The very lovely Jane Kent wrote a post just before Christmas about how small businesses have been finding the past year quite hard and I thought she summed it up nicely when she said she felt she had lost her sparkle. I could really relate to this.
Like most freelance creatives I really love my work but like most humans all things are great until there is a bit too much of it. And I think that’s what I have found these past couple of years. Particularly in the Lockdowns and not being able to go away like we usually would it made sense to just keep working and with sales taking a hit, if I wasn’t working I was constantly thinking that I should be! Tiring on the ol’ brain that!
Working from home has its perks but it also means that work is a corridor away making it hard sometimes, for me at least, to switch off completely. There is always something that could be done. I’ve been on a hamster wheel of work and worry and the best thing, which I have realised over Christmas, was to step off the wheel and take a break.
Over Christmas I sat and read (I lovvveeddd Magpie by Eliazbeth Day), watched boxsets and went for long walks without a purpose (although granted my purpose is usually to buy chocolate). I’ve really embraced the art of doing not a lot over the festive period, shutting down those guilty feelings, reminding myself that people do take Christmas off! It is allowed… who knew!? 🙂
This Monday I woke up feeling excited about work again. It feels like it’s been a while and that sparkle that was lost is starting to glimmer again. I’m sure the money panics and ‘not working’ guilt will still creep up again but it is my plan (as of 12.34am on Monday 10th January 2022 when I wrote this) to just… well… give myself a break, in order to keep that sparkle alive.
Wishing you a happy healthy 2022. Hope it’s lovely and sparkly!
This year has been a toughie on small businesses and with the recent announcement of a month long lockdown (grr!) in what is often small business’ busiest month of the year it’s only going to be ever more challenging. That’s why this Christmas I am determined to shop with smaller independent businesses and have wrote a Christmas list of lovely items I’ve got my eye on from these absolute local gems in my current hometown of Stone, Staffordshire.
1. Rogue Boutique
ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST: RITA LET’S DANCE JUMPER
I’m so lucky to have this gorgeous shop on my doorstep. If I feel like a bit of retail therapy going here feels like a real treat! Lexi, the owner also has a new furry friend which makes the whole experience extra lovely. I brought myself a little pick-me-up dress in the last Lockdown to wear whilst, well, watching the telly really. Being local it arrived on my doorstep the next day… what service!!! Thanks Lexi!!! I’ll be back in to say hello as soon as we’re allowed!
ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST: EMMA JOUSTRA JIGSAW, GREETNG CARD AND NEW SUNGLASSES
I love this shop for a mooch around. I brought my sunglasses from here and love them so much have popped another pair on my Christmas list because it’s only a matter of time before I sit on the ones I have; this seems to be the fate of all my sunglasses.
I love that online there is a section for ‘Locally Made’ and I will be popping the Emma Joustra Jigsaw for when (if) me and hubby finish the one we’re currently doing. It’s a toughie, even struggled with the edge pieces. Doh!! I also have my eye on the Emma Joustra Weatherspoon Christmas cards as a little in joke for some friends. Don’t you love that feeling when you find a card that’s just perfect for someone you know!?
I love Bear for a little in between shopping break. I would describe myself as the opposite of cool but going in there makes me feel a little bit hip. The decor is trendy but not intimidating and it has a nice social vibe, YUUSSSSS!!! Give me social in a world where we’re being told not to be please!! All the food, coffees and cocktails have been yummy and it’s my favourite spot in Stone for brunch! Hoping I’ll still be able to pop in for takeaway treats over the next month.
Hands down the best smelling shop in Stone. It’s such a cute little boutique full of beautiful gifts. It’s my go to for birthday cards and I brought my Mum some lovely earrings and diffuser from there for Mother’s Day last year.I see on their Facebook page that they are in the process of setting up a brand new website too so keep an eye on there Facebook page and let’s help their website launch go off with a bang!
This was mine and my hubby’s treat during Lockdown. Their pizzas are A-MAZ-ZING!!! They make it so easy to pick up giving us a time slot to rock up and collect our dinner! For anyone we’ve been lucky enough to see in between Lockdowns we have taken them here and they have all felt the same. Just for some context my most favourite pizza I have ever had was in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, and this comes a close second! Writing this has made me want to order one for dinner tonight [confession: we ordered one Friday; thinking of changing our names to Donatello and Raphael :-)]
ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST: NEW PRINT FOR MY OFFICE, RE-WASHABLE FACE WIPES AND SOAP DISH (ALL OF THE COLOURS – I can’t choose. They’re so nice and as we need to wash our hands more than ever at the moment I figured you can’t have too many.)
I have got to know Hannah, the owner of this gorgeous shop, over the years and boy is she a wonderful artist and hardworking honest lady of joy! Her friendly Instagram stories are a giggle if you want a pick-me-up during this time and she sells the most lovely of things. She’s also recently updated her website and it is FAB!!! Go take a look for a welcoming virtual shop! Stuck for a gift? she’s always on hand to recommend some treats. Also keep an eye out for her Christmas gift bundles. She offered these earlier in the year and they’re sooooo cool! Happy Shopping!
Thanks for reading this. If it leads to just one more sale for any of the above businesses I will be as chuffed as pie and I know how much it means to them as it means so much when people buy from me. These are just a handful of small businesses I am lucky to have on my doorstep and I’d also love to hear about independent businesses from further afield so do drop me a line with any goodies so I can continue my mission to shop small!
Helllloooo ho ho ho! As my diary is starting to fill up with Christmas orders I thought I’d share some hints and tips on creating your own festive portrait to spread some smiles this festive season. Have a go and if you need some advice ping me a message and I’d be happy to help!
