Two Things

Hey guys!

Today I am celebrating Frog & Pencil turning 2. Life has been brilliantly busy with commissions, etsy creations and wedding fair prep that this birthday really snuck up on me; I didn’t have anything prepared to mark it as a milestone. The Bear and I won’t actually be celebrating it until after a big wedding fair in a few weeks time. However, it’s kind of a big deal for me and I’m really proud to have reached this point that I wanted to dedicate some time to reflect on my journey so far.

hoppy 2 birthday

So, as F&P turns 2, here are a two things I’d like to share on a variety of topics; enjoy!

TWO THINGS I’M MOST PROUD OF

The first one is kind of obvious. I’m SO proud to have made it to my second year of being a self-employed creative. If I’ve learnt one thing in my lifetime it’s how to be tenacious and this skill has often been my life raft. There have been plenty of moments where I doubt it all but that niggle to keep on going gets me back on board.

Looking back to when I first started, I’m really proud of how I’ve evolved over the last 2 years. From my drawings and designs to my styling, I feel it’s all just getting better. I guess I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am as an illustrator and what it is I create and for me, having that understanding is huge.

TWO THINGS I’VE LEARNT

Network, network, network, network and network some more; and I don’t mean in a schmoozey way. Perhaps we just need a friendlier word for network. Community. Find your community and embrace it. Being self-employed and working from home can be a really lonely place. Get to know like-minded people in your industry, make friends, collaborate, support each other, inspire one another and create something beautiful together. Your mental health and the work you make will be richer for it.

Just Do Something. I’m rolling into 2018 with this new motto. I was inspired after reading ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck’ by Mark Manson at the end of 2017 and one quote has stuck with me, “just do something”. It can be quite easy to procrastinate when you’re working from home but you need to find a good routine. When I have to pull my finger out and I don’t quite want to, I tell myself to ‘just do something’. One thing be it big or small. When I start that task I usually find my groove and then productivity breeds productivity. Remember the power of ‘just do something’.

TWO THINGS I’M ANXIOUS ABOUT

This is a biggie. Having just finished my tax return (definitely just as stressful as the first time!) it left me feeling pretty down. I pour my heart, energy and most of my time into this business and sometimes I can’t help but feel like ‘what is it all for?’ After 2 years, I’m now starting to return to the conversation about pricing. I know my worth and the value of my work but I have this fear that if I start to increase my prices NO ONE will come near me. I’ll be like a plagued Frog with a sh*tty pencil. I don’t know if I can continue if I leave things as they are. The ultimate question is how do I show others the value of Frog & Pencil?

In just under 2 weeks I’ll be exhibiting at the EDP 2 day wedding fair at the Showground. I’ve never participated in this one before and it’s a whole new ball game. Since the start of the year I’ve been stressing about what to do with my space and I think I’ve finally got a rough plan in place but that pesky anxiety lingers. The sunny side though is that I’ll have Lew and a lot of my community exhibiting there too, so I know it’s going to be ok…wish me luck folks!

TWO THINGS I’M EXCITED ABOUT

This one’s been on the ‘to do’ list for ages and I’m also anxious about it as I’m still to figure out the nitty-gritty but I have 3 awesome collections that I’m about to launch. I’m still not set on a ‘name’ but they’re semi-bespoke/ready to buy pieces that couples can purchase. The design remains the same but I tailor the text to match their big day. I’m really proud of the designs and I’m hoping they’ll be a hit and perhaps help anxiety number 1. It’s exciting none the less; keep your eyes peeled for these beauties to be released into the world!

I started the year with 4 gorgeous wedding invite commissions and 2 are nearly finished so I can’t wait to see how they all develop. But, I’m also really excited about my etsy shop. It did pretty well over Christmas and has been ticking along nicely with bridal party cards and love cards this year. The potential here is incredible and I can’t wait to start working on new ideas and products to sell on this space. So much so, I’m hoping to set time aside each week purely dedicated to etsy creations!

