Adventures of An Entrepreneur: Starting Out

So, it’s been just over a month since Wild Strings officially launched to the world and I wanted to start a blogging series about my entrepreneurial ups and downs. Sometimes I find there is a lot of society pressure to pretend that everything is perfect and that you’re always winning, but honestly when is that the case? So, here’s an insight into the world of Wild Strings away from its fashionable roots. All the way through my creative education, tutors and teachers have told me not to throw away work, or remove mistakes, because most of the time they’re simply ‘happy accidents’ and whatever the outcome they show your journey. Now, I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes internally about 90% of the time, but the deeper I get into the running of a small business, the truer I find this to be. In reality, mistakes are what allow you to improve, grow and think outside the box. Mistakes really are just happy accidents – you heard it here first!

Wild Strings launched in June, but in reality, I have been working on the brand since October 2018, and maybe even before then! The first bubble of an idea to sell handmade clothes quickly grew into a decision to make it a ‘proper’ business (I mean if you’re going to do it, you might as well go the whole hog, right?!). When I was working behind the scenes and sat in my spare bedroom creating samples, my focus was completely on the launch of brand to customers, but what I didn’t realise then was that this was my comfort blanket. Relatively few people knew what I was doing, and I was free to have as many ups and downs as I liked! Then launch day came and was hugely successful and for that one day I felt like I’d climbed to the top of my mountain – woohoo!

Launch of Wild Strings by Eleanor held at Dark Woods Coffee in Marsden

What I realise now, is that that success was really a false summit. Don’t get me wrong, I am immensely proud of what I achieved in launching a business, but really, it was only a tiny climb in the (hopefully long) life of Wild Strings! Life as an entrepreneur is a series of small summits, and I’m not really sure if there’s such thing as a peak! The key, in my opinion, is to celebrate those victories, remember to look down and see how far you’ve climbed, look out and see the view, catch your breath, and then look up to see what’s next. For any of you who climb real hills you will know exactly what I’m talking about, and I think business life is pretty much the same!

As I stopped to take in the view, I looked up and was a little floored to be honest. What next? A whole lot….and I wasn’t sure where to start. The comfort blanket was off and I was suddenly an owner, a fashion designer and manufacturer, a marketer, an accountant, a networker, an IT girl, a web designer, a social media guru…I think that’s everything? I know it is the same for many businesses and I’m definitely not complaining but juggling all these roles has been my biggest struggle in the last month, and the mountain I’m still climbing!

Cards with inspirational, empowering quotes

The best thing about this struggle is the people I’ve met and the small business I’ve networked with who have told me it’s okay to feel like that and that they’ve been through that same issue. The support I’ve had from other entrepreneurs has been incredible and it’s so reassuring to hear that successful business have started out in the same place as me, if they can do it, so can I! Most of all, I appreciate their honesty. Before I started networking, I was worried that everyone would keep their struggle to themselves, but it has been the complete opposite, and everyone’s stories of struggle and success have definitely encouraged me to keep pushing!

And the worst? Self-doubt. That old friend…we all do it, we all have him (or her) sitting on our shoulder. I’m pretty sure he asks me if I’m doing the right thing about 12 times a day – and that’s on a good one! I think he’s also really good at turning doubt in to procrastination and then absolutely nothing gets done. The best thing I’ve found that quietens Mr. Self-Doubt is embracing him. Telling him I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing but giving it a go anyway (after all, mistakes are simply happy accidents). I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy, and sometimes he wins but right now, I think we’re about even.

Another thing that softens the cry of self-doubt (and all those other tears, let’s be real), is making time for myself, and those I love. Reminding myself it’s okay to take the night off, yes, that design can wait until tomorrow, yes, I deserve this! I think, especially in this country, we are almost embarrassed to admit that our heads need time to breathe and rest and that actually, that’s okay! This is why I am so excited for this week’s getaway to Glasgow, where I am going to try and do as little work as possible (if I say I’m not going to do any I would be lying to myself and to you) and let my head regroup before the next project – watch this space!