How Much Are You Worth?

How Much Are You Worth?

*Salvator Mundi is the most expensive painting in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci created this work of art (not shown in this article due to copyright laws) sometime between 1490 and 1510. It disappeared from public records for many decades; and by the time it resurfaced, it had suffered so much damage, it was undervalued.

Mistaken for a copy – and at one point, transported in a plastic garbage bag! – this original masterpiece sold at Sotheby’s in 1958 for a mere £45.

The moment its originality was no longer called into question, the painting’s value soared.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia purchased Salvator Mundi for $450.3 million.

bin bag

How much are YOU worth?

upset

I’m not talking net worth, as in how much you have in your bank accounts or in fixed assets.

I’m talking your true VALUE, in the big scheme of things.

The other day, a friend of mine broke down in tears. Her daughter’s selfishness had hurt her deeply. In that same week, her husband had said unkind things to her. Feeling unloved and unappreciated, she was at an all-time low.

My heart went out to her. She has no idea how amazing she is. This woman is one of the most generous, caring, loving people I know. She finds her worth in the giving of her time, of herself, to her family and her friends. So when her love is not reciprocated in a way she needs it to be, naturally she feels insignificant, devastated . . .

Worthless.

This made me wonder: Hey, how many others are feeling the same way?

Too many women and men are wading through life without realising their true value.

Are you one of them?

DID YOU KNOW . . .

When you allow other people to validate you – to determine your worth – you will always be disappointed.

We human beings all have BUNDLES OF FLAWS and imperfections. Not one of us is perfect. So we will, at some time or other, let people down. And they will, in turn, disappoint us. It’s human nature.

So what’s the answer?

How about . . .

Appreciating who you really are. Understanding your actual worth.

Hear me out.

You – yes, you – are a one-of-a-kind original work of art.

You are worth so much more than that $450.3 million Old Master painting, or any other artwork made by man (or woman).

You are priceless.

Believe it. Because you were created by the Master Creator of Old Masters.

Woah! I hear you say, I don’t believe in God.

OK, then. How about science?

Science has proven that you are unique. Special. Invaluable.

One in a million . . .

Or to be more accurate: you are 1 in 7.9 billion!

There is no one like you on this earth. Never has been; never will be.

Not even if you’re a twin or a septuplet.

9 UNIQUE PHYSICAL TRAITS distinguish you from everyone else.

Your fingerprints are distinctive, as I’m sure you know. But did you know that the chance of two people having the same fingerprint is 1 in 64 billion?

Pretty awesome, considering the earth’s current population is only 7.9 billion.

toe prints

Your toe prints are just as unique.

Your palm print sets you apart.

hand print
iris

Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Your irises (the coloured rings around the pupil of your eye) have distinctive complex patterns, and not one eye colour is exactly the same as another.

They’re even more unique than your fingerprints!

 

If you read or watch crime novels or series, you’ll already know that you can be identified by your bite.

Your teeth are like no one else’s.

bite mark

Photo by Amr Taha™ on Unsplash

bite mark

 

Your tongue.

Every single person possesses a unique tongue print.

Weird but true.

 

Your kiss has got to be pretty special too, because your lips are a one-of-a-kind pair.

 

Your ears are shaped differently to everyone else’s.

Not even identical twins have the same ears.

 

Finally, your heartbeat.

Yes. Every single person on earth has a completely unique heartbeat.

Pretty symbolic, don’t you think?

You are special: inside and out.

 

It’s plain to see.

Your body was formed with care and love, and incredible attention to detail.

As was every part of your being.

Purpose Driven Life

 

In Rick Warren’s phenomenal bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, he delves even deeper, to show us just how unique we are, outside and in.

You are set apart from others by a unique combination of:

    • Your talents, gifts and abilities

    • Your heart (your passions, desires, interests, hopes and dreams)

 

    • Your personality (introvert/extrovert; sanguine/driver, etc.)

 

    • Your experiences (your family, education, vocation, etc.)

 

All of these traits together make YOU unique — and shape you for a special purpose.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Think of who you are in your entirety, and realise:

You are special.

There will never ever be another you.

