So I mentioned in a previous post that I have been very busy lately working on a personal project and I really want to share that with you. But first I think it will help to give you a bit of background. You may remember the post I wrote about winning an Amara Interior Blog Award in 2018? In that post, I explained how important that award was for me as I kind of lost myself and my identity for a while after I had my children. That award validated that what I do makes a difference and is worth it.
And I managed to ride that wave for a good few months. But a month after the awards I was almost made redundant from my part-time job. That didn’t happen but I decided to quit anyway as it just wasn’t bringing me joy and it was holding me back from working on my blog and freelance writing full-time.
I’m not going to lie, going fully self-employed was as scary as hell, but I had an amazing online support network who helped me get over the fear and step out into the unknown. Kimberly of Swoonworthy, Victoria from Apartment Number 4 and Nicolette of Archie & the Rug have helped me more than they will ever know and I will always be so grateful to them for that. They gave me the confidence to follow my dreams, made me feel worthy and capable and helped me to see that I had nothing to be afraid of.
We speak daily and they have been a real lifeline for me. Every time that self-doubt raised its ugly head, they were there to counteract it. Every time I started to talk myself out of things, they talked me back into the game. Every time I felt stuck, they helped me to find a solution. Having this amazing network to fall back onto turned last year from a scary and lonely experience into one that felt so empowering.
1. Maisons du Monde, gold oval shelving, £44 (no longer available) (affiliate)
2. Made.com, Corolla set of two round wall planters, brass, £19 (affiliate)
3. La Redoute, Para wall tapestry, £42 (no longer available) (affiliate)
4. IKEA, Linnmon desk & Krille legs, £73
5. H&M, window shaped mirror, £25
6. Made.com, Mallee set of two pyramid wall planters, brass, £29 (affiliate)
7. Made.com, Passo mirrored wall hanging planter, pink, £35 (affiliate)
8. IKEA, LÅNGFJÄLL office chair, £90
9. Made.com, Beaumont plant pot, brass, £14 (affiliate)
10. Made.com, Riviera metallic wall sculpture, brass, £59 (affiliate)
So I worked my ass off to make sure that I could replace the part-time income I was missing and it all worked out great. I was living the dream, working from home, my own boss, total flexibility and spending more time doing the things I love. But I had this nagging feeling that there was something more I should be doing, some potential that I was not currently fulfilling. I had somehow managed to convince myself I wasn’t even sure what it was.
This wasn’t strictly true though. I’d had an idea for a business that I’d secretly been super excited about for a few years. I had just managed to convince myself that this was the kind of idea that other people acted on. Who the hell was I to think I could set up a business and make a success of it? I ended up enlisting the help of a business coach and after our first session, I went away and had a long hard think about my career and my future and what I wanted my life to be like. I mean, I dug deep guys!!!
What I realised is that whilst I absolutely love writing and it’s my hobby and my passion and my job and I never want to stop, it’s also quite a lonely pursuit and working from home is actually quite isolating. Although I’m an introvert, I’m actually quite an extroverted introvert and I get a lot of energy from others. I love bouncing ideas around with other people, getting inspired by what they are doing, thinking about how we could potentially work together. I actually love making those connections and this was what was lacking in my current situation.
- Desenio, Finger Poster, £22.95
- Blooming Artificial, Fern Hanging Bush, £14
- H&M, Round Sunburst mirror, £15
- House of Juju Hats, Grey Juju Hat, £167.97
- Desenio, Golden Rainbow poster, £11.95
- Desenio, You Got This poster, £9.95
- Blooming Artificial, Hanging String of Pearls, £17
- Blooming Artificial, Artificial Monstera Hanging Bush, £18
- Made.com, Bran wall mounted hook, brass, £49 (affiliate)
- H&M, Metal mirror, £25
Now I’d always loved the idea of coworking and I’d looked for a local space so that I could combat this issue. But the spaces that exist in my local area here in Devon were so overwhelmingly underwhelming, it was untrue. Why would I want to pay to work in an uninspiring corporate magnolia room, devoid of any comfort or personality? I may as well stay at home. I knew that I could create a space that would knock these other places out the park. But who would it be for? What would make it different? What would my niche be?
I’ve been watching the explosion of design-led coworking spaces for a good few years now and I do love this approach. But it had to be more than that. I kept coming back to the amazing support network I’d had in the past year. Three absolutely incredible women, all running their own business and helping each other to grow. No competition, just a genuine community of women who sincerely wanted the best for one another and are determined to help each other grow. This network had been invaluable to me and I knew I couldn’t have done as well as I had without them.
Moodboard by Caoimhe McKenna of Yellow Brick Road Design
The rise of female-only coworking spaces was also on my radar. Places like The Wing, Hera Hub, The AllBright, The Hivery and The Coven started popping up across the US but are slowly coming across the pond to London. I love the idea of having a supportive and collaborative environment where you can be surrounded by likeminded women who share your values and can motivate you to reach your full potential. And even better if it looks great.
The spaces mentioned above are designed with women in mind. They are beautifully decorated and kitted out and have a strong focus on comfort. Many of them incorporate yoga studios, beauty spas, creches and lactation rooms. Everything that women need and way more than the basic amenities offered by your standard coworking space.
Whilst I’d love to set up a coworking space for female entrepreneurs like this, I’m not a millionaire, I don’t have the funds to go that far. But I realised that setting up a small beautifully decorated office space for local women to come together to work, support each other and maybe collaborate was not outside the realms of possibility.
I mentioned the idea of creating a coworking space for female entrepreneurs to my business coach and a few friends and before I knew it, the wheels were set in motion. A perfect venue came up almost immediately in Totnes and that is when things got serious. I signed the lease, started pinning like mad and saving my inspiration. And I found a really cool local interior designer to help me make my vision come to life.
I am so, so grateful to have been able to work with Caoimhe McKenna of Yellow Brick Road Design on this project. I knew from her Instagram account (@yellow_brick_road_design) that we have a really similar style and aesthetic and what I found invaluable was not only her fantastic ideas, but also her knowledge of local suppliers. It was really nice to be able to source some of the products locally from companies who she had worked with before and who have a proven track record.
She helped to refine my vision, lock down the colour scheme and she drew up proper scale drawings so that I could really visualise how the space would work. Plus it really helped that we just seemed to gel immediately. She listened intently to my vision and made a real effort to understand what I wanted from the space. She was so supportive and it made me realise the value in hiring an interior designer. Could I have done it alone? Yes, I probably could have. Would it have looked as nice? No, it wouldn’t.
So that’s why I went off the radar a bit at the end of last year. I took over the space in Totnes at the beginning of December and worked super hard in the lead up to Christmas to turn my mood boards into something tangible.
I’ll write a follow-up post shortly to show you how we transformed the space from a couple of bland white boxes into a calming, cosy and beautiful coworking space for female entrepreneurs.