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Pregnancy & Self Employment…

I’m currently 26 weeks pregnant & this post has been swirling around my head for a while now…

It dawned on me that being pregnant and self-employed puts me in high-pressure situation at what is meant to be the most amazing and exciting time of your life – don’t get me wrong it is ABSOLUTELY exciting and emotional and brilliant (and nerve wracking/scary in equal measure), but because of my freelancer status it has also been pretty stressful too, I wanted to share with you the pros and cons of pregnancy as a freelancer, and a few tips that might help anyone else in the same boat…

THE CONS

  • Exhaustion & Nausea: Being a freelancer means no sick-leave for this pregnant lady (if i want to get paid!), even when I was pretty sick and nauseous…feeling badly hungover on a daily basis during the first trimester (despite not drinking a drop of alcohol) was not fun. It wasn’t pretty either!
  • Markets: Being a large source of my income and a brilliant way to improve the exposure of my business, the markets I attend are absolutely necessary for me. Especially the bigger trade shows (such as Top Drawer) which I have attended twice while pregnant. I obviously have to be careful not to lift heavy things & this proved really tricky at these events – huge thanks to Mr Cross and lots of great friends on-site who lent me their muscles.
  • Meeting Deadlines: Pregnancy feels sometimes like a ticking time bomb with no real idea when it is going to explode. This means that creating and meeting deadlines is tough, and I have this constant worry that I won’t be able to fulfil my commission deadlines – I obviously don’t want to turn down work, and I’m just having to manage customer expectations, trying to be honest and realistic at every turn. This means I’m working as speedily as I can on my good-days and trying to get through my commitments as soon as possible, with the (perhaps futile?) hope that I might have a chance of a rest before this little one arrives.
  • Hormones/Emotional: The past two months has seen me turn into a crazy/emotional/irrational mess on some days.This is worse at my busiest periods when I feel like I’m drowning in work, and I often have a good cry, which weirdly makes me feel much better. I’m sure ladies who aren’t self employed feel all of this too, but being on-my-own on the work front means I can’t really share the work to colleagues or slow down as I might be able if I worked a normal 9-5.
  • Worrying About The Future: When you’re a freelancer and you’re pregnant for the first time like me it is really hard not to worry about what the future will bring. Not only am I dealing with the usual pregnancy-related anxiety, I’m also nervous about how I’ll manage my business post-baby’s birth…I’m SURE it will all work itself out in the wash, but the anxiety is there nonetheless.

THE PROS

  • I don’t have to be up/dressed/out of the house looking smart on a day to day basis – ultimate respect to any pregnant Mum’s-to-be who do have to make that happen daily. I won’t lie – I’ve spent a large majority of this pregnancy working in my pyjamas.
  • I can largely set my own hours, so I have been able to be flexible when I’ve been feeling particularly grotty.
  • I haven’t had to ask for time off for appointments.
  • I haven’t had to put up with unwanted food smells from a staff room/cafe/canteen during the really sicky months. Gosh, was I thankful for working from home during that period.
  • On the whole I haven’t had to be sick in front of people (except Mr Cross) – I cannot imagine dealing with bad morning sickness in front of an office full of people.

ADVICE IF YOU’RE PREGNANT & SELF EMPLOYED

-Know your rights: Do your research as early as possible and know where you stand in terms of self employed rights, maternity leave/pay/allowance. If you can get your head around it all early hopefully you can plan ahead with knowledge and not let it get too overwhelming.

-Be organised: Try your hardest to get as organised as possible on your good days/weeks – this will ease the pressure on your off days.

-Delegate, delegate, delegate…don’t be scared to outsource some of your work – employ an extra pair of hands if you can afford it, get family onside to help wherever possible, call in all your favours – whether it’s hiring a PA/VA, outsourcing your social media, or getting help with your emails/admin, your body & baby will thank you for it in the end.

-Get for a ‘Baby on Board’ badge for public transport use (even if you don’t commute daily) you may well need to get into London for meetings, trade shows, markets etc, and it’ll be handy to have to ensure people are quick to offer you a seat and therefore a more comfortable journey.

-Buy Supplies: Have plenty of bottles of water, ginger beer, biscuits, crackers and salty foods in stock for the days you are feeling particularly rough: these will help you to feel a little more productive on down days and ensure you keep up your energy and stay hydrated. You’ll be good for nothing unless you’re ship shape! Also stock the cupboards full of healthy, quick to prepare meals – you won’t feel up to cooking much, trust me.

-Make your workspace comfy: a new chair, cushions, blankets, quilts, footstool, fan, heater….whatever you might need to keep you as comfy as possible during your working day make sure you buy it! Your back/hips/pelvis will thank you for it.

-BE KIND TO YOURSELF: Yes, you work for yourself, and so you alone are responsible for making ends meet and keeping your business afloat, but in the grand scheme of things your absolute priority is yours and baby’s health…so be kind to yourself, give yourself regular breaks and treats, don’t work ridiculous hours and don’t beat yourself up if you need some days where you binge watch Netflix and eat all the junk!

