A little note on copying

The plan is for this post to be short and sweet but if you saw my Instagram stories the other day (now highlighted under Copying) then you will know that short and sweet really isn't my jam but I will try I promise!

I like to help people I really really do, it has been the most surprising part of setting up Oh Wonder - the teaching and mentoring of others who want to start calligraphy as a hobby or sometimes as a business is not something I expected and yet one of the most enjoyable parts. It is the reason I teach workshops and why I loved writing a book. I put pretty much every part of my knowledge into that book (I mean I had to to reach that many pages!) so I really really don't mind sharing knowledge. 

However I get a lot of messages asking me outright - where did you get this, where did you get that and a lot of the time it isn't even sweetened with a hello how are you?! and that kinda upsets me. Firstly because I spent A LOT of time researching materials and tools at the beginning and I still do. I do not have all the answers and sometimes I get a client come to me with a wild and amazing idea that I have no idea how to do, so I sit on my laptop and research everything I can and then I try a load of different pens or inks or whatever out until I find the answer, it is kinda part of the fun! And secondly a lot of the time these people have their own businesses doing the same thing that I do and it seems like they are just trying to copy me which hurts a lot because as anyone who is creative knows…our ideas, services and products are our babies. It is important to not think just because there is someone out there doing the thing that you want to you and you follow them on the internet, that you get to skip the trial and error stage of making something.

I have only been outright copied once before (although there have been a couple of a bit close for comfort moments) and it was with my baubles. Someone started doing ceramic personalised baubles, which is annoying but fine - I do not own the idea, lots of people do them, but the kick in the teeth was that i spent AGES choosing colours and making mine different and she just went and did them in EXACTLY the same colours that I had. I mean come on. At least pick different colours. A friend of mine pointed them out to me and I knew that I had been following this person but suddenly I couldn't find her….oh because she blocked me. Funny that. Thankfully I have the most amazing industry friends who have my back and let me know about the copying. I then let her know (through my other secret squirrel Instagram account / the one where I post all the pics of my kid) I knew and whilst I had no way of really stopping her I hoped that she would rethink her offering in a way that made in unique.

The thing we live in a world where EVERYTHING is on the internet. We are influenced by so many things (the gorgeous Zoe from The Golden Letter wrote an excellent post on this here) and it sometimes gets a bit foggy knowing where your inspiration came from, but there is a difference between using something as an inspiration and full on copying (and yes just changing the colour does still mean you copied it). It is important to sit back and ask yourself the question, do you really want your business to be a copy of someone elses? Or do you want to take things slowly, take a step back and go through the learning and exploration stage that we all did to create a unique business that fits you like a glove? I promise you the latter will bring you a lot more happiness, satisfaction and clients that are perfect for you. 

L x

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What I have learnt | Failure

Failure is a funny one. It is something that we all feel and as humans who want to succeed at all we do it is natural to feel like a ‘failure’ when things don't go to plan. Four years ago I felt like a total failure. In every sense of the word. I couldn’t figure out how to go about doing what I wanted to do, failure. I wasn’t very happy, failure. I wasn’t doing anything to utilise the degree I had spent 3 years getting, failure…a degree in which I had only got a 2:2 in, failure. I had changed what I wanted to do with my life a million times, failure. I had spent all my savings, failure. You can see where I am going with this…basically I felt like a huge failure. Anyway…over the past couple of years running Oh Wonder has truly opened my eyes and given me a lot of perspective and I like to think some wisdom (LOL) on things like failure. Overall I no longer feel like one and I no longer feel like that list of things above are failures. They are lessons. Without all those things happening I would not be where I am today (literally sitting in a cabin on a pond after teaching in Wiltshire) and I wouldn't be the person that I am today. 

