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It's been less than an hour since Theo retweeted my #SBS entry but my timeline has already gone absolutely crazy and I can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store!
I spent the majority of my spare time drawing and making things when I was young. I never threw anything away in case it could be made into something at a later date! I especially loved drawing – it’s what I was known for all throughout my school years, and I had won over 30 art-related competitions by the time I was 16! I took a BTEC National Diploma in Graphic Design at college, followed by a BA (hons) Degree in Media Production at Lincoln University. At the time, my choice of degree was a bit of a ‘career change’ as up until then I’d been focused solely on art and graphics. But in hindsight it was the ideal choice, as it gave me the additional skills needed to be able to run virtually every aspect of my business by myself, including setting up my own website, designing the logo and graphics, taking (and editing) the stock images and creating all of the promotional material.
Why do all my products have eyes?!
I have always been strangely fascinated by the concept of random objects having their own personalities. As a child, I found it difficult to interact with other people due to my extreme shyness. The world was a scary place for me, and ‘friendly’ objects seemed far less intimidating than real people! One of my favourite childhood possessions was my pet stick – I believe his name was ‘Sticky’ – which I bought from a craft fair. To everyone else it was just a stick with eyes, but to me it was pure genius! I loved that stick! I suspect this planted the seed for my obsession with attaching eyes to things!
How did Randomeyes Boutique come about?
I can’t recall the exact moment when I first stuck eyes onto something and turned it into a piece of jewellery, but I had been unable to work (in the traditional sense) for several years due to depression and anxiety related mental health problems, so I got back into arts and crafts for the therapeutic benefits. I’d not had the time to continue with my childhood hobby up until this point, so I found solace in returning to something that had been such a huge part of my life when I was growing up. I made sock monsters for a while, which I donated to a local Red Cross shop, then tried my hand at jewellery making. To begin with I used standard beads, but I soon became bored of the fact that there was nothing particularly unique about my designs… nothing that made them stand out. That’s when the Randomeyes Boutique style began to emerge!
It’s actually thanks to the Clothes Show Live that Randomeyes Boutique progressed into a proper business! It’s kind of a fluke how it all happened really…although perhaps it was fate?! Initially I had been making the jewellery for my own amusement and I had set up a basic website, just to showcase it really. I didn’t have the funds (or the confidence) to advertise it, and I had decided not to renew my website when the contract ended. However, the day before it was due to expire I got a phone call from someone from the Clothes Show Live who had come across my website, loved my products, and wanted me to hold a stall at their event. My parents had seen me struggle to keep my head above water for so long and knew how hard I’d worked to try and find my ‘niche’ in life, so they took a leap of faith and helped me to fund the cost of the stall. They also came with me, along with my sister, to help me throughout the event – and it was the most amazing experience of my entire life! The first day was really scary as I’d gone from seeing only a handful of people on a regular basis to being surrounded by thousands, but I got so many positive comments that it really boosted my confidence within a matter of hours! Up until this point I’d always felt ashamed of being ‘different’, but now I’m proud of who I am and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Needless to say, I did renew my website contract!
Why do I support the mental health charity Mind?
Without the support of the mental health services (and my friends and family) I wouldn’t be where I am today, if indeed here at all. I wanted to be able to give something back to the people who’ve helped me along the way, and help raise funds for people facing similar difficulties. I’ve also met some of my most interesting and inspirational friends through the mental health services, so I understand the importance of the sense of ‘community’ that such charities provide. There is still a lot of stigma attached to mental health problems, so I wanted to help raise awareness and show that there’s no shame in having a mental illness. I actually think that Randomeyes Boutique developed BECAUSE of my mental health problems, not despite them!
What is the ‘best bit’ about being part of Randomeyes Boutique?
The best part for me is knowing that there are people out there wearing items that I have designed and created myself. It’s a feeling of social acceptance and pride. I’ve faced a fair bit of criticism along the way, but the thought that there are so many people out there who love what I do makes it all worthwhile. Randomeyes Boutique is more than just a business to me – it represents the turning point in my life where I finally became proud of my individuality.
Listen to your heart, not your critics. If there’s something you’re passionate about, just go for it! You can never please everyone, so there’s no point in trying to – as long as you love what you do then there’s a good chance that plenty of other people will too. You just have to make sure that you make your products visible to your target market, and remain passionate about whatever it is you do.