I started my first little business 20 years ago. And as unlikely as it sounds it was selling painted stones. It was called Stone Me and it was the beginning of an adventure that I started because I had such a strong desire to be my own boss and to build my own business. I was in my early twenties, and although I didn't have much confidence, I was full of energy and love for my little stones.
[pic above: me with my stall, sponsored by the Prince's Trust, at the Cheshire Show in June 2000. Martin Bell OBE popped over to say hello on one of the days! Look at all those stones!]
I travelled all over doing networking events and business training, I had stalls all the time including ones at massive events including the Cheshire Show and the Southport Flower Show and I worked really hard getting out there and building a reputation for Stone Me.
[pic above: My front page appearance in Warrington Worldwide magazine in August 2001 and a promotional postcard I used from about 1999]
And then I got a permanent teaching post. Followed by a mortgage. Eventually followed by children and painted stones faded away for more serious pursuits. I have always continued to have some form of creative freelance work alongside my teaching because the urge was always there – be it photography, fine art and even cake decorating – so to finally take the leap into pursuing my own creative work again full-time a few years ago felt like something I had been waiting a long time for.
But lately, the responsibility of this has weighed heavy on me. It's not too long ago that I went 'all-in' just on my artwork (rather than selling mainly craft based work to make my income) and this involved some massive financial risks (and sacrifices!) for my family to cope with leaving me feeling extremely guilty a lot of the time!
I felt a bit lost. And when I should have been working harder than ever I seemed to slow down. I needed to find that energy again, the love and belief in my own art work and where it could take me. So, I went back to my roots. I went back to where it all began and I painted some stones – and I loved it :)
It reminded me to find the joy in my work again, and reminded me what it was like back then with a whole world of possibilities in front of me. And then I also realised that they fit perfectly with my current mission – about celebrating uniqueness and ordinary joy. The beauty of the painted stones is that each one is different and it's the lumps and bumps and often imperfections in them that suggest the painting that should bring it to life. Every one is different, every one worth celebrating – just like us!
So, here we are, 20 years after I first started. And I am relaunching 'Stone Me' as part of my current work – to remind myself to work hard, have belief in myself and to be excited about the path ahead. And to remind us all the it's our own lumps, bumps and imperfections that make us unique and amazing!
Things have come full circle. And I think I like it.