It's Sunday! & I haven't been in the studio since last Saturday! Why the exclamation marks?! Because taking time off still seems like such an alien concept
If you run your own business in it's infancy then the concept of turning off and taking a break can be a very funny one. On one hand, why not?! I'm in control of my diary and can manage and delegate some of my workload out, so why not take holidays?! But on the other hand... for the last few months my diary has been out of control, and the concept of even taking a day off has been a bit of a joke. A joke that when repeatedly leaving work after Midnight isn't funny any more... (actually, more than one Morrissey reference would sum this up!!)
But, I made it work! The dates went in, the trains were booked and this had to happen. The few weeks running up were the busiest Oh Squirrel has ever experienced, but it all got done happily! It always does. I won't bang on about all that (because it's boring to anyone other than me), but instead tell you how wonderful taking one week off was, even without leaving the country.
I was very lucky that my family had booked a cottage up in the Lake District, so all I had to do was rock up to the station on time, sit on a train for a few hours and then I was there. We spent a few days walking around, eating lots of food, sampling all the local ale, and just generally 'being'. It was just what was needed! Back to London I've had a few days catching up with life, going on adventures and sorting stuff out. I guess this is what most folk get upto on a weekend, but for me... well, I haven't had a proper weekend in a while!
There is no way I could have anticipated how incredible this year would be for Oh Squirrel (and for myself too!) so this whole 'not having a weekend' thing isn't a rant or a pity party, it's just simply telling the truth. If you want something you have to work for it.
One of the hardest things to do has been to not reply to emails. I put an Out of Office response on all emails, closed off Not on the High Street and Etsy, and also made a conscious choice to advertise my holiday on social media, just to double check that anyone who would want to know would know. I hope in doing so I haven't been horribly annoying! Since being away I've had 5 stockist enquiries (!), and a handful of customers emails that usually I'd reply to within a day or two... but I had to just leave them to be dealt with when I come back, because if I was on emails then it really wouldn't be a rest. Whoever invented the 'Out of Office' concept deserves some kind of medal... or at least a nice sash! If you are reading this as one of those folk who sent an email then please note your email is safe and will be returned this week.
Taking a break has given me some perspective, some much needed rest, and time to rebalance life. I've spent lots of weekend in the kitchen, inaugurating a cookbook kindly given as a birthday gift, and making some lunches for the week (try living off the same sandwich, or with a slight variation, every day for 3 months...) - it's so daft that little things like that feel such a luxury! I'm not even being dramatic when I say in the last year I've cooked less than a dozen proper meals.
In addition to feeling rested and thoughtful, I feel wonderfully inspired, itching to get back to the studio. There are already dozens of orders piling in for next week from the shops being open a mere 24 hours, but I'm mostly excited to work on new products, find new ways of working, and look at the opportunity to extend the Oh Squirrel team a little further in order to grow the brand.
So once again, a bit of a ramble of a blog post, but an important one. Taking a little time to switch off is so important, and one of the first things I'll do tomorrow is sort my calendar out, block a few weekends out, and a week in the not too distant future and sort this work/life balance out!
As I've gotten a little irregular at the old blogging malarky, I thought it'd be nice to end this with a bit of an update on the studio. I'm back tomorrow and am straight into AW15 development. The new stockist catalogue will be ready by September, and the new website will finally launch then too. It's just gotten RIDICULOUS how much this has been put on the back burner, but it will be happening! The delay is simply because there hasn't been any time.
In the last few months I've been wedding stationery crazy, and as most of the weddings have now happened I'll be starting to share the images, and do the very much needed update of the wedding portfolio. Some of the pieces created are so special that keeping them a secret has been near impossible. The Hen Party product category has continued to grow... and I've got some exciting new designs to share with you soon! & all other product areas too will be getting some serious love. There have been a couple of other secret projects too...
To conclude, it's such an exciting time! Actually sitting and writing this (yep, technically on my week off... slapped hand for me) has been a lovely experience - sometimes we live life so fast that we forget to pause and celebrate the little moments and successes. I've certainly been guilty of that. As soon as one big order gets finished it's on to the next one without any time for reflection (& a lot of the time not even time for a celebratory cuppa!)... & it's so important to live for all the little moments. Bloody hell, all this fresh air is making me far too thoughtful!! Back to the studio I go!
All the images included are ones snapped on my phone over the past week either up in The Lakes, or out and about in London... & most proudly at my kitchen table!
PS - those trainers won't be a frequent blog post appearance, I promise!!