I think that me coming to this conclusion has been through maturing (again…LOL) and also through running my own business. It sounds so cliche but I feel like I have learnt SO much the past couple of years and although I have SO much more to learn I really feel happy with where I am in in terms of confidence in myself and my belief in what I can do. However there is one defining lesson that really REALLY changed how I felt about failing. So get yourself comfy because I am going to tell you a story…

In September 2016 I was exhibiting at The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court. It was my first show, I was a total newbie, I had only been running Oh Wonder for 8 months and I went there selling letterpress cards, notecards and gift tags. I had spent WEEKS printing these all myself in various different colours - shipping the kiddo off for the weekend multiple times throughout the summer and spending two days solid printing/fighting with the letterpress. To say that I was stressed would be a slight understatement. I was kinda manic. There was stuff everywhere and we would spend the evening packaging up cards and tying bows around packs of notecards. 

That weekend was one of the worst weekends of my life. No lie. I spent so much money, not only on the stand but also on kitting the stand out and getting all these products ready and I took £200 the whole weekend. On the first day I took £30. And that ain’t profit. OVERALL TAKINGS. The rest of the money I took that weekend was from my FAMILY who all came and felt horrendously sorry for me so bought all my cards. I spent most of the weekend trying not to cry. Thankfully I was surrounded by wonderful women who kept me boosted up but inside I was devastated. The loss financially was HUGE to me at that point in my business and I spent the whole journey home each evening crying. All I felt was that this was a HUGE FAILURE and it knocked me for six.

Flash forward a couple of months and I heard from Teach Us who were at the fair as well and had approached me about doing a workshop with them for charity. We arranged to get together and I did a calligraphy workshop for them in my lounge at home. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed it. Matts, one of the guys who runs Teach Us, girlfriend Meg worked for Brand Events the event company that runs The Handmade Fair and she then got in contact with me to see if I wanted to teach at The Handmade Fair at Ragley in May 2017. I would be an expert at the show and teaching an hour long workshop every day to up to 100 people. Yeh sure I said….panicking inwardly (You can read a bit more about my intense feelings of fear surrounding this event here) and my details were popped up on The Handmade Fairs website as an expert. AN EXPERT.

A couple of weeks before the fair I got an email from a lady called Joanne. She works for a publishing house called Haynes and she wanted to talk to me about writing a book for them. I am going to go into more detail about this in a full post about my book process, but when I asked her how she had found me she said….wait for it….through The Handmade Fair.

Fast forward to June 2018 when I am writing this post (although it wont be published until I have told ya’ll about my book so probably August time or the end of September ha!) and I am sat on the porch of an Air BnB having finished teaching at my second Handmade Fair of 2018, with one more to come in September, and my book - Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering went to print a few days ago. None of this would have happened if it wasn't for that ‘failure’ of a weekend in September 2016. Well it might of in the end but in this version of my life that is where it started. 

So that is why I (try to) no longer see things as failures. Yes it is still heart wrenchingly gutting when things go wrong (and trust me I still have pangs of disappointment when I think of that weekend) - especially when you lose a tonne of money - but I am trying to see them instead as lessons, and ways in which different doors open in life. You never know where your ‘failure’ is going to lead you…it might just end up taking you somewhere pretty amazing.

L x  

Edit - Between writing this post in June and posting it now I have exhibited again at The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court and I tripled what my goal for the weekend was. Well and truly kicked 2016 in the arse.

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2018 | goals

The last post I wrote looked back over a brilliant 2017 so today as I step back into the studio I am planning and prepping (or at least attempting to) for the next year. Yesterday I looked back through the goals I made for 2017 and am happy that I reached not all but most of them. This year I am trying to be realistic with my goal setting and make them measurable. I used Powersheets for the second half of 2017 and have bought a year one for this year so I will be using that to plan, prep and track my goals…if I remember to actually do it which leads us onto goal number one….

In business….

Be organised, plan, prep and schedule my time.
This tends to be my downfall at times. I have all the things to do and I don't schedule them properly so I end up racing through everything with an air of total panic surrounding me. I also procrastinate sometimes….all times….and I need to stop that. I am hoping by time blocking my day using my very snazzy Lifestyled planner I can keep on track of the work I have to do and also make time for self development. I also need to schedule time each month for finances and accounts - I am SO terrible at this and really must get better because it causes me so much stress. One of my jobs this week it to work out exactly what I need to do in the week to week running of my business and then schedule it in to every week so I always have the time to do it…..that will work right?! 

