It’s February 2019 which means that Teacup Doodles is 2 years old! I can’t believe how far my little business has come in the last two years. Let me tell you how it all began……
I’ve always enjoyed being creative and deep down I’m pretty sure I’ve always wanted to run a creative business. As a little girl, I used to write and illustrate stories and doodle handmade birthday cards. Then there were the magazines and comics I’d make with my sister and try to sell to our friends. Or the human joke machine (a card board box with a hole to put money in and a hole to push a joke out!) crafted by me and my best friend that we carted round the neighbourhood dispensing jokes for 10p a go.
In adulthood this grew into a little side-line making hand crafted wedding and christening invitations for friends and family. I don’t think I ever made any money, in fact I know I didn’t, but I just loved making things for other people and seeing how happy it made them.
When motherhood came along in my late 20’s, my creative energies were channelled into finger painting and playdough crafting with my son. I loved being a mum and my main focus became creating a wonderful childhood for him. I worked part time so I could be there for my boy and I didn’t really do anything creative for myself until many years later.
I began by writing a parenting blog called ‘Teacup Toria’ about life as a single mum which I illustrated using my Toria doodles. The name came from my love of afternoon tea and pretty teacups. I used to write ’from the heart’ posts about my disastrous relationships and funny parenting poems which were regularly featured on Britmums Poetry and Prose Round-Ups.
It felt wonderful to use my creativity again. In the process, I also made lots of lovely on-line friends and learnt a bit about social media which would all come in very handy.
Then in Christmas 2016, some close friends had been through a difficult year and I wanted to give them a special gift that showed how much I cared. I didn’t have much money at the time, so eventually I decided to make my own gift.
I’d been sketching my little doodle characters in my birthday cards to family and friends for years and more recently on my parenting blog. They always seemed to make people smile so I decided to create a similar doodle family portrait and frame it as a Christmas present.
My friends loved their doodle and guests visiting their house started commenting on the picture which made me think that perhaps other families would like my artwork too.
At the same time, I was looking for a new focus in my life. 2016 had also been a difficult year for me. I’d separated from my second husband and I was wondering how on earth I’d made such a mess of my life and where on earth I was heading. I was doing a lot of soul searching, desperate to feel happy and fulfilled again.
It was then that I decided to start trying to listen more to that illusive ‘inner voice’. It felt like my life had become a cloud of failed relationships and my son was the silver lining. I wanted to feel proud of myself again.
I created some initial prints which I photographed and popped onto Etsy. Then I set up a simple Wordpress website and social media accounts to start getting the word out. It wasn’t too long before orders began to come in. There were just a couple to start with; orders from mums at school, friends and family but then slowly, I started getting orders through from Etsy too.
It felt amazing to be selling something that I had created and because it made me feel so happy, I knew I was on my true path. I also enjoyed the website and social media side of things. In fact, it was thanks to social media that my business received a lucky break last year when two Coronation Street actresses Cath Tyldesley and Helen Flanagan, shared my doodles on their Instagram accounts. My followers quadrupled over-night and I was inundated with orders.
This was a real turning point for my little business. It enabled me to invest in some training to learn how to digitise my doodles and I was also gifted a new website from my lovely dad who had just retired and was learning website design. With more followers, a wider audience to engage with and practise to develop my doodles, the business has gone from strength to strength.
This gave me the confidence to step outside my comfort zone and at the end of last year I launched local children’s doodle workshops including a ‘Wonderful’ workshop aimed at promoting positive self-esteem. This is an area where I have personally struggled having suffered on and off with Alopecia since I was a little girl. I eventually lost all of my hair in my thirties and over time I’ve learnt to accept my condition and celebrate the positives. I’m passionate about helping others to do the same and my workshops encourage people to accept themselves for who they are and focus on the strengths and qualities that make them unique and so wonderful.
I have lots more exciting ideas bubbling away in my head which I’d love to implement this year. I’m passionate about helping and inspiring others and making people smile so I’d love to do even more of that through my artwork and workshops.
Whatever this year has in store for me, I know I’m very blessed to be in this position. When you’re doing a job that you love, it doesn’t feel like a job at all.
It’s like I’ve been on a long journey and at long last…..I know I’m headed in the right direction.