You are not a mistake or an accident.

You have a purpose.

There is a reason you are alive.

 

This is important to remember. Because whenever you compare yourself to others, or wait on others for validation or appreciation, you’re forgetting something:

No one else will ever be able to play your role on this earth in this lifetime.

 

Read that again.

 

Once this sinks in, you will begin to get an inkling of just how invaluable, how priceless you are.

Unsplash pic

So, please, whenever you feel unloved, unappreciated, undervalued, unworthy . . .

Look in the mirror and see WHO YOU REALLY ARE:

A rare work of art.

A diamond.

A masterpiece.

Every morning you should remind yourself of these things. You are special. You are so loved.

And if you do believe in God, you’ll know:

You are WORTH DYING FOR.

Don’t take my word for it. Take this guy’s.

(By the way, this can be applied to MEN TOO. wink)

With Love,

Vx

P.S. Can you think of anyone who could benefit from hearing this message? Go on, then: share this blog post with them. Be an encourager. Let them know just how special they are.

 

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

 

*Salvator Mundi (translation: Saviour of the World) depicts Jesus Christ holding the world in His hand. See the painting & read the Guardian article.

More in-depth reading into just how special you are:

Read this AtlasBiomed article.

Sources & Recommended reading:

The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren (found in all good bookstores & on Amazon)

This Health Digest article.

For more encouragement, follow @jonjorgenson on Instagram.

Tweetable TAKEAWAYS:

Never let anyone mistake you for a copy. You are a one-of-a-kind original work of art. 

Allowing others to determine your worth ensures your disappointment. 

You are one in 7.9 billion!

There will never be another you. Live like you believe it.

You are worth dying for.

Be an encourager. Be kind. Be love.

FYI…

I don’t receive any reward/commission for promoting any of the people, businesses or charities on my blog. I just want to inspire & motivate as many people as possible to fulfil their purpose & potential.

If any other key points stood out for you, or you just want to let me know what you thought about this post, feel free to comment below.

NEXT TIME on The Hopeaholic blog: 

More uplifting content!

If you subscribe to my monthly news blurb (it’s free, and brief, honest!) you’ll be in the know. wink

Links to all my PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS can be found on the BLOG PAGE.

 

Did you enjoy my blog? Please Share the Sunshine. 🙂

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS . . . AUTHENTOLOGY

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS . . . AUTHENTOLOGY

Meet Melanie Hatjigiannakis, CEO of Authentology AB.

Taking on the Herculean responsibility of creating a start-up and driving it toward success was not an easy decision. But Melanie, a highly experienced business mentor, has never shied away from a challenge.

To find out just how demanding her journey has been, keep reading.

And Discover…

12 PERFECT GIFTS* for every budget.

Plus a 15% discount!

*WARNING: You’ll want them all for yourself.  I know I do. #ChristmasWishlist

 

Meet Melanie Hatjigiannakis, CEO of Authentology AB.

Taking on the Herculean responsibility of creating a start-up and driving it toward success was not an easy decision. But Melanie, a highly experienced business mentor, has never shied away from a challenge.

To find out just how demanding her journey has been, keep reading.

And Discover…

12 PERFECT GIFTS* for every budget.

Plus a 15% discount!

*WARNING: You’ll want them all for yourself.  I know I do. #ChristmasWishlist

 

 

 

In Melanie’s words, this is the story of Authentology:

 

‘In an age of mass-production and commercialisation, Authentology is a destination for the creative worldly women who long for fashion accessories, stationery, and homeware that aren’t found on the shelves of stores everywhere.

Every collection is the creation of a new world for the woman of today who is chic, self reliant and unapologetically herself.

We like to call it defiant elegance with the right amount of effortless cool…

 

 

The Authentology Story continued…

‘Born 2020 in Sweden, our brand encourages self-discovery, the honoring of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Our mission has always been to source pieces that allow you to express yourself in your own authentic way through your wardrobe and home at an affordable price.

Every item is sourced with care, an eye for detail, and a passion for old-world craftmanship, ensuring that any treasure you find at Authentology is unique, just like you.

