A Simple Year

ASimpleYearTitleA Simple Year is a year long on-line course that I’m participating in that covers subjects related to simplifying your life. For the month of June, the topic covered was titled Work, which covered a number of related topics from tips on productivity to how to do work you love. The topic teacher was  Courtney Carver from the well known simplicity blog called Be More with Less.

The topic for this month was of great interest because ultimately we all want to be happy with our work. Being in the process of transitioning careers, I felt that it was important to ensure that what I do for work does make me happy in the long run.

Ultimately, it’s not about just the work that we do to make a living, it goes further than that. To me its about being able to live the life you want and knowing what’s important. I am slowly learning that It’s about finding and prioritising things in life that make you happy. Because at the end of the day, everything in your life is interconnected. If you are not happy in your home life, it will affect your work, if you are not balanced at work, then you affect your health and so on. Like the cycle of nature, our lives also follow a similar path.

So I decided to write myself a list of things that would help make me happy at work. It’s not focused on the work itself but rather a reminder of what I need to do to keep me happy, here is my list:

START EVERY MORNING WITH A PLAN. Every day (including weekends) I wake up, make myself a cup of coffee and plan my day. I’ve found that the consistency of knowing what I’m doing and when sets the right tone for the day. And if I managed to accomplish most of what I intended then I end the day happy.

PLAN YOUR WORK A WEEK AHEAD. At this point in time I juggle a few balls, studying, blogging, design work, playdates with little J & house stuff. I only have certain slots of time when I can do these things. So when I write down a list of what needs to be accomplished for the week, it helps me to prioritise what needs to be done during those slots. If I don’t manage to accomplish everything, I’m not too hard on myself. You can only do so much sometimes.

MAKE TIME FOR GOOD NUTRITION. I’ve learned over time that how I feel is directly impacted by what I eat. When I don’t give myself the time to eat properly I usually feel tired and sluggish. I prevent this by making sure that what I eat is healthy and nutritious. Though I love cake and sweets, I try my best to ensure that I have lots of greens and water throughout the day to balance things out.

DO THE BORING STUFF FIRST. Who doesn’t hate admin. I am terribly irritable when I have to do admin and taxes. It stresses me out! So I make a point to tackle it first. I have what I call “Admin Monday’s” where my Monday mornings are dedicated to getting all the administrative stuff out of the way. I always feel so much better after I’ve done it and then I have the rest of the week to look forward to doing fun things which make me happy.

GET OUTDOORS. There is something magical about working in a different environment. Sometimes when I’ve been in the house for too long or it’s a bit noisy and I need some quiet, I take it outside. In fact, I am writing this post in a local cafe because there was too much going on at home due to school holidays! I’ve been able to get into my writing zone as a result.

MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Do you ever feel guilty when you make time for yourself during working hours? I do this all the time. It’s something I am still getting to grips with, but I find that if I make time for myself, that I am much more relaxed and willing and ready to tackle that next project. Because at the end of the day, life is short. You should enjoy it.

What do you do to keep yourself happy at work? I’d love to know. xD

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

Finding Beauty in Imperfection

TitlebeautyinimperfectionI’m finding that the more I delve into the world of Interior Design, the keener I am to see interiors that go against the norm. Styled photographs of clean lined furniture against white walls don’t seem to do it for me anymore, and instead my eyes delight upon seeing exposed brick and aged furniture.

I am no longer excited by what is held at my local High St store and find myself seeking products that are crafted with love, slightly imperfect and unusual. Because of this, I am opening my mind to new possibilities and taking bigger risks with my home.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we have damp in our living room. Unfortunately the damp has spread to the entire front of our home, which means that we need to act fairly quickly to resolved it. This has given me the opportunity to bring some imperfection into my home in the form of exposing the alcove and chimney breast bricks. We have no idea what lies behind the shelves and render that currently cover it, but I’m hoping all will be well and we can achieve the look I’m going for.

