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.
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.
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.
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