression before the year’s out (SHEESH!) so it's looking like further battening down of the hatches and 'frugal innovation’ might be ahead. 

So my advice to any creative entrepreneurs is: if you want your business to support you and ideally fly, you’re going to need to keep your feet on the ground first and address some key business skills. With this in mind I’ve made a potted 'practical' list below based on my own personal experiences. This could be modified and translated across any kind of business, so take from it what you need and I hope that it brings a little bit of insight and guidance:

 • Observe the current market place. Credit is tight and access to funding is tough, this could be a growth barrier to certain types of business.• Refine your business plan and don't lose track of your main goals.
 • Test the market to see if there is demand for your kind of products, if not, rethink, modify and re-test.
• Adopt key performance indicators (KPIs) to make sure that everything is on track (eg. how many jobs need to be being pitched on and worked on at once, what’s in your pipeline, what’s the level of enquiries you’re getting?)
• Build a financial plan – start with the end game in mind and identify stages to get there.
 • Make sure you have a cash base to cover a reasonable period of run rate.
 • Know your P&L (profit and loss). Figure out your time management to pricing policy ratio, (but not solely on how pricing impacts your bottom line, but also think about the perception that your pricing gives about the quality of your products too).• Keep admin costs to a minimum (always!)
 • Make sure you are in the right role and if not, partner with, or hire people to cover those areas. (For example, if you’re not financially minded, get help there so that you can focus on other areas of the business that you are better suited to. And don’t just hire nodding dogs either, hire better than yourself!)• Work out your branding and messaging, how does this reflect your business’ ethics and authenticity, customers care nowadays
 • Think about whether you need to protect your intellectual property and if so, how?
 • Plan how to promote to, acquire and then retain customers.
 • Think about potential lateral revenue streams that can help support your business – could you teach, write for example? Start building your profile so that new eyes are always finding you so and you can begin to establish yourself as an industry expert. This may give you the cachet to attract commissions, speaking engagements, press or even spin off opportunities to contribute to or write columns and articles. So think about the kind of supporting content you can be creating alongside that will help get your presence and brand equity across all promotional platforms; online, print, radio, TV. Especially think about how this content can be syndicated across online mediums: (blogs, podcasts, webinars, video). It’s so easy to distribute nowadays and content is king!
• Get advice. A business will drown you if you don’t get the technicals and fundamentals right.

However if you think that any of this means selling out as an artist, then seriously don’t do it! Keep your passion as a hobby. Once you have skin in the game and your income is dependent on your creativity, stress can be one helluva passion killer!

What do you wish you had known when you were 20?

• I think I would have been amused to have known that New York would eventually play a big part in my life. I already had a huge passion for Jazz and for some reason I always felt a tremendous magnetic pull across the pond. It would have made utter sense to me.

• Yoga. It took me reaching the end of my twenties to try it and I was hooked immediately. Many musicians suffer with repetitive strain injuries and back in those days, tuition revolved solely around the sound you made, but with little thought as to whether the technique involved might be causing potential long term damage to one’s body. I took Alexander Technique lessons which helped, but I think Yoga would have been a highly beneficial counterbalance to the long hours of playing that have subsequently lead to some permanent knots in my left shoulder worthy of a Baden Powell badge!
• I wish the Internet had existed. Oh to have had this amazing asset then! My fellow Generation X-ers and I have been so cheated.

• That Scandinavian straight hair is best left au natural. Acid ‘corkscrew’ perms are called acid for a reason

• that life is a blank canvas stretching out in front of you at that age, so crack on with making it super colourful and interesting. My canvas has been, but could probably have done with some sketching of ideas first. It’s definitely been a Jackson Pollock so far; colourful, random and in a myriad of directions!

In the next post, Kathy answers the following questions:
  • How do you keep believing in yourself when things go wrong, or don't turn out how you wanted them to?
  • What is the most insightful or inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you, and who said it?
  • If you had no fear, and if money was no object, what would you do?
  • What spontaneous thing have you done that seemed random at the time but made sense later, or was instrumental in putting you on the path you are on today?
  • Where is your favourite place in London for sitting and dreaming about stuff?
Read part two of this interview here

Be inspired by more Do What You Love interviews here

Have you signed up for The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap yet? If not, check it out, sign up and get spreading that love!  Closing date for signups is this Wednesday June 2

We've already got people signed up from three continents, and you could have a lovely piece of handmade gorgeousness dropping through your mailbox soon...

