Blog Posts

What Is “Self Care?”: A Guide For Trying To Keep It Real

So many of you lovely lot know I run Keep Real®  and with that comes a fair few things. Such as responsibility, creativity, management and hmmm I’m gonna say…self care. Yes! I said self care!! Whoa…Did I really just say that?


I did. A lot of folk won’t state that or *gasp* even mention it as something that comes with their life, business or whatever else. For example, entrepreneurs- our little metaphorical ent-baby needs to grow and flourish, but it will get sick or needs to learn how to walk, we don’t actually put ourselves in the equation. We love it, so self-care is just…non existent. It’s non existent for many! We just wanna keep the ball rolling. As long as it’s moving, its…doing something.

So what is this “self care” thing anyway? Let me break some things down for you…

  • SELF CARE IS NOT SELF INDULGENCE – Let’s get that little myth solved, mkay? It isn’t ‘retail therapy’ and sure as heck isn’t finishing off a full bottle of wine. These are temporary fixes. In a world that wants you to consume more…you gotta stick it to the man and just do yo’ thang.
  • SELF CARE IS A GENTLE BUT TOUGH MISTRESS – It ain’t always plain sailing. Self care can actually be real hard to do. When we’re so fast paced and overwhelmed- we feel that we actually can’t slow down. Self care comes in many forms. It may be going to bed an hour or two earlier, or going for a long walk. Not a walk to work, not rushing to be somewhere. Just a w a l k . Nothing more. It can be hard to do things for ourselves, but we need to learn to slow down a lil’.
  • SELF CARE DOES NOT COME FROM OTHERS – Sorry sweetpea, but self care doesn’t come from any other human being, doggo or your favourite cuddly toy. Self care has to come from you and you alone. Sure, other folk will support you- but there’s a reason why it’s called ‘self’ care and not ‘other people care’. Try not to focus on relying on other people for that comfort. Self means self, so soothe that soul. Pick up a musical instrument or pen (even if you’re terrible at music or art), create something, make a pinterest board or ‘life board’ of your goals and things you have achieved, take a bath and moisturise! Anything for you, that you can do by yourself is self care. The most important relationship you have, is with yourself.

So, treat yourself how you would treat someone you hold dear. You deserve to take a break. I still need to remind myself that too (Oh hi blog, you naughty reminder you) – because we can’t burn out and expect a quick restart. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t work harder, just work smarter. And that starts with self care.
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Social Platform Creature: Our Mental Health Impact

Being the social creatures we are- having connections is something we feel makes a profound difference in our lives to establish meaning and fulfilment. It’s super sweet, it makes us do the floss (which I’ve recently discovered the name of as that funny dance with the hands and the hips…) and it allows us to go “Heck yeah, this makes me want to LIVE!” in some way or some form. Thank goodness for technology- I can feel connected straight away when I’m having a hard time.

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Then why do so many of us feel that loss of meaning in a digital world? That niggling desire to perhaps gain a love heart on a photo, buy the latest tech or that pair of trousers you know you don’t need but you want to purchase anyway (Oh, wouldn’t they look great on my feed?!)…


We’re hardwired by all sorts of thaaangs to want more. More of everything. Sure, we can connect quicker and establish relationships faster- making our millennial age, the years of the throw away feelings (Hi, Tinder). But it also means we’re quick to focus on such a microscopic lens of our lives and dissect everything within an online platform. I feel we need to fall back in love with the slower processes- the most meaningful of relationships with ourselves, our loved ones and the world.

And maybe switch off our phones more often…maybe like a lot.

From the Mental Health Foundation, 49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress, which was higher than in any of the older age groups. In 2015, Time Magazine stated “Young adults are now spending more than one full day per week online, according to new survey data from a U.K. communications regulator.”

The online world has given us a great gift and a great…distraction. The idea that we can connect quicker- but we are now constantly entwined with the notion that we need the online connectivity to affirm what we want to affirm. Whether that be fame, attractiveness, money, fame etc. It has given us the instant gratification we actively seek. We are now consumerists of emotion. In a round about term, we’re a bit addicted to quick gratification.

We just need to slow everything dddooowwwwnnn. Sllllloooowwww. Sit back and away from your phone/laptop/electronic device. You got this!! We survived before and we can survive now!

We need to look at using technology in an altruistic way. To give back, to share support- to share love, kindness, gratitude. All the wonderful things that takes you away from the incessant need to just…feel connected. In a wonderful, deep way. Something as simple as seeing your friend share a snapshot of having a day off, enjoying the sunshine- break the mould and start a conversation, ask to meet up face to face next time they’re free. Not just a love heart, nor a facebook ‘reaction’.

Use this digital world to your advantage. Altruism, yes- but surround your digital self with a lot of digital love. Not a platform to subconsciously make your self esteem drop, for your bank account to fall out of your butt and overall lose your sense of self.

You got this. WE GOT THIS. 

What’s Going On, Kim?

