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In your shoes Notonthehighstreet.com visit & 10th Birthday

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Today I had a visit from Subomi, from the financial team at , as part of the company’s Partnership Days. In Your Shoes gives notonthehighstreet staff a chance to meet the sellers they work with, and spend the day getting a sense of the daily running of their creative businesses.
Not only was this exciting enough, but it also happened to be NOTH’s 10th Birthday, so it was even more special to be celebrating with a member of the team.
As a partner I received the best birthday pack ever! Hats, bake your own cake, sparkly resin ’10’, candles, popper, notebook and a card! What a treat!
Subomi was great and we spent time talking about my business, both asking questions and talking about my future plans before photographing some new prints ‘Powered by Steam’ & ‘Westgate, Winchester‘ to launch on the site.
He also helped me shoot some ‘behind the scenes’ images and a cool video of me packing up an order. It’s things like this I find very difficult when I’m here on my own!

Needless to say Subomi and I decorated the cake and wished NOTH a very happy birthday in style!

Thank you for your company today Subomi, it’s been great! #NOTHS10 #INYOURSHOES TM x

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A magnificent, active and jam packed Hen do!

April fools day… what a day to start your hen do! I knew absolutely NOTHING about what we were doing or where we were going! Quite unsettling for a control freak!

Friday afternoon I was picked up by Hannah Hen who drove us to our home for the weekend. She was frustratingly good at not answering my questions as to where we were going! But as we drove into Limes Farm in Farthinghoe, I was so confused! Were we staying in cottages? on a farm? as the drive went through the farm the Love 2 Yurt signs appeared and I couldn’t believe it! We were glamping! something I’d ALWAYS wanted to do!

The Love 2 Yurt site is idyllic. Rolling landscape views and the amenities and yurts are fabulous. We stayed in the Bramble yurt best suited for large groups as we had our own allocated kitchen and toilet/shower and even a log burning hut, perfect for our cheese and wine filled friday night! My sister had come up with a fun game; all the hens bought a bottle of wine with the label covered. We had to taste the wine and answer a bunch of questions on what flavours we could taste, the vintage, label design and all sorts!

Saturday I was very very confused! We left our Yurt and started driving back towards my home! I was racking my brains as to what was near me, what could we be doing?! I was in active gear so I had some clues. As we approached Milton Keynes I realised we were headed for Willen Lake! This didn’t really help me though, because even though it’s on my doorstep I’ve never visited it and had no idea what was there! As we approached I sensed the fear rising in my sister and I soon guessed we were doing Aerial Extreme! We did GoApe a few years ago for my friends birthday and found that hard enough! I’m not great with heights! and this looked ALOT harder! But, 5 of us kitted up and set about conquering our fears…

My gosh it was hard! Physically and mentally! and this comes from the Hen that does Regiment Fitness 2-3 times a week! I’m no weakling! The course comprises of 2 levels; one lower, one higher. I am unashamed to say I found the lower course hard enough, I was shaking with fear, my sister went down about a quarter in, and I don’t blame her! I was proud she gave it a go. A fear of heights isn’t something you can switch off. At the end of the lower level, I was ready to go down. My arms were pumped with adrenaline and burning, but the other 3 were willing to give the top level a go, so I joined them. We actually moved quite quickly around the higher level. The faster you go the better! There’s less time to think about your fears, but I was struggling with the adrenaline seizing my arms and hands, I was loosing control of my grip.

4 obstacles from the end there was a horizontal climbing wall which was a significant length. We’d done a smaller wall on the lower level and I knew it was tough. I started out, shaking, tired and scared! Trying not to look down at the sheer drop beneath me. About 3 quarters across the wall my arms just went, I couldn’t feel my hands and I did have a slight panic. Hannah Hen was near by and tried to calm me down, take a deep breath and carry on. But as I tried to compose myself my arms just went, I lost all sensation and my grip and fell off the wall. My goodness what a horrible feeling! You don’t fall far because of your safety cord! But still! That feeling of exhaustion and falling and the frustration of failure was awful! I was kicking myself. A member of staff quickly came to my rescue, hoisted me back onto the platform where I sat and took a few deep breaths! Whilst all this was going on, another hen was being taken off the course having had enough. It’s not for the faint hearted!

So out of the 5 of us that went up, only 2 completed the full thing. I did still get a certificate though and my new surname to be came in quite handy as they wrote ‘Tabitha Almost Cross(ed)’ double whammy meaning!

After some lunch we did kayaking in the afternoon which was much more in my comfort area! It was a lot of fun playing tag, ball games and I even had to stand up in my kayak and sing I’m a little teapot!!!

