When you need a new plan. I was lying in a field in West Cork at 5 am, under a full moon, and all I could feel was the drip drip of cold water falling intermittently onto my nose and forehead. I wasn’t outdoors and yet I might as well have been. I was lying in a cheap, two-man tent with my 15-year-old asleep beside me, both of us drenched from a typical Irish summer. I remember crawling out of the tent, taking a minute to admire the moon, to fling a towel across the metre of grass that separated my tent from the second tent where my two younger boys were moaning from the cold and wet.
My plan to take the boys camping was turning into a nightmare. We’d barely unpacked the car on day one when my youngest managed to lock the car keys into the car. Then the rain came and now it was 5 am, we were all drenched and I had never ever felt so low.
This trip was my big plan to take my boys away on my own for the first time. I’d split up from their Dad the previous year and things had been really tough for everyone. I was applying for jobs for the first time in about 10 years and getting nowhere. Indeed, the day we’d arrived in West Cork I had got the news that had I not been selected for a job I was really hoping would be mine. Those raindrops on my nose felt like they were hammering my failure into me.
I decided we needed a new plan. Driving back to Dublin wasn’t an option, so I opened the AirBnB app on my phone and searched for anything, anywhere in Ireland that had availability the next night. I found a wonderful old mill in Skibbereen that had been converted into a hostel, complete with warm, comfy beds, a table tennis table and the delightful Paul. Paul set up a campfire every night with marshmallows for the kids. We had landed! We had the best four nights in that hostel, so much so that we went back two years later.
As the months went by I was still struggling to find a job. It’s not easy being a ‘Returner’! I had taken a six-month contract in a big financial services firm, but the corporate culture was so new to me, it was a real challenge for me to find my place. I had been designing websites and graphics for a few years as a hobby, having started off teaching myself and then following up with a Graduate Diploma in Creative Multimedia. I was volunteering for music and arts organisations, designing their promotional materials and setting up their websites. I decided to go back to college again, at night, to do a BSc in Digital Technology and Design, specialising in Digital Marketing. The plan was to become a social media manager for small businesses. During that course, I realised that perhaps I could marry my web design skills with my new marketing knowledge and offer something really useful to organisations that had neither the skills nor the manpower to get online. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Another course in how to run a design business set me up for success and almost five years later, my business is thriving.
Today my business offers brand strategy, visual identity design, website design and digital marketing to entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level. I consider myself as their digital guide, helping them navigate the online world no matter where they are on their business journey. I collaborate with several other entrepreneurs whose services benefit my clients – strategists, copywriters, brand photographers, content specialists etc. We offer many of the benefits of an agency, with the flexibility and independent creativity of freelancers. Our goal is to help our clients achieve their vision of success, attracting the clients they love and fulfilling their potential. We’re currently working on a project called Design Your Own Success, a 5 day residential workshop in November 2023 for female entrepreneurs who want to ‘get it done’ – positioning, brand strategy and design, a website that converts and a marketing roadmap for growth, all in 5 days!
I often think back to that night in the tent in West Cork, when I thought my life was ruined and I was going to end up on the street with my three boys. Around that time, a wise woman told me that all I needed to do was put my true self out to the universe and good things would come. She was right.