TWO THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN WHEN I FIRST STARTED FROG AND PENCIL

Frog & Pencil is my baby and when you have your own business you will live and breathe it, it’ll ALWAYS be on your mind. You will always be checking your social media. You will always be looking at your e-mails. You will always be working late. You will work most of your weekends. You will always worry about how to bring in the next client. You will underestimate the amount of time you spend working to develop your business. However, it’s my world and I wouldn’t change a thing.

This links nicely to the point above. I put all my love and energy into Frog & Pencil, so much so, when I do take a break I often feel guilty. I think that others might be judging me if I have a random Tuesday afternoon off and it makes me feel bad. I wish someone would have told me it’s ok to take time out. We all need to recharge. We all need to reconnect with the other parts of our world. Getting away from my business gives me clarity and that has a positive impact on all areas of my personal and work life. So if you need a breather don’t give yourself a hard time, put the pencil down, turn off your e-mails and enjoy the moment.

TWO THINGS THAT KEEP ME GOING

Self belief is super powerful…and ice cream helps too.

Create a kick-ass playlist to lift you out of the funk. Music and dancing have saved me many times and will continue to do so. My two current upbeat tracks of choice are these lovelies: HalfNoise, French Class & Sigrid, Strangers – they make me feel awesome.

TWO THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR

My gorgeous couples of course! It feels incredible when you get that e-mail to say ‘you’re hired!’ but it doesn’t compare to when you’ve made the wedding stationery and you see the smiles on their beautiful faces. I did that. Little ole me. It truly makes it all worth it. Thank you to all my couples and clients for trusting me to make something wonderful for your special day. I honestly have the BEST couples.

My hubby Lew. Frog & Pencil wouldn’t be here without his support. He is the most gorgeous person I know and I love him to the moon and back. Thank you Bear for everything you do.

Ok, ok, enough of that soppy stuff! I think it’s time to indulge in a big G&T and gorge on choccy cake. Here’s to the next 2 years, thanks for sticking around!

Cx

Oh yes! Before I go, to celebrate this birthday, I’m offering you guys 20% OFF EVERYTHING on my etsy store. Simply add the code: HOPPYBIRTHDAY2 at the checkout. Hop to Shop here. The deal runs for 2 days and ends on 8th Feb 2018 x

Hoppy Birthday Frog & Pencil!

Hello lovelies,

Today marks Frog & Pencil’s first birthday. A whole year since we launched the website and headed out on this crazy adventure with little expectation but with a shed load of passion and grit. I never anticipated to have had such a wonderful year.

I don’t quite know where to begin. I’ve been sat here, in front of this glowing laptop for a while now thinking about Frog & Pencil’s journey and it’s hard for me not to become emotional. I’m simply bursting with pride with how far this business has come in 365 days.

Frog & Pencil went live from scratch. I didn’t have any commissions set up or any particular direction to set off on. I kinda fumbled along promoting my business, working out future steps as I hopped along. Looking back, I genuinely feel lucky that I managed to grab some spots at wedding fairs early on. I thought I had missed the Spring fairs boat but thanks to the incredible duo Dalia and Tim at Norfolk Brides, they gave me a shot. I believe that showcasing my stationery wares at their show last March was a key moment for getting on the Norfolk Wedding Industry map. It may not have generated direct business but being there introduced me to other suppliers and I’m happy to say those relationships have blossomed. So, I want to say a HUGE thank you to the Norfolk Brides Team. I think you guys are awesome and I truly appreciate all your support and advice this year. I hope to work more with you over the years as I think you’re a positive force in the business.

I wasn’t nervous about delving into self employment but I did have a few reservations about other suppliers within the industry. For some reason I had envisioned the wedding business to be ultra competitive and for want of a better word, a tad bitchy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The people I’ve met and connected with are a wonderfully supportive bunch. Frog & Pencil has been welcomed with open arms and by the end of my final wedding fair in November, I genuinely felt like a part of the gang. To me, this is a big deal. I’ve banded together with like-minded creative people who are passionate, have a drive to deliver and encourage collaboration between fellow small businesses. I’m so fortunate to be a part of this scene.