Friday, 28 May 2010

The perfect cup of tea

Historically there have always been a number of major differences between the North and the South of England - dialects, industries, weather, and the big divider - how we make our cups of tea!

"To gain optimum ambience for enjoyment of tea aim to achieve a seated drinking position in a favoured home spot where quietness and calm will elevate the moment."
The Royal Society of Chemistry 

Being a Southerner living in the North, and someone who drinks eight or nine cups a day, this has long fascinated me.  The version of tradition I know tells it like this, although it is always the subject of hot debate and I am sure there are others who would disagree...

In the South you put the milk in first, then add the tea.  This is apparently because in the olden days while the landed gentry used delicate porcelain, these who couldn't afford it used cheaper china which cracked if boiling water was poured straight in. 

In the North you put the tea in first, usually into a mug, because "how do you know how much milk you need until you see the colour of the tea?".  Fair point.

On the train going between the South and the North the tea is just dodgy.

And you can even buy different versions of the same tea brand depending on whether you live in the South and have soft water (makes bubbles more easily), or live in the North and have hard water.

And the scientific world is divided: The Royal Society of Chemistry says 'milk in first' but the Royal Society of Physics says 'all that matters is the temperature of the water'.

Whoever thought there would be so much to think about!

This is my receipe for the perfect cup of tea:

1) Boil the water and put a bit in the teapot and a bit in your cup to warm it up.  Swirl it round the teapot and the cup so they are hot, pour that water away. 
2) Put 2-3 tea bags in the pot (best is a mixture of Earl Grey and my favourite PG Tips which makes for easy-drinking sophistication - don't knock it until you have tried it!)
3) Pour in boiling water, put the lid on and swirl it around.  Leave it for 2-3 minutes while you get your biscuits out of the tin or cut your slice of cake :-)
4) Pour a good splash of milk into the cup then add the tea - I like it about 1:5 milk:tea
5) Sip and say 'ahhhhh'

I like mine in a plain white mug, strong but with lots of milk so it is a caramel colour, best drunk:
  • first thing in the morning with the birds singing outside the window
  • with a bacon buttie after a long bike ride
  • in the afternoon with a piece of carrot cake and a good book
  • in a tea shop with a friend, served with lashings of laughter
  • at the kitchen table with marmite on toast after a night out
From my travels I am also partial to a bit of Japanese roasted tea, sweet mint tea from Libya and Morocco, bitter Rooibos from South Africa, mate from Argentina, spicy chai from India, smoky Lapsang Souchong from China... the list goes on, but that's a discussion for another day. 

Tea goes well with good conversation. What's your favourite and how do you like it? 

Have you signed up for The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap yet?  If not, check it out, sign up and get spreading that love!

We've already got people signed up from three continents, and you could have a lovely piece of handmade gorgeousness dropping through your mailbox soon...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Join The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap!

Drum roll please...

Welcome to the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap*!  I would like celebrate my discovery of just how fun and easy it is to make stitched postcards by inviting you all to join in and post a bit of stitch love around the world!  And you don't even need a sewing machine.  Here's how it works. It's easy peasy.

1. You sign up by emailing your postal address and blog link to me at bethvnicholls at googlemail dot com (you are very welcome to join, wherever in the world you live). Please also leave a comment below, and  tell everyone you are joining in! The deadline for this is Wednesday June 2.

2. Add the blog button to your site, tell all your friends you are doing it and encourage them to sign up - the more the merrier!

3. You create a lovely postcard using anything you want including a bit of sewing or hand stitching, with the theme 'TIME'.  Use images, words, any kind of media.  Go crazy!  You have three weeks to do this from the sign-up deadline, so by Wednesday June 23. 

4. By this time I will have emailed you the address of someone else in the group to post your postcard too.  Please post it within the following week.

5. By the end of June you should have received your handmade postcard from somewhere else in the world, bringing with it some stitched love to warm up your day

6. Take a photo of it and post it in the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap Flickr Group, and on your blog if you have one

7. All postcards and blog links will be featured on the special Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap page, which will be archived

8. Check out everyone else's lovely creations, pat yourself on the back for your own and feel the kindship of being part of the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap!

