Seeking success

Today we have an inspiring guest post compiled by new contributor and photographer Maria Bell. Maria delves into the creative lives of six women, currently running their own businesses, to discover how they define 'success'. Over to you Maria...

There are endless things that motivate us creatives to do what we do but (consciously or not), the desire to ‘be successful’ is one that we undeniably all share.

Yet how much does that desire help to push us to be the best that we can be, and how much does it contribute to feelings of overwhelming pressure and late night spirals of self doubt? When there are so many different career options and ways to get there, what does ‘being successful’ even mean nowadays?

We spoke to six of the most inspiring creatives, small business owners and entrepreneurs to ask them what it means to them to ‘be successful’, how they got to where they are now and a little bit of advice for us to put success into a positive perspective.

…And make you realise we’re all in it together. 

Nik Southern, Florist - Grace and Thorn

What does ‘being successful’ mean to you?

Firstly, happiness in what I am doing. I was considered hugely successful in recruitment for 13 years but didn't feel it. Now that I have found what I love to do and am my own boss, I feel far more content and for me, feeling content and happy is what brings personal success.

How did you get to where you are now and how did you stay motivated?

Through a lot hard work, grit and determination. I want my business to excel in everything we do, to offer something innovative, new and fresh; I am a perfectionist, a control freak and I don't settle for mediocrity. But being a boss is hard, no matter how bad you are feeling or what you have going on, you have to put on your best game face and get on with it and be a good, strong, consistent and emphatic leader. So I make sure I have one day a weekend where I totally relax, walk the dogs and cook, catching up with some life admin which has gone out of the window since I started.

What advice would you give to others?

If you believe in yourself enough and work hard enough, you can do anything you want to. Be nice to people and passionate about what you do and never do things by half!

www.graceandthorn.com

Photo Credit: Tom Doran

Photo Credit: Tom Doran

Sophie Sellu, Designer, Maker, Wood Carver - Grain and Knot

What does ‘being successful’ mean to you?

 I really don’t think that you can measure success, it’s completely subjective but to me, being successful is giving myself the ability to work when I want and make items that are loved by many people. It isn't a measure of how much money that I make, but how many people I can meet and connect with along my journey. I also think that with the age of social media it’s so difficult to judge success. You can see every aspect of everyone’s curated life, the majority of which may not be true…

How did you get there & what were you motivated by?

I was motivated by the need to do something with my hands, to work for myself, to get out of the cycle of routine and I wanted to take creative control. Once I stopped worrying about financial security, I was able to work towards that without it being top of the list, but I have doubts every day. About my work life, creativity, social life. It’s one of those things that I can't get away from! I find that writing lists of my achievements is a way to keep on track and realise how far I have come.

 What advice would you give to others?

Give yourself a timeframe, and work out how much money is needed to give your venture a try.  If after that time you have not managed to get your feet on the ladder, or have spent too much money either move on or change aspects of it to make it work. Try and take time to switch off and don't let your venture take over your life! It’s so tricky to walk away and take time for yourself when you are trying to make something work, but it’s really important to enjoy the little things.

www.grainandknot.com

Victoria Harrison, Shop Owner - Toro Studio

What does ‘being successful’ mean to you?

Success isn't really a word that I feel very motivated by. I view this whole thing as a journey, I try to work my hardest, try to have fun and am continually overwhelmed by the support I receive along the way. I feel like success is so often measured by how much money we make and the pressure to make more, to be able to afford the unaffordable lifestyle, rather than make the most of the successes that come in forms and guises other than money.

How did you get to where you are now and what motivated you to get there?

I had no idea what I wanted to do for years and years, working in many different industries and countries throughout my twenties. Where I am now is made up of all of those experiences and influences. I am so lucky that the place I have chosen to live now is also the home to so many talented, young and creative business owners forming an invaluable support network and sounding platform - we are all doing amazing things and all rooting for each other.

