My Past & Future. Creative-Instagram-Blog-Events.

How on earth are we in October now already? I feel as though September was on fast forward. A month thats been pretty significant for me in all honesty, still the same shit storm of the everyday juggling, motherhood/work/wife-ing/event planning/having a social life and everything in-between but this month brought a collection of decisions and realisations too. Seems fitting, a new season with changing colours (and a plummeting temperature) all alongside changes in my life too. Don’t worry, its not as dramatic as I am making it all sound.

Firstly, after giving it much thought I decided to drop a day at work. Taking me from visual merchandising 3 days a week to just 2 days, spreading more hours over those days though, which means earlier starts and later finishes but in doing so it means I have 1 day a week to concentrate on my other work. Instagram, blogging and events (this past year) has blossomed into an almost full time job. Making that decision to work one day a week from home wasn’t easy, its one step closer to full time self employment, something that I admire so much in this virtual world of social media. I watch and cheer on so many wonderful women online that have taken the plunge to follow their dream, whilst I wave from the side lines feeling like I am just not cut out for it. I had to make a decision to stop with all the self doubt and follow my heart which is what this blog post is essentially about as I am about to announce my plans for the future.

The truth is I have never been that academic, I enjoyed school and I was average at most things. I always received the grades that I needed but I never excelled, that was until I discovered the arts. I sang, dance and acted my way into after school groups, the only subjects I was ever truly passionate about was Fine art & Performance. I went to performing art schools during the summer holidays, I always received the highest of grades when it came to Art exams and performance assessments and they were the only subjects I would ever complete homework for. I went on to study Fine Art at University and knew that my life had to have creative purpose, it was in my veins and no ordinary job would do unless it fulfilled my creative itch.

I remember wearing my T-shirt with pride on Freshers week, it said ‘LUSAD’ Which stood for Loughborough University School of Art & Design. It was once on a night out that a fellow fresher confronted me in a takeaway and shouted that I should study a ‘proper’ subject that I realised Creative people were not always given the credit that they deserve. It ended in me having the last say after I reminded them that the clothes they were wearing, the house they lived in and the music in their playlist were all designed by a creative person and that chances are those people didn’t study a ‘proper’ subject either! I think from that moment on I was determined to make sure that creative people were always supported by me and encouraged to be themselves.

Instagram from the moment I downloaded it in 2012 was a creative release, I showed it my friends whose heads were firmly placed on Facebook and they laughed when I said it was so much better, its visual so it was always going to be a better version of social media for me. I am so incredibly lucky that with no real effort in the beginning my following grew and grew. What once felt like a small community of creative people has exploded and in so its granted a few of the platforms with more followers the chance to receive an income for creating. With that has come stigma, rumours and lots of online bashing but what it stems down to is that social media is a new market for businesses that want exposure through real people with real lives. Its up to influencers (don’t like that term but hey ho) and creative people like me to make sure they are accepting the right work and making the right choices for the people that follow their journey. There has to be a gain for everyone within each campaign, are the brand happy with my work? Am I receiving what I am owed? Am I highlighting something that followers will love & use? I CAN hand on heart say that each of those questions has crossed my mind on every campaign I have ever done.

At times this kind of work is overwhelming which is partly why I have chosen not to pursue it as my only job, I wouldn’t give the occasional collaboration up and won’t be shamed out of doing ADs but I needed more purpose and my heart kept telling me to do something I didn’t think I could. EVENTS! I wanted to merge the virtual and reality into one and create an event that allowed for online collaborations and also real life ones too.

After all, supporting independant businesses online is what I owed my platform to, its what helped me get noticed years ago and I still even now get regular requests for recommendations of smaller businesses on instagram. You will probably already know that its been over a year since my first market and my fourth is fast approaching, its become my way of making paid work with brands a more tangible thing. Real life shopping and less online shopping, being able to touch and feel products and meeting makers too, its my way of supporting my own creative dream and helping others with theirs also.

Less emails and more phone calls, less phone calls and more coffee dates, building more personal relationships in business has helped me to stop doubting myself as a ‘business lady’ and the purpose of my role on social media has been restored. I think it was what I needed to make me feel more comfortable making this kind of work my full time job. I still have a way to go before I hang up my merchandising role but the future is looking bright for my ‘little idea’ I had back in May 2017.

and my big news is…

The team at The Roundhouse Derby believe enough in my event to want to partner with me.

They will be working along side me to grow the event, meaning more space, more stall holders and more exciting elements to get planning. We have plans to make the event not only a market for shopping but also a baby & children’s show complete with live demonstrations & talks, dozens of expert parenting services and groups in the local area and so much more. In fact my head could explode with the amount of ideas on paper right now!

I am itching to get going and I am thrilled to announce that the date you need to pencil into your 2019 diary is APRIL 14th! More to come soon but for now THANK YOU so much for your constant support and I really hope you can join me next year.

Ainsley GrayComment