Happy days!

* Thanks to Stella and Monica for the inspiration, and to Cathy for the advice

UPDATE JULY 2010: The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap has now closed.  Thanks to everyone who joined in and made it so much fun!  See our Flickr Group here for everyone's gorgeous creations!  Check back in October when the project will open again

Monday, 24 May 2010

I did it!!!

You guys rock!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Seriously, I cannot believe how generously you shared your advice to help me get over my first-machine-use-phobia.  And I think you cured me!!  I started off with baby steps as advised by the lovely Anne at Craft Gossip Sewing, and then I realised how much fun it was, and just started whizzing along! 

Look what I made, thanks to you (and I surprised myself that I actually don't care they are all wonky)...

Stitched postcards...

A four-weeks-at-a-glance wall planner with interchangeable pockets (red thread inspired by Rebecca Sower - thanks for the intro Stella)...

A journal (thanks Lorrie - remember the little heart?)...

And some other bits and pieces too.  I am now officially in love with my sewing machine.

And I love all the blog and website links you shared.  So inspiring and lots still to check out. 

Did I say thank you SO much!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Sew girl sew!

Is it just me or she beautiful, this shiny new birthday present of mine?
In fact, she is so beautiful, I am too scared to plug her in.

I so want to make gorgeous things.
But I haven't the first clue how to use her.

I have a pile of fabric. And ribbon. And some buttons.
But I might break my beautiful machine when I try to stitch them all together.

So I bought a book, like I always do when I'm stuck.
And another, like I always do when I'm still stuck.

I now have eleven books on sewing.
But I still don't know where to start. 

It's like I need to know everything before I can make anything.
I don't know how much is enough.

Please help me!
Any inspiring sewing blogs, project ideas, mixed media artists using stitch, you name it, I want to know about it. Do you have a story about how you learnt to sew?  I want to hear about it!

Just a little bit more knowledge.
And then I promise to plug her in.

And the winner of the last little giveaway of the magic artist's soap is... Louise of Dream Create Inspire!  Please send email your address (and any sewing tips!) and I will send it to you sharpish

Friday, 14 May 2010

Random acts of generosity (part 2 of 2) + giveaway!

Following on from my previous musings I did a bit of research...

What is generosity exactly? Giving time? Money? Things? Attention? Encouragement? Emotional availability? Some say it is an essential human virtue.

Apparently Bill Gates thinks “Antiquated ideas of kindness and generosity are simply bugs that must be programmed out of our world. And these cold, unfeeling machines (his computers) will show us the way”.  I hope he was joking when he said that.

I prefer the words of Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran who said “Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.”

The word ‘generosity’ derives from the Latin ‘generosus’ which means ‘of noble birth’, but since the seventeenth century it has become more closely associated with ‘a nobility of spirit’. I like this definition: 'the virtue of giving good things to other people, freely and with abundance’.

According to Frank Howard Clark real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. We have a long history of random acts of generosity – from giving secret valentines to outpourings of support in the aftermath of a natural disaster to people we’ve never met, and probably never will. 

Apparently over $6 million has been ploughed into scientific research about the nature of generosity by the University of Notre Dame’s ‘Science of Generosity Initiative’, and even Oprah has a word to say on it.  According to this article in O Magazine, "Simply contemplating generosity boosts your immunity. When Harvard students watched a film about Mother Teresa tending to orphans, the number of protective antibodies in their saliva surged; when the students were asked to focus on times when they'd been loved by or loving to others, their antibody levels stayed elevated for an hourand People suffering from chronic pain report decreased intensity, and less disability and depression, when they reach out to others in similar pain. In one study, pain was reduced by 13%”. 


In this short video Suze Orman has some interesting words to say about the connection between generosity and values and how, if we are so busy clinging on to what we have, our hands are not open to receive. She argues that the act of giving forces you to open your hands to be ready to welcome other things in.  Some would argue that that means we are giving only to receive, but I get where she is coming from - and without willing recipients, it is hard to give.

Random acts of generosity make me smile.  I'm going to do them more often 

And here are some of the random acts of generosity I have found on the web, sharing the love, just because…


So, in the spirit of generosity, what will be my gift to you? Well seeing how much fun the last giveaway was, I am going to do another one. This time the prize is some magic soap 'The Masters' Savon Special Artiste', which cleans anything off your hands after painting – oil, gouache, ink, acrylic, whatever. I bought it from this lovely little ancient art supply shop in Paris. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment below, saying what generosity means to you, or sharing a link to some other generosity out there on the web.