Here are some idea’s and inspiration for perfectly imperfect features in the home…

RawWoodPanelsAgedBrickworkDistressedDoorsDeterioratedPlasterwork

What style do you prefer, clean minimal or aged imperfect? I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Title – Edwardsmoore.com,  1 – Elle Decoration Dec 2013 2 – Desiretoinspire.com 3 – Airspaces.com 4 – MilkDecoration.com

Urban Jungle Bloggers – Pots

TitleUrbanJunglePotsUrban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series hosted by Igor from Happy Interior Blog and Judith from Joelix.com. Every month they (along with other bloggers) share idea’s and inspiration to readers on how to create green urban spaces in the home. Each month a different topic is chosen and participants are free to join in with the fun.

This months topic was “Creative plant pots – how to dress up your plants.”

A couple of months ago, I purchased the cutest little succulents for my bathroom window sill. They have been sitting there quite happily in their original plastic pots however this months topic prompted me to finally find a new home for them to grow in.

After going to the Chelsea Flower Show earlier in the year, I was extremely inspired by the Artisan Potters Garden and immediately fell in love with the aged terracotta pots used in the display. So I decided to try and track down something similar for my plants.

I tried a few local garden centres without success. Then one fine spring day, I decided to go to Petersham Nursery for lunch. While browsing through their lovely gift shop, I noticed a pile of small pots in the basket on the floor. Taking a closer look, I managed to find the most lovely pots that were worn, chipped and aged. They were perfect.

Here are some photo’s of before, during and after I’ve planted the succulents in their new home…

BeforeUrbanJunglePots

DuringUrbanJunglePots

It’s been a month since, and they are very happy and growing well. Here is a picture taken yesterday.

AfterUrbanJunglePots

I can’t wait to see what the flower looks like.

What sort of pots do you prefer for your plants? I’d love to know.

Till next time, Doris

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

 

A Simple Year

ASimpleYearDigital

A Simple Year is a year long on-line course that I’m participating in that covers subjects related to simplifying your life. For the month of May, the topic covered was titled Digital, about maintaining a healthy relationship with technology by Tammy Strobel.

Tammy is a writer, photographer and teacher. Her blog, rowdykittens.com is about going small, thinking big, and being happy. Her posts are focused on living simply, photography, and writing.

The topic for this month made me take an indepth look into my digital habits. As I was analysing my day to day interactions with the digital technology around me I realised that my relationship is fairly balanced. It has become easier over time to remove myself from using devices when I need to and a lot has to do with the fact that I spent many years in the IT industry and having it be an integral part of my life.

When I was working in the corporate world, my relationship with technology was split. I was working with it everyday. It was part of my job, I spent many hours surrounded by it, setting up technologies in cold server warehouses and creating vast networks for multi-national companies. I loved being knee deep in it.

It wasn’t until it overtook my life that I started to struggle with it. I was on-call 24×7, always working, always a slave to the phone. I would get calls during party’s, in the middle of the night, during holidays. I felt like a slave to my phone and laptop which I always had to carry with me, just in case something went wrong and I had to dial in. It was a burden and controlled my life.

Now I find that my relationship with technology is more balanced. As a blogger, sometimes it feels that I should always be connected. What if I miss that important tweet? What if someone asks me a question about a post? Will they be offended if I don’t answer the email until tomorrow? However I have learnt that nothing is more important than being in the present, and that it’s the people infront of me at that very moment that deserve my attention.

Here is what helps me to balance my relationship with technology:

  • I only check email once a day, sometimes twice.
  • I only access social media when I am alone and only from my phone.
  • I have turned off all social media & email notifications on all of my devices
  • Before I sit down with my phone with the intention of accessing social media, I always ask myself is there anything else I need to do first?
  • When I write for my blog, I use OmmWriter which is a great application that removes all distractions from the computer and limits any internet related distractions so I can focus solely on writing.
  • When I need to do work, I have an application the allows me to block internet access called Stayfocusd for however long I need to get the job done.
  • The phone is never present when in the company of others or at the dinner table, it remains in my bag.