What advice would you give?

Don't expect to know where you want to be. Don't be too hard on yourself and treat it as a journey, if you take another path it isn't a failure, you are growing and changing all the time so be flexible. No-one is judging you. Manage your expectations: don't expect to complete everything on your overflowing to-do list, pick a realistic number of things to achieve and don't spread yourself too thin. 

www.toro-studio.com

Photo credit: Dunja Opalko

Photo credit: Dunja Opalko

Ariana Ruth, Stylist & Managing Editor - In Clover magazine

What does ‘being successful’ mean to you?

I think that there are lots of different ways to measure success, sometimes people focus purely on money, the number of followers they have or getting a particular job title. Success comes in so many forms. To me success is being happy, loving what you do and by some miracle being able to make a living off of it. I'm not entirely there yet but getting closer all the time!

How did you get to where you are now and what motivated you to get there?

Undoubtedly my parents have been a huge influence on me. They're both such inspiring, creative people and have always encouraged me to do what I want and work in a creative field. I'm also a bit of a workaholic so the freelance lifestyle is perfect for me but I still have doubts about myself! I think because I've never doubted the actual path that I'm on, it's made me a lot more vigilant. I know that the only way forward is just to keep going, take on projects that challenge me and learn from the experience, be open to opportunities and collaborate with others.

What advice would you give?

Write out a list of goals and the steps on how to achieve them with deadlines. Sometimes when you're working on a goal it can be daunting, create mini goals for yourself. This can make a huge task a little less scary! If there is someone that you admire and want to work with - send them an email. I’ve gotten a lot of work from doing this, you’d be surprised how little people actually do this, your email will stand out.

www.readinclovermagazine.com

Photo credit: Issy Croker

Photo credit: Issy Croker

Alex Hely-Hutchinson, Chef -  Author of 26 Grains

What does ‘being successful’ mean to you?

The measure of success is different for everyone, but success comes in two forms for me. Firstly, I believe it’s doing what you love; for me that's cooking and being able to earn a living from it. Secondly, it's overcoming the challenges, big and small, every day. It's being able to conquer your doubt, doubt by others and recognising the accomplishments achieved alone and together.

What is real is that success is constant, every day you're achieving something. The thing is, the threshold of success moves with every achievement. If I said to myself two years ago that we would have the site, team and book that we do today, I wouldn't have believed you. Then when I'm here, I'm continually asked, where to next. Really, this is all I could have asked for and it's important to recognise that.

How did you get to where you are now and what motivated you to get there?

I think taking it slow, staying true to my goals rather than being influenced by the way the market is developing. And also, the kindness of many whether that be mentors, influencers or my family working on the stall.

 Could you give any advice to others that may be struggling to get to where they want to be?

As good as it is to look forward, it's important to look back and recognise what has been achieved in the past. Don't be proud, my experience of success or what I regard as success, has come from the efforts of many. Ask for help, work with people you admire and achieve something wonderful. Also sleep. Sleep is so important. I didn't sleep at the beginning because I thought that meant failure. Take time for yourself and you'll be a million times more efficient and productive with your working time.

www.26grains.com

Jenny Kiker, Artist - Living Pattern

What does ‘being successful’ mean for you personally?

I feel successful because I have established a comfortable home environment for myself and get to spend my days pursuing art while inspiring others.

How did you get to where you are now and how did you stay motivated?

When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was make art, that never went away, so motivation isn't a problem. Doing all the other things that come with running a business take self discipline but I am most motivated by my customer's reaction when they receive a beautifully packaged piece of art on their doorstep.

What advice would you give to others?

I would say be quick to take an endeavour and quick to exit an endeavour. I explored many, many artistic styles and creative products before Living Pattern came about. For example, I used to make art with metallics paints on lacquered wood before botanical watercolour became my signature style. Just keep exploring the things that interest you and you'll find what you're looking for!

www.livingpattern.net