Well it has been just over a year since I graduated from the University of Leeds and I can’t believe how fast it has come round! A lot of students are excited about getting into the world of work, gaining loads of experience and finally earning some big bucks! Well it’s not as easy as that sometimes…
At my Graduation with my sister
Not everyone will fall happily into a full time job, and being an employee isn't for everyone either. My dad is an organic farmer and apart from working on one or two farms when he was just out of college he has worked for himself. My mum runs holiday cottages and again apart from working in a hotel and as a secretary she has worked for herself for years. Both of my granddads also had their own businesses and my uncle owns his own garden nursery, so we are quite an entrepreneurial family.
Up at the farm
I think you have to be a hard worker to go it alone and build up a business though, which thankfully I am. I don’t like to do things by half, I started working part time in a restaurant at 15 and have worked in several places since then. It is more than a part time job for me though, as a waitress I get to interact with customers (you can get some real characters every now and then!) and make their experience the best it can be. I don’t like that people may not be satisfied or happy with how they have been treated or their service. These things have set me up and channelled me into the job I’m striving for, which is to set up my own business and label. What a challenge I hear you cry! And yes it most definitely will be, but boy will it be worth it.
My university course set me up for the design side of the business, I’m confident with my Illustration and Surface Pattern design abilities, I've learnt to use the software effectively, choose different styles of colour palettes and bring things like Typography into my work. This business side of freelancing and setting up your own business was missed out though, which I find a little daft as I’m sure there will be a good percentage of my course mates who will try and go it alone.
So since graduating it has been one learning curve after another, I honestly wouldn't have it any other way though. That lost feeling I had after graduating where I had no safety net and the feeling of being shoved out into the wild to fend for myself is slowly dissipating (thank goodness!) and I am finding my feet. In the past year I have built up my portfolio and can clearly see how I have improved as a designer. I've got a few licensing deals under my belt and am now moving to a new house where I will have my own design study so I can really get down to business.
It’s quite good to reflect and see how far you have come in a year or even half a year. It may feel like you are only on the first rung of the ladder and still have a loooooong way to go, but if you look how far you have come it’s a bigger step than you may think! Every little achievement is worth celebrating as it is helping you get a little higher and a little nearer to your dream!
In a few years time I would love to help students who are thinking about freelancing or setting up their own label. I’m not sure many University courses cover topics such as handling your finances, selling wholesale, going to trade shows, finding freelance work and simple things like setting up your own website. I always wanted to be a teacher when I was little =)