To celebrate International Women’s Day I reflect on my journey as a business owner.
Today is International Women’s Day. Usually I wouldn’t make a point of honouring it but since becoming a business owner my feelings towards it have changed.
My Business is run from the corner of my bedroom next to the window.
I have a ladder desk slotted into the space around the size of an exam table that you used to get at school. Next to me I have a white IKEA pinboard with a yearly calendar attached to it. On the desk I have my laptop, my second screen (it helps with designing) and a ceramic pen holder with the words “Pen Den” on it. This was my present to myself when I upgraded to the desk.
Before being a “Bedroom Boss” my business was run from either the kitchen table, or jostling for space on the couch next to our staffy.
Upgrading to a desk was a pivotal moment in my business journey. It was validation that my business was here to stay.
At the beginning
Brand by Katie began in April 2019 when I was made redundant. At that time, I was 7 months pregnant suffering from PGP. The redundancy was sudden: I had had no consultations prior to the redundancy so the phone call from HR was out of the blue. I received 1 weeks pay, 8 days holiday pay and no redundancy.
I had to decide: either try and find another job as a heavily pregnant, waddling employee who would go on maternity leave soon, or something else.
And that something else was starting a business.
My only brush with being an entrepreneur was a stint in the Young Enterprise Society at school (We sold glowsticks at the school dances and made a tidy profit) but the idea of running a business was a pipe dream.
I knew no one who had started a company.
Playing to my strengths I started to offer Virtual Assistance and Graphic design to small businesses. I joined a female networking group and begun to slowly get clients. Through different projects I naturally gravitate towards the graphics side, and eventually dropped the assisting side completely.
As I focused more on graphic design, I started researching branding. I had always been fascinated by advertisements and would always watch those “Why do you buy” documentaries; where they show you how supermarkets position their products and play with the lighting to get you to buy.
The psychology behind buying was interesting to me. It felt almost a bit devious, but I wanted to help my clients achieve that level of brand influence. So, on the 1st anniversary of my business, I made the drastic decision to focus on providing one product only: a full brand identity service encompassing brand strategy and design.
Being your own Boss (bedroom or not) is harder than you think. Yes, you are in charge of when you take a “day off” or “sick day” but the chances are that if you are passionate about your business like me, you will take neither.
During the Christmas period I had to physically schedule time into my calendar not to work. This wasn’t just so I could spend time with my family, but also it was good for the business too. As a boss you need to take a break from your business to think of new ideas.
At the start of the pandemic last year, I had another decision to make: whether to let the business close or not.
As my business was so young it was one of the millions that didn’t qualify for any Government funding, so I would have to sustain it. It would also mean running a business and juggling childcare responsibilities as my husband couldn’t work from home.
I had come way too far to let it fold now.
I moved my business to the evenings, working on projects after my children were in bed and on the weekend. It was tiring and frustrating that I had hardly any time to work on my business. I would come up with ideas and have to wait until the evening to write them down. But the move was necessary to preserve the business. And, looking back, it was the best decision I made.
The next Chapter
As Brand by Katie slowly edges towards its second birthday, I have big plans. Bigger plans than I originally thought two years ago. The aim is to now grow the business to the most successful female led brand design agency in the world.
It is a big ask. But considering that its inception was through redundancy, and having survived a pandemic, 3 national lockdowns, pregnancy and an increase in family members I think it will do just fine.