We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity that we use to source our products, to help inspire conscious consumerism through sustainable fashion.

We want our customers to feel at peace about their impact on the planet and the people who crafted the items you purchase from us.’

 

The Authentology Story continued…

‘Born 2020 in Sweden, our brand encourages self-discovery, the honoring of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Our mission has always been to source pieces that allow you to express yourself in your own authentic way through your wardrobe and home at an affordable price.

Every item is sourced with care, an eye for detail, and a passion for old-world craftmanship, ensuring that any treasure you find at Authentology is unique, just like you.

We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity that we use to source our products, to help inspire conscious consumerism through sustainable fashion.

We want our customers to feel at peace about their impact on the planet and the people who crafted the items you purchase from us.’

With an introduction like that, I feel like saying anything more would be superfluous. However, let’s delve a little deeper, into the heart of Authentology.

Mel, when did Authentology actually ‘go live’?

Born 2020 in Sweden, we went live in July 2021.

 

Do you run the company alone or do you have help?

As the CEO I manage the daily running of the business together with a small number of outside consultants.

 

What made you decide to take on the daunting role of CEO of a start-up?

Does desperation count? Because that’s the honest truth. (Thank you, COVID.)

 

(We’ll come back to that…) How scary was the plunge?

Heart-stopping but exhilarating.

What Doesn’t Kill You…

Did you need qualifications of any kind?

25+ years of senior management experience running companies and advising other companies has been a blessing.

 

Was your age, gender, or any other aspect a hurdle in any way?

Being a woman in male-dominated sectors has always been an issue. It is incredibly challenging for a woman to climb the corporate ladder. But if you want it badly enough you learn to find a way. Never give up. Never surrender!

(Something tells me Ms Hatjigiannakis would’ve given Churchill a run for his money.) 

What are the best nuggets of advice you’ve been given?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And: find a mentor — it will change your life. But the best advice I’ve ever received, which I use in my private life as well, is this: ‘If you are in a relationship, be it work or private, and you are not getting 51% out of it, then walk away.’ It may sound harsh, but it has stood me in good stead up to now.

Did you need qualifications of any kind?

25+ years of senior management experience running companies and advising other companies has been a blessing.

 

Was your age, gender, or any other aspect a hurdle in any way?

Being a woman in male-dominated sectors has always been an issue. It is incredibly challenging for a woman to climb the corporate ladder. But if you want it badly enough you learn to find a way. Never give up. Never surrender!

(Something tells me Ms Hatjigiannakis would’ve given Churchill a run for his money.) 

What are the best nuggets of advice you’ve been given?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And: find a mentor — it will change your life. But the best advice I’ve ever received, which I use in my private life as well, is this: ‘If you are in a relationship, be it work or private, and you are not getting 51% out of it, then walk away.’ It may sound harsh, but it has stood me in good stead up to now.

Can you tell us a little about your career history?

I went from being a CEO of a South African trade/regulatory association responsible for a R3.5 billion per annum sector (vacation ownership — property) to starting a management consultancy business in the UK. Once COVID hit, I ran out of work and so I decided to take up the offer of running an ecommerce start-up in Sweden, namely Authentology.

I have always been eager to try new things, and this is evident in my career history. I’ve always worked, since graduating from High School at the age of 17, and my first job was in finance. I also tend to be drawn to very male-dominated sectors, for some inexplicable reason. I went from Finance (Banking) to Insurance, followed by forays into Alcohol, Hospitality/Tourism and Management Consulting… and now here I am in ecommerce.

I love working and, yes, it does define me, seeing as I have spent such a large proportion of my life working and traveling. Most of the knowledge I have acquired has been through work. I can honestly say I have had the privilege of collaborating with some extremely talented individuals from around the world.

My work has also made me more culturally tolerant and emotionally intelligent, as I have been fortunate enough to live and work in some fantastic countries, such as South Africa, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, the USA, Malaysia, and Australia, to mention a few.

How did COVID-19 affect Authentology?

The business started during COVID. As the pandemic pushed people to shop online, starting an ecommerce business was a good fit.