It thrills me to see so many women led businesses cheering on the successes of other women. At a time where it can be easier to tear people down, it’s incredibly positive to be surrounded by these kick ass women! Additionally, I’m heartened by those that are managing to juggle their business with nurturing a family. To me you are (and all Mums) superwomen and it gives me hope for Frog & Pencil’s future when a cub or two may be on the cards. You lot know who you are, so thank you for inspiring me daily.

Running Frog & Pencil certainly hasn’t been easy. There have been moments where lulls lasted weeks with very little interest and it felt like I was in a crappy rut. Knowing my personality, I take a lot of this to heart. However, I’m an upbeat person too and I won’t be beaten easily. I’m learning that being productive keeps things moving, even when it feels horribly slow. Along with reflecting and evaluating my progress, it all helps me to keep on hoppin’.

This will sound awfully cliché but right now, after all this time of never quite fitting in, I feel like I’m in the right place, doing the right thing. I feel complete. I bloomin’ love what I do and it frustrates me that I took so long to realise my own potential, all I needed was some self belief.

It’s funny, when I think back to when I was much younger, as a teenager it was my aim in life to find a career I loved that would make me happy. What that actually was, I didn’t have a clue. For nearly twenty years, this is what I was searching for. I also met Lewie when we were eighteen, so we’ve been together a long time and I constantly fought the thought of marriage. It simply wasn’t a priority. I needed to find that career first. After eleven years together, Lewie proposed and I delightedly said YES. I still hadn’t found ‘the one’ career wise, but I was enjoying Festival work and there was no doubt in my mind about my Bear, he was/is my everything. Getting engaged triggered the concept of Frog & Pencil and it nurtured the confidence and self belief I needed to take the plunge. I guess what I’m trying to say is that saying ‘yes’ to something new can open wonderful adventures. I was blinkered for so long and I often wonder where Frog & Pencil might have been today had I realised what I am capable of sooner. So, if things aren’t quite going to plan, change it up a bit as you never know what’s around that corner, you could discover and realise you’re pretty awesome and are capable of anything; just get out of your own way.

This year has been a beautiful whirlwind and ended on such a high, as a finalist at the EDP Bride Wedding Awards. Simply put, I’m as proud as punch. This year is looking like a cracker too as I have some excellent commissions in the pipeline and I can’t wait to share them over the coming months.

There are so many highlights from the first year but I feel they deserve their own post, look out for it over the next week or so.

That leaves me with a few thank you’s before I sign off. Firstly, a big thank you to the industry and suppliers who have embraced Frog & Pencil. The support and advice I’ve received warms my heart and I am happy to call many of you friends. Your creativity inspires and challenges me to make more exciting illustrations, so thank you for keeping me on my Froggy toes. You guys are my frickin’ rock stars!

To my lovely couples, be it a bespoke commission or a bridesmaid card purchase, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting a small, independent business. I honestly do a little happy dance every time a new couple is confirmed. It is a pleasure to get to know you and to create stationery that reflects your personalities and also offer an insight into your big day. Remember to always be unashamedly yourselves when it comes to your wedding.

To my treasured friends and family, thank you for all the belief, support, encouragement, words of wisdom, hugs, for every share, like, recommendation and for the laughter. The love in my life is overwhelming and I’m truly blessed. You guys are always there and that means the world. A special mention to Lewie’s folks for their unconditional generosity and to my Dad (a rival to Lew as number 1 fan) for his love, support and for encouraging the potential. I love you all, mwah! xxx

One final and special thank you is for my partner in crime & hubby, Lewie. Without you Frog & Pencil just wouldn’t be possible. You could see what I couldn’t all those years ago, so thank you for you unwavering belief, love and the daily support. Thank you for being the best ‘tech guy’ around and for being just as much as a perfectionist as I am…website v2 is going to be awesome! Thank you for being my wedding fair sidekick and for hashing out all the tiny details with me. To me you are the greatest Bear in the land and I’m one lucky, lucky, lucky Frog. Here’s to our future, I love you millions. xxx

All that’s left to say is what a hell of a year and I’ve loved every moment. It’s time to celebrate, eat cake and probably cry a smidge more (happy tears of course!). Most importantly, I’m excited to get back to my commissions and create more illustrated loveliness.

