I’ll be surprised if there is anyone on t’internet who hasn’t already heard by now as I’ve been posting all about this on my social channels for a week. But just in case there are people in the dark I’ll start at the beginning. I think I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award every year since they first started but I’ve never made it past the nominations stage. I’ve never been able to garner enough support in the public voting stage and this is probably my own fault, as I absolutely hate campaigning and begging for votes.
However, this year the process changed a little and the nominated blogs also came under the scrutiny of an expert judging panel so it wasn’t entirely down to our ability (or rather my inability) to run an effective campaign in the voting stages. This worked out really well for me as, for the first time ever, I made the shortlist in the Design Inspiration category.
Now I’ve been writing this blog since 2009…yes that’s right, nine long years! When I set it up, my sole purpose was to inspire people. (Well actually it was to inspire myself as I had no readers when I set it up, obviously!!!) I wanted to hunt down the most inspirational products, projects, places, trends, and designers and share them with anyone who wanted to hear about them. So being shortlisted in the design inspiration category was a dream come true.
However, there was a downside to this. This particular category is always very popular. It always has the most blogs nominated and the shortlist is usually very strong. And it was for this reason I knew I wouldn’t win. That and the fact that I’m regularly nominated for awards, but that’s as far as it ever goes. In fact, I’d gotten to the point where I was considering giving myself an award for long service. After all, anyone can start a blog, but keeping it up for almost a decade is a real achievement, right?
So anyway, as I was shortlisted I got invited to the fancy awards night in London which I was very excited about. I asked my husband to be my plus one but as there was no sit down meal involved he politely declined. So I decided to take a blogging friend instead. Jenny is the author of Seasons in Colour, which is one of my very favourite interior blogs. If you don’t already read it I suggest you go visit straight away (…well not straight away as I want you to read my post to the end, but you can go check it out afterwards, ok?).
Jenny and I have been friends on social media for a very long time but we’d never met in person. This was the perfect opportunity for us to get together in real life, rather than behind a screen. Plus Jenny is a seasoned pro where the Amara Interior Blog Awards are concerned, having scooped her own award in the Colour Inspiration category back in 2016.
We met for drinks first at the very instagrammable Long Bar at the Sanderson Hotel and chatted like we’d known each other forever. I do love how the internet enables us to find and befriend such like-minded individuals. Then we headed over to the awards venue at One Marylebone. The outside was all lit up hinting at the grandeur that awaited us inside.
Strangely though I wasn’t in the least bit nervous and this is because I had spent weeks telling myself that I wasn’t going to win and that it was just such a massive honour to even be able to attend the event. I’d checked out all the other blogs on the shortlist and was seriously impressed, which only helped to further convince me that a win was out of the question.
I focused my attention on catching up with all the lovely bloggers I’d come to know in our industry. The event is like a who’s who of interior design blogging. Someone likened it to the Oscars of the interior design blogging world. Some bloggers I’d met before, but there were others, like Jenny, who I speak to probably weekly online, some for years now, without actually having met before.
I couldn’t wait to meet Juan from Boreal Abode who was shortlisted for (and won) Best Newcomer, Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely or Victoria from Apartment No. 4 who were both shortlisted for Best Written Blog. I was also looking forward to meeting Karen of Making Spaces who was shortlisted for Best Interior Designer Blog, Maxine of We Love Home who was shortlisted for Best Interior Lifestyle Blog and Karen of Well I Guess This Is Growing Up who was shortlisted for (and won) Best Colour Inspiration Blog.
I was also lucky enough to meet Medina from Grillo Designs who had judged the DIY and Home Improvement category and Evija who writes From Evija with Love and who had judged the craft category, both these ladies had won these categories the previous year. I finally got to meet Emma Jane Palin who judged the Colour Inspiration category that she won last year, as well as Natasha Nuttell of Graphique Fantastique who was shortlisted for Best Colour Inspiration Blog. I sadly missed Mary of Hello Peagreen who won the award for Best Written Blog as she was on holiday in Orlando and couldn’t make the event. If you don’t read these blogs already please do check them out. They really are the cream of the crop.
After a welcome drink and a good bit of mingling we were ushered into the hall to take our seats. The ceremony began and I remember thinking about how nervous everyone else must feel at this point whilst I still felt cool as a cucumber safe in the knowledge that someone else would be winning my category.
Michelle Ogundehin, former Editor of Elle Decoration UK was hosting the event and gave a lovely speech about blogging and the interiors niche and why she thought blogs were so appealing to people these days. She announced the winners of the first three categories and I remained totally calm throughout.