What you’ll need…
…Anything you can draw with. This article isn’t about replicating my style but finding your own way with it. This year has been challenging enough on the financial front for many so the last thing I want is to share a list of pricey art stuff you might not use again (although I hope you will because art is fun! :-)).
Soooooo to get started you’ll need a photo of the person you’d like your portrait to be of for reference; I find forward facing snaps the most helpful; and anything you can draw with and on, then you’re good to go! As an optional extra I also recommend a warm drink and a biscuit.
For the purpose of this article I am using some biros I found in a drawer and a back of an envelope to show it’s not all about the fancy art stuff.
When drawing faces I tend to pay most attention to distance between the different facial features. It’s why on a lot of my sketches I have little notes to myself like ‘move eyes closer together’ or ‘shift eyebrow to the left slightly’. With my style I am not looking to get a realistic impression of the person I am drawing but trying to find some likeness. By moving features even slightly this can make a real difference and it means however you draw your eyes, ears, mouth etc. it can help to give some resemblance of the person your are drawing.
Here’s a little example.
On the left is a doodle of the face where the eyes are higher and by moving them down it looks closer to photo of young William. You’ll notice I haven’t drawn the top of the head. This is because I will be popping on a Christmas hat.
HANDY TIP: THE MORE LOW DOWN YOU DRAW FACIAL FEATURES THE YOUNGER A PERSON TENDS TO LOOK.
Own your style
The brilliant thing about art is anything goes. This means if you want to simply have dots for your eyes or opt for a more realistic illustration, whatever you choose for this is your style so be confident with it (or at least okay with it; us artists tend to be modest :-)). The more you draw the more your style becomes more natural. And the less you think about it too.
HANDY TIP: THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE DRAWING IN TERMS OF SHAPES RATHER THAN WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS WHICH CAN SEEM MORE DAUNTING. SEE SAMPLE BELOW:
Make it festive
Let’s start with the body. In this instance I have simplified the style to a semi circle and two lines… Play around with the height and width of the semi circle and where you place the lines to suit the person you are drawing.
Now you have the body it’s time to add some fun festive details to the jumper. This is the time to let your creativity flow; from Christmas Puddings or, the main man, Santa himself there are lots of festive items you could pop on your jumper. Feeling nervous? Why not opt for a simple red and white stripe number or white circles on blue to look like snow. With the Christmas hat these are winning combinations!
Feeling more confident and also like the red and white stripes are too similar to a football team you’re not a fan of why not do a little doodle of a Snowman or a Reindeer. Below are a couple of ideas broken down into shapes again to help you along the way:
I hope that inspired you have a go! I’d absolutely LOVE to see your creations!!! If you have given this a go please tag me in your pics on social media using the handle @greetingsfromsarah or send me a message if you don’t want to show the world. I’ve been doodling professionally for 7 years and still get nervous about showing people my stuff so either way I’d just be very excited to see them.
Oosh this year eh!? What a stinker!! I hope you’re keeping well and adapting nicely to life in Covid times. As the world is beginning to open up a bit more I have had a little reflection on lessons I’ve learnt from owning a business when life throws something unexpected your way and thought I’d share.
1. My customers are awesome!! (…although I kind of already knew this :-))
After the initial 2 weeks of nothingness on the business front I was getting a little nervous about how my business would survive when keeping safe and checking in on loved ones was quite rightly the priority. Then after the initial panic settled some lovely folk who I have worked with previously got in touch about some new projects!! I felt uncomfortable promoting my stuff when the world had gone into meltdown so these wonderful humans allowed me to continue working steadily in the background and I’m so grateful to them. It’s really highlighted the importance of being kind to the people who support your business; they can help keep you afloat when times are hard.
2. Hurrah for Creativity!
It’s been so exciting to see how small creative businesses have adapted during this time. I feel in a very fortunate position that, being a one person band, I can adapt my business when something isn’t quite working or if I want to try a different direction. When things slowed down I started thinking of different offerings that could help spread a little joy at this rubbish time and came up with the idea of Letterbox Portraits. Smaller than my current listings they fit nicely in the post box so would reduce my trips to the post office, they can be sent on behalf of people to spread a little happy to those isolating/shielding and as they’re smaller the cost is less expensive than my other listings to help save some pennies as I know many folk faced job uncertainty.
Due to some sad personal stuff unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to launch my Letterbox portraits but I’ve found it reassuring that you can tap into your creativity to come up with fresh ideas to get the business through a pants time.
3. Don’t sweat the small things
If anyone runs a business they might be able to relate to the sleepless nights of worrying if the product will reach the customer safely, if they will like it and just the general ‘have I forgotten to do something?’. With everything that has happened in the world it made me gain some perspective on this. So I am trying to remember when these little anxieties creep in that there is a bigger picture and whilst it is disappointing if something doesn’t go quite as planned often there is a resolution.
4. It’s okay to take time out
I regularly try to remind myself of this but it has certainly become more apparent as of late; it’s okay to take time out. It makes me nervous that when I’m not present on social media or constantly working that I am failing or work will never start up again. This means I sacrifice time for new ideas, growing the business in the direction I’d like to take it or just having a weekend off with my favourite people. There was/is a general feeling of less pressure as people have had to contend with their own personal challenges this year and I think it’s helpful to to take this forward, remember what’s important and give ourselves a break every now and then.
If you are a small business owner I hope you have managed to ride the storm and are coming out the other side stronger than ever. Has it made you think about things differently? I’d love to hear your reflections on life in Lockdown. It’s nice to know we are all in this together. 🙂