Saturday night, we all dressed up, the Hens had organised Mr & Mrs which was brilliant and so funny! and we went out for dinner and cocktails where our best ‘Mrs Cross’ impressions were captured! I feel the jokes are going to follow me around forever…!

Sunday morning, all feeling a bit sore, bruised and battered from the high ropes we set out on a 5 mile hike followed by a pub lunch at The Fox. The girls presented me with an amazing collage of Paul and I; our faces are made from tiny photos of us! Which has been beautifully framed by the Uckfield Framing Company. What an amazing hen do gift and they even made a personalised Orla Kiely Hen do card!!! LOVE IT!

What a brilliant and wonderful weekend! I feel very lucky and blessed to have such amazing hens and a huge thank you has to go to my wonderful Matron of Honour who was in charge of the whole weekend.

The level of detail was just phenomenal! They know me so well! Even the little hen do bags Sarah had put together full of sweets, glow sticks and drink had blush pink and duck egg handles! our wedding colours!

I thanked all the hens with a little wedding-designed card and Sarah received a personalised necklace from Epanoui

The countdown to the big day really does begin now… ! 1 month and 10 days to go! I just can’t wait! TM x

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Brand new prints launched….

Gosh it’s been a very busy couple of weeks! The Country Living Show is now over and what a fantastic experience it was! I met some really lovely stall holders including Lucky Lobster Art and Kate Moby. The show was jam packed with lovely jewellery, clothing, art and of course food! NOM! I didn’t get much time to shop but I did manage a quick wander around during a quiet 5 minutes.

At the show I launched 4 BRAND NEW prints! Which are now available online. The Flying Scotsman is a hot topic at the moment and I just couldn’t resist capturing it in a print. I’m super pleased with the result and so it seemed where the customers of the Country Living show as it was one of my best sellers.

My second best seller was my NEW ‘Let’s go to the Seaside’ print which is a new edition to my typography range. So many people loving this print for their bathrooms or beach huts.

You may remember the London prints I added to this collection not that long ago, they were also super popular.

I’ve always been inspired by the propaganda posters from both the World Wars but i’ve not yet done a print that really reflects this inspiration. Well, now I have! ‘Carry a message.’ I really enjoyed doing this print, its a little different to my usual work and I love it! I hope you do to!

Last, but not least I have done a special limited edition of my forever popular Shipping Forecast Regions print. Only 10 exist and they’re all numbered a signed.

Shipping Forecast A3 poster for sale by me

A huge thank you to everyone that visited me at the Country Living show and a big HELLO to all the lovely new owners of #mytabithamary prints and followers.

There’s even more new stuff coming shortly… stay tuned… TM x

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‘Best Use of Social Media’ Award & some super-special prints…

Well, well, what an exciting way to step into Spring…this week has been absolutely full to the brim with lots of hard work, but that work was well and truly rewarded when I learnt I’d been named the WINNER of Wenta’s Women and Broadband Business Awards 2016 (WAB Awards) in the Best Use of Social Media category! Wahoo!

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My winning the award is based on the crowd funding/social media commission I did last year of The Embankment area in Bedford, which was thanks to Katie Gregory who pitched the commission idea to me and then set to Facebook to make it happen. You can read more about our exciting journey from idea to print here or watch the video below… #socialmediarules #makeithappen

The power of social media has never been more apparent and I’m trying hard to push forward and embrace all things social, especially since the launch of my shiny new website!

Wenta's WAB Award for 'Best Social Media' - hooray!
Wenta’s WAB Award for ‘Best Use of Social Media’ – hooray!

I had to take a silly smiley selfie with the award, obviously! I wouldn’t be living up to this new title of “Social Media Whizz Kid” without a good selfie now, would I?

In all seriousness though, I’m super-chuffed at having my hard work recognised in this category, it really means a lot. I’m gutted that I didn’t get to actually attend the award ceremony (remember all that hard work I was telling you about?) but I did get to go and pick up my award this afternoon and what a lovely award it is too…

Such beautiful flowers...what a lucky lady!
Such beautiful flowers…what a lucky lady!

In other exciting news this week…

I’m off to the Country Living Spring Fair in London next week (16-20th March) and I’m bringing with me an Exclusive Limited Edition version of my popular Shipping Forecast print.

Do make sure you stop by and say "Hi!" if you're visiting this years Spring Fair.

Do make sure you stop by and say “Hi!” if you’re visiting this year’s Spring Fair.

Only 10 of these Limited Editions will be printed: they’re numbered, signed and super-special! So, if you’d like to own one for yourself then you can grab your copy now for just £40.

