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

2016 | A Recap

I honestly have to keep pinching myself that this year is over....HOW is this possible?! The last twelve months have flown by in a crazy blur (I swear having children makes time go faster - anyone agree?!) So today I am injecting a little nostalgia into the blog and recapping on the last year which has been full on amazing.

On January 4th 2016 Oh Wonder was launched to the world (aka my FB friends and personal Instagram followers) with a pokey little website and crappy photography, that I nearly drove myself crazy taking. I was terrified but so proud of myself for finally getting my act together and launching my little dream. Putting myself out there was the best decision that I made. A year later I have a website that isn't necessarily perfect and I am constantly tweaking things, but it is full of amazing images taken by brilliant photographers, products and services that I am so proud of and classes that I love teaching, I have nearly two thousand followers on Instagram (seriously this blows my mind every damn day), I am part of the most AMAZING communities, have made brilliant friends who I can ask any kind of question when I am stuck and know they will usually have an answer that I would never have thought of, I've helped people like me who have been too scared or nervous to follow their creative dreams and launch businesses (something I never thought would happen), I've had the pleasure to teach over fifty people calligraphy and taken part in 16 styled shoots (when my goal in Jan was to figure out how to take part in one!) some of which have been featured on the WORLDS biggest wedding blogs.

It's been insane. That's not to say that it's all been perfect, I am continuously fighting the battle of balancing my work and personal life which can leave me feeling burnt out and frustrated, and knowing how much work I can actually manage versus saying yes to everything (I am a people pleaser and everything always just sounds so exciting!!!) but gradually I am working it out. There will always be some days I don't get dressed or showered and the man in the post office looks at me like I am a total mess, but sometimes somethings got to give.

All in all it has been a beaut of a year for Oh Wonder and for me. I am mum to a beautiful toddler who makes me beam from ear to ear every day, I am surrounded by love and support and now I have a business that is beginning to be recognised within an industry I LOVE working in and I never feel like working is a chore...which to me means success (hopefully the piles of dolla bills, designer handbags and shoes will follow)

I have been and continue to be blown away by the support and kind words that I get from friends, family, strangers, clients, other suppliers, competitors, and what my sister calls my internet friends. You are all superstars and I honestly would not be where I am without you all. I hope you have enjoyed watching me grow over the last year and that you continue to enjoy the rest of my journey. I feel like this last year, whilst it feels like a novel already, is only the opening chapter in the story of Oh Wonder.

My five tips for starting your own calligraphy or stationery business
I definitely don't know it all, I am still a total newbie but here are my top five tips for anyone who wants to start up their own business.
Community over Competition...find your competitors and then make friends with them. Chances are they are very similar to you and you'll get on like a house on fire and be the best of friends. Bonus is you can help each other out of sticky situations, give a hand when the going gets tough and pass on work that you can't do to someone you know and trust.
Don't be scared, make the jump. Not everyone is going to love what you do, and at first that might make you sad (it definitely did for me) but you will find your niche and it will be full of lovely people who are perfect for you to work with and build relationships with. 
It doesn't all have to be perfect right away. When I first launched my logo wasn't perfect and my website was crappy but what mattered was that I had an online presence...I was a real business and person, not just some ghost. As I have done more shoots and work over the year and got to know more what my ideal clients and jobs are my website has evolved and will continue to do so. If I waited for it to be perfect before launching then it probably still wouldn't be out there.
Network. Find online communities and go to events...I am not a natural face to face networker - I prefer to be at home in my PJs talking to people on Instagram BUT it is essential to meet people, it will get you work and build your brand...plus once your there it's a lot more fun than you thought!
Be yourself. Personality is key, especially in the wedding industry, your clients have chosen you to be a part of the biggest day of their lives so let them see the person that they are letting be a part of that.