It's eight years since I began work as Leigh Shepherd Designs. From the very beginning I knew I wanted to make a living from this, it couldn't be a hobby I hoped would turn into something else so I tackled it from the off as work. I just couldn't work the normal 9 - 5 hours, I still don't and thats ok.
As you may know I used to work as a primary school teacher and learning support manager (SENCO), when our daughter was born I reduced my hours and my husband (Sheps) - who is also self employed - shared caring for her through the week. A short time later when I was pregnant with our son we found out at the 20 week scan that he had a kidney condition. It became clear that our wee boy would need some hospital care and that it would be a few years for his treatment to be completed so I decided to resign from teaching and become self employed too, this way Sheps and I could work around our family. He had his first surgery at four weeks old. Over the next couple of years we had several hospital stays due to kidney infections. He was on antibiotics for five years.
I worked when ever I could, within the first year I had my jewellery in five galleries/ shops and had begun exhibiting at a few fairs.I went to the bank and met with the small business manager I opened a business account and then spent an hour fending off his attempts to persaude me to take out a loan to 'kickstart my business'. He talked about how I would need to rent workspace, (I had a wee table in the dining room), ordering branded stationary (I printed my own letterheads and used Vistaprint and Moo for postcards and business cards which cost less than fifty quid) how I would need to buy a jewellers bench, drills, rollers etc (if I was a silversmith I would, but I'm not, so I don't) and on it went, apparently I needed this loan to 'be taken seriously'. He couldn't understand the way I needed to work.
During this time working from home was the best option. Our daughter started nursery, then school. Then during J's first week in reception class he was called into hospital for the first of three operations. Each time he needed a month off school to recover. During this time Shep's and I worked when we could.
Anyway...the point of explaining all of that was during that time it was pointless to rent studio space- I'd never be there. But I'd always imagined that at some point I would have a studio space away from home, I felt it would make my work feel more substanial, maybe more real?
I've talked to friends about what made them move from working at home to rented space,here vare a few of the things they said:
there too many distractions at home, house work, the telly....
simply needing more space
needing to work with other people, feeling isolated at home
needing to employ help with the business
home not being able to accomodate essential work tools and equipment
When I first started working for myself I just had a small table in the corner of the dining room. As the business grew and I began selling work to galleries and shops I took over the room completely, adding lots of storage shelves, extra tables etc. I'm very disciplined about work - a long time ago I worked on a freelance basis for an animation company, I was hopeless at setting working hours so I'd end up working late at night, right up to deadlines and getting really stressed about it. That doesn't happen now :) I take the children to school and will start work by 10 past 9. I work until 3 o'clock then collect the kids from school. I usually do a couple of hours work in the evening. If I was take a studio away from the house my hours would be cut considerably due to travelling time. I love getting up early, coming down stairs before eveyone else and pottering in here. I'd lose that time too.
Over the last eighteen months I have needed some help so I out source work to someone else who is also self employed, this seems to work well for both of us.
I don't feel isolated at all, I enjoy working by myself. I do use social meda to keep in touch with people who work in a similar situation and we have occasional meet ups. Because I can set my hours I do meet with friends once a week for coffee and crochet - I'd lose that too if I worked away from home. The other thing we both love about working for ourselves is that we can always be here for the kids, we see every concert, go to all the parents in school days and there is no need to worry about childcare at school holidays and when snow days etc happen.
The upshot of this whole thing is that I can finally put to bed my anual wobble about whether I should rent a space or not. For me its not necessary, it really wouldn't make me any more productive and it would be an expense I don't need. Its really helped to write it all down. Descision made. For now :)
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