Female Graduate Business Owner: #DeterminationAndDisability blog series with Girl Tribe Gang

Hello and welcome back to the blog. I’ve had a really interesting few days as I’ve been busy with Girl Tribe Gang meet up’s this week with my partner in crime, Tracy James from Bright Yellow Coaching. On Tuesday we had our Maidenhead & Windsor meet up at Saints Café. We have the lovely Bethany Joy who is a brand voice crafter and wordsmith extraordinaire (I must say I love the fancy title!) give us a power hour on ‘Is your marketing saying what you think it’s saying?’. I made lots of notes and had a great conversation with a group of women business owners discussing ways in which we can improve our written content. It really made me think about the message I want to convey to my clients and audience. 

It also made me realise how much I do in terms of written content. I have been hard on myself lately as I haven’t been consistent on my blog, however, I do write an e-newsletter (you can sign up here) every month to my network and I write content for various social media platforms as well as running the #DeterminationAndDisability blog series for Girl Tribe Gang. So it made me realise that I do need to give myself a bit more credit. 

On Wednesday, we were at Bel & The Dragon for our Reading meet up, where we had the lovely Claire Winter from Making Words Come Alive who gave us a power hour on ‘How to make effective use of video in your content mix’. This was an interesting one for me as I don’t use a lot of video and I have only ever done one Instagram Live. I don’t feel as confidence because of my speech, and I worry how I would come across. Having said that, it is something I’d like to work on and do more of in the future. I really enjoyed getting to know how Claire works and hearing about her video set up, this really interested me as a photographer. 

I wanted to share with you the blog series I run with Girl Tribe Gang which is called #DeterminationAndDisability. The purpose of the blog is to raise awareness for woman in business with disabilities. I interview other tribe members and members in my network to raise awareness for different disabilities and talk about my own experiences from running a business as a female business owner with Cerebral Palsy. You can view all of these posts through the links below:

First Post

Why disability is important to women in business “International Day of Persons with Disabilities”

Interview with Rebecca Broad

Interview with Sarah from Crafty by Nature

Interview with Viktoria from Your Change Story

Self-Employed with Cerebral Palsy

Interview with Alicia from Crumb’s The Word 

Last month I gave my very first power hour with Girl Tribe Gang on ‘How to make your business more accessible’. I covered various key topics from how we are talking to clients, the hiring process to events. I engaged guests and members with an interactive activity to explore key areas in their business and how they can make them more accessible. They engaged in this by discussion in groups and writing ideas down on post it notes. Finally, I also spoke about my past experiences as a freelance business owner with Cerebral Palsy and the #DeterminationAndDisability blog series. You can read a full blog post on my power hour and my experience of speaking in public with Cerebral Palsy here

I’ve got a few ideas for new blog posts (thank you so much Claire) and an exciting collaboration in the pipeline too! Looking forward to giving you more content soon. Have a great week.

Thank you for reading. Kirsty X

Female Graduate Business Owner: Entering the big wide world of freelancing.

Like most graduates I didn’t really have a concrete plan of exactly what I wanted to do after university. I knew that I had a keen interest in architecture and that most of my website was architectural focused. The first challenge I had was to create a whole new network. Whilst I was at university in Ealing, which I commuted to from Maidenhead, I kept my head down most of the time as the final year was so intense. As a result my network in Maidenhead was almost none-existent.

It’s all about Co-Working! 

One evening in July my partner came home after work and handed me a flyer for a local co-working space in the centre of Maidenhead called MyWorkSpot He said “You should book a tour here!” He’d been there for a networking event and instantly thought it would be a great place for me to kick-start my freelance career.

People that know me well know that I’m not one to spend a great deal of time on my own, I get a real buzz from being around others and love meeting new people. I took the plunge and booked myself a tour. 

Will Ballantyne from MyWorkSpot showed me around and I quickly realised this place would be a great fit for me! I joined up the same day. The first few times I went to MyWorkSpot I remember feeling so nervous because I didn’t know anyone or have a concrete plan but slowly Will kindly introduced me to other members and I not only made contacts but also friends. I started attending MyWorkSpot a couple of times a week and focused on building my network and offering photography as a service. 

Big Opportunities 

I met some wonderful people through co-working and by the end of August I’d managed to partner up with the lovely Tracy James from Bright Yellow Coaching and I became the official photographer for the Maidenhead & Windsor Tribe for woman’s collective Girl Tribe Gang.

The tribe launched in September at Hurley House Hotel and nervous as I was, I actually really enjoyed myself. I got a real buzz from photographing the relaxed atmosphere and meeting like-minded women. As each monthly event passed I gained confidence with the photography and networking. I enjoyed being part of a tribe of powerful woman who all have the same end goal which was to start a business and make a success of it. 

September was a really busy month for me after gaining this fantastic opportunity with Girl Tribe Gang, I also attended the Maidenhead & Windsor Business Awards with MyWorkSpot. They were nominated and won Business Start-up Award. We had a fantastic evening and I met other businesses in the local area.

Another fantastic opportunity came my way and after a meeting with Will, I managed to persuade him and the team to put my degree show work up on the wall at MyWorkSpot. Following this we had another meeting and decided to put on an exhibition reveal / networking event. This took place in October and I gave a talk on the project “Monumental City”. This was a real highlight for me, having Cerebral Palsy didn’t stop me from undertaking public speaking. I felt really confident because people were engaged and interested in what I had to say and I shared how the project had developed. 