Where do you promote the business? How important is word of mouth?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Word of mouth is worth gold, but a social media influencer’s referral is worth diamonds. Regrettably, getting an influencer on board costs a fortune for small business.

Any highlights that stand out in your mind?

This company took a lot of research: almost two years. Only once I knew as much as possible did I start drafting a business plan. The highlight, after all that hard work, was obtaining first-round funding.

How did COVID-19 affect Authentology?

The business started during COVID. As the pandemic pushed people to shop online, starting an ecommerce business was a good fit.

Where do you promote the business? How important is word of mouth?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Word of mouth is worth gold, but a social media influencer’s referral is worth diamonds. Regrettably, getting an influencer on board costs a fortune for small business.

Any highlights that stand out in your mind?

This company took a lot of research: almost two years. Only once I knew as much as possible did I start drafting a business plan. The highlight, after all that hard work, was obtaining first-round funding.

What have been your worst moments so far? The times you’ve been at your lowest.

One of my greatest disappointments, which I still feel today, is that after moving from South Africa to the UK and looking for work, I discovered to my horror that all the senior executive work experience I had — covering more than 20 years — appeared to be meaningless.

I struggled to get any interviews. I spent a fortune having my CV written by professionals, polishing my LinkedIn profile, and so on. But because my experience was not ‘specialised’ it seemed that recruiters just simply did not know where to put me. Pigeonholing is a huge issue: if you don’t fit in a ‘box’, you’re difficult to position in the market.

I find this very strange, especially in an age where companies are moving away from very rigid corporate structures (Silos) and, instead, are pursuing more innovative approaches to corporate structure. This means that employees with experience in multiple business disciplines are being sought after.

This issue is not localised to the UK; it is also something I have recently experienced in Sweden. I don’t like to generalise, as I do know of companies who embrace non-sector-specific work-experience individuals. Regrettably, though, the problem does still cover the vast majority of the employment market.

I am also a firm believer in the fact that sector knowledge can be learnt. After all, when you study at university you are taught business skills in a particular topic, e.g. marketing, which is not industry specific at all. And I don’t seem to be alone in this thinking. One only has to look at the individuals who are disrupting sectors with innovative ideas: most of them come from outside that sector.

Word of Mouth is Worth Gold

What would you have done differently?

Taken a job with an established company instead of risking everything for a start-up… Jokes aside, I would have researched the employment market in the UK before leaving South Africa, and better prepared myself for entering that market.

I also would have built up a better work network for the UK, as it’s not always what you know but who you know.

 

What was your steepest learning curve — the most difficult aspect to get your head around?

Getting traffic to the website, as you’re competing with ecommerce stores from all over the world.

 

What would you have done differently?

Taken a job with an established company instead of risking everything for a start-up… Jokes aside, I would have researched the employment market in the UK before leaving South Africa, and better prepared myself for entering that market.

I also would have built up a better work network for the UK, as it’s not always what you know but who you know.

 

What was your steepest learning curve — the most difficult aspect to get your head around?

Getting traffic to the website, as you’re competing with ecommerce stores from all over the world.

 

Who has been your greatest support?

My greatest support throughout my career has come from my business mentors (they know who they are). I cannot stress enough the importance of connecting with that senior leader who is willing to offer guidance and advice, especially for women moving into senior roles. It is not easy: it may take a few tries to find that person who just clicks with you and understands the support and level of encouragement you need.

I am currently registered as a business and student mentor for LinkedIn and have offered advice and counselling to start-ups, SMEs, CEOs and new graduates from around the world.

My life partner and family have been my second greatest support. They are your essential and I thank them so much.

Without Failure We Do Not Learn

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs — and/or for women in male-dominated sectors?

Find a mentor. Start looking for one now, no matter what stage you are at. It’s very important to connect with the right mentor. It took me more than 10 years to find mine. Personal coaches are also very good if you need someone to help you focus on future career paths, or just as a sounding board. Because when you move up to senior executive positions it gets very lonely from a work perspective, as you can’t really confide in co-workers and definitely not in junior employees.

Another bit of advice: do the research. And then do more research before even thinking of starting a business. Be prepared to give up all your free time, family time, and holiday time, because running a business takes a lot of work.