Best hop to it & hustle!

Thanks for sticking by me,

Love Cx

P.S – I’m happy to report that after a year I can easily use the correct spelling of ‘stationery’…well, almost! x

Hoppy First Birthday Frog & Pencil!

Celebrating Frog & Pencil’s first birthday. Hop Hop Hooray!

 

The Oxnead Wedding Show

Hello folks!

Holy guacamole it’s been a while since I last posted! Apologies for the white noise.

With glorious autumn in full swing, wedding show season returns and last Sunday saw Frog & Pencil exhibiting at our penultimate fair of the year, the Oxnead Wedding Show hosted by Norfolk Brides.

Even though I’ve truly enjoyed my previous fair experiences, I’ll be honest, up to this point, being a part of these hasn’t been as successful as we would have liked. In fact, it became a little disheartening. However, I knew that I was invested in two more before the end of the year and I really wanted to make the most of them. This began with the hubby and I having a really forthright chat about the fairs. We typed up a big list of what works well, what to scrap and what we can develop.

The first big issue we both sensed is that on a whole most people who visit my stand just don’t get it. Something isn’t connecting with them and that’s a huge problem. For example, at a previous fair, someone thought I hired out exotic birds…zilch to do with stationery. To rectify this, it was decided that we needed clear signage pointing out what I create and what’s on the table.

The second problem, which relates with the first, is the stand itself. Having been a part of three fairs with a similar set up it was time for a change. I wanted to bring in height, lots and lots of lovely height! With more work displayed around your eye line, it is much harder to walk past while trying to figure out why some Frog is there hiring out exotic birds! 😉 After a little bit of research, I settled on buying these gorgeous wooden crates to elevate my stand to the next level. They required the Frog & Pencil touch and with some sanding, priming, a lick of paint and a bit of love, they were perfect.

The third obstacle is me. I want to be more engaged with couples but I’m not a pushy person and I’ve always led by watching others body language. If they don’t look interested I don’t interrupt but if they do, then I’ll hop in. It’s extremely difficult for me to initiate the conversation and for it to be natural but I’m working on it. Thankfully that’s something Lewie is pretty damn brilliant at! This resulted in a new tactic, to be a more ‘persuasive’ and to have a few handy openers up my sleeve to experiment with.

Further to engaging with couples, I thought it would be beneficial to run a cracker of a competition. A chance to win an original Frog & Pencil watercolour couples portrait. Not only would this enable me with a talking point but additionally be a great way to capture some contacts for a mailing list.

Armed with new luscious props, a fresh approach and most importantly, fabulous designs, we were ready to tackle Oxnead!

Luckily we had the option to set up the day before which was certainly a life saver and helped keep those pesky nerves at bay. Especially so with a new set up, I was able to take my time to place each piece. The boxes were doing their job and height was achieved. My signs were clear and easy to read. The stationery looked fab taking centre stage (through this new set up phase I kept reminding myself that it’s all about how best to show off my work and make that shine) and the paper flowers I created were the cherry on the top. That afternoon I left as one happy frog, it was looking ace!

Sunday morning I was feeling great! With little left to do apart from the odd tweak, I could relax, have a coffee and get settled in my positive head space. I was determined to not be shy…and the whole day was AMAZING!

From 10am Oxnead Hall was buzzing. There was a great atmosphere and so many wonderful couples to talk to, in fact, it felt like I never stopped chatting. To me, something clicked, I found my fair swagger and enjoyed every moment. We received a lot of attention and my new bridesmaid cards were a hit with Brides. The competition was a winner too, I was delighted when I had my first sign up! The moment we had two the game was afoot, we had ourselves a legit competition! It finished with forty sign ups and I am over the moon.

I don’t know if the shift is down to a little more experience but I am positive that taking time to reflect and making some key changes gave us such a boost. It’s so important to look back and analyse and I’ll continue to do so with the whole of my business.

