Have you heard of Not On The High Street? I absolutely love it, always have done from the day my husband first bought me a necklace from 'Posh Totty Designs.' Holly Tucker co-founded that company with Sophie Cornish in 2006. She later started Holly & Co, a curated advice and inspiration platform, launching in 2017. A company dedicated to supporting and mentoring small creative businesses (like Caterpillar Cross Stitch!) When I read that she was hosting a 'day of inspiration and advice like no other' I knew I just had to go!
So, on Friday 28th September 2018 I drove many, many miles down to Syon Park, London to attend the 'Congregation of Inspiration.' As I exited the carpark and started to walk (OK, a mini jog as I wanted to get inside and bag my spot ASAP) through the gates, the sight that greeted me was more than even I (Mrs High Expectations) could have hoped for. The coloured boardwalk, inspirational signs up everywhere and THAT balloon arch of dreams.
As a little girl, I loved Art Attack. Do you remember that kids TV programme? I made my parents go out each week and source all of the bizarre DIY items so I could spend that weekend elbow deep in paper mache, mosaics, thread and paint. I simply loved creating (and selling). I used to give my sisters head massages for £1 per minute, sell hand decorated photo frames, biscuits I'd baked that day and wash any car that was even remotely dirty.
Yet somewhere along the line, after years of hard work, I ended up as a solicitor at 25. But deep down in my heart I knew I had to answer the call to create. As Holly's jacket embroidery on the day proclaimed 'Creativity is my Religion!' I want to design, sell and do good! So a few months after having my first child, I decided this was the time to take action and start something I love and can build year on year. Cross stitch is known as a 'slow craft' and having read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my daughter day in day out, I realised the slow process through which a butterfly is created reminded me of finishing a beautiful cross stitch piece and alas, Caterpillar Cross Stitch was born a year later.
The day with Holly & Co started with one of the best cappuccinos I've had in a long time (and we all know I like my coffee) and some networking during which I met some incredible small business owners. We were handed our 'Small Business Bibles' and sent into a room that looked like it had been professionally decked out for a festival wedding!
We heard from Selfish Mother herself, Molly Gunn of the Fmly Store (who has donated nearly £1M to charities over the years) and Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company whose intelligence beamed while her wit had us in stitches (PS. she's also a cross stitcher!)
Emily Coxhead (check out her enviable 'gram here) who created The Happy News, adding 'sunshine to people's lives' spoke about her journey and managing social media. We learnt about the creative brain, growing a brand, social media and finding a work/life balance.
Some of the snippets I took from the amazing day include:
True sense of success and fulfilment comes from being able to be your true self as your job. If you can get up everyday and do what you love as your career and you can sustain a life this way - this is true success. This is the Good Life.
Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.
I solemnly swear to follow the wildest of dreams, to build a business I truly love, to build a business with purpose and happiness, to be good, do good and feel good.
Thanks for visiting and happy stitching!