And accept that you will make mistakes. But don’t see them as failures; rather see them as opportunities to learn. Thomas Edison, when developing the filament for the light bulb, once said, ‘I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.’ Without failure we do not learn. And if we do not learn, we do not innovate — for innovation and failure go hand-in-hand.

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs — and/or for women in male-dominated sectors?

Find a mentor. Start looking for one now, no matter what stage you are at. It’s very important to connect with the right mentor. It took me more than 10 years to find mine. Personal coaches are also very good if you need someone to help you focus on future career paths, or just as a sounding board. Because when you move up to senior executive positions it gets very lonely from a work perspective, as you can’t really confide in co-workers and definitely not in junior employees.

Another bit of advice: do the research. And then do more research before even thinking of starting a business. Be prepared to give up all your free time, family time, and holiday time, because running a business takes a lot of work.

And accept that you will make mistakes. But don’t see them as failures; rather see them as opportunities to learn. Thomas Edison, when developing the filament for the light bulb, once said, ‘I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.’ Without failure we do not learn. And if we do not learn, we do not innovate — for innovation and failure go hand-in-hand.

What are your future plans?

Now that I have completed my project as CEO of Authentology, Sweden, I am looking for a new long-term opportunity back in the UK so that I can be closer to family and my ageing father.

We wish you all the best with that, Mel. You certainly must be an exciting prospect for any switched-on employer!

One last question. Did you say you had a SPECIAL OFFER for readers of this blog?

Yes! A 15% discount. Just pop onto the Authentology website and use **Discount Code SAVE15 at checkout. (Offer expires 15 February 2022. Just in time to get that Valentine’s Day something special for her.)

That’s a generous offer, thank you! I assume **the discount code will only work after the current ‘15% off’ SALE ends on 26 December?

That’s right. The code, in effect, extends the sale for you until 15 February.

WOW. Well, I’m certainly not going to wait: I don’t want the stock to run out before I get there. #timetoshop

GOOD TO KNOW: Authentology ships worldwide. AND they generously offer FREE SHIPPING on all purchases over £50.

Oh, by the way: there’s a handy currency converter on the top left-hand side of the site’s main menu.

What are you still doing here? 

HURRY! Place your orders at Authentology ASAP to get your goodies in time for Christmas & snag that fabulous discount!

You can also follow Authentology on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Tweetable TAKEAWAYS:

NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER!

WORK YOUR PASSION

FIND A MENTOR

EXPRESS YOURSELF

WORD OF MOUTH IS WORTH GOLD

SECTOR KNOWLEDGE CAN BE LEARNT

WITHOUT FAILURE WE DO NOT LEARN

INNOVATION & FAILURE GO HAND IN HAND

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER

CATCH ON TO CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM

SUSTAINABLE FASHION IS HOT! (Just ask Benedict Cumberbatch.)

And here’s one for discussion:

SHOULD PIGEONHOLING BE POOH-POOHED?

Just so you know…

I don’t receive any reward/commission for promoting any of the businesses on my blog. Having bought something from each company, I just can’t help but LOVE these brands and want the world to know about them.

 

If any other key points stood out for you, or you just want to let me know what you thought about this interview, feel free to comment below.

COMING UP . . .

Next week: An incredible artist who designs & creates ‘art you can wear’. And you’ll want to wear these pieces, I PROMISE.

If you subscribe to my weekly news blurb (it’s brief, honest!) you’ll be in the know. wink

Did you enjoy my blog? Please Share the Sunshine. 🙂

HAVE YOURSELF A CANNY LI’L CHRISTMAS

HAVE YOURSELF A CANNY LI’L CHRISTMAS

Ami Hansen is an intrepid, bubbly Geordie living in Blyth, U.K.  Just over three years ago, with no training and a demanding fulltime NHS job, she started up The Canny Wreath Co. — creating beautiful handmade bespoke wreaths.

But she didn’t stop there. Quickly she branched out into garlands, centerpieces and door hangings… not just for Christmas but for every occasion! 

