She has a partner, 3 children and lives in Hastings. Her business is called “my did that”, a company that organises exceptional school art exhibitions.
One minute I was an ambitious hard-working go-getter, the next an idealistic hippy! What happened? Answer: I had children.
I have to admit, this all sounds a bit sentimental and saccharine but I cannot deny, overnight (well it was actually 19 hours of hard labor), the world wasn’t about me anymore, it was about this new little helpless person, and I quickly realized that all the stuff I had thought was important: margins/deadlines/negotiations/shipments etc. etc…… just wasn’t.
I spent 15 years in the fashion industry, working for many companies including M&S and Nike, you could often find me in a garment factory in China, seeking inspiration in Japan or watching Cathy Freeman win Olympic Gold in a suit I helped engineer.
At the age of 35 with nothing in my life except work, I decided that I wanted to live by the sea and set down some roots. Two years later I had a partner, a son and twins on the way! Nothing like packing it in!
A whirlwind of potties, liquidised spinach and A&E visits ensued. The absence of long working lunches, overseas travel, and high adrenaline presentations had no impact on my psyche, there was no hankering. In fact, the thought of going back to a world where the price of a zip was a hotly negotiated topic seemed so futile. Something that had previously defined me, no longer had relevance to the person I was.
I realised I had unwittingly opened a new chapter in my life and my career. The priorities now were to spend time with my children, (no matter how annoying they could be) and to do something that was worthy, which gave something back.
So, just the small matter of finding an occupation that fitted into my new time-table, gave me enough money to stay solvent, enriched my life and wasn’t as boring as sin! Easy!
Quickly it became apparent that I would need to start my own business. “My Did That” grew organically. My son (Stan) had done a painting, my partner (a printer by trade) took Stan’s painting to work, digitally enhanced it, named and titled it, and then popped it into a frame and onto his bedroom wall, to which Stan shouted “my did that”.
Friends commented on the picture and how they would like the same. Things grew little by little and now we work with PTA’s and schools across the country. Paintings done by the children are turned into immaculate, special, named and framed art prints – copyrighted by the artist! These wonderful, inspirational pictures are then showcased in an exhibition in the school for all children and parents to see. 25% of the profits made from the sales of the prints are given to the school or PTA.
Making kids eyes light up, seeing parents proud as punch when they see what their kids have done, makes me feel so much more enriched than selling 1 million tracksuits ever did.
Businesses today, especially large corporations, only consider the bottom line, to the detriment of everything else.
Profits and units sold isn’t what life is about. It’s about making memories, experiences, how much we grow, how we affect other people’s lives, the lessons we learn. And, if I can facilitate keeping hold of a memory/ a snapshot in time/ a treasure/ a keepsake then I have definitely done something worthwhile.