Sometimes it’s hard. It’s so easy to take a quick minute just to login to facebook and see what’s going on and before you know it, 20 minutes has passed. I have to make it a conscious decision. Some days are better than others but I’m working on it.

What is your relationship like with technology?

Till next time, Doris

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

 

Creative Change: An Interview with Louisa Blackmore

LouisaProfilePicturecolour“Creative Change” is a monthly series where I have the pleasure of interviewing people who have made the transition to a creative career. My hope is that through these profiles, inspiring stories are shared and readers can take away learnings from the experiences of people who have successfully been through the process.

Today I want to introduce you to Louisa Blackmore. Louisa is the founder and owner of West Egg Interiors which is an online store that sells antique and vintage one-off pieces of furniture, home accessories, gifts and quirky interiors products. The company is based in Blunham, Bedfordshire in a converted barn which also hosts a number of workshops related to home and interiors. In addition, West Egg also offers a design service, sourcing service, and soft furnishing design and make up service.

What I really admire about West Egg’s philosophy is that they believe in reusing already existing furniture and bringing it back to life and thereby helping out the planet.  

*With each phase of Louisa’s life I have provided a timeline that indicates the amount of time in years each phase has taken. I think this is important to know for someone who is starting out that things don’t necessarily happen overnight and highlights that your past learnings are an accumulation of what you can achieve in the present.

Here is Louisa’s story…

Timeline-Lawandhedgefunds

After I left school I went to Durham University to study Law. I graduated in 2003 with a 2:1 degree. I didn’t have a burning desire to be a solicitor or a barrister, but then again I didn’t really have a burning desire for any particular career. I knew it was a good degree to get, so I thought it would give me options for when I graduated.

By 2010 I’d been working on the legal desk at a hedge fund in London for 4 years. Although I really value the experiences I had, and the knowledge, skills and work ethic I learned while I was there, I was really hopelessly bored and frustrated.

Timeline-creatinganewlife

I set up West Egg because I love interiors, I love antique and vintage furniture and home accessories. I feel deeply passionate about the field I now work in, most of my waking moments are spent thinking about interiors and I love that I had the freedom and support to make my passion into my job.

Of course I only had limited experience of furniture restoration when I started so I did a course in Cornwall on restoration right at the beginning. Since then I’ve done many courses on everything from upholstery, to calligraphy, to blogging. Learning new skills is one of the most fun things in life. I was lucky to get tons of advice from family and friends, I still have a list of go-to people depending on the topic.

The workshops are a peculiar by-product of the business. I never intended to run workshops, it started with a chance conversation with an interior design studio on twitter. They asked me to go in for a meeting to arrange for some furniture to be painted. While I was there, they asked if I would speak at their open day. I did a talk, and then some clients asked if I taught a class. The team there persuaded me to put together a fun one day workshop, so I did. It was that simple! 6 people booked, which was baffling to me because the maximum number was 6. I was petrified when I first started, but after 5 minutes I relaxed and really enjoyed it. Since then, I have taught over 100 furniture painting workshops and each one is different. It’s inspiring and interesting for me to see how people interpret the skills I share with them, and of course I love to see how they transform their pieces and put their own stamp on it. The thing I’ve learnt from teaching workshops is that sometimes the simplest tricks and tips are the ones that people most appreciate it.

Advicefromexperience

TELL ME 3 THINGS YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE OF TRANSITIONING TO A CREATIVE CAREER

Firstly, that running a business is the most rewarding (paid) work I’ve ever done. I really love the fact that I am responsible for all aspects of the business, and that every day I learn something new. Secondly, I learnt that no matter how hard you try to plan, you really can’t predict what will work and what won’t. Thirdly, every contract I negotiated, every exam I took, every meeting I attended all stood me in really good stead for setting up on my own. For a while I thought I’d wasted my legal training, but now I can see it’s what has helped me the most.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF RUNNING A CREATIVE BUSINESS AND THE WORST?

Doing something I love, rather than something that just pays the bills. I mean, the bills need to get paid obviously, but I feel really lucky that I can pay them by doing something I am so excited and passionate about. I get emails from people telling me how they hate their job and they just want to quit, but they feel trapped for whatever reason. That’s really tough. Life’s too short.

