And just like that my work-life has come full circle. I thought long and hard before I started writing this post. For a month now the thought of how to title this blog has been pondering in my mind and all I could think was ‘The BIG FAT failure’. Then, I changed my perspective…
It wasn’t a failure, everything I’ve done, it was meant to be!
I know you don’t make any sense of what I’m talking about, so let me explain.
22 years ago I studied Arts and Design. My first job was as a graphic designer for a sports car magazine in Greece. I had a passion for design and over the years I continued to grow in my role. Eventually I became an Art Director and then a Brand Strategist. I worked for agencies based in Athens, London & Scotland, where I was directing design teams and creative studios. For more than 18 years I worked from small clients to multi-million corporates on branding, internal communications, B2B, B2C and led design teams to deliver highly successful campaigns for government organisations, training modules, retail and publishing. There is not much in the design spectrum that I haven’t done.
A couple of years back, I hit my rock bottom.
I had to take a step back to realise that while I was climbing the career ladder I had turned my life into something I wasn’t comfortable with. The last 7 years I was fully focused on corporate clients, I was running from meeting to meeting like a headless chicken, and the design work I was working on, was almost a production line that was trying to hit unachievable deadlines. On top of that I had a lot of personal problems to deal with, life was really sh*t to be honest and my stress levels were sky high. I just couldn’t cope anymore.
So, I gave up!
I decided to make a career change to Interior Design as it was an ever-present passion of mine. At the end of the day I really hated my job at this point. I worked long and hard to make it happen and with the support of my partner Russ, I went back to school, got my diploma in Interior Design, designed my own brand, worked hard on my social media and content strategy, launched my new business and then… ‘crickets’.
Nothing was happening, no requests for work or projects. I was getting a lot of positive feedback for all the work I’ve done, my design style and the content I was producing. I got featured in Ideal Home magazine, I got nominated as one of the Best Written Blog Awards all within a few months, but still nothing. No work was coming in.
So naturally, as you do, I started beating myself up over and over about this.
During this time and while I was waiting for my Interior Design career to take off, I was taking on some freelance projects (#billstopay) on Art Direction, branding and content strategy, this time for smaller clients.
The more work I was doing with my new clients, the more I was thinking I’m actually enjoying this, but how on earth is that possible? 9 months ago I waved a BIG FAT goodbye to my ‘old’ career, I reinvented myself as an Interiors Stylist and said I had enough with my old job. I was NEVER going back.
How could I possibly enjoying this?
One of my new clients is a small local agency which I’m helping rebrand. It was a Wednesday evening and the Creative Director asked me if I could facilitate a branding workshop the next morning for the team. I said sure. I had no time to prepare but I’ve been working on branding, content marketing and social media all my career. It’s like second nature to me. So the next morning I stood up for 4 hours and delivered a great workshop. The team got really excited and I could clearly see the great value I was adding. This got me really excited for them and all the good changes we were implementing to create a brand they love.
It was then, when I had my light bulb moment. I screamed (in my head) ‘You F***ing love this job Anna!”
I self-analysed a lot about this, and came to the conclusion that I needed to step back from my big career to take a breather and see the big picture. Evaluate what wasn’t working for me versus what I was really enjoying doing. It’s not the job I didn’t like, but the kind of projects and clients I’ve been working on. I realised also, all my knowledge and experience on branding, content creation and planning that I take for granted can make a huge difference in small businesses.
In the last few months I worked with creative people who were struggling with their brand, and I made it happen for them. I had enough of working on corporate clients, but these client experiences gave me all the tools I needed, so that I can easily scale them down for small businesses, entrepreneurs or bloggers.
I now see clearly that my Interior Styling business failure wasn’t really a failure. It was a creative detour that helped me see clearly where my heart lies. It didn’t work, because I didn’t really ‘chase my dream’ with this, I didn’t make it happen, I didn’t have the patience because deep in my heart I didn’t want to change my career. So yes I failed to get this going, but admitting failure sometimes is the first step to realisation.
Certainly I did all the right things that I was supposed to do, but the truth is that when I finished with the creation of my own brand and launched my own business, then I was done! It was that part, that I enjoyed the most doing.
It was all meant to be. Working on my own brand and launching my own business allowed me to really see all the challenges, small business owners or bloggers might struggle with and where I can actually add value.
So what is next?
After this journey of rediscovering my long lost love for branding, content planning and social media strategies, I’ll continue to help small business owners or bloggers with exactly that.
From the new year I’m planning to facilitate small intimate group workshops. I want people to have almost an 121 experience, and from my own experience I know that you can get so much more out of small groups. So watch this space, I’ll be announcing soon when my first workshop will be in the new year.
The content of my blog won’t change!
My blog started as a creative outlet for me to talk about all the things I love and it will remain like this. Interior design adventures, life essays and simple living lifestyle will be my main topics but I’ll add some topics on branding and content strategy, always with my own authentic voice 🙂 for all the subscribers that might need help around this.
My blog name might change, I still haven’t figured it out exactly, but I can honestly tell you I’m really excited about this new chapter. It certainly feels like ‘I’m at home’ now with my business direction.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and eventually everything falls into place. Sometimes we need to take detours to see clearly where we were meant to be.
Photo by Cathy Pyle
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