Also at Country Living’s Spring Fair, I’ll be launching my brand new print of The Flying Scotsman to honour the fact that it is now back where it belongs…on the tracks and touring the UK. The print will become available online towards the end of March, but Country Living attendees get the chance to purchase ahead of online sales, lucky things!

I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to see some of your lovely faces there…

A little sneak peek of the newest addition to the Tabitha Mary family... The Flying Scotsman.
A little sneak peek of the newest addition to the Tabitha Mary family… The Flying Scotsman.

That’s all for now folks, but do keep an eye on my social media channels for news/updates and don’t forget to share photos of your Tabitha Mary purchases across social media with the hashtag #mytabithamary to be in with a chance of winning my monthly giveaway!

#mytabithamary

Best of Luck!

Have a super-happy rest of March guys and hopefully see some of you at Spring Fair.

TM x

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Brand new shiny website!

Hey! I hope you’re enjoying the new website? I have to say I am super pleased with it. White-Label-Dev.co.uk have done an amazing job, so thank you very much!

What can you expect from this shiny new site then?

  • Brand new design for starters, including a loading scroll on the homepage where you can view all my products in one go.
  • Rolling banner on the homepage telling you about all things Tabitha Mary, this will be updated regularly with new promotions and news.
  • Better product categories.
  • Postage is now calculated product specifically hopefully meaning you are never over charged.
  • EIGHT new print launches!! That’s my biggest launch ever!
  • The option to create an account which means you can log in, track your order and view past orders if you wish.
  • New announcement regarding wholesale options.
  • Pin button now on all prints, so you can save it to your pinterest boards.
  • Social media buttons.
  • New monthly competition running across all social media platforms, share a picture of your #mytabithamary print and be in with the chance of winning a prize!
  • Gift Voucher option – coming VERY soon
  • A4, A3, A2 and A1 prints are now available to order as default options.

I think that’s about it! It’s been a lot of hard work and I’m sure I’ll still be tweaking and updating as we go… but for now! I hope you like it!

TM x

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The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

Paul and I took a week off last week to celebrate my birthday and have a mini break up north. We were staying near Liverpool so took the opportunity to visit The Midland Hotel in Morecambe which I’d captured in a print 18 months ago.

Last year The Midland’s manager Mark spotted this print online and has been stocking it in their shop ever since. He is also now extending the range with my licensor Star Editions. I can’t wait to see the new product range.

We arrived on a VERY windy day and were instantly in awe of this grand art deco building and as you go inside it only gets better. Every inch oozes art deco, I was in heaven! Reception pointed us in the right direction to get a cup of tea and Paul insisted I mentioned I was the designer of their print. The receptionist immediately phoned Mark who zoomed down to reception to greet us. I’m so glad Paul had prompted me as Mark then gave us a wonderful tour with interesting facts of the hotel and even showed us the penthouse suite with its balcony jacuzzi and views to die for. Definitely on the to do list when the weather is a little calmer!

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I’d definitely add The Midland Hotel to your bucket list.

Thankyou Mark for the wonderful tour and we hope to visit again soon.

TM x

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Tips & Advice on ‘Connecting with your audience’ with Creative Bedfordshire

When Sandra Dartnell first approached me about speaking at last nights Creative Bedfordshire networking event a fear of dread filled my stomach. The last time I spoke to an audience was for my dissertation at university, I remember stumbling over my words and my face and neck slowly growing redder and redder until my course mates thought I might pass out! It was not a good experience!

However, a decade on and last night I overcame my fear of public speaking and do you know what? It wasn’t that bad!

Sandra asked myself and Claire from the PlatePeople to speak about our experiences of ‘connecting with your audience.’ My perspective from being a sole trader for 1+ years and Claire’s from only 3 months in.

It was really great to get the opportunity to talk about my life running my own business and it really hit home just how busy i’ve been and how much i’ve learnt about myself and business in the last year.