Having to do absolutely everything yourself, from coming up with a coherent business strategy, to mopping up the floor after a workshop. The responsibility can sometimes feel so heavy, and things inevitably go wrong, some things just don’t work and you make stupid mistakes along the way. My parents both have a very strong work ethic and I think I learnt from them that when things get difficult, you work smarter and harder.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WHO IS THINKING OF CHANGING CAREERS INTO THE CREATIVE FIELD?

If you work your socks off, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. It’s so true you get out what you put in so throw everything you’ve got into it and see what happens.

WHAT DO YOU ENVISAGE FOR THE FUTURE OF WEST EGG?

We want to continue growing the retail side of the business, and adding more classes to our workshop programme at the barn in Blunham, Bedfordshire. I personally will be teaching workshops in different locations over the next 6 months and we are adding online courses so that people all over the world can take part in the workshops. We’ve just launched our Design Springboard service which gives customers a design brief to kick start their interiors project. We recently hired interior designer Angelique Wisse to run this service, and it’s great to have her join our team.

WestEggInteriorsWhat I love about Louisa’s journey is that she didn’t need to seek a formal qualification to start. She went and learned what she needed to and was still able to successfully change into a creative career. I really admire her work philosophy that you get out what you put in and agree that learning new skills is one of the most fun things in life.

Louisa holds a variety of workshops related to interiors from furniture painting and restoration to starting your own creative business – you can check them out here.

I wanted to thank Louisa for taking the time to participate in this months Creative Change interview and wish her and West Egg great success in the future.

Till next time, Doris

Image Source: Photography by Charlotte Murphy Photography

How to create an Intimate Outdoor Space

IntimateOutdoorSpaceTitleWith the summer weather upon us over here in London, I’ve been in the garden a lot. I feel so blessed to have a small patch of green that I can call my own and it’s always been important for me to nurture it to become both a lovely space to be in, but also look at from the interior of the house.

I’ve been learning that it’s important to treat a garden as you would an interior of your home. Zone off area’s for different purposes like the patio for family meals, the shed for storage and the small patch of lawn for picnics. I have created a small space at the back of the garden that gets the most wonderful evening light. It’s very small, 2mx2m and paved and last year I installed a pergola above it.

Since then, I’ve planted some rose climbers that are slowly making their way up the beams. While I wait impatiently for the rose climber to grow, I have been researching some idea’s of how to use the space to create an intimate area that I can retreat to on warm summer evenings. Here are some idea’s I found…

IntimateOutdoorSpaceFurniture

IntimateOutdoorSpacePots

IntimateOutdoorSpacePillows

IntimateOutdoorSpaceLightingDo you have a little area in your garden that you could create an intimate setting with? I’d love to know.

Till next time, Doris

Image Source: Title – DesignSponge.com, Image 1 – HGTV.com, Image 2 – DesireeCasoni.com, Image 3 – Unknown, Image 4 – DesignSponge.com

 

My First Interior Design – Learnings

TitleBathroomlearningsAnd so the last few months have been a steep learning curve to say the least. Being able to dip my  toe in the world of Interior Design has been both exciting and eye opening. It was always my intention to share my journey with you, so today I’m going to go through all the things I learned from this experience.  I look back at my list and think some of it was really obvious, but that’s the beauty of experience and being in the moment you can make mistakes. So here we go…

ALWAYS BE PREPARED – the first time we visited a bathroom store to look at samples, I was not prepared at all and rather nervous. The result was that the client left the store confused and overwhelmed with all the options that were available. In hindsight I should have gone to the store on my own first and taken a look at the fittings before hand with an idea of what was available. This way I would have been able to limit the number of choices available and a decision could be made.

ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK FIGURES – ok this one is pretty obvious but when I received the quote for the tiles, I checked them. But then we made changes to the order and I did not double check it assuming it was correct. As a result, too many of one type of tile was ordered and not enough of another. Luckily, I was able to work together with the supplier to find a solution. It was an important lesson learned.