I am so blooming excited about the arrival of my little bundle, and I have been ridiculously lucky with an amazing husband helping me more than I could have hoped. I’m blessed with brilliant family and friends who have all helped out to make things less stressful…despite all of this it has been and is HARD and emotional and stressful, I’ve been teary and scared and tired and sick.

But I absolutely know it will all be worth it…i just have to imagine holding my baby and all the stress blurs at the edges and I suddenly feel far less scared and overwhelmingly excited.

14 weeks to go & counting….

Tabitha

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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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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.

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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.

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Follow Bedford Park Proms on Facebook Twitter or Instagram

We hope to see you there! 🙂 TM x

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Ladybird Books exhibition @ the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

Well as my last blog hinted at, I spent the bank holiday weekend down where I grew up in Sussex. Whilst there I roamed the vintage shops of old town Hastings and drove along the coast to check out the De La Warr Pavilion’s Ladybird Books Exhibition.

The first thing that got me excited was the wonderful Art Deco building!! I feel a new print coming on….

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The exhibition was a wonderful show case of the beautiful paintings created for the ladybird books. The amount of work that goes into one tiny book is just fantastic!

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What i found quite interesting was how the size of the ladybird book came about. As paper supplies were limited during the war, publishers strived to print one book out of one sheet of paper – and so the size of the ladybird book was defined!IMG_1149

It really struck me how unique these books are. Not only do children find them engaging, interesting and easy to learn from, adults find them beautiful and nostalgic. A Timeless collection that myself and my boyfriend add to continuously and hope to read to our children one day.

But most importantly I was beyond inspired! so keep an eye out for lots of new things coming soon….!

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SAVE THE DATE!

Following on from my previous post about my collaboration with the Pavilion at the Park I am super excited to announce a Save the Date for our launch event!

Pavilion Save the Date-01A celebratory evening will be held on                  22nd May between 6-7pm @The Pavilion.

Followed by the Pavilion’s supper club as usual. 

The event will see the Pavilion celebrating the 1st anniversary of the opening of The Window at the Park and also the launch of an exhibition by myself and limited edition prints will be available of the Pavilion and the Kiosk.

If you are interested in attending then please drop me an email and i’ll arrange an official invite to be sent to you. To also attend supper club will require booking in advance.

Any questions just shout! TM x

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A collaboration with Pavilion at the Park, Bedford

Last week I attended a conference held by Creative Bedfordshire, it was an awesome and inspiring day – but most importantly I met Emma from Pavilion at the Park, Bedford. Now you may have noticed via twitter that myself and Emma have joined forces and are working together on a very exciting project…!

Firstly it is the Cafe’s 1st Anniversary this May and so to celebrate I am creating a print of Bedford Park, which will feature the pavilion, a Limited Edition Version of the print AND doing the same for their little Kiosk down in Russell Park! Super exciting!

Today I met with Emma to go through first thoughts on the initial designs, and to discuss invitation info for the launch night!

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We are hoping to hold the Birthday celebration and launch night of the prints and an exhibition by myself on 22nd May @ the pavilion – stay tuned for further info!

Any thoughts, comments or questions greatly received!

Tabitha Mary x

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Behind the scenes….

Today we’re taking a little sneak peek behind the scenes at Tabitha Mary…

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As well as designing my own prints and doing the day-to-day jobs behind running a business I freelance. This sometimes comes under the Tabitha Mary umbrella and may be a commission, collaboration with a cafe or a companies branding work in my Tabitha Mary style. And other times its completely disconnected. The most unconnected contract I have at the moment is with a company based in France that produce Insulation Boards! I work on all their branding and marketing material. I have to admit, my french is awful and hasn’t improved since working with them!! Apart from I now know the french for all measurements and a bunch of technical terms!!

The newest print under development is of Burgh Island, someone at the Handmade & Vintage market in Milton Keynes mentioned this location to me as a possible print… and that’s that! I listened!

I recently attended the Creative Bedfordshire Conference and had an amazing and wonderfully inspiring day. Whilst there I met Emma Garrett, owner of The Pavilion in the park, Bedford & Kiosk at the park, Russell Park, Bedford. I’m very excited with a new project we are working on together to design a print of each location, a limited edition version may be available of each and we’re hoping for a launch party to coincide with their 1st anniversary! EXCITING STUFF! I’ll keep you posted here on updates….

Some jobs I can’t talk about as they’re secrets! sssshhhhh….! or for companies that are not yet officially launched and want to keep it all under wraps until the big day.

And some jobs get interrupted by this little madam….

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She is a pickle!

On top of all of this! I’ve just been hired by ‘Love Arts and Crafts’ as their new after school Art club teacher!! I can’t wait to start teaching after the Easter Break!

So there’s a little sneak peek into the very busy world of Tabitha Mary. They’ll be more to come. I’ve got SO many plans for the next year and I’ll be blogging about it all regularly… until then!

TM x