Self Development.
I am determined to spend time on self development in 2018. I want to spend more time learning how to use my iPad pro (which I have had for over a year….oops) and also learn copperplate calligraphy. Along with adding these to my skill set I want to learn more business skills to help my business for example marketing and Pinterest. I am hoping that I can put aside at least an hour a week to spend on self development.

New Collection Designs
This year I launched four new collections which went really well and I would like to do 3 more in 2018 before I exhibit at Excel in April! I have a couple of ideas already - its just a case of making them a reality now!

Blog
Okay so this is one that I didn't managed last year so it is here again…BLOGGING. I MUST BE BETTER. I really enjoy chatting away here so I want to make more effort to make time for it. Ideally I would like to post once a week…but I am going to aim for at least once a fortnight to start off with - don't want to get too big for my boots!

Instagram
In 2017 I grew my following from 2k to 7k so my goal for 2018 is to grow it to 12k. I really enjoy using Instagram and I am so proud of the organic growth that I have had on the platform. Plus all the pretty is just the best. I find it a huge source of inspiration and a great place to engage and network with fellow suppliers and creatives.

Teaching
I lost a little bit of love for teaching at the end of 2018 as I found it hard to sell tickets and had a little bit of a low confidence moment seeing all the amazing calligraphers teaching in London and I thought no one wanted to come to my workshops anymore (I know, poor, poor Lauren). This year I want to find the love back for them and plan some for the upcoming months and also get an intermediate workshop plan in place. I would also love to do some kind of online course but I think that might be on the cards for 2019 not this year.

Wedding Clients
In 2017 I nailed down my ideal client and this year I want to find more of them! I have been pushing my invitation design and ended the year with five new invitation clients which was really great. In 2018 I would like to get 20 invitation clients in total a mix of Collection Designs and Bespoke.

In Life…

Health
I am the classic cliche of ‘Go on a diet’ being my new years resolution which I fail at every year, however in November last year I went on a sugar detox and although I only lasted 5 weeks it really made me feel a lot better in myself so I am going to do this again and do the whole 8 weeks and then once I have done it I am hoping that I can stick to it and have less sugar as a whole in my diet. I am not a natural exerciser and I actually hate it (ha) but it does make me feel better and I feel when I get up and work out in the morning even if it just a power walk with the dog it makes me feel much better in body and mind for the day ahead. My goal for 2018 is to exercise 4 times a week (more if possible) to get my body moving and my mind working…along with dropping the two stone I need to lose…(fab.)

Reading
I love reading and I miss it so much. I would like to read one book a month this year and make a conscious effort to spend half an hour in bed reading rather than watching crap telly until late at night. It helps my imagination and creative side whereas I feel a lot of the time TV dulls it.

Exploring and Travel
We live in the suburbs of london and we are so close to gorgeous Kent countryside and Surrey which I feel we don't take advantage of enough. This year I want to have a family day out somewhere new each month, a day trip to discover somewhere new and the beauty of what is around us.

Balance
My working hours have continuously increased over this last year much quicker than I expected them too and Oscar now goes to daycare 3 days a week. He also spends one day a week with his grandparents and still sleeps in the afternoon (long may that last!!). I end up only having one on one time with him one morning a week (weekends we spend mainly as a family!) this year my goal is to spend that morning doing something fun with my attention fully on him rather than trying to balance parenting/work. I can afford to take one morning off work and spend it with him and I must remember this.

So in a nutshell those are my goals for 2018, I think they are pretty achievable (except maybe the losing weight as ALWAYS) and I feel pumped for the year ahead. It already feels promising and I am excited for the journey it takes me on. 

What are your goals for 2018?

L x

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2017 | A Recap

So basically all of my blog posts start the same. Usually, an exclamation involving how quickly the last (insert timeframe here) has gone by and then an apology for how LAME I am at keeping up with my blog. Although these end up being empty promises I am TRULY sorry. I have all these grand plans to keep up with my blog and ideas to write about (because I also truly love waffling on here) but I am truly crap at prioritising it and in my crazy unscheduled working days it gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. Usually along with accounts too. Oops. I am not going to say that I am going to try and be better next year (because you've heard it all before) but I am…..

