A new leaf!

Things are looking a little different around here, right?

I’ve had a huge redesign, rethink, and rebrand.

I’ve also moved my ENTIRE old personal blog, hiphopsideproject, over here.

Why?

In the simplest terms: to make my life easier.

It was getting pretty difficult to maintain two blogs AND my other retail business website, so much so that I took a break from the whole blogging thing for a few months. I had time to take stock of where my business was at, where I wanted my business to go, and what I had to do to get there.

So here’s the new deal

  • There won’t be as many super-personal posts over here (don’t worry, I’ll still share puppy + kitty photos!).
  • There’ll be way more posts relating to creative business, the internet and stuff relating to the business side of things.
  • I’ll be sharing more about my creative processes, and of course, behind the scenes stuff in my office & home (they’re one and the same).

I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging!

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On being multipassionate

I’m a web designer/web developer/jewellery designer/whatever designer/content creator.

When I was growing up I had my heart set on being a veterinarian. The 7 year university course didn’t bother me too much, I was thinking of going to Edinburgh  it was going to be such an adventure! I did my work experience weeks at a vet surgery, got good enough grades in my sciences   heck, I even did a latin GCSE to help with pronunciation!

Things changed, though. I was always an anomaly in that I loved science and art. I could quite easily spend one evening poring over my science text books, then the next evening splashing paint and lettraset on a canvas. Eventually I made the decision to spend a year doing an art foundation course, rather than pursue science (at least for the time being). That turned into an art degree (which, without mincing words, was shit), during which I spent the majority of the time teaching myself to build websites and faffing around importing stuff from the USA to sell on ebay.

For the past few years I’ve been building websites, making jewellery, learning code, printing stuff, waxing lyrical about PHP, and even blogging passionately about business.

There’s a new label flying around for folks like me, we’re being called ‘Multipassionate solopreneurs’.

Sounds pretty douchey, doesn’t it?

But…

It works. And it’s true. It describes me perfectly, and has settled so much of my internal anguish.

From tiny children it’s built into us that we should follow a path, choose a career and niche down to a pre-described speciality. We should go to school, college, university, get a graduate job, get a better job, get promoted, get promoted again, settle, retire.

When I decided to leave my day job as an agency web developer, it was always my aim to combine both Finest Imaginary making with Kim Lawler Creative web design. I wanted to keep a comfortable equilibrium between the two, together but separate. There were times when I considered ditching one or the other to ‘niche down’ and become specialised.

Then it hit me.

am niched down. I am specialised.

Who else combines a boutique brand like Finest Imaginary alongside creative services and web design? Who better to work with a web design client looking for their own online presence, than someone who’s struggled through it with their own brand?

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Passionate about baking and social media? Write me your ‘recipe’ for facebook success. Bake me a twitter inspired cake. (Shit, sorry, that first one was so corny… forget I said that.)

Love cats as much as you love being a manicurist and making youtube tutorial videos? Hellooo! Crazy cat lady manicurist showing us cat-inspired nail turtorials on youtube, you just got branded!

Okay… so maybe I was clutching at straws with that last one, but you get my point.

How do I combine my passions? I don’t exactly make website inspired jewellery, do I?

No. I’m a multipassionate creator, and I love being part of a community of creative people. Many of my web design clients know me through my jewellery first and foremost, and the markets for all sides of my business cross over. It’s a venn diagram of awesome that makes my business thrive. I’m constantly looking at new ways to bring the things I love into my business. I’m even working on bringing some of my blog style musings into the web design side. It keeps me engaged and interested!

Ignore the precedent for specialisation, and create your own niche from the things that get you pumped!

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Something’s Gotta Give.

It’s been a while, eh?

I have a confession. I was on the edge of burning out. 

No one admits that, do they? That they’ve probably taken on too much and are struggling to get everything done and live life at the same time?

Looking back over the past couple of months, I think I’d severely underestimated just how much time would need to be devoted to puppy care. I should have probably said ‘No’ a few more times to certain (highly demanding, and not exactly satisfying) projects. I should have dedicated more time to myself and my family.

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Gotta say, daily dog walks have kept me sane!

Instead, I’ve been working long days and weekends, feeling like I’m only just keeping on top of things, and letting my own projects slide to the back of the queue (again!). I’ve been ‘catching up’ while sat on the sofa, I haven’t been to any of my usual 3 x weekly gym sessions in longer than I care to mention, and I’ve even been sending business emails at family dinners.

I’ve been letting clients dictate my schedule, and not standing my ground with deadlines and work times.

If this was anyone else but me, I’d be screaming at them… “What are you DOING?! You’re going to BURN OUT”.

I had to let things slide. I’ve had no time to read or write blog posts, my iPad newsstand is bulging with new magazines for me to flick through, and an hour’s lazy pinterest browsing is something I could only dream of.

I’m pretty ashamed of myself for letting this happen, I know the pitfalls of taking on too much – hell, I think I’ve even blogged about it in the past – but it still somehow snuck up on me.

I’m adding a new line to my personal manifesto: Work hard, but not too hard.

