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

September Feelings

Hello Strangers! Have you been wondering where I have gone? I am sorry. I am still alive and kicking I have just been buried under a ton of wedding calligraphy commissions for the last few months. One of my never ending goals is to be more organised with my blog (and life) and it is a working progress but I want to be here more and serve you guys because I love this little space of the internet that is mine. This summer has been a mad one...but I will save that for next week for now here is a new blog feature...the feeeeeeelings feature. I absolutely love making mood boards, I mean hello have you seen my Pinterest?! So I thought I would introduce monthly mood board posts showing what I am feeling this month.  

September Moodboard.jpg

Somehow we seem to have fallen into September...I am trying desperately not to think about how quickly this has happened. But what it does mean is that we are heading into Autumn, which is my absolutely my favourite season. As much as I love the sunshine (as long as it isn't too hot) there is nothing I love more than being in jumpers and boots kicking through crunchy leaves and snuggling up under blankets in the evenings. Septembers feelings are based around blushes and neutrals along with cool greys and dark blues, intense patterns, layered materials and of course heading towards cosy layers. I find that flora, patterns and fabrics are what I lean most towards when searching for inspiration for designs there is just something so beautiful about them. The style of calligraphy that I am using most at the moment is this loose style - I just love the effortless flow and bounce of it.

So September, I think you might be a bit of a beauty (especially as I am jetting off to France for 10 days! Woohoo!) but I promise you will see me here soon and I am not disappearing for months again!

Ciao for now.

L x

Monthly Recap | March

Erm. Right. So the first QUARTER of this year is now done. How? Is there some kind of time lord shenanigans happening here? Because days, weeks, months, QUARTERS seem to be flying by. 

So moving on swiftly from those scary thoughts - March has been a super fun month - with the main events being that I exhibited at my first two wedding fairs which I really enjoyed! The first Sunday of March was spent at the Chosen Wedding Fair in Islington. It was such a nice day and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting lots of lovely couples and suppliers. As it was my first fair I didn't really know what to expect and it was the first time that we had properly set up my stand background and shelves (lovingly built by my darling baby daddy) so I was a bit nervous but I was really happy with how it turned out. A couple of weeks later I exhibited at Most Curious with all the cool kids and although it was the looooongest weekend - I was totally exhausted by Sunday - it again was so fun, I met loads of lovely lovely people and discussed lots of amazing wedding plans. I had the same stand set up but this time the AMAZING Gee from Bloom and Burn gave it a little spruce up with some florals which were total PERFECTION, I literally sent him one inspiration image and he nailed exactly what I wanted. Total Babe.

During March I also did the March Meet The Maker Instagram challenge which was great - I had been in a little bit of funk with Instagram during Feb so this really picked me up and I really enjoyed all the daily prompts - in total honesty I didn't quite manage to get all the prompts but I actually did more than I thought I would, so well done me :) 

I have had two shoots out in March - Secret Garden Banquet on Rock My Wedding and the Victorian inspired Horniman shoot on Bloved both of which I loved and will be blogging about this month (promise). I also took part in a couple of shoots which I can't wait to share - so watch this space for them too.

Along with generally getting prepped for the fairs March was also full of lots of client work - some for private wedding clients and some corporate work. Both including lots and lots of envelopes which I really enjoy because it's just doing calligraphy for hours no faffing about on the computer, which in a life full of admin, is nice from time to time.

April is yet another busy month but the sun is shining and I feel pretty ready for it (I think....maybe....kind of?) it is also full of lots of fun 'life' stuff as well as work with Oscars second birthday this week, a trip to the New Forest for Easter planned and also a girly weekend to Oxford with my sister at the end of the month - so lots of exciting things to look forward to. Work wise I have quite a few exciting on the day projects to get started on for early summer weddings along with some new collection plans....ooooooo. I feel like I need a lie down just thinking about it....

So here we go....April, Spring, Quarter Two....I am coming for you! 

L x

What I Have Learnt | Instagram | Part Two

Well hello there and welcome to part two of What I have learnt about Instagram! If you haven't yet read part one (WHY?!) you can find it here. So settle down with a cuppa and fight the attention seeking toddler and dog away (surely that can’t only be my life?!) and get reading all about what I think about hashtags, having a cohesive page and lots more! As discussed in my last post about Instagram I am so far away from being insta-famous (goddamnit) but I am happy with where I am with my posting and engagement so I just wanted to share some tips that I have found helpful! 