Anyhow today is New Year's Eve - the last day of 2017. WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL (see I told you - I am so predictable). It really doesn't seem like a whole 12 months ago that I was looking at the rear end of 2016. Beyond mental. However quickly this year has passed it has also been a crazy one. 2017 is/was my second year in business with Oh Wonder and it has pushed me further than I thought possible and whilst I have had some pretty crappy moments I have also had the most amazing ones too.

In Business…

2017 was the year that I stood up in front of 100 people, three days running, and taught modern calligraphy. It still blows my mind that I did this. I am not a naturally confident person - I don't like standing up in front of people and I am much more comfortable sitting on my sofa than in a big group of people I don't know. There is a story about me playing Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at primary school (god knows why I am admitting this on the internet)….. and it basically ends in me not singing at all. Not one single word. And just standing in the middle of the stage staring at my parents with hate in my eyes as if it was all their fault. My dad filmed the first 10 minutes then it got awkward so he turned the camera off. The outcome of this debacle for small Lauren was that I have never got up on any kind of stage since (except potentially a couple of drunk group karaoke incidents when I was a teen). At the end of 2016 the lovely Megan from The Handmade Fair, unaware of the Joseph debacle, asked me to be an expert at the fair held in May at Ragley in the Midlands. Completely blown away I said yes and felt fine about it until the night before when I had a total meltdown on my best friends sofa. Cue nausea, hysterical crying, refusing pizza (SAY WHAT) and begging her not to make me go. After a sleepless teary night, however, I put my big girl pants on and travelled up to Ragley and spent three days making the nicest of friends and having in all honesty, a load of blooming fun. I felt like I was going to pass out before the first workshop and was sure my voice and hand were both shaking I stood up there like a boss and taught 100 people how to do modern calligraphy. The feeling after was totally euphoric and the next two days of teaching were really fun. Having people come up to me after and tell me how much they enjoyed it honestly made me want to cry. It is one of my biggest achievements of this year (and potentially my life?!) and the good it has done for my confidence and self-belief I cannot even put into words. Also, they have asked me back for 2018 sooooooo seemingly I did okay. 

After this, I went on to teach 6 workshops at The National Wedding Show, one of the biggest bridal shows in the country, at London Excel. Mind-blowing. Talking of the National Wedding Show, in 2017 I also exhibited at three wedding fairs. Starting off small at The Chosen Wedding Fair getting bigger at Most Curious and then finishing off with the biggest at Excel. I love working for myself and being my own (I am a closet loner) but meeting people face to face and speaking to them about the work that I truly love gives me such a buzz. It's exhausting but the most fun and I can’t wait to do more shows next year. I also got to do two of the shows with two of my business besties which made it all the more awesome.

This year I have also had a load of styled shoots published (mental note to actually keep count of them next year) some of which are in print which is WILD. I am such a lover of magazines so to see my work in them is just beyond humbling. Through working on styled shoots I have met the most wonderful array of wedding suppliers all of whom are a total joy to work with. Being able to work to such creative briefs for styled shoots is one of my favourite things to do and seeing the professional images is always so exciting.

2017 was also the year that I met and worked with some truly gorgeous brides and grooms. I nailed down who my ideal client is and then I worked with some who blew my socks off at how perfect for Oh Wonder they were. I worked on two weddings at my favourite wedding venue - Aynhoe Park and the pictures were just breathtaking. I had my biggest on the day wedding order for a wedding in August with whom I worked with one of my favourite Planners Krysta from For The Love Of Weddings. We were both having a pretty awful time when we were pulling this together and she showed me the true meaning of sisterhood as we helped each other pull off the most EPIC of weddings. I also worked with the amazing Kat Otter and Jay Archer flowers who created the most breathtaking of weddings and to see my work in the middle of their insane talents was just incredible.