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Albert Camus

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Random acts of generosity (part 1 of 2)

There is something very special about receiving a gift in the post. The excitement of not knowing what is in the parcel when it lands with a thump on the doormat. The anticipation as you peel back the crackling brown paper, and reveal a hidden chunk of thoughtfulness, wrapped in a pretty paper. Thus was my delight when this treasure dropped through my letterbox from the adorable Danielle over at Le Petit Studio.

This gorgeous handmade token of friendship had winged its way from Canada across the seas to me, here in England. Thank you Danielle, for creating something so lovely, and for sharing it so generously.

Which got me thinking about random acts of generosity. I am continually blown away by how kind and generous people (often strangers) are, for no particular reason at all. I will give you an example. 

When I was in Paris recently, I wandered into this working art studio for a bit of a nosey, and the lovely owner Marie invited me to stay and take a sculpting workshop for free. You can imagine the smile on my face as I sat moulding cool squidgy clay, listening to the quiet chatter of the others in the class, as they talked about how sculpting has calmed them, how Paris has changed in the past 50 years, how they dream of their own studios.  And all whilst indulging in homemade fruit cake.  Ahhhh bliss.

Silently hugging myself at my good fortune, I made the one on the left (be gentle, it was my first ever attempt at sculpting!)

I would love to be able to say I also made this gorgeous creation below, but that was the result of two months' hard work by my new classmate Muriel. 

This reminded me of one of the most incredible random acts of generosity I have ever received, when I went to live in Yamagata, a mountainous area in the north of Japan.

When I first moved to this remote snowy place, I had temporary accommodation for a couple of weeks but no place to stay after that. One day after work, I headed to the station to catch my train 'home' but missed it by a couple of minutes, and there was not another one for an hour. Hearing smooth jazz wafting over from a nearby cafĂ© like steam off coffee on a cold day, I wandered over to wait it out in 1920s America. I was stood at the bar soaking up the atmosphere when the lead singer of the jazz band took a break and came over to get a drink. Her name was Kyoko, and she was a tiny ball of energy, with crazy curly hair like no Japanese woman I had ever seen, with kind eyes and an infectious smile. We got talking and within ten minutes she said “why don’t you come and live with me and my husband (Adachi, the bass player)?” Well, I thought, why not?

And so began an incredible adventure, living for free with this wonderful couple, in their house with a jazz studio and cocktail bar where we would host parties for all the foreigners within 50 miles, entertain jamming sessions twice a week and I would wake up on a Sunday to the sound of the grand piano. Ten years later Kyoko and Adachi are still like family to me, they still play jazz, pass beers round and open their sliding doors to new friends with an openness which is quite astounding.

Two of the most generous souls I know.  I wish you could meet them.

Random acts of generosity part 2 to follow shortly (with a giveaway!)...

What random acts of generosity have you experienced recently?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lighting your entrepreneurial fire

If you want to put a rocket under your ideas and ambition, start or grow your own business or revolutionise your current business, and make your own choices and your own money, then you need to meet Danielle LaPorte. She is one white hot woman.  She made me think differently about aspects of my own business, and I wanted to share some of her magic with you.

(photo courtesy of Anastasia Photography)

Do What You Love interview: DANIELLE LAPORTE

Danielle is the creator of, and has brought out a new digital book, THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS, which helps entrepreneurs rock their career with integrity, audacity and their truest strengths. Danielle is a former news show commentator, and director of a Washington-DC think tank, where she managed a team of analysts studying global trends for the likes of the Pentagon and the World Bank. She is the lead author of the Amazon bestseller, Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design, and has been featured in Elle, Vogue Australia, Body + Soul, The National Post, Entertainment Tonight, and The Huffington Post.

