In 2013, I left my teaching job and, with no idea what I wanted to do, set up a website and started offering crafts and some wedding products. I had no clue what I was doing and, as 2014 was drawing to a close, I decided to let one of my crafty projects go.
I carried on through 2015 and stumbled across The Business Bakery's 100 day goal. I set up a new website and bought my domain name (very grown up!) and created a shop on my site along with my Etsy store, which was bringing in more business.
2016 arrived and brought with it huge changes. We moved house and I made the decision to drop all the craft projects completely. No more markets. No more justifying to passers by that I did weddings as well and that was my main business. I panicked. I never brought in a great deal of money from the markets but it did me well at Christmas so I convinced myself that I'd struggle without them.
I was wrong. We moved house and I asked a graphic designer to design a logo for me. He did and it was in blue. I built my brand around that blue and designed my first accessory collection. My cake toppers were selling well on Etsy (they were ridiculously cheap at the time for the amount of work) and I felt that things were moving along.
And then we hit 2017. A year of success in many ways but feelings of utter failure in others. I became a mum after going through a tough adoption process, won an award for Special Touches at the Bristol and Somerset wedding awards and created my second accessory collection. All amazing things.
The downsides to that year? The realisation that my business was going to fail if I didn't make some changes. Taking on too many pieces of advice that I read on the Internet by other entrepreneurs or coaches, who evidently, wanted to get you in to the sales funnel so you would pay up. I remember one woman who did nothing but brag about her "six figure" lifestyle for an hour (why is it always six figures?), showing very little substance of the offer that had been presented for the webinar, just to be followed up with aggressive sales emails about how my business was obviously rubbish as I wasn't taking her course. It wasn't personal, it was an automated email so I just took myself off the list and blocked the ads on Facebook. Job done.
But it wasn't. The realisation that we now had a child to provide for, plus no maternity pay and none of my teaching pay drove me down. I did ok and worked with incredible brides who boosted me up. But I knew that things weren't where I wanted them.
I made the unconscious decision to do what I'm doing now around November last year. It only became a conscious decision two weeks ago though because, like all the other times I've had to make hard decisions, I panicked, doubted myself, questioned everything and tried to justify every reason not to do what I knew I had to. It was time to let something go.
Cake toppers had been an integral and constant part of my business from the beginning. They were my most popular product and everyone who ordered them from me would send back such beautiful appreciative comments that it made my heart swell.
The sad thing is, it's the cake toppers that nearly drove this business down. My numerous sales acted as a buffer and a blindfold from the financial losses I was making. I made the decision to pay myself a wage this year for the cake toppers I made (yes, you read that right. I'd never taken a wage before that as I had just put it back into the business) but all that highlighted was the fact that I didn't charge enough for my time (hello low self-worth - a set of cake toppers was starting to take 7 hours to make) and offering accessories and cake toppers was confusing for my potential customers. I watched the statistics for my website dwindle, over-analysed my stats, questioned EVERYTHING and finally blamed myself.
I strongly believe that to ride out these tough times (all businesses go through them) you need resilience and a plan. And to find your weak points and work on them until they're your strengths. Fail and get back up. Fail again, cry, moan at your husband, blame the universe and threaten to give up. And then reopen the computer, sign up for a course that will actually help you, not lead you down a path of crap advice, learn from inspirational people and listen to podcasts that motivate you and improve your mind set (Andrea Owen's Your Kick Ass Life is my favourite - you'd love her!).
It became a conscious decision when Pete took little one out for the afternoon. He told me not to work, but to take some time. To take a bath and watch TV.
I did. And within one hour, I'd realised that my inner voice had been trying to tell me to do this for a long time. It was time to say goodbye to the cake toppers.
I felt the positive energy flood back in to me and my head felt clearer. I could see a path and, while I hope I haven't made a huge mistake, I feel that this is what I need to focus on.
Elsa Rose Boutique is changing. The new website will be properly set up soon, with no shop on it, but a showcase of my work and a focus on bespoke accessories. I want to create magic for brides like you. I want to create heirlooms that you may pass down to your children because there is that level of detail in them that makes them impossible to get rid of. And I want to help those of you who have the dream of creating your own accessories for your wedding but are doubting yourselves, just like I did. It's the sentimental details that will always sparkle in this business; they're not going anywhere. The passion and dedication have just got stronger and I can't wait for you to join me on the journey.
For this moment, I'm enjoying working on my final cake topper orders, free from a gnawing feeling that something's not right. I may at some point set up a separate Facebook page for them under a different name, we'll see, but it's not the plan for now. I hope you'll support me on this next chapter and, as always, I'm forever grateful for your support.