However, when my category came up and I saw my face up on the big screen, the nerves suddenly hit and I started to shake a little. The enormity of the situation suddenly hit me and I realised that whilst I’d done a really great job of convincing myself I wasn’t going to win, deep down I really, really wanted to win.
I held my breath and when Michelle announced that I had in fact won I just couldn’t believe it. I was in a state of shock. And Jenny, who was sat beside me was visibly excited. I think this tweet sums the situation up quite perfectly.
Stacey: I am not going to win, I never win (cool)
Me: You have a pretty good chance, I believe in you.
Stacey: It won’t happen, and I’m ok with it (still cool).
Me: You can bring it home! @MOgundehin “And the winner is..”
Stacey: Still cool
Me: YOU FREAKIN WON OHMYGODOHMYGOD pic.twitter.com/gHUlyO2BAN
— Jenny Kakoudakis | Seasonsincolour.com (@SeasonsInColour) October 29, 2018
I somehow managed to pull myself together and make my way up onto the stage to accept my award, which was sponsored by Roberto Cavalli. I seriously couldn’t believe I had actually won and that my blog was announced as Top UK Blog for Interior Design Inspiration.
After the photographs had been taken, there was another chance to mingle (and drink). Both me an Juan were also pulled aside to film a short interview piece about the awards. I can tell you now that neither of us are looking forward to that ever seeing the light of day. We had no time to prepare what we wanted to say and just had to answer the questions right there and then on camera. I have no idea what I said so that will be interesting! *UPDATE my interview clip was included in the final cut of the Amara event video (see end of post) and actually I don’t hate it!!! hahaha*
It was an absolutely fantastic night and I’ve been on cloud nine ever since. I’ve had so many amazing comments on social media and I can’t thank you guys enough. Without you lot reading my blog, nominating me and voting for me I’d never have made the shortlist let alone won. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!!!
I’d also like to take this opportunity to explain why winning an Amara Interior Blog Award means so much to me at this moment in time. As I said, I’ve been writing this blog for nine years. When I first started I really gave it my all. My husband used to work evenings and weekends so I would come home from my full-time job and blog…all the time. I researched, wrote, edited every single day. I tried to learn everything there was to know about blogging, even all the technical things which definitely don’t come naturally to me. I also built myself a pretty solid freelance writing career alongside my job as a magazine editor.
Then came kids and everything changed. I had pretty difficult pregnancies as I suffered from the most hideously debilitating morning sickness and I was really poorly. I had to give up quite a few of my freelance jobs as I just couldn’t manage to work all day and then come home and write all night. It was too much. I just couldn’t work as hard as I did before because growing a small human is utterly exhausting!
I’m a perfectionist by nature and when I commit to something I commit 100% and failure is not an option. However, I’m not very good at excelling at multiple things at once. When my daughter arrived my focus was obviously on being a perfect mother (a concept I eventually realised does not actually exist). It became apparent that my blog would have to take a back seat for my own mental and physical health.
I tried to justify the continued feelings of failure with regards to my blog and my freelance career by thinking that they will both be there later, but my children need me now and they only get one childhood. Of course I know this is absolutely true but I still had massive feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.
These perceived shortcomings were only compounded by social media. Every channel is full of amazing women who seem to be totally winning at life in all respects. They seamlessly manage to be the perfect mother, wife and friend all whilst holding down amazing jobs and creating wonderful opportunities for themselves. And somehow they still find time for self-care and “me-time”. I know that social media isn’t real life and we only get to see the highlights, but this highly curated depiction is so damaging.
I just couldn’t reconcile all these different roles and focusing all my energy on being a mum has meant that I lost myself for a little while. I didn’t really know who I was anymore and I didn’t know how to find myself again. I had no time or energy to do the things I once loved and that gave me a sense of identity. After almost a decade of blogging, this is now intrinsically linked to my sense of identity.
But in May of this year, I finally emerged from the fog of new motherhood. My second daughter is almost sleeping through the night and I finally feel like myself again. Never underestimate the power of good quality sleep and what it can do for you! I’ve started to feel inspired by my blog again, I’m really enjoying the direction it’s taking and I’m excited for the future.
So winning this award really couldn’t have come at a better time for me. After five years of feeling less than satisfied with what I’ve achieved career wise, this award is like a validation from my readers, my peers and the industry as a whole that I am enough. And that what I’ve been doing over the past few years is good enough.