HASHTAGS

Hashtags - those pesky little buggers. Annoying but essential. It is how the search system of platforms like Instagram and Twitter work and also if you don't use them then you aren't going to be getting in the #dream top nine and people can’t find you. You can use a maximum of thirty per post and in my opinion I would use them all. I personally have a little note in my phone with them all in and I just copy and paste and then add a couple which are more targeted to each post. When searching for hashtags to add to your ‘catalogue’ if you type into the search bar one of your hashtags it will come up with related ones if you are falling short of ideas! 

HAVING A COHESIVE PAGE

For me as a creative and visual person having a cohesive page is really important as I see my Instagram as an extension of my website. The images on my account are a mix of professional styled photos and pictures I have taken myself with my iPhone. I don't touch professional images (huge no no to edit any photographers images) but with my phone pictures I always edit with VSCO and use the same filter each time. Now I do not profess to know anything about photography lighting drives me crazy and getting whites took look the same quite literally makes me want to throw my phone in the bin BUT I do have a little area that I do most of my flat lays and I try to do it when the lighting isn't direct sunshine but before dusk. It is worth finding a little area where the environment is pretty constant to take your photos. Find a filter that suits your branding and style and then stick to it, apps like VSCO are great they have so many options for editing. I am also one of those insanely annoying people that posts a picture to see what it looks like on my grid and then deletes it straight away (SORRY to anyone that gets notifications for my account!) to make a proper post. Uber annoying I know. Sorry. 

STYLING

This point follows on slightly from the last - I am SO far away from being any kind of styling guru but after I went to a Makelight workshop and saw the styling GENIUS Emily Quinton style some of my calligraphy I started to pull together a bit of a styling box which I pull out when I am putting together a flat lay. This has made life waaaaay easier as I know where everything is and its super easy to grab the bits I need. I have a selection of ribbons and materials and also a couple of backdrops from Capture by Lucy which are amazing and since getting my Ash Bush penholder that has made a lot of appearances! Using the same selection of items to style up my images also brings together the cohesiveness of my page…for me, luckily, the things that I am taking photos of are generally pretty small so I don’t need a lot of styling tools just adding a bit of ribbon or material in brings a bit of depth to the photo. 

SEEING YOUR PROFILE AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR WEBSITE/PORTFOLIO

As I mentioned on my previous point I see my profile as an extension of my website, it is essentially a up to date portfolio for my work. On my website I only use professional images that I have got from shoots but on Instagram I can post less than perfect images of my works in progress and show them off. Quite often when I get enquiries from potential clients i will point them in the direction of an Instagram post if I have done something similar in the past. For me also it is a great way of attracting new clients and I do get a lot of my work through people that have found me on there. Because of this obviously it is important to be professional on your profile when communicating with your followers and also posting on other peoples pictures. In short. Don't be a d*ck on Instagram.

INSTAGRAM CHALLENGES

I love an Instagram challenge, its great if your lacking a bit of inspiration and the people who organise them generally know what they are talking about so you’ll be posting content that people react well too. If you follow me you will know that currently I am doing Joanne Hawkers march meet the maker and I am really enjoying it. I have also previously done week long Rising Tide society challenges and one by Jenna Kutcher. It is also a great way to engage with other creatives who are doing the challenge by looking through the associated hashtag.

STORIES

Instagram stories are awesome. I love them. In a world of perfect curated Instagram pages they are a great way to show real life and behind the scenes without the pressure of it looking Instagram perfect. I love to use stories to show new materials, projects I am working on and sneak peeks along with a little insight into my life (mainly videos of my son and dog BECAUSE THEY ARE CUTE plus they literally follow me everywhere and I can’t get rid of them) I am yet to talk on stories as I sound like a four year old when I talk in videos so yeh probably going to keep avoiding that, but if you have the confidence to then go for it, I think its a great way to communicate with your followers. To top it off you can filter them and add a little bit of text to explain to your followers what the hell is going on. 

WOW so to round the second part of this essay up. I love Instagram. These tips might not work for everyone but I am very happy about where I have got in the last year of having my business account and I wanted to share a little bit of my learning process with you…just incase it can help…and if it does then please let me know - it’s always nice to know that someone out there is reading this.

L x