I need to talk, I need to get everything that is swirling around in my head out and on to the page. I love making jewellery so much and over the whole of 2017 and the first few months of this year, everything was going swimmingly. I had discovered my USP; making everything to order in the colours of my customer's choice so that you could make every piece your own. I've made rainbows in ombré colour schemes, I've made pieces that Lazy Oaf wanted to sell in their store and I've made crazy huge pieces for an American singer's music video.
I was really lucky to discover that Reading has a Hackspace (or Makerspace as they're usually known) which is a community run space paid for and run by the members. The Hackspace is like a massive workshop with computers, wood working machines and tools and crucially a laser cutter! I became a member and instantly had twenty four hour access to the machine that I needed to create my colourful jewels; able to make everything to order with a relatively short lead time!
But Reading is pretty much a ghost town when it comes to creative people and indie businesses, there are little pockets, don't get me wrong but it's a chain town, all Starbucks and Topshops and it wasn't enough. I had no life in Reading; I had a wonderful partner and a couple of friends but I only left the house to go to Hackspace, the post office and the supermarket.
Then one day I was complaining to an online friend about our boring chain town and the hideously damp and mouldy flat that was all we could afford to rent and she said "move to Sheffield!" I laughed it off, thinking it totally insane but a few months later we had a similar conversation and she made the same suggestion.
But this time I took it seriously, I mean what if we did move to Sheffield? We've got nothing keeping us in Reading. I had been estranged from my family for two years by then and his family live miles away anyway. And me being self employed with a solely online business and him being the kind of happy go lucky kind of guy that everyone wants to employ, we felt safe that we would be 100% financially secure once we moved.
So we booked a week long trip to Sheffield for February of this year, to simultaneously scope out the place that could potentially become our new home and celebrate my thirtieth year on this planet. And we FELL. IN. LOVE. We decided in that week that we were moving to Sheffield ands started putting the wheels in motion straight away. I set up an IndieGogo campaign because I would definitely need to raise the cash to buy my own laser cutter (the logistics of having a laser cutter in my house never really occurred to me)
The campaign raised less than half of the money I needed which was my first stumbling block; what the hell was I going to do without one!
We found a house we loved in an okay area; three bedrooms and a garden for £200 less that what we paid for that mouldy old cave we had called home. Brieug (my partner, he's French) struggled to find a job, which we weren't expecting and ended up having to take a job in Rotherham which had him working until 9pm every night and not getting home until 10/10.30pm every night which had me sat at home on my own in this new city feeling so incredibly isolated. It took me a whole month to leave the house by myself; I couldn't visit the shop at the end of our road, I couldn't go to the post office without Brieug in tow. I was so anxious that I just shut myself away.
Then after being a total hermit for a whole month, I managed to get myself out and all the way to Morrisons by myself. Then a couple of weeks later I went to town by myself to a Speed-Mateing event run by Girl Gang Sheffield, an event specifically set up to help women in the city meet each other and potentially build friendships. I met an amazing lady there, I actually met Aiyanna in the queue to get in to the venue and we have been friends ever since, she's just the kind of loving, supportive and strong person that I have always wanted in my life.
My life since moving here has been amazing; I've made amazing friends and there's always something to do and somewhere to go. I've seen poetry readings in the middle of the high street, had picnics in the Botanical Gardens, bought all of the colourful, tie dye clothes and homewares at the hippy stalls during the Peace Festival, bumped in to our legend of a mayor Magid Magid (look him up, he's amazing) eaten and shopped at so many indie businesses, attended a life drawing class and two Speed Mateing events. My life is a wonderful.
My business however is not doing so well, I didn't manage to buy that laser cutter, the makerspace here only has a tiny one and they don't like people using it for commercial projects, just for hobbying. I thought I had found a solution, a friend let me share a workshop with her and use her laser, but unfortunately it just wasn't giving me the results I needed, it just can't cope with the amount of detail in my designs. So I had to start using a laser cutting service which is what I had done in my first year of this business, I told myself that although it is more expensive I will have much more time to work on the other aspects of my business and I'd have more time to design. But selling everything made to order and then ordering the laser cuts means that my lovely customers are having to wait two, three even four weeks before their order gets shipped. So they are getting frustrated with me and I am getting frustrated with how helpless I feel as I can't make these laser cut pieces come in any faster. And every couple of weeks my anxiety and depression get too much and I have a meltdown and want to shut up shop, close my business and give up on it for good.
Every weekend I go out and do something fun with my boyfriend and/or my friends and I have a great time and I am filled with joy. Then on Monday morning I struggle to get out of bed, I'm filled with sadness and dread. I have to read and respond to all the emails from customers asking when their orders will be shipped, I have to make the laser files for my ever diminishing list of orders and send them off to the laser cutting company, fingers crossed that I will be able to scrape together the money to pay the invoice. My creativity is all gone, I have customers that want me to work on custom pieces for them and although I need the money, my creative spark has been stifled by my sadness.
I just need your support and compassion through the next two months, I can't take a meaningful break this close to Christmas so I have to wait until January. I am hoping to take the whole month off to work with new materials and techniques and work on a plan for how I am going to run my jewellery business.
Because I love making jewellery and I know that I will regret it if I give it all up because I'm in a bad situation and being throttled by depression. If you have read all of this, thank you.