PICTURES SAY A THOUSAND WORDS – Getting my client to create a Pinterest board of images they liked really gave me a good understanding for the style they wanted. Although I got them to complete a questionnaire also, I found that the Pinterest board was much more helpful in helping to define their style preferences.

BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ANSWERS & OPINIONS - when the consultations started, I was asked a lot of questions in relation to my opinion such as, what do you think of this colour tile? what sort of bath style should I choose, what if? At first I was not very confident in my answers because I was trying really hard to please my client. As a result, my client lost confidence in my answers because they were looking for guidance, not someone to agree with them. Once I figured out that I needed to be confident in MY opinion, the process was smoother and my client gained confidence in my vision.

IT’S OK TO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER – As a result of the renovations that were due to take place, there were a lot of structural questions that I didn’t know how to answer. At the time, I felt that I should know everything. I realise now, that it was ok to defer questions to the builders.

PLAN WELL BUT BE FLEXIBLE – it’s really important to think ahead and try to plan exactly where everything is going to go.  A well thought out floor plan and elevation will help the builders and the client to see where things are going to go. You need to include exact measurements of your intentions in the plan for the builders but there are always going to be things that come up that you haven’t thought of and flexibility is key. I think I did this pretty well. Whenever something needed to be changed, I then updated to the plan to ensure that everything was as it should. Then everyone was always on the same page.

BE ON-SITE REGULARLY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS – I made it a point to visit the site every few days during the initial installation. Though my clients were around, it was helpful that I could help answer any design questions and help with solutions to problems as they arose. When the builders were looking to install the LED lighting under the basin in the loft bathroom, we had intended that the light be installed under the drawer, however I didn’t realise that there was no base under the drawer itself so you couldn’t install the light there. So while on-site, we came up with the solution of building a little cover that would house the light against the back wall under the drawer. It was much easier to come up with a solution while being on-site.

IT’S ABOUT THE CLIENT – Being used to choosing and designing based on my own needs, I had to adjust my thinking to creating and designing to someone else’s needs and wants. An example is that I’m a big fan of open shelving but my client is not. I had to re-adjust my vision to suit my clients needs. I found this difficult at first, but once I realised that it was about them, it became easier.

So here are my learnings from the first project I have worked on. I’m hoping that with the next one, I’ll be able to take from this experience and be better at it.

But before I go, I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to my friends and clients who let me re-design their bathrooms. They were so supportive during the entire process and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.

Do you have any learnings from renovations that you’ve completed from a client or design perspective? I’d love to know.

Till next time, Doris

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

My First Interior Design – Family Bathroom

TitleFirstly, I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming  support and feedback on my last post about the Loft Bathroom. I got so many messages of support from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and comments on the  blog that it made my day!

Today, I wanted to show you the Family Bathroom. This room had the most changes made to it and due to the size of the space – only being 3.3 x 1.7 metres meant that the design was especially important.

Here are the photos & floor plans of the space before…BeforeFamilyBathroomPlannedChangesfamilybathroomdetailsThis bathroom had the most changes made to it as it was originally 2 separate rooms, a family bathroom and a toilet. The brief was to maximise the space of the room by combining the two rooms into one. The clients wanted the room to feel spacious but also functional as their 2 young children would be the primary users.clientbriefFloorplanfamilybathroomThe clients wanted to keep the same look and feel as the Loft bathroom so the same tiles were used. But subtle changes to the cabinet and fittings were used to create a different look to the room. Curved fittings were used in the taps and undersink cabinet to reduce the harshness of the lines and geometric shapes helping to soften the overall feel.

The bathroom is entered from a hallway on the first floor that has no natural light so lighting the room both during the day and night was important. We worked through a number of scenarios in relation to how we could best get natural lighting into the room by leaving one existing window. However, in order to get best use of the space, it was agreed that the additional expense of placing a new long narrow window into the room would be better. An extra large mirror would help bounce the light within the room out into hallway. The kids also accessed the bathroom at night, so LED lighting was installed under a recess below the bath and under the basin cabinet.

