Juggling like an entrepreneur

Are you finding that life gets busier and busier, seemingly by the day?

Since leaving the London job for my beloved businesses & a day job nearer home, I try really hard not to glorify busy – to only say I’m busy if I actually am, and to try and make time to live among the madness.

But lately it has just been constant go, go, go – and everyone I speak to seems to feel similarly.

It’s relentless…

There are our businesses, our day jobs, our evening jobs, our partners / children / parents / pets who both want and need our attention & love. Our friendships old & new, our self care (always slips to the bottom of the pile, it seems) and our basic needs – eating, sleeping, talking to people. And that doesn’t even account for the technology – which seems to chew an enormous amount of time either in mindless scrolling, or fixing the bloody devices when they refuse to work properly…!

We are all constantly keeping too many balls in the air and it is knackering – and probably not very good for us.

My inner multipod has just piped up to say that plate spinning is what she does best – but even a professional plate spinner needs a break every now and again.

Planning ahead

This morning, some sixth sense made me decide to be ten minutes late for the day job so I could put the slow cooker on with a casserole for dinner. Not something I’d normally do (I’m usually running late without any excuses or decisions required!) but OH, how grateful I was to come home to dinner simmering away.

Because today, I:

  • juggled the day job between 9 and 5.15,
  • chatted to a friend about her new kitten on the way to the car park,
  • raced home and spent the last hours of daylight photographing some stationery for a magazine which needs sample images by tomorrow,
  • periodically removed my cats from said photographs,
  • imported & edited & exported the & sent them to the magazine,
  • responded to client & customer emails,
  • Instagrammed for a couple of my businesses,
  • made rice to go with the casserole,
  • put laundry in, hung laundry out,
  • lost a cat and found her on the heated airer (which is a new hiding place but I can’t fault her, it’s nice and snuggly),
  • filled in my bullet journal & tried not to panic at my endless to do list,
  • talked to one of my best friends on the phone and one via Whatsapp,
  • caught up on all the Whatsapp chats I have missed,
  • text my Mum to see how her day is going,
  • fed the cats and cleared up the regurgitated biscuits one of them puked up,
  • all before I had a chance to sit down with my own dinner and read for ten minutes while I ate.

And now I am writing this post.

Luna hiding on the airer | carlawatkins.comHave a picture of Luna on the airer, oblivious to my panic when I thought she’d vanished… 

I have an editing queue a mile long, marketing to do so that my mermaid mini sessions can go ahead, blogging because my head will explode if I don’t get some of these ideas out of it soon, gifts to buy and people to write to, Dadmin to do, life admin to do, bills to pay and a household to keep running. My wardrobe is very much currently a floordrobe.

Like you, generally I don’t mind all of this chaos, because my priorities do not include ironing my clothes ahead of when I need them, and I will always choose cuddles with my cats or writing a blog post over deep cleaning the kitchen or folding my clothes. But it is kind of exhausting always being behind schedule, or like today, remembering once you’ve already locked up for the night that your bins need to be out before 7am.

A reminder that you are brilliant

All of this is a precursor to saying that I think it’s really important, whether you’re a fledgling or a seasoned entrepreneur, to remember to acknowledge just how much you are achieving on a daily basis.

Regardless of what other people think you “should” be doing instead, and regardless of what you think you “should” be achieving, you are doing SO much more than you give yourself credit for.

Even if it doesn’t feel like much, or as much as you’d like, you are doing epically well! And I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that YOU ARE FANTASTIC.

Truly. Even if  most some of the time you feel frazzled, deranged and barely able to face the world.

Plus, you’re in great company!

I’d love to hear your stories of juggling life, business & the rest, and how you manage it – drop me an email and say hi!  And don’t forget to join the Business Soloists club for intermittent emails, and a group of likeminded people on the same mad journey. 

 

 

 

Urban Decay vintage lipsticks | product photography Essex

The lovely folks at Urban Decay sent me these some time ago – I’ve only just now had a chance to share them! In shimmering and unusual shades, they are a little bit rebel and very mermaid…!

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

 

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

 

urban decay vintage lipsticks | product photography by Carla Watkins | commercial photography Essex and Suffolk | carlawatkins.com

 

If you’re looking for product photography for your own work, whatever you make, drop me an email – hello@carlawatkins.com – and let’s talk about beautiful photography for your gorgeous creative business!

Tough love, frustration and action

I’m away with my family in Greece at the moment, and while talking, swimming, resting and generally putting the world to rights, inevitably the subject of my businesses and my working life came up.