You’ve probably guessed that if I’m writing this it means my way’s clearing a bit now, and it is. I have breathing space, and the idea of working on a personal project fills me with delight!

It’s good to see you again, you’re looking fabulous!

K.

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Friday Thoughts: Creative Confidence

If there’s one thing that can be said about me it’s that I’m a creator. I make stuff. I write stuff. And most of that stuff gets put out into the wild, ready to be viewed with a critical eye.

Occasionally, when I’m creating, I’ll have a momentary pause. The butterflies will start to flutter, and I’ll sit there thinking “What the fuck am I doing? No one’s going to get anything out of this!”. Sometimes I’ll feel like a conceited douchebag (seriously, I’m 28 and telling people how to run a business? What’s best for their websites? I’m wet behind the ears compared to some!), other times I’ll feel like I’m drawing with crayons. Those, my dear friends, are my confidence crashes.

Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than watching people react to your creation.

So, what am I going to do? Stop in my tracks? Never make anything again? Just because someone might not like it? Psh! No! Where’s the fun in that?

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Watching someones reaction to something I’ve created has become one of the highlights of the whole damn thing. For every person that doesn’t like what I’ve made, there’ll be another that adores it! they think it’s the best thing ever!

“Creativity takes courage”
– Henri Matisse

Everyone’s allowed an opinion, the world would be a sorry state if everyone liked the same stuff, right? It’d also be super sad if you didn’t make something because a couple of people might not dig it.

You need to have confidence in everything you create. You must speak with authority. You must create for your lovers and ignore your haters. You must enjoy what you do, and remember why you do it. You must create with energy, purpose and unrelenting passion. Go forth, create, set it free and don’t give a fuck.

Now… should I post this?

K.

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Cats and Dogs

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I’m not one of those people that can be lumped into a category of dog-person or cat-person, I’ve always loved both. When Adam and I bought our house (and I’m not saying that we bought a house because we wanted cats, but…) one of the first things I did was start looking for cats. Bramble & Pumpkin are 4 years old now, and they’re indoor cats (paranoid cat-mama).

We’ve always known that at some point we’d introduce a dog into the mix, and have been planning for the day for – literally – years. The amount of research we did into adding a dog to a cat household could fill a book, but there are a few things we’ve learnt along the way that I think are super important.

  • We thought long and hard about the breed of dog we were going to get. Originally, Adam and I had our hearts set on a beagle. We soon realised that such a lively breed wouldn’t fit with our family, or cats, very well. At least not right now. Maybe when we have a larger house, eh? We vetoed any dogs with a high prey drive (terriers, hounds etc.), and any dogs that are prone to giving chase. We started looking at notoriously gentle, trainable breeds. Adam had a golden retriever growing up, and she’d successfully lived with a cat, too. Our mind was set! Golden retriever! NB. I realise that with training, many dogs (including the breeds we vetoed) can get on great with cats, and conversely our ‘safe breeds’ might not get along so happily. It’s a gamble, but I believe that breed traits are a good place to look when finding a dog that will work for your family/other pets.
  • We wanted a puppy that we could bring up alongside our cats, a blank slate with no past cat experience (good or bad). This was a tough decision as I massively advocate adopting sheltered animals, but I believe that this was the best choice for our situation.
  • I spent about 3-4 months looking for a litter being brought up with cats, where the mother was proven to get along with them. We found one just a couple of miles from our house!
  • We started prepping the cats for the arrival of Scout. When we got new dog things we’d leave them around the house instead of putting them away until her arrival. We added a baby gate over the cupboard under the stairs (home to the cat’s litter tray), and made sure they were okay with jumping over it. Every time we visited Scout we’d make sure the cats had a good sniff of us after we got home so they could get used to her scent. As they’re indoor cats, they’ve got loads of favourite places in the house. We made double sure that they had access to high-up areas so they could observe without feeling threatened. We moved their food on to the kitchen table, too.
  • We decided that Scout would definitely not be allowed in our bedroom, at least until the cats were comfortable with her & she was older. We’re crate training her so she’s mainly downstairs anyway, this leaves the entire upstairs for the cat’s.
  • The cats have never, ever been pressured to interact with Scout. This is a huge no-no! They need to take things at their own pace!
  • When Scout’s having a crazy time we make sure the cats aren’t in the firing line. Scout tears through the downstairs like a bat out of hell!
  • Any time Scout approaches a cat we ask her to sit or ‘Go steady’. We basically just try to keep the situation calm and not encourage any chasing or play. We never leave her unsupervised with a cat. Any time that she barks at a cat (which is usually just wanting them to play), she’s told off and taken away from them.

So, all that being said, how’s it actually going? It’s going really, really well! Okay – so they’re not super awesome buddies or anything yet, there’s no playing or dog/cat snuggles… but! They can all be in the same room at the same time. They can walk by each other without freaking out, & there hasn’t been a hiss in over a week.

Bramble’s adjusted much better than Pumpkin, who spent quite a lot of the first few weeks on the wardrobe in our bedroom (not that unusual, it’s one of her favourite spots). As we’re crate training Scout it means they get some respite and don’t have to be totally on edge at all times.

So far, so good :)

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