 Here she gives us insight and some awesome advice.
1) At a time when we are just starting to come out of a global recession, you are encouraging entrepreneurs everywhere to blaze their own trails and set the world on fire. Why is it important and how does it feel to you?
Because liberation and self reliance are amazing things. Because cubicles are hell. Because the system is broken.  If you want to make lots of really good stuff happen, then that’s really exciting—for all of us. If you want to earn a living by doing meaningful things—then that’s exceptional.  This truth is most evident: we entrepreneurs, artists, and change agents define ourselves on our own terms.
Does it get better than that?!

revolutionise_purple_blog2) What do you want to revolutionise with the Firestarter Sessions?
My intention is that people will start heeding the call of their core desires. "Revolutionary" is basing your strategic plans on how you truly want to feel, not chasing external things and hoping they'll make you feel a certain way. "Revolutionary" is using grace as a measurement for success, and generosity as part of your bottom line.

3) What does it take to spark genius?
Hunger. An open heart. Flexibility.

4) What is your superpower?
Listening. I also have a knack for getting people just the right gift. But that goes back to listening...

5) What is the one piece of explosive advice you can give to entrepreneurs trying to transform their dream into a rocking business?
Let ease be your metric. Here's what I mean by that:
Using the "ease factor" as a metric for making right choices is counter-culture, of course. It’s been drilled in to us to work hard. Blue collar, white collar, dog collar—hard work pays off. Pay your dues. Put in your time. Prove yourself. Check the right box. Stay the course. Meet expectations. Train in pain, and then reap the rewards.

Doing what comes easily to you isn’t about shortcuts or cleverness, and it’s certainly not about making mediocrity acceptable. It’s about leverage. It’s about casting your seeds on the most fertile soil. It’s about your best chances for success.

I don't do it if it's not easy. That simple. That fun. That rad'.

Worldwide release of THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS is tomorrow! Sign up now, and set your business world alight

Link love:
You can find Danielle on Facebook, on Twitter @daniellelaporte or on her website

Now over to you...
What do you want to revolutionise? 
What do you find toughest (or what are you most afraid of) about going it alone? 
What do you love about it?  Why is it right for you
Be inspired by more Do What You Love interviews here 

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The time is now

Do What You Love interview: CHRISTINA SBARRO (creator of 'A Field Guide to Now')
In the first of a new series of Do What You Love interviews, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Christina Sbarro, a woman who is on a mission to truly do what she loves.  Christina is all wrapped up in the creation of 'A Field Guide to Now', a book which combines her beautiful writing and mixed media art, stitched together with the love of a community of supporters.  Watch this gorgeous intro to her story here:

Here's what she has to say to you all...

1. What roads have you travelled to become the artist that you are today?
Dirt roads, mostly. I live at the end of a long dirt road in Vermont right now, and the process of coming to this place reflects my journey toward becoming an artist. It hasn’t been straightforward or effortless, and truthfully, I haven’t arrived yet. Right now I’m poised with my little family on the brink of so many things. We’re at a place of possibility. Of reinvention. Of risk. Of opportunity. Who knows where we’ll end up? I have a restless heart. This much I know: being a writer/artist continues to be the only true North towards which the compass of my heart is drawn. And also: I make maps more often than I use the ones already made.

2. How would you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
Intuitive. Passionate. Gutsy. Unconventional. Driven.

3. Who inspires you?At the moment I am inspired by the construction of Jenny Boully’s book: The Book of Beginnings and Endings and by Maira Kalman’s book, The Principles of Uncertainty. Also: TED (Note from Beth: this website sends out 'riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world' - check it out, it's an awesome resource)

My little boys inspire me too, in the moment. I love watching them be in the present effortlessly and entirely. They remind me again and again that there is only this: whatever this moment holds.

4. What energizes your creative spirit?
I’ve found that I am hungry for images at the end of a day working with words. I am drawn to blogs with a beautiful or unusual aesthetic or striking photographs. I am also energized by running (a thing I do almost every day.)

5. Where is the most unusual place you have created art (and what did you create there)?
I bring my notebook almost everywhere. Some of the best art—and by art I also mean words, paragraphs, stories—I’ve ever created has come from boredom: from being someplace and having to wait. I love the challenge of looking then; of listening; of noticing.

6. Why is ‘A Field Guide to Now’ important right now?
This is a book about a life in progress. It is a messy, multimedia exploration of the tangible moments of now and of what lies just beyond; it is about myths and grief and love and loss, and also about windows and ledges and eating figs with honey in the early summer sun. It is a manifesto for living with gusto right now, in the small, ordinary, moments of your life. It is a heart-felt guide for the novice. For those at the beginning of their lives, in the thick of sleep deprivation and responsibility, where uprooting and upending aren’t options. It’s an attempt to get as close to reality as possible. It’s about trying to reach out and grab hold of this life, and to live it with as much awareness and understanding as I can.