Bursting with ideas, it wasn’t long before Ami launched a sister company: The Canny Custom Co. — her outlet for bespoke printing. The range includes her ever-popular custom-made thermos-controlled tumblers with fabulous toppers, as well as t-shirts, baubles, dog treat tins, bags, keyrings and pillowcases.

Whether you’re thinking of starting up a business, or you’re just in need of motivation to take the plunge into the unknown, you will be inspired by Ami’s story. Read about her journey: how she quit her fulltime job and battled through depression and grief to follow her creative passions.

Below are excerpts from my in-depth interview with Ami, as well as fabulous Christmas decor options & Christmas stocking fillers for everyone!

Ami, what was your lightbulb moment?

It was me husband Andy’s lightbulb moment, actually. It all started with a Pinterest photo of a wooden tray with pine cones and candles. As soon as I saw it, I decided I would make something similar as a Christmas decoration. That’s how I ended up at Hobbycraft with me mam and Andy. As it turned out, the tray never got made as I couldn’t find the perfect size. But it had sparked something inside me, because while we were in the shop, me mam said, ‘Can you make us a wreath for Christmas?’ and I immediately said I’d try. I’ve always been creative, so I thought: why not?

We got some bits while we were there, and I took everything home and made me mam a wreath — and she loved it. And then, me cousin saw it and asked me to make her one. Then somebody else asked for one after that… Throughout all of this, I was just doing it as a hobby.

Then, one day, Andy said, ‘You should try and take this somewhere.’

I immediately said no. I didn’t think I was good enough. I had no faith at all in meself. But Andy kept encouraging me. He believed in me from the get go. And I kept giving excuses: ‘I wouldn’t know what to call it. I don’t think it’ll go anywhere…’

But Andy saw something I didn’t. So he kept trying to persuade me to do something with it, and he kept on encouraging me. I mean, he just harped on and on. I guess, maybe because of that, I did have sort of a lightbulb moment, because it just popped into me head one day: The Canny Wreath Co. That minute, on the 15th of November 2018, my company was born!

When did you know you were onto something good?

When people were willing to pay for something I’d made! I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden we were doing loads of orders. Nearer Christmas — in my first month — I received orders for, and made and delivered, 52 wreaths! I was gobsmacked. Then, after Christmas, the ideas just kept coming. And that’s when I thought: Right. I’m going to do this for every occasion.

I didn’t think I was good enough.

How scary was the plunge into working for yourself?

Terrifying. It’s the fear that’s stopping me from quitting me part-time NHS job. I’ve said to meself a million times: I’m going to quit. But it’s scary. If I don’t make any business, then I don’t have any money. This arrangement gives us the comfort of knowing we’ll always have a wage coming in. Especially during a slow month. January and February I’m lucky if I get any orders. I don’t think I’m ready to do it. Quitting me fulltime job was enough for now.

How has your day-to-day life changed?

I went from working Monday to Friday, set hours, and your weekends are your own. But now me work’s at home, so a lot of the time I’m still working at 1.30am. My life has massively changed in that respect. I’m always on me phone because I’m always replying to order queries, or sending over artwork, or giving people ideas for gifts. I’m just constantly working.

Is there an unforgettable moment that stands out in your mind?

The biggest highlight has been making a brilliant connection with an Influencer on Instagram. Two years ago, we sent a Christmas wreath to @cleaning_with_mario and it got us a massive Scottish following. And a lot of them are still loyal customers. Mario is a genuinely canny guy and he’s made the most incredible difference to us. I gained a load of business, but the most important thing is: I gained a friend.

What effect did the pandemic have on your job and your business?

I was a fulltime NHS employee, so I worked through the entire lockdown, in awful Covid conditions. A lot of people, during that time, went mad for ‘Support Small Business’ and my business boomed, because people had to stay indoors, so they were bored, so everyone was buying. We released a new wreath during this time: the Rainbow Rose. And we gave a £5 donation to the NHS with every one sold. People went mad for them. Then it was coming into spring and summer, and people were placing orders for the seasonal wreaths. And then they started ordering Christmas wreaths early. And then they saw the Halloween options, and they started ordering those too. It was brilliant.