Mermaid Kerenza Sapphire swimming in Rhodes | carlawatkins.com

Last month I was granted part time hours for a year, working three days a week until the end of June 2018 – this is mainly because Mum and I have so much to do following the loss of Dad, that it is impossible to do around a full time job and still stay sane.

But… I already know I don’t want to go back full time. The balance of part time is so much better, with work not taking over more than 70% of my days in a week. I know, I know, it’s “only” a nine hour working day, but by the time you factor in getting ready, getting there & back, and then prepping food and keeping on top of housework in the evenings, plus vital things like sleep, there is very little time left for life, business, exercise or wellbeing.

Having aired this a few times, and also the fact that I am frustrated as hell with the recent lack of enquiries for hen parties, my family (Mum, my uncle and my aunt) stepped in to give me some much needed advice – not all of which I wanted to hear!

The main issue is visibility – when people find out what I do they are super excited, but I am not visible enough by a long, long way. To combat this I am looking at all kinds of things – wedding fairs, t shirts to wear when I’m out and about, collaborations with venues, lots of things. Some may come to nothing, but they’re all worth a shot.

Another frustration has been the ideas I have for shoots & great images to use in my marketing, but lack of time to make these happen. So now I am on a mission to make these happen in the next month or so – so I can get my name and my business and my mermaid self out there!

Wise friends have also told me to remember some things: that I am still grieving, and have achieved a tremendous amount despite that; that I have only actually been part time for a month, and the majority of that time has been spent on recovering from near-burnout and dealing with deathmin; and that now is the time to throw myself at it heart and soul, and see how well I can make it work.

I want to build up Ink Drops and also my photography work alongside this, so as ever I will be doing a juggling act. But I work better in every business and in the day job when I am happy, engaged and crucially, not bored… and boredom happens when I’m forced to focus on just one thing.

I have to try. If I can’t make it work to support myself, I’m no worse off in a couple of years’ time – I’ll just find a job to tide me over. But at least I will know I tried!

So… here’s to action, visibility and the madness that may ensue…

 

Building a business: the darker side of mermaiding…

Short but not so sweet today… not one, but two known merverts either friended me, messaged me, asked to join my group for pro merfolk, or a combination of the above in the last 48 hours.

WTF is a mervert, I hear you ask?! Sadly, as in every industry and pastime, there are always a few who spoil it for everyone else – in this case, people who harass mermaids both pro and amateur. Usually starting online, often turning into trying to lure performers into a one-to-one appearance, some of them have police records and some of them are obviously dodgy. Others seem innocent and then turn bad.

Mermaid tails on the sand | Mermaiding UK | ©Photography by Grace Hill www.photographybygrace.co.uk

Fortunately, the forum where mermaids from around the world congregate has a thread detailing proven offenders, so when names I didn’t recognise popped up, I did a check.

And then instantly blocked them from my personal profile, page or both. See how to block someone from your page and how to block someone from your profile (including sending you messages and friend requests) or how to block someone from messaging you on Facebook.

What I learned

Though this is a problem that is probably quite niche to performers, I thought it was worth including a list of warning signs.

Red flags, specifically for Facebook groups, include:

  • being a member of a ludicrous number of groups
  • having no profile picture and/or no friends on Facebook
  • not having anyone in common with you
  • having only mermaids in common with you (replace “mermaids” with whatever your industry specialism is)
  • randomly adding and messaging you when they don’t know you. I am always particularly suspicious when it is a random guy messaging me out of nowhere – it happens in my non-mermaid life, too, but my instincts for genuine questions over weirdos adding me to perv over my tail are usually pretty good.
  • repeatedly messaging the same thing, or emailing your (mermaid) business asking if they can visit or swim with you when you have already declined for whatever reason.

My takeaway lesson is that it is totally ok to trust your instincts – and blocking someone who is making your hackles rise is a much better option than leaving them to it on the off chance they become a paying customer. They are definitely not your ideal clients!

Intrigued? Read my series on building a business, based on my experiences with Mermaiding UK as I rebrand and relaunch it. 

Mindset shift – she’s not my ideal client

Just wanted to record something that happened yesterday, which I felt was a really good marker of how far I’ve come in business mindset since I started out with Ducking Fabulous in 2009.

Popping up to a colleague’s office after a meeting, we got talking to a new starter about my mermaid business, and the shop, and also the hen parties I run. She was intrigued by the niche, and also asked the ever popular question, “what does a professional mermaid actually do?” which always makes me smile!