In 2016 I became a part of the fantastic communities….and in 2017 my community turned into my friends. I am so grateful to be able to call some of my greatest competitors my closest friends. The undying support, laughs and love these ladies give me is overwhelming and they fill my heart with so much love. During my lowest OH F*** moments they are always there to pick me up and they are first to raise a glass to me for my wins. Quite simply without these ladies I don't think I would have achieved (or survived) half of what I have.

Along with all this, I have also taught countless private and group workshops, been interviewed by the lovely She Can. She Did, launched four new collection suites, grown my Instagram following by FIVE THOUSAND followers, worked with some incredible brands such as Fresh beauty, The White Company, Heaps and Stacks, Ferrero Rocher and Laura Mercier, made some baubles which went crazy and the reaction to them filled me with all the love, and I had an amazing brand shoot with the wonderful Holly Booth. Phew…..its been a busy one for Oh Wonder.

In Life…

I have spent the year watching my baby turn into a little boy full of love life and a lot of sass. Every time I look at him my heart wants to burst he is such a perfect little being. Watching him grow is a true wonder and I am forever grateful that he came into my life. My goal when I started Oh Wonder last year was to be full time by the time Oscar started at school….things have gone much much quicker and I am now finding myself trying to balance still spending time with him. Whilst there are plenty of times when I am half on my laptop and half paying attention to him I have tried to switch off and spend lots of quality time exploring and teaching him new things. Mum guilt can be a total hoe sometimes and I definitely find I have moments when I question if putting so much time into my business is the right thing to do when I have a little human. But undoubtedly having my work makes me a much better and well-rounded person. I think it is important for him to see that you can do anything you want to if you put the time and hard work into it, being a good mum is the most important thing in the world to me - but it isn't my only role and I never want it to be. I have learnt that taking time for myself to be Lauren, not just mummy makes me much better mother in the long run.

As some of you might know I have an intense fear of flying and whilst I have had it since I was 12 over the last few years it has really taken hold and got a lot worst. One of my personal goals this year was to try and face it. I spent my childhood travelling the world with my parents and the thought that I couldn’t do that for Oscar hurts me. So in the summer, I booked on to the Virgin Flying without Fear course which I took in November. The week leading up I had 3 panic attacks and I was a bundle of nerves on the morning of the course. Not only did it 100% help, it was actually a really enjoyable and interesting day. My plane knowledge is now second to none (bring on the aviation quizzes) and whilst I won't be taking my cabin crew exams anytime soon I am planning holidays for 2018. 

Speaking of holidays we took a wonderful baby-free (and plane-free!) 12-day break and drove through France into Spain and then back to France for one of my best friends thirtieth birthdays. It was the most relaxing trip spent in great company and definitely very good for my mind and soul.

This year, however, wasn't all highs. In July we said goodbye to my darling Grandma. It happened quickly and it was beyond devastating. My Grandma was one of my greatest inspirations, fiercely creative and even when she lost her sight she would find new ways to create art. She used to be a great calligrapher and some of my favourite books were given to me by her. She and my Grandad had the most wonderful of lives together and their story was the greatest of romances. Seeing him without her makes my soul ache and ending the year without her and with him also in bad health fills me with sadness. Their love will forever be an inspiration to me and they have been and always will be the reason why I am so in love with love. To have what they have is a gift, that can be taken away in an instant and should never be taken for granted.

So there we go….if you have stuck with me through all that then THANKS, 2017 has been pretty wild and I am really looking forward to what 2018 has in store for me and Oh Wonder. Not only do I turn 30 (I know, I know I really don't look it) but I have an INSANELY exciting project coming out which I cannot wait to share with you all. It is killing me not being able to write about it in this post. 

I want to thank each and every one of my followers, friends, clients, supporters and colleagues for their continuing support. Without you, all Oh Wonder wouldn't exist and I am forever thankful to you all. Wishing you all a New Years Eve filled with love, laughter and lots of bubbles and a prosperous 2018. See you the other side. 

The top five lessons I have learnt in 2017
1. Sometimes the right thing to do is to say no.
2. Community is THE most important thing.
3. Sometimes stepping out your comfort zone can make the world of difference in your business and life.
4. Don't take love or life for granted.
5. If you don't look after yourself you can't look after anyone else.

L x