How do you juggle the time for two businesses and a job?

I quit my fulltime job a year ago and now work part-time as a healthcare assistant for the NHS. It fits in fine as it doesn’t start until 6pm, so I have the day to do my business. I must admit, though, I work long hours on my own business. During the lead-up to Christmas and other busy seasons, I usually end up working from early morning until early morning.

What can I do to stand out?

How important is word of mouth?

Incredibly important! I get a lot of new customers from recommendations. I have wonderful, loyal customers. Many are locals. Some smaller businesses too. My regular customers are usually the ones who are telling everyone they know about us, and I’m so grateful for them.

Any memorable lightbulb moments once your business was up and running?

A big lightbulb moment happened after that first Christmas. I’d only been set up a couple of months, and I was constantly wondering: What can I do to stand out? That was when I started moving onto the mesh. Not happy to be mediocre, I was up in the loft all on me own, in the freezing cold, with all the cobwebs, and I stayed there for hours, just trying different ways to use the mesh… I wanted my wreaths to be more than just green rings with a couple of flowers on them. I wanted to be different. With Halloween in mind, I painted some zombie hands and put them on a wreath, together with a ‘BOO’ sign. And people went crazy. And I thought: Right, this is the way to go. This is standing out.

Was there ever a time you did not think you would be able to go on?

Two deeply personal family issues knocked me for six: the death of me closest relative, and Andy being diagnosed with cancer. They happened right on top of one another and I struggled to keep going with me business. But I had a lot of support and people around me who believed in me, and so I managed to carry on. Nothing really compares to these two instances, but two ‘minor’ (in the big scheme of things) situations also got me down, due to extreme exhaustion…

A couple of years ago. I was trying to tie a bow with me hands, and I couldn’t do it. I mean, I can tie shoes and I can tie a bow — but actually creating a beautiful bow by hand is incredibly difficult. So there I was, sat on the living room floor, and I was getting frustrated, and I was getting worse and worse. And I just said to Andy, ‘I can’t do this. It’s just too much. I can’t do it.’ It was the stress of knowing that I had to get these done and I had Christmas coming up… That was me first meltdown. Thankfully, Andy encouraged me and persuaded me — and now I absolutely pride meself on how well I can tie a bow.

Another low point happened when we released the Poppy Wreaths. I didn’t expect to sell many and so I wasn’t prepared for the amount of orders that flooded in. I was so proud. But I was exhausted, too. We had it all set up in the kitchen — there were just poppies everywhere — and it was 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, and me and Andy had been working all day, and it got to the point where I just thought: I can’t do another petal. I can’t do it. I cried me eyes out. ‘It’s too much,’ I said. ‘It’s too much to do this on me own, in the house, I can’t do it anymore.’ Of course, as a result of fatigue, I was over-emotional. And of course, Andy came to the rescue. He always pulls me out of it, every time. He sent us to bed that night, and I woke up the next morning and I was fine.

What sparked the idea for The Canny Custom Co.?

I was getting some printed metal signs made by another company, for me wreaths, and I said to me dad, ‘We need to work out how to do this, because I’m paying £9 for one sign.’ So I was either losing a load of money or I was massively putting me prices up, and I pride meself on not having huge prices, because I’m not in the game to rip people off. So, after months of research, we eventually figured out the whole process, and I bought everything I needed to make the signs. And then I practised and it was terrible! I was so bad at it. But I just kept practising — and now they’re flawless! And that’s how The Canny Custom Co. came to be. All because I didn’t want to pay nine quid for one sign, because I knew that if I tried hard enough I could make one meself.

Were your start-up costs affordable? Did you have to get a loan?

I’ve never got a loan. I’ve always paid for everything out of me own pocket, from me wages. I slowly built everything up. Me stock — the stuff we have now — for both businesses is massive. But it’s taken — this is me fourth Christmas — until last Christmas to really get somewhere with it. Me start-up costs weren’t ‘affordable’ in the sense that I spent a lot of money practising to get things right. It cost me a fortune to launch The Canny Custom Co. because I had to buy expensive, quality materials and equipment. For me just to buy the tumbler — without the printing on it, as I do all that meself — is expensive. I don’t make much money on them at all. But I just love to do them.