Another colleague, someone I’ve not met before, then joined the conversation and said her daughter loved the H2O series (me too!), and asked me how much a children’s size mermaid tail was.

I said around £130 – actually they retail at £135 on Mermaiding UK’s shop including UK P&P.

Her face was a picture. She could not believe that people would pay “that much” for a kid’s costume, and it was clear by her reaction and tone that she thought I was quite mad for charging that.

Mindset shift - she's not my ideal client | four mermaids on a beach | carlawatkins.com

Now, while I realise not everyone has the money to spare, and not everyone prioritises mermaid tails as a spending category, there was a time when that reaction would have absolutely crushed me.  I would have taken it as a sign that I was clearly an idiot, doing something stupid, charging too much and obviously doomed to fail. (What do you mean, my inner dialogue is a tad overdramatic?!)

Yesterday, I simply smiled, explained they were good quality, fully swimmable tails with safety features, and suggested she look elsewhere for cheaper ones if mine were too expensive.

She is not my ideal client. 

It really is as simple as that. She either can’t afford, or doesn’t want to spend the money, on the tails I choose to stock – and that is totally ok.

But it was a revelation to me to be able to smile and walk away without feeling devastated.

You can’t please all the people, all the time – and I already know there are people out there who are delighted by the opportunity to buy from a UK based stockist and not have to faff with customs, secure in the knowledge they’re getting a genuine tail from a real mermaid 🙂

Thought the story was worth sharing as I’m sure some of you have similar inner woes on occasion!

Building a business – the early days

You know by now that I’m a multipod – someone who thrives on doing lots of different things, having lots of varying interests, and pursuing more than one thing at once.

My latest venture is a mermaid business, which combines some of my greatest passions with one of my favourite pastimes, and also includes a good chunk of the things I am good at.

My mermaid business first launched in early 2016, but as I’m now in the process of rebranding and relaunching, I thought it would be good to share the story here on my business blog, to track my journey and see how it evolves over time.

Mermaiding UK – the backstory

Mermaiding UK started out in late 2015, formally launching in early 2016, as Run Away Days.

Initially planned as a series of day-long retreats around the theme of running away to the circus, the idea to make it more mermaid-centric came around December 2015, when my own mermaiding enthusiasm was growing & I’d finally met some other mermaids this side of the Atlantic.

By June 2016, I’d wrangled insurance out of a broker, chosen & secured venues, imported tails from Fin Fun (my first attempt at importing, the ups and downs of which I will cover in another post), honed my teaching technique and run two parties, one in a spa and one in a private pool.

Where I am now

Fast forward to early 2017. I’m recovering from the death of my beloved Dad, and wondering how to rehabilitate myself back to real life and a new normal – a normal I will have to build, because I don’t know what my life looks like without him in it.

Mermaids and unicorns, and all things magical and sparkly, have become my signature thing, both at the day job and in my personal life.

Mermaid Kerenza Sapphire from Mermaiding UK in ombre tail | carlawatkins.com

Dad always thought the mermaid venture had legs (fins!). He ran his own business right up until he died, and he adored it – it was his hobby as well as his job – so I think he would approve of this attempt at a healing process.

Why this particular business?

I chose Mermaiding UK as the business to focus on, alongside my stationery joint venture Ink Drops, for several reasons.

Firstly, this year seems to be the year of the mermaid trend hitting the UK in a big way, and it would be silly to miss that – it’s the first time in my life I have ever been ahead of a trend with something I truly love.

It combines so many of the things I love about my businesses – mermaids, crafting, photography, writing, sparkles, colourful photoshoots and a wonderfully Instagrammable, shareable theme.

I get to develop my own skills in something I love, look at taking it further via learning to freedive properly, be my mermaid alter ego Kerenza Sapphire more often, photograph people and products to my heart’s content, make beautiful things, and most exciting of all, make people’s dreams come true. There are a lot of grownups out there who always dreamed of being a mermaid – and I can make it happen!

So what next?

Since Dad’s death, I’ve not really had any heart for anything, least of all the hustle of a new business. But I know that starting & running businesses is my lifeblood, and is very probably the thing that will help me recover and re-learn how to live, without Dad’s physical presence here.

Following my first few events last year, I knew I wanted to make changes to Run Away Days and relaunch, so this seemed like a good time to put that into action.

Watch this space for updates and follow along with the journey – and drop your email in the box below to join the Business Soloists Club and make sure you don’t miss out on any news.


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