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.


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