Upon entering the room, the hinged door was replaced with a sliding door mechanism to both maximise the space and make the room feel bigger. The wall hung basin cabinet and toilet allow the eye to see under them and creates a sense of space.

Due to the limited space around the bath, a folding shower screen was installed so that you could easily access the shower for both cleaning and for getting to the kids when they were showering.

An alcove was built into a partition above the wall hung toilet for additional display and the built in cabinet on the other side was designed specifically for the tight space to house additional items that wouldn’t fit in the under basin cabinet.

sinkfrontfamilybathroomToiletFamilyBathroomFamilyBathroom1This was by far the most important bathroom from a design perspective and a lot of time, planning and thought went into it. So it was so lovely to get feedback, through my client from the builder who commented that this was one of the best designed bathrooms he had worked on. That he had seen people spend twice as much on a bathroom with half the results. I am so very proud.

Till next time, xD

Photography: Doris Lee

My First Interior Design – Loft Bathroom

LoftBathroomTitleI have to say straight up that this is quite a momentous occasion. So far, it’s all been about learning and theory on how to design an interior and all the fun and creative things I’ve encountered along the way. But today, I get to show you something that I have actually designed and executed in real life. A design that I dreamed up, planned, sourced and built is as we speak being used (and hopefully enjoyed) by a real person in another house. I can’t quite believe it.

And the best part of all, is that I managed to create something for a real client that meets their needs and that they love. It’s quite surreal.

When I look back at the initial conversation with my friend, I have to shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t believe in myself, or that I could do it. My friend, told me to do it, I came up with a myriad of excuses. I’m still studying, I’ve never done this before, I’m not ready. But my friend insisted. She told me that it would be a learning experience. She had been through a conversion build before, but made design mistakes, I had the design expertise but not the experience. It was a win win situation. So I agreed.

The request was to design and renovate two bathrooms. A large loft bathroom and a family bathroom on the first floor. I went through the design process for both, treating my friend as a client. This post will focus on the Loft bathroom, the next post will document the Family bathroom and a final post will review the things I learnt from the experience, the good, the bad and the ugly.

So here is the obligatory before photo of the Loft Bathroom… LoftBathroomBefore

detailsMy clients wanted no structural changes to take place in this bathroom. They loved their freestanding bath and wanted to keep it as a feature of the room. They wanted the room to feel spacious but still be practical enough to clean and store all of their things. The look we decided on was clean, contemporary & minimalist.

Tiled squares were used across all walls and the floor. The large squares (60cmx60cm) are both easy to clean but also make the room feel larger. The colours chosen were neutral, a client request.

When you walk in, the first thing you see is the bath. When we found the floor tile, which is called Rust White as it mimics the natural oxidation of a rusting piece of metal, I decided to bring it up the back wall behind the bath. By doing this, the bath stands out by contrasting against the wall and creates a focal point to the room upon entry.

Lighting was also a priority as the clients work shifts and often arrive home in the middle of the night. Strips of LED lighting were placed under the basin and along the cabinet just above the toilet to provide some ambient light so they could access the room without needing a bright light.

Included in the planned changes was the replacement of all fittings except the bath and heated towel rail. The cabinet was designed around the toilet to provide extra storage which you can read about here.

LoftBathroomPlan

Clientbrief

LoftBathroomToilet

LoftBathroomSink

*Ahem, excuse the fake blind in the image above.

This room was the easiest to pull together and had the fewest changes. It was helpful that we completed this room first before moving onto the Family room as it gave me a taste of what to expect when interacting with the builders and expected timeline. All in all, a smooth renovation took place and both myself and the client were happy with the result.

Till next time, xD

Photography: Doris Lee

 

Creative Change: An Interview with Souraya Karami Gyves

sourayatitle“Creative Change” is a monthly series where I have the pleasure of interviewing people who have made the transition to a creative career. My hope is that through these profiles inspiring stories are shared and readers can take away learnings from the experiences of people who have successfully been through the process.

