I spent a lot of the past few days travelling across Europe so that I could teach a photography workshop at Scheepjes HQ. As is often the case when I travel, I feel a huge urge to write and this weekend was no exception. Sat on a train, bound for the airport, I stared thoughtfully out the window at frost covered fields, blanketed by mist. My mind was sifting through memories that I'd formed with an impressive group of female designers. As always I was enormously struck by the power we hold when we invest in one another.
I consider myself very lucky to have worked my way into a position that I can collaborate with multiple brands and business owners who believe firmly in the power of women and work with them to remove any barriers to their success. Over the past five years I've interviewed 100's of female creators and spoken in front of many rooms full of women determined to shape their own story. Each time, the women who truly impress me the most are those who lead the way.... and bring others with them. These are the women I seek out first when I'm looking for new opportunities or find myself in the position to offer opportunities to others too. If I've noticed you raising up others, I figure you're the kind of person I want to bring good things to.
There is a lot of people offering business advice out there. They tell me what I'm doing wrong online. They tell me the social media I should be using. They tell me the methods I should be using to reach astronomical levels of followers. For the most part I ignore them and choose story and relationships over strategy every time. For me, when I remove the personal, I remove so much of myself that it's not my business anymore. What's more, I don't feel like I have any real people around me anymore.
The incredible thing that has happened from this decision is that I have a healthy stream of work. Sure, there's been times I've feared whether or not I will make rent some months. I am, after all, a single parent and need to earn the equivalent of two parents whilst still making sure my daughter feels she has enough love and attention from me. However, I have now reached a point where I can work with some of the best women in the business because I value what they do. It's not always easy to carve out and establish your place in an online world but it is possible. What's more, we can make our businesses work without trampling over one another to grab an opportunity.
When we host our businesses online we can often fall into a trap of comparing ourselves unfavourably to others. We can experience a fear of missing out or being left behind. Dare I say it, we may even feel resentful and jealous of others seemingly effortlessly won success. Stopping for a moment though and reflecting on the valuable alliances we have formed and the way we have shaped our lives through the hands we held and doors we opened on the way? That's a pretty powerful thing. I will often decline an invitation to work for free in return for exposure. Yes I believe my skills should be valued but mostly I fear for the next woman behind me trying to earn from her online life too.
So after a weekend of observing the loving nurture women can bestow on one another and how it has boosted their potential earnings, I am minded once again to take stock, be thankful for my girl gang and say, if you're reading this and trying to workout how to make it all work running your own business? You've got this and we're right behind you. Hold hands. It's the happier path xx