Sunday, 19 May 2013

Giving up the day job

I have recently had cause to think about what my work means to me, and when I found myself saying "It's not about the money", I had to really consider what I meant.

Actually, it is about the money, as this is my livelihood and the only way I can earn the money I need to pay my way. When I moved to Cornwall five years ago an unexpected change of circumstance meant that I found myself in a position of having to re-establish my financial independence. Within the space of a year I went from working at a well paid job teaching adult literacy, to planned non-employment with a partner, to being on my own again, but this time as carer to my dear mum.

I've always been a creative/maker and so thought I would try to start earning some money by selling my work at local craft fairs. After a few disastrous episodes including my display taking flight at an outdoor fair, fairs with no advertising and no visitors, and my table collapsing, I started to find my feet with fairs that combined Vintage and Craft.

Gaining confidence, I took my work into a couple of shops in town, and was delighted to be accepted by 'Two Little Birds' and 'Tyto' boutique. Although these two shops have now closed, I am indebted to them for believing in my work. I was also delighted to be invited to sell at Avellana Crafts in Mevagissey. I opened my shop on Etsy and really began to sell.I now also have shops with 'Two Red Trees', 'The Honesty Shop' and 'Not On The High Street'.

In August 2011 I joined Studio 47 in Redruth, which later moved to Heartlands Cornwall and became the Fourseven Collective

Now I recognise what my work really means to me, and it is about more than the money I make when my work sells. It's about the story behind every purchase: the set of three earrings I sent to Canada as opening night gifts for a musical production of 'The Secret Garden'; the 'Joy' pendant sent to the States for the baby shower of a Christian singer; the 'Bright Dream' locket that was a present for a music teacher.

It's also about being able to create my own business and support myself through my creativity, and to know "I did that". That's satisfying. I'm also having to learn a heck of a lot about selling, both in actual shops and on-line, and about being a professional. 

But most of all it's about being part of a community, especially with Fourseven Collective. To be part of a group of artists/makers here in Cornwall, and to run the shop at Heartlands with them is probably the best thing I've done since I moved here, as far as my work is concerned. We have been open just over a year now, and I'm looking forward to a fabulous summer. Rather than 'giving up the day job', I have created my own job, except it keeps me busy morning, noon and night, rather than just the day!