The last few months of the year I spent networking and creating a strong community around me. I believe this is so important when you are a freelancer. In November I attended the Girl Tribe Gang Live event up in Maidenhead, myself and Tracy travelled up together. This was the furthest I had travelled for work but I loved it. The whole day was full of inspiring panels and workshops delivered by inspiring people and successful women business owners. I met the founder of Girl Tribe Gang Catherine Asta Labbett and got talking to her about my passion for raising awareness for all things disability. I was really surprised and thrilled when she said “Let’s get you on the blog!”  The following week we were emailing back and forth and the #DeterminationAndDisability blog series was born! Go read the first post here.

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2019 Goals 

I have quite a few goals for my business for 2019 and a few of them I’ve already achieved, for example starting this blog! I’m going to share with you a few more below:

Succeed in talking at a #powerhour with the Girl Tribe Gang Windsor & Maidenhead Tribe.

Continue to grow my fantastic relationship with Girl Tribe Gang.

Create two new photography series in preparation for my exhibition in November.

Gain a creative collaboration.

Continue to build my community and network.

Look after my health and wellbeing.

The Rollercoaster 

So far I’ve faced a fair share of struggles in the freelance world and there are times when I’ve questioned myself, struggling to find my next move. I struggle to believe in myself a lot of the time, however, I have a wonderful partner who believes in me and a strong community behind me. Having clear goals and a focus for the year ahead really helps me stay strong and believe in myself. Freelancing is hard, freelancing with a disability is even harder. I may have Cerebral Palsy but I’m a strong women with creative ideas and so much to give. It’s been a rollercoaster so far but I definitely won’t be stepping off anytime soon! 

Thank you for reading. Kirsty X

Photo Credits: Jade Thomas Photography and Jodie Humphries

Female Graduate Business Owner: Let’s start at the beginning.

Introduction

Hello and welcome to the Kirsty Meredith Photography blog. I have been toying with the idea of producing a blog on my website for some time now and I thought 2019 was the year to do it! I am hoping the people reading my posts can get to know me more and interact with me. 

My name is Kirsty, I’m 28 years old, I have Cerebral Palsy down the right side and I am a freelance photographer based in Maidenhead. I am determined (sometimes very stubborn!), outgoing and have a sensitive soul. As well as my joy for photography, I also enjoy raising awareness for all things disability, especially other women business owners with disabilities. This passion landed me a fantastic opportunity at the end of 2018 and I am now the blog content writer for the Girl Tribe Gang blog series #DeterminationAndDisability. 

Girl Tribe Gang is a national organisation and an award winning collective for women who work for themselves or are aspiring to quit the 9-5 and was founder by Catherine Asta Labbett. Here’s their website: www.girltribegang.co.uk and here’s my first blog post: http://bit.ly/2PTpgKs

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Let’s start at the beginning

My father first gave me a camera from about the age of 12. I remember photographing the flowers in the kitchen and always snapping away on family holidays. Fast forward a couple of years and I was gifted my first Sony DSLR at 16. My father use to take me out on weekends in and around East Sussex to help me build my portfolio. 

Shortly before I turned 16, I started a Saturday job at an independent photographic retail shop in Seaford. I worked there for almost four years and in that time I also completed a BTEC in Photography at Brighton & Hove City College (now Brighton Met). Following the BTEC I tried to get into university but at the time it wasn’t meant to be. 

After a few years in various roles we fast forward to 2015. I was in a customer service facing role and I had been for around two years, I realised after about 18 months this wasn’t going to be a long term career for me. I decided to bite the bullet and reapply for university. I got accepted on the foundation course at the University of West London, I was so excited, I knew this was what I had dreamed of doing for many years and I was determined to get a degree under my belt.

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After my first year, I did better than I thought I would and my course leader suggested I should be doing a BA! So I decided to change, I started my second year on BA Honours Photography. This did mean a third year at university but I remember thinking to myself how fast the first year had gone and I did not feel ready to enter the big, wide world just yet.

It was half way through my second year that I started getting higher marks and by the end of the academic year I told myself I’m aiming to graduate with a first now. No pressure! 

2017 was a challenging year for myself, I was juggling a degree, pushing myself to reach my best potential as well as dealing with personal problems. The pressure built up and unfortunately I did experience my first panic attack, luckily I only had a couple throughout my degree. 

By the time third year had come round things eased a bit and I’d had a well earnt break over the summer. I refocused my mind and started my third year with determination. I remember really knuckling down in my second semester, I’d gotten two 2.1’s and one 1.1 in my first semester and I knew I had to push further.  

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Like most students, my dissertations stressed me out quite a lot. I remember thinking where do I start and worrying about the endless amounts of reading ahead of me. There were so many low points in those four months where I just wanted to give up and jack it all in. I remember thinking you’re kidding yourself to think you could actually pull this off and get a first! But… I didn’t give up, I kept going with the support of my partner and close friends and family. The university staff were also brilliant, they were supportive and really pushed me to reach my best potential. 

In June, I was part of a group degree show, we named ourselves RubikSpace (www.rubikspace.com/artists) and I was responsible for the social media in promoting students work and the degree show. I exhibited my final major project Monumental City which was exhibited over a four-day weekend. It was a great success and it felt amazing seeing my work blown up to A1 size. 

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On Tuesday 24th July I graduated a Wembley Stadium with a First Class Honours in BA Honours. I’d been looking forward to this day for three years! Unfortunately I was pretty unwell with a sickness bug but I battled through, walked across the stage with pride and come out the other side as a First Class Honours Graduate! It felt amazing and still does to this day, as I write this I have tears in my eyes, happy tears of course! 

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Tune in next month for part two. Find out how my first six month of freelancing in the big wide world has been going and my 2019 goals. 

Thank you for reading. Kirsty X

Photo Credit: Jade Thomas Photography