This week marks the 10th Anniversary of setting up my business Charlotte Designs. Rightly or wrongly, I feel ridiculously proud of this and what I have achieved. Not only am I still trading, something that many businesses are not at this point, but all during a recession, whilst bringing up two children and in a very niche business. Whilst I am the first to admit that I set up my business initially to enable me to be able to work around my children, it has given me so much more, whilst still delivering that initial aim.
Charlotte Designs has grown and evolved over the years from interior designing exclusively children’s spaces to painting murals for the wide range of clients that I have now. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would have painted the outside of MK Art Gallery with a huge branding mural, delivered 30 murals for a dementia unit in 10 weeks, painted for a Formula One Team owner or delivered a workshop for 35 board directors of an international company, I would have not believed you. Yet here we are, having one all those things and much, much more.
The most unexpected side effect of the whole journey has been the camaraderie with other small businesses. Through networking I have built a strong team of trusted partners who I recommend and who recommend me. This has been invaluable not only to my business, but to me personally. Without the colleagues that the employed have, these people have become my’ colleagues’ and in many cases, my friends. I have watched them on their journey, congratulated their successes and commiserated during the tough times and still gain huge amounts of joy from seeing them succeed and grow.
There are those who will have you think that working for yourself is somehow the easy option. Being able to choose who and when you work and having no ‘boss’. These people clearly have never done it, as the truth couldn’t be more different. The reality is that everything falls to you, and a confidence crisis means quite simply, a dip in sales. There is absolutely no opportunity to take your foot off the gas, even for a moment. You need extraordinary self belief, determination, resilience, persistence and most of all passion. You need to be a jack of all trades and a master of the one you are selling.
So what next? Well, 3 things really, firstly more of the same. I enjoy the variety of my work and it fuels me both personally and professionally. Secondly, the commercial market is where I want to grow. More murals for businesses, whether that is offices or my work for dementia sufferers or using art in workshops for employee engagement. And lastly, and perhaps most excitingly, I will be launching a range of hand painted wall stickers later in the year, which will give a hand painted mural look for decal prices.
So a huge thank you to everyone who has helped along the way, friends, family, clients, referrers, suppliers and partners. I couldn’t have done it without you. You are all awesome!
So Happy 10th Birthday Charlotte Designs, here’s to the next 10.