Before I begin, I want to say how my personal mental health has changed over the years. It has fluctuated in response to a multitude of events, grown through a variety of focuses and also stayed dormant through different phases. Note that every part of that sentence, is an accumulative of change. This is what mental health is. Very much like physical health, you take more notice probably of achey bones and tension in your shoulders. However if you take note of your mood changes or events in your life timelines, you’ll know how your body and mind go through transitions. Just know that it’s ok, you’re human. I’m human. I wanted to share a small glimmer of mental hope in my life timeline at the age of 23/24 from the past 10 months.

So here goes.

Currently, I have been on anti-depressants for 5 months. I had such a difficult time during the Christmas period, knowing I wasn’t coping. I knew it was an amalgamation of things; moving out, moving away, commuting, balancing a small business and work commitments, paying my way etc etc. My days off were spent crying and feeling real down. I was even crying at work, I just knew I wasn’t doing well.

I remember going to my doctor (who, by the way- was lovely to me) – and I blubbed out that “I’m finding being an adult so hard.” She also asked me what was making me feel the way I was feeling. I knew- and still know- that I tend to have a lot on my plate. I also know, that I don’t put myself first as much as I should.

When you’ve had counselling, you have tried mindfulness, multiple apps and feel like medication is still a route you haven’t gone down yet- try it. If it helps, try it.

I actually haven’t taken my medication for 4 days. I know I should have collected my prescription, but I’ve been too focused on the fact I’m moving out. It’s also bank holiday weekend. This week has been hard.

I’m at a point where I’m unsure where I am. It’s a little unsettling and I know I need some down time to process some changes. I think I’m just exhausted. But I know there’s hope- that’s what keeps me going. There’s so much I haven’t experienced yet- what a wonderful feeling that is.

Keep going.
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SOC-ENT Part 3: Mental Health Workshops begin!

What’s going on Kim, I hear you say? A lot…as always!

So a lot of you folk know about Keep Real, I’m so humbled to announce the beginning of mental health workshops for the social enterprise!! The first workshop will be in Sheffield as part of the CIC Golddigger Trust for ‘Girls Day’ (you can grab tickets over on their website).

I ran a workshop the previous year, however I’ll be officially running Keep Real’s first workshop for mental health. It will see the yet-to-be-launched colouring books (…have I said too much?) in full swing. I can’t wait to see what the girls think of them! Then they’ll be launching with the new merch in the next couple of months.

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A year on from launching the business officially online, this year is for growth and learning. I think the hardest part is to know what direction to go in. My advisor asked me an extremely inspiring question the other day, “Do you want your business to be big…or do you want it to be deep?”. In simpler terms, do I want to create social change in the community and directly be part of every workshop, making sure that Keep Real is providing qualitative feedback on mental health…or do I want it to be something incredibly huge and part of the wider UK, but without the personal touch?

As much as I’d love Keep Real to support the wider community, being a ‘deep’ social enterprise aligns with what I want currently. I want it to make a difference to young mental health in the community- and at the moment exploring those options on how to do that. Such as the mental health workshop with secondary school girls in Sheffield, and the live event in July.

Next week will begin the process of looking at various directions of growth for the business, and ways in which it can reach a wider audience. I can’t wait to see where it goes!

What do you want to see of from Keep Real?

 

 

Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur: Part Two

If you haven’t seen Part One of this three part blog post- please see it here! I first discussed knowing your market, dealing with difficult situations and a small summary of starting out. This part is asking questions like, ‘What is a social enterprise?’ and ‘Tips from Important Mistakes’.

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So What Is A ‘Social Enterprise’?

A lot of folk will not know what a social enterprise is, so here it is simply; a business with a social purpose. Keep Real is a social enterprise as it uses the profits from the goods sold to fund mental health workshops in Yorkshire. Profit isn’t simply for profit, it is aiming to have a purpose within the community. Really cool, huh?

Business doesn’t have to be a ‘social enterprise’ to have an impact, it can be full blown CIC (Community Interest Company), registered charity, a Limited Company, a Corporation…the list goes on. The WHY of your business should be part of that evaluation. I first wanted Keep Real to be a CIC, but the brand is still figuring out it’s territory for now- after all, Keep Real hasn’t even been a year into launch! I have to think about the long term future for me as a person- and more than anything would I love to do my business full time and make a living. If I can support the community and also pay my bills- that ticks ‘the dream’ off my bucket list.

Tips From My (Important) Mistakes

If you’re not making mistakes along the way, it’s either a miracle or you’re bad at being an entrepreneur. Without mistakes…how will you learn? How will you grow?