Some of the top tips that were given by myself and claire:

  • Listen to your audience, if they ask you for a product or design; do it! Be as flexible and engaging as possible.
  • Be transparent. To be self employed is something to be proud of. Shout about it! Don’t try and hide behind the pretence of being bigger than you are. People like to support small businesses so it often goes in your favour – small but mighty!
  • Social Media is a mind field of variations and can be really time consuming. Pick a few channels you are comfortable with and do those well. Better to do a couple well then to do all of them half heartedly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – that old saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” is SO true.
  • My business plan has always been “Say YES” In the past year i’ve not turned down a single opportunity, you never know where something might lead you. Even if at first it scares you or doesn’t seem to be your thing – give it a go! If its wrong, you don’t have to do it again. But you tried.
  • Be smart on connecting your social media – for example on Etsy you can now update your store and link customer photos to your actual products and then share on twitter for people to directly link back to your shop! GENIUS! (I stole this tip from Claire!)
  • Network and make the most of all the fantastic organisations around Bedfordshire: Bedfordshire Business Women, Creative Beds, BCA, Velocity, Wenta… etc etc etc
  • No your facts. Approaching year 2 i’ve had to face reality and hire an accountant. You need to know where you stand to know what you’re doing is working.

Any questions do ask. Lots of people asked me about packaging last night! Why struggle when I’ve tried and tested every possible way and courier, so save time and ask!

TM x

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

xmas newsletter 2-01.jpgGosh! What a year 2015 has been! My first full year of trading as a self employed designer and it has just been incredible. Mainly thanks to all the fantastic support I’ve received from everyone I’ve met. Predominately in the Bedfordshire community, what a great place to be self employed.

I end the year pretty exhausted but exhilarated to announce that I am a finalist for the ‘Best New Business Award’ presented by Bedfordshire Business Women. The winners are announced on 21st January, I couldn’t think of a better and more exciting way to start 2016! Good luck to all the fabulous finalists.

I’m signing off now for some well deserved offline time. Orders can still be placed on my website but won’t be despatched until 4th January.

There’s so many super exciting plans for the New Year, a new website, new prints, new collaborations, wholesale licensing and a wedding! EEK!

Watch this space for all the updates as they happen!

Thank you once again for all your support and making 2015 better then I could have ever dreamt of. Have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you in 2016! TM x

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Bedford Park Proms

Bedford Park Proms are back and all systems are go in organising their 20th event in the Park which will be held on 6th August 2016.

It’s going to be a night to remember with a spectacular classical concert with the London Gala Orchestra, Bedford Choral Society, Brit award winners Blake, Rebecca Newman and all finished off with a fireworks and laser finale! And guess who’s designed the flyer?! Only little old me! I was so excited when Mark & Louise approached me about doing the flyer. We’ve also created a fab print as a great keepsake of what’s set to be a night to remember.

Bedford Proms Flyer-01

Tickets and Prints are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased from Bedford Park Concerts an exclusive early bird rate is now on pricing Adult tickets at £24.50 which rise to £31 from 1st May, Children £5. They can also be bought in person at the Pavilion, Bedford Park.

The prints can be bought from myself here and are at a reduced price until 1st August 2016 when they’ll go up to full price. I will be at the Proms on the night selling them in person too.

Bedford Park Proms copy

Follow Bedford Park Proms on Facebook Twitter or Instagram

We hope to see you there! 🙂 TM x

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Happy Birthday to me!

Gosh, I just cannot believe that this week marks the one year anniversary of me leaving full time employment and taking my little business out into the big bad world all on my own! To mark my 1st year I’m taking a few minutes to reflect on the year gone by and my plans for the next year.

I’d been running Tabitha Mary has a hobby alongside my full time job as a Graphic Designer for 3 years. I was selling prints online and attending the odd craft market when I found time. Sales had slowly increased along the way and I was finding I was working harder and later into my evenings and weekends to keep up with demand. In the spring of 2014 I met my Fiancée Paul. We knew instantly that we’d found love (awww… cue for the sick bucket!) but more importantly he was 100% behind my business and believed in me and my product. When we met we lived on opposite sides of Hertfordshire, me in Bishops Stortford, he in Tring. If we wanted to live together, someone was going to have to move. It was the opportunity I never thought I’d get! We both agreed that it was now or never. So we jumped in, feet first! I quit my full time job designing licensed stationery and moved west into our new house in Leighton Buzzard where Tabitha Mary HQ was created in our spare bedroom.

I started my new life in the self employed world by flying to Nepal and trekking the foot hills of Annapurna – as you do! I’d already booked the trip before all these decisions were made. But what fabulous timing. It gave me the break I needed to reset, recharge and refocus my mind onto being my own boss.

On my return I got busy selling at Christmas events, designing new prints and freelanced for 2 months at the Tigerprint Studio in London. I’d never been busier!

Come the New Year and I just couldn’t quite believe that I already had months of work booked in, a mix of freelance, commissions, events and new print launches planned. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought this plan was going to work out!

And it’s continued in this way. I have been completely mesmerised, overwhelmed and humbled by the kindness of everyone I’ve met, exhibited / sold with and the opportunities that have come my way and the support shown by those who I’ve worked with. I’ve made some mistakes, but i’ve learnt from them and carried on!

