• Bel Patterson

Doing what you love, feeds the soul.

It’s funny how sometimes life comes around full circle.

A few years into my Graphic Design career, I thought I wanted to run my own business, so I enrolled in a small business course. At the end of the course, I decided it wasn’t for me and to be honest, it was a huge weight off my 22 year-old shoulders.

I have had some great jobs over the years. I have prioritised the people I work with, the moral and flexibility, over my own creative fulfillment. By and large this has kept me satisfied with my career, which I am now juggling with two kids and a mortgage. That is, until my last job.

I had a recruiter cold call me after seeing my resume on seek and she wanted me to temp at a pharma company with flexible hours for 3 months. My youngest was nearly two and I was starting to consider the possibility, and the daunting prospect, of applying for jobs, so to avoid the job search, I said yes. One year later I find myself still working at the same place with precisely zero motivation.

Meanwhile the same year my eldest boy started prep. He goes to a lovely school which has a really nice community of staff and parents, of whom some I have befriended. As I began to facebook stalk them (come on we all do it), I realised that some of the mums had their own businesses that they ran from home.

From macramé, invitations, skin care products and even an artist. I was completely in awe of them and they were mums, like me, with a couple of kids, doing what they wanted. What? Was that even possible? Yep apparently so, as they were living proof. Over the last year I watched as our kids were dropped off at school, instagram post after facebook post, these ladies were working from home after their gym classes.

Not only was I creatively starved at work, the moral had been dropping steadily and I was searching for other options. My search was casual / part-time graphic designer. There were a few jobs that kept popping up. Mostly “low hourly rate – social media expert – who wants to work in a fast-paced media agency – million required skills and responsibilities –  work anywhere to be on call 24hrs to respond to social media updates”. Yeah, no thanks.

So, after a year of casually searching for part-time jobs it became apparent. I had to do my own thing. I got a couple of freelance jobs and to my surprise, I was loving it and it was feeding my creative juices.

Then it hit me. A few years ago, I had designed some Christmas cards and sold them. It was only a few, but my friend’s mum went ga ga over them. I had mentioned how it was always a dream of mine to have my own greeting card business but I always had an excuse not to do it. She told me she expected me to design her some Christmas cards every year. So even if they were only for her, I did.

This year I thought I’d give it a shot to sell some to a wider audience, create that website I have been paying a domain name for over a year, make the deadline Christmas, and hey, if other mums can do it, why can’t I?

Well it turns out I can, and it turns out I’m not 22 anymore and my fears about running my own business have disintegrated. Maybe that comes from getting older and having more experience, maybe is comes from being settled, maybe it’s the lack of perfect opportunities that comes with wanting to pick your kids up from school and a desire to work my own hours. I think the truth is in all of the above.

So, after all of my ramblings, things I have learned in 2018:

– Women in business are inspiring, work hard and are my heroes.

– Fear and lack of confidence is what holds us back from our dreams.

– Not being perfect is ok.

– Small steps do eventually add up to something bigger.

– Doing what you love, feeds the soul.

So, hang on for the ride because 2019 is going to be a good one!

Bel x

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