By Clare young
Freddie Fox & Co
Now this may surprise you all but looking back over this year fills me with mixed emotions. On one hand I feel immensely proud of what I've achieved in regards to taking FFnCo from where it was in Jan '18 to where it is now. It was a huge step for me to decide to run the business full time. And I felt more than a little trepidation leaving my "real" job in April. On the other hand I feel I've neglected my family, particularly Freddie to get it where it is. I'd never dreamt that the pressure of being self employed would take over my life and be so stressful and because of those pressures I've also dealt with mental health issues; anxiety, depression, low self esteem & lack of confidence.
This blog will give you a little insight Into FFnCo from my point of view, sort of like a year in the life but more like a rollercoaster ride I've been unable to get off!
Way back when
This time last year I just had my Etsy shop I'd built up and was plodding along as you do. I was still working part time as a teaching assistant, but always at the back of my mind was that I longed to be able to stay at home with Freddie like i couldnt with my eldest boys. I didnt want to just plod along and i needed to up my income from ffnco somehow. My biz is ALWAYS on my mind, like 24/7! I often wondered how ffnco fitted in the very saturated kids clothing insta shop market. I never felt part of the click that some insta shops were in and was never aware of any dramas going on (tbh i like it like that I've enough dramas of my own!) I wanted my own website & I felt I was just making the same things as others and buying from the same fabric suppliers. So over the first 3 months of 2018, with the support of the forvever reps the idea of creating clothing that was different to others was born and after throwing lots of ideas about i put the plan into action!
I love that i could ask & talk to my team about anything and everything. You see i have found friends in all of my team over the months gone by. Some have been and gone, some have just stayed 1 term or 2 but many have stayed with me for longer and I call them my extended family. I have very little support from "friends" on facebook and can count my real friends on 1 hand, those who ask about how I'm doing and like & comment on my fb posts. My husband and close family don't really ask a great deal about the biz either, apart from "are you busy" "oh that's good" they just see me busy with fabric up to my eyeballs and stressed so I've become very reliant on these special insta gals and without them i wouldn't have had the confidence and reassurance to get where I am now and may have even jacked it in altogether!
Adult conversation...what's that?
I guess the thing about being fully self employed from home and a mum of 3 ranging from 2 to 17 is that it's very lonely. Or that's my experience anyway. There's no adult convo (not sure you can count the staff at the post office!) Im expected to cook, clean, do laundry, do the food shop, run a business, get tea on the table and be a parent all in one and I've found it tough, very tough and thankless. With just Freddie for company during the day all I have are my insta girls, they're always there if I need advice or just a rant.
With the help of Zoe (@lifewithmyrainbow) the rainbowtastic FFnCo re-opened with a sparkly new website in March and I think the way we do things here at FFnCo has been fairly well received. I've been mostly busy although like any other shop there's been lulls too. Thats when the pressure builds, wondering when that next sale will come. To be able to do that food shop, or put fuel in the car to get hubster to work, to be able to order more fabric I've ran out of to complete existing orders.... I love Instagram *sometimes*
Instagram and I have a love hate relationship. Over the past few months my follower count has grown steadily. I was never one for those follower trains that were all the rage a few months back and didnt see the point in building up my follower count un-naturally, i wanted the people to follow me because they were interested in what i made! Unfortunately the interaction has decreased a lot over the last few months too. This really stresses me out. I worry about if what im making is interesting enough to make people buy, I worry if I'm choosing the right fabrics, I worry about posting at the right times of the day, the right hashtags ....I'm a worrier can you tell? This is what having a business does to me....am i selling it to you?!
Again to my rescue are my insta family, they are there to give me a virtual boost and I feel very very lucky to have them. All of them, & I know not many insta businesses can say that about all their reps!
Taking the plunge
For anyone who is thinking about setting up a business I can hand on heart say you need to made of strong stuff & be very resilient. I'm getting there with the resilience & do still take things to heart a lot. You also need to be passionate, to set yourself goals and to find your niche; try to be different. The best advice I can also give you is to surround yourself with supportive people wether that be actual people or virtual like mine, Oh and to be kind & empathetic to others too. That's rather a long list isn't it! You will have great days & bad days, you'll surprise yourself & doubt yourself.
I'm so passionate about making this work but have thought many a time should I just give in and get a "normal" job, you know one of those jobs that you just turn up to, do your shiz & go home again. These thoughts happened again just a couple of days ago. I was sat late at night sewing, my back in agony & looking at my insta post interaction or lack of and just thought why am I doing this? I had a cry & the next day I spoke to my team about it. We came up with a plan of action popped a sale on and here I am writing this blog looking forward to a few days off over xmas!
My ultimate goal for my business going forward has to be offering a fully exclusive range of fabric designs whilst being in keeping with my ethos. Bold, bright & unique. I do think gender neutral clothing is so important having been utterly fed up with shopping on the high street for Freddie all separated into boys & girls sections or blue, pink, white and lemon! 2019 is set to be the year I can say this will be the case and all designs coming through you wont be able to get anywhere else. This makes me very proud indeed and I have to pinch myself sometimes when i think about where I started!
I'm so very thankful I am where I'm at with the business right now and that I'm hugely grateful for the interest and orders I've had from my supporters and customers. As with any small business I'm interested to hear what people think I'm doing well at and what you'd like to see in 2019 from me.
So that's it from me folks, signing out of the blog for 2018. Have a wonderful Christmas everyone and a happy new year!