Link Love:
Blog: {My Topography: The Shape Of Daily Life}
A Field Guide To Now on Kickstarter 
(Note: Christina is part-financing her dream through the awesome Kickstarter mechanism which allows you to help her bring the book to life, and win delicious rewards for yourself.  If you become a backer now, you’ll be guaranteed a reward as the funding goal has been met~ Every little amount is still enormously helpful, needed and appreciated. This is such an unusual opportunity to be a part of something in progress!)

Thanks so much Christina - can't wait to hold a copy of your book in my hands. 
Wishing you everything you need to keep doing what you love!

Be inspired by more Do What You Love interviews here 

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Looking back, looking forward, looking inward, looking outward

Today I am 32. Tomorrow I will be 33. Pretty old, pretty young, depending on your perspective. Or maybe just right, for me, right now.

It has been quite a year. 

1. I quit my job
Some say change is stressful, I say it is energising, important, refreshing. Quitting my job was hard. It wasn’t a boring, draining, rat-race type office job.  It was an uplifting, challenging experience that taught me so much and I loved it. I had five amazing years at UNICEF, the world’s biggest organisation working for children and children’s rights.It took me to the edges of humanity, introducing me to amazing people shining brightly in the darkest of situations. I travelled the world, venturing far beyond the urban jungle out into the places where life happens for so many.

Photo: Francois d'Elbee

I met children with bare feet, guns, no parents, ambition, hope
I met world leaders, religious leaders, and gang leaders
I travelled with sports stars, famous actors and cabinet ministers
I dined with a prince, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner

I learnt how to shoot a camera,
how to shoot a handmade football,
how to shoot a bow and arrow,
how to shoot an AK47*
*obviously not at people or animals

Photo credit: Francois d'Elbee

We shared childhood games
We shared long bumpy car rides
We shared untold secrets
And we shared our stories

Photo: Francois d'Elbee

I saw pain, beauty, courage, love
I questioned and I listened
I changed and I grew
It will stay with me always

2. I started my own company
Shortly after my last birthday, I finally recognised that although I loved my job, it ate all my time and there were other things I wanted to do. I took the plunge to start my own company and set off in a new direction. It has been a fantastic roller coaster full of unknowns, challenges and new experiences. I love this delicious freedom.

3. I moved house

Enjoying a cup of tea in my new studio in (quite often rainy) Yorkshire

4. I learnt to surf… (well kind of)
(no chance you are getting a picture of that!!!)

5. I watched a moon rise in the Sahara Desert, and welcomed in the new year from the top of a giant sand dune with my man

photo by me, dunes by some mysterious natural phenomena

6. I became an auntie for the third time, and experienced the magic of meeting her the day she was born

Photo: Chris Nicholls

Photo: Chris Nicholls

7. I bumped into my old friend ‘me the artist’ at a mountain retreat in California, and we have been hanging out a lot together ever since

...and much more besides.  I loved it all, and I have a feeling there is a big year ahead. Join me on the journey!

Photo: Francois d'Elbee

When you are in your 30s you are old enough to know better,
but young enough to do it anyway
Bridgette Bardot

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Playing with images

Capturing a fleeting moment in a way which one day will take you right back to that place, the smells, the sounds, the feeling. There is magic in photography. I love taking photos and I think something in me helps me take some sweet shots with the occasional flukey great one, but I don't really know why I like the ones I like, and I know there is so much more to learn. So I have just taken a class with photographer extraordinaire Susannah Conway (as part of the Wish Studio virtual art retreat), learning more about composition, light, and all sorts of other things I never really think much about. I photographed my cup of tea, and then played around with some editing tools. Which one do you like best? And which one do you like least? I'd love to know which and why.

Original photo:

Altered versions 1-12:













I quite like the original photo, but think altered version number 12 is my favourite.  I love the difference in texture either side of the diagonal line, and the pattern in the bottom right corner would make fantastic wrapping paper!

Photography actually runs through my family (right back four generations) so maybe this is just awakening something that has always been there... more on that another day.
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