Who has been your greatest support?

Andy has been the best support ever. And me dad. Me mam, me sister. Me grandma and grandda. Andy has supported me through the absolute worst and the absolute best. When I’m working, he’ll just pop his head in and give me a quick kiss and say, ‘You know, I’m really proud of you.’ And that just makes me heart full.

KNOW YOUR WORTH

What are the best nuggets of advice you’ve been given?

First: Know your worth. Second: I used to take an order and make it, and it would sit around the house until somebody paid, and I would get frustrated. Until somebody told me: ‘You’ve got a business. Run it like a business. You wouldn’t go into Boots and not pay for your stuff. People order and pay for your stuff, and then you make it. Simple as that.’ Third, and this is the most important bit of advice: Cash is king.

What are your future plans?

I would love a nice big unit where I could put both of the businesses in. That would be it… I don’t want to take over the world. I just want to keep selling me stuff.

Do you have any advice for other wanna-be entrepreneurs?

Never give up! Also: don’t expect something to happen within the first week or the first month, or even the first twelve months. Don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight. Don’t expect a quick buck — cos you’ll not get one. Expect to be tired and ratty. But don’t give up. Keep pushing. And believe in your product, whatever it is. If you’re a hairdresser, and you want to start up on your own: believe that you can cut somebody’s hair the best. If you’re a dog walker, believe that you’ll give somebody’s dog the best exercise… As long as you believe in yourself, you’ll not give up. Oh, and don’t just do it for money; do it to get your creativity out there.

What has been your steepest learning curve?

Hand-tying beautiful bows! You’ve got no idea of the absolute carnage that went on in this house while I was trying to hand-tie bows. That’s definitely been the most difficult thing.

Did you need training of any kind? Or are you just naturally talented?

I’m completely self taught. Qualifications don’t necessarily make people better. Natural talent counts for a lot. I put all of me into every creation. That’s worth a lot, I think. And I’ve practised and practised and practised until I got it right. And then I kept practising until I made something worth selling. I think that counts for a lot too.

And finally, Ami, what are your most popular products?

From The Canny Wreath Co: Wreaths and garlands for doors, mantelpieces, windowsills… I can fulfil any measurements and colours as they’re custom made. There’s a huge variety.

From The Canny Custom Co: Our custom-made tumblers make perfect stocking fillers and Secret Santa gifts. A printed, thermo-controlled tumbler with a leak-proof lid and a reusable straw is £18, and there are hundreds of choices. A lot of people get Toppers added onto the tumblers, which will be a bit extra, however, the end result is gorgeous!

 

(And so is Ami — absolutely gorgeous and just plain canny. It was a delight to interview her.)

By the way, ‘canny’, in Geordie slang, means: lovely or nice. e.g. If you met a nice person, you’d say she’s canny. Or you could say, ‘Look at this canny little cupcake.’ Or: ‘Wow. What a canny wreath!’

 

Did you enjoy the Excerpt? 

Tweetable TAKEAWAYS:

WHETHER YOU THINK YOU CAN OR THINK YOU CANNY — YOU’RE RIGHT.

PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT EXCELLENCE.

BELIEVE YOU CAN — WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT. DARE TO BE YOU.

KNOW YOUR WORTH.

RUN YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS.

CASH IS KING.

NEVER GIVE UP.

BELIEVE IN YOUR PRODUCT.

WORK YOUR PASSION.

KEEP GOING. KEEP PUSHING. YOU CAN DO IT!

A SUPPORTIVE PARTNER, FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER IS INVALUABLE.

 

If any other key points stood out for you, or you just want to let me know what you thought about this interview, feel free to comment below.

HURRY! Place your orders at The Canny Wreath Co. & The Canny Custom Co. to get your goodies in time for Christmas! (All prices are on their website.) They ship worldwide.

You can also follow the Canny companies on Facebook & Instagram.

COMING UP . . .

Next week:  A fearless CEO who deals in beautiful authentic handmade gifts you’ll want for yourself.

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