Today I want you to meet Souraya Karami Gyves. Souraya is the founder and designer of Esska, a company that specialises in comfortable and yet beautiful shoes. Esska is known for it’s stylish designs, layered materials and exciting colour combinations. The brand is sold in over 200 boutiques around the world and continues to grow.

*With each phase of Souraya’s life I have provided a timeline that indicates the amount of time in years each phase as taken. I think this is important to know for someone who is starting out that things don’t necessarily happen overnight and highlights that your past learnings are an accumulation of what you can achieve in the present.

Here is Souraya’s story…

StartingOut

After school I decided to study Architecture.  I went to the American University of Beirut and completed a Bachelor Degree in Architecture. I’m not sure why I decided to study this. To me, the other choices that were available at the time were quite boring and I liked the fact that everyone said that Architecture was not for girls as it was too difficult!

After I graduated, I worked for Simone Kosremelli’s Architecture firm in Beirut Lebanon for five years and during this time I got married and then divorced. After my divorce, I wanted to change everything in my life, my career, my country, life, everything. And I also wanted to learn a new skill, so I moved to London and did exactly that.

Changingmylife

After I moved to London, I studied shoe design at Cordwainers which is part of the London College of Fashion. The course was a 1 year diploma , very hands on and technical which I absolutely loved. I learned about leathers, stitching, making, pattern cutting and I spent hours at the workshop. It was an absolutely amazing year of my life.

After graduating, I then went on to work for a company called 26 bones for 1 year to gain experience in the industry.

Launchingmyownlabel

From the day I started the shoe design course I knew I wanted to launch my own label. I felt there was a gap in the market for shoes that are comfortable, not too over designed, not too girly, no bows and flowers and sparkles, but at the same time feminine. Not trainers, but not stilettos. Something for everyday, but something different. I struggled to find shoes I liked and my friends were the same.

I knew deep inside that I could make them. So I started Esska from my boyfriends (now my husband) spare room in East London. I built the business up very slowly, with a small budget and I was totally determined. I also wrote a business plan which helped me a lot in many ways.

I design a collection per season and then present the designs to shops directly or take it to trade shows to show them to buyers. My first ever collection was made of only 2 styles and was bought by a lovely boutique in London called Sniff. Sadly they have closed down now. I emailed them pictures of the shoes, called them for a meeting and then visited them with samples. They loved them and placed an order. My first.

Advicefromexperience

TELL ME 3 THINGS YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE OF TRANSITIONING TO A CREATIVE CAREER

  1. One should be passionate about what they do, they should enjoy it otherwise they will never succeed.
  2. The skills you learn in any design course can be easily transferred into another career. I did not feel at all that I ‘lost’ 6 years of my life studying architecture.
  3. You are never ever ever too old to change career. Never too old.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF RUNNING A CREATIVE BUSINESS AND THE WORST?

The best part is when people appreciate what you have created and the worst is chasing payments. By far the worst.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WHO IS THINKING OF CHANGING CAREERS INTO THE CREATIVE FIELD?

Do it. Without a doubt. But plan first. The more you plan the easier it is. And do not be scared of failure and of taking risks. You will only learn when you make mistakes.

WHAT DO YOU ENVISAGE FOR THE FUTURE OF ESSKA?

To be sold in every country and to be known for comfortable stylish shoes.

EsskaShoes

When I first met Souraya a couple of years ago, it was at a childrens birthday party (she has 2 young children). When I mentioned my transition into Interior Design, she was so open about her own transition that I left the party feeling so inspired and in awe of her accomplishments. I’m so glad that I got to share her story with you today and I wish her all the best and continued success. So Thank You Souraya.

And before I go, I wanted to mention that Esska Shoes are running a Pop Up Event on Wednesday June 11th 2014 from 12pm till 8 pm, at the Crown and Anchor Pub on 374 Chiswick High Road, W4 5TA so come along and take a look!

Till next time. xD

Image Source: Photography provided by Esska Shoes