My work ethic across the year has been to say yes to everything and my goodness what fun and craziness it’s lead to! From small school fairs to the conservative conference!

A rather MASSIVE thank you goes to all those in Bedford who have shown such consistent support. From the Pavilion cafe commissioning THAT print, to Creative Bedfordshire and Velocity for their small business support. And of course a huge thank you to my wonderful Fiancée who proposed in the Summer and has been my rock, business confident, advisor, sales man and right hand man all the way through. I wouldn’t be here without him.

Who’d have thought all of this would’ve stemmed from the shipping forecast print I did for my parents 4 years ago!

So… what are the plans for the next year?

Well my biggest plan is to expand my range, buy a super duper whizzy new printer and be able to offer LARGE scale printing done in house and to get myself out into the world of wholesale more. I tapped into it a bit this year, but would love to grow that side of things. And we of course cannot forget the wedding planning and becoming Mrs Paul in May!

There’s plans set for me to talk to college students about being a self employed designer and to hold a Q&A evening with Creative Bedfordshire to talk all things small business. Set to be a fun evening where you can pick my brains on what i’ve learnt and where hopefully I can pick yours too! As i’m ALWAYS learning!

Not to mention the HUMONGOUS list of prints I want to do!

It’s set to be busy!

Hope you all follow me along for the ride.

Thank you for all your support. To celebrate there’s 20% off everything online until Sunday when you use code IAMONE

TM x

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Mount Vesuvius, Naples, An Italian Wedding Commission

At last weekends Handcrafted in Bedfordshire Market I met a lovely lady who asked me to design a print of Naples for her husband for their 15th Wedding Anniversary this weekend.

I of course jumped on the chance to create such a lovely gift for her to give him, how romantic! After a couple of sketched ideas we decided upon a fictional scene incorporating the gorgeous cliffs that Sorrento is so well known for with the iconic silhouette of Mount Vesuvius in the background.

Naples Main copy

I’m so pleased with this print and hope her husband loves it!

Happy Anniversary you two love birds!

My Fact of the day: Did you know that Mount Vesuvius is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes today due to the 3 million people living in its shadow and the fact its last eruption was in the last 100 years! SCARY!

TM xx

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Annapurna, Nepal: A magnificent trip

In October 2014 I went to Nepal taking in the sites of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhuktapur, The Annapurna Massif and Chitwan National Park.

I begun the trip exploring Patan and Bhuktapur. Ancient areas of Nepal where the most traditional buildings, values and ways of life can be found. I was mesmerised by this beautiful country from the second I got there. The people are enchanting and friendly and the architecture is just absolutely stunning.

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I couldn’t believe it when exploring the jungle of alleys in-between the houses in Patan (truth be known, I was very lost and getting a little bit worried I wouldn’t find my way out!) I stumbled across a printers, screen printing the most wonderful papers. I just couldn’t believe my luck, how this lost print designer found a fellow printer in Nepal! Just one of those memorable moments.

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Other than exploring the major towns of Nepal my trip really evolved around the 4 day trek into the Annapurna foot hills, staying at the basic and wonderfully traditional tea houses along the route. From the moment our Gadventures group walked into the park the views were spectacular but the further we went in they just kept getting better! The route was undulating and at times really tough going; compared to my Kilimanjaro trek it was a walk in the park! But I hadn’t gone for a physical challenge but to simply explore.

The morning views had been fantastic throughout the trek, but on our final morning of the trek we woke up to the most spectacular view:IMG_9353IMG_9377

What a way to end our time in the mountains! The trip didn’t end there though as we set off for Chitwan National Park for a short safari tour.

I could write forever on my time in Nepal, the smells, sounds, views, culture, just everything about it is enchanting. My trip also signified a massive change in my life, it saw me quitting my full-time job as a Graphic Designer and stepping into the unknown world of self employment with my business ‘Tabitha Mary.’ A horrifically scary decision and step to make, but one I will never regret. I’ve had just the most fantastic year being self-employed and felt it was finally time to capture the place that focused my mind onto my new and exciting challenge ahead. The people I met there and sites I saw will never know how much they touched my life. I hope everyday that they are safe and well after the horrific natural disaster that struck in April 2015. The print captures that stunning view we woke up to on our last morning in the Annapurna National Park.

Nepal copyNepal Crop copy

If you have trekked in Nepal then like my Kilimanjaro print I can personalise this print for you, just drop me an email tabitha@tabithamary.co.uk to find out more.

TM x