Oxnead was great for us and I even came home to some e-mails…that’s my first! I’m keeping everything crossed that we carry on moving in this wonderfully productive direction.

Norfolk Brides managed to pack Oxnead Hall to the rafters with amazing suppliers, including two of my favourites, Bigphatphotos & Buns of Fun – I’ve mentioned these guys in posts before, they’re awesomely talented & creative, so check them out! Here are a few new businesses that stood out for me on the day.

A SPECIAL CROAK OUT TO…

Lou Lou Loves Vintage Hire: Lou Lou Loves offers a unique wedding hire and styling service and I loved all of her items on the day. If you’re looking for rustic, vintage, boho, festival or retro goodies to adorn your wedding then contact Lou, she’s got loads of brilliant stuff and she’s lovely to boot!

Bottom Drawer Bridal: Brides to be, check out Bottom Drawer Bridal and prepare to swoon! I’ve been a big admirer of this business for a while and I was chuffed to finally meet Victoria. Her gowns are stunning (check out that floral number, LOVE it!) but what I like is that she offers something a little different too. Make an appointment and hop on over to her adorable shop to enjoy a beautiful bridal experience.

Little Horse Box: I’ve followed this company on social media as they transformed their Little Horse Box into a luxury mobile wine bar. It’s just gorgeous and perfect for weddings and special occasions…I especially would like to take part in their ‘pimp your prosecco’ offer! Liddy is super lovely and I have a feeling this is going to be popular! Give her a call to snag your date.

La Belle Flowers: These florals were just delightful and smelt amazing! I loved her little touches to detail, such as the blooms in the welly boot and the shotgun cartridge button-hole. If you’re looking for some gorgeous flowers, get in touch.

MS Provision: Mike creates beautiful storytelling films of your wedding day that are just wonderful. He’s also really friendly which makes you feel instantly at ease. If you’re looking to capture your day on film, give him a call.

La Belle Amour: This company offers a wedding styling and design service for couples and they also hire out props too. Kelly’s stand was beautiful. I loved the simplicity, natural and chic sophistication it offered. If this sounds like your big day, give her site a look.

Thanks for having us Norfolk Brides and I truly enjoyed chatting to all you lovely couples. Competition winner to be announced soon, so keep an eye out on my social media pages!

My final wedding fair of the year is coming up next weekend and it’s going to be a goodun’. Keep your eyes peeled for The Most Unusual Wedding Fair at Godwick Great Barn.

Until then you beauties!

Cx

Life Is Funny…

Hello all!

I hope you all had a marvellous Christmas, jam packed with merriment, we certainly did. With 2016 just over Twelve hours away, I’ve been reflecting back over the last few years.

Life is funny and always surprising. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a strong woman with a career. I simply wished for something that I had built which made me happy and proud. But life is never that straight forward. In all the jobs I’ve worked in, I believe I never found my true place. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working on arts festivals and being a part of those teams but there’s always been a nagging sense that it wasn’t enough. I needed to be creative and I needed something that was mine. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a loving and committed relationship for thirteen years now, however marriage was still never high up on my priority list, I always fought against it…I guess I just needed to get my sh*t together.

Life is funny. Being a bride and going through the experience of planning a wedding has opened up this whole new chapter in my life. I honestly believe that without it, I wouldn’t have found the confidence in myself to use my illustration skills and start Frog & Pencil. I’d still be lost. It just goes to prove that you really don’t know what’s around the corner when you say ‘YES!’.

Frog & Pencil is still in it’s infancy but I believe in me and I will work my damn hardest to get this business off the ground in 2016. I know it’s a job that I can’t do alone and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported my endeavour so far. I’m so grateful knowing that you guys have my back. A special thank you goes out to my new legal partner in crime and number one fan Lewie, for your unfaltering belief in me; I love you Bear.

2015

2015, you have been a beautiful whirlwind, the bones and heart of a whole new life. Here’s to the future, saying yes more and to the wonderful adventures that await.

Wishing you all a happy & healthy new year!

Cx