  • Don’t Run Before You Can Walk – When I first started out, I was looking for that ‘quick fix’ of business that I’m sure when you’re an eager beaver like I was (and still am) about your idea- then you’ll jump a lot of checkpoints to get to the final product. I’ve learned that patience and taking risks go hand in hand. Even if that’s as simple as choosing to paying extra for a small part of your packaging because it’s sustainably sourced although longer for delivery, compared a company that will do it cheaper and faster for you. Quicker never means better. Make sure you cover all options before making your move. A mistake I made when being a naive start up- was selecting a supplier who would do the job quicker and because my budget was low, it was all I could afford. I’m glad I made the t-shirt I did, as it’s a foundation for growth. I now know what suppliers I choose, and how good the quality it is. Read How To Start A Creative Business for a jargon free insight.
  • Your Hobby is a BUSINESS…Don’t Forget About You!! – I’ve read a lot of books regarding creative entrepreneurs, and I can say for myself that I still struggle with this one. Hey, I know. I know. When you’ve got a wonderful idea, it’s a hobby. You love doing it, you love doing it so much you don’t care about the money. My business advisor even told me once…‘Kim… have you thought about the money side of things?’ which is just something as a social entrepreneur I didn’t think about at all. I cared about the change it would made, not necessarily the profit margins. Don’t forget where you fit into the business. 20180319164711_IMG_0951-02
  • Don’t Underestimate Yourself – Confidence is something that comes with time. Did I think I’d be public speaking, having meetings and going to conferences 3 or 4 years ago? Did I hell! As some of you know my story, I suffered with anxiety during my college and some of my university years. Underestimating yourself, means you’re underestimating your business. It’s a lot on your shoulders, but the business depends on you. Because the business is youI didn’t take a lot of opportunities because I didn’t believe in myself. There’s that conflict of wanting to make your business work- but there’s only so much talking you can do. You need to DO something. That requires a leap of faith, which you need to be willing to take. Don’t underestimate your abilities.
  • Learn To Say ‘No’ – Oh man, this oneeeee! Ok, so I’ve said yes to a lot of things because I was afraid of saying no- and definitely payed for it in the end…literally. I gave a lot of products away for free and not really seeing the downside to it…until I realised I was minus money and no way of funding the next idea. It’s ok to say no to opportunities that don’t sit well with you, or compromise yourself as a person. I nearly took a commission from a record store in the UK that wanted bright colour cartoon drawings because it paid well. But I said no because it just wasn’t right for me. You’ll soon realise what you hold dear and what your values are once you have a sweet biz-baby to take care of. Learn to take a step back and realise who you are and what you value the most.

Have you made any important mistakes if you are freelance, starting a business or setting up a creative side hustle?

 

 

Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur: Part One

It’s difficult to sum up all the wonderful tribulations of starting a business. The very first statement I will say, is that the hardest part is starting at all. So here’s 3 inside notes on my experiences so far for Part One!


Personal Challenges:

When I first had the idea of ‘Keep Real‘ – it was around 4 to 5 years ago. A lot has changed in those years, and a lot is changing now. Not knowing what the right step is, will never evolve into an actual step in any direction. You just have to dive right in. Whether that’s saving up to make your first prints, going to local art exhibitions/shows to get a feel for the market, or knowing how to split up your time. I look back at what I first made and holy moly it’s embarrassing! But at the time, I loved the fact I made my very first t-shirt design- I spent hours on Paint (yes….PAINT) to edit out the pencil marks and errors. I asked my friend Darren to walk down to town with our housemates so I could take some pictures on my digital camera.

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Much has changed since then (definitely in technology too…) and reflecting on those parts of business makes you realise how far you’ve come. If you’re truly determined to make your idea work, you will. Don’t be afraid of unsuccessful stalls, sales or ideas (I know… I’ve had plenty!) At the end of the day, you are learning and no one ever gets it right the first time. It’s your idea…and your idea evolves!

 

Not knowing what the right step is, will never evolve into an actual step in any direction.

Know Your Market, Know Your Business!

At first, I toyed around with the idea that Keep Real would give certain amounts of profit to already existing mental health organisations. However, with my degree I wanted to be part of the change and see where the profits go- as well as funding my own life alongside it. A business at the end of the day, is a business. It needs to fund itself…and fund you too!

Knowing WHO your business is aimed at and the big WHY of what your business is, is VITAL. Where does your business slot into the current market? What change are you trying to create? What makes your business different to the others? Read DO/PURPOSE, or any part of the Do Book Co series for tips! Remember that your idea of what your business is, may be different in someone else’s view. Focus groups are a great way to know your market, and can completely change the game! Feedback is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

With Keep Real, I knew I wanted to support better mental health in young people. I didn’t know when I first started making those paint-edited-tshirts that I’d be funding workshops, working with various inspirational creatives and designing supportive tools for wellbeing. Your idea develops over time, do not be afraid of change in direction. For example, I never knew public speaking would be part of Keep Real, but it is!

Overcoming Difficult Situations

The first part of the business that was important for me to lay out, was the process of making a solid foundation. This for me, was registering as self-employed (you can do this also if you are employed…be prepared to start tax returns though!) and the most important for me was trademarking the name ‘Keep Real’ in the UK under certain classifications. Get all the legal stuff out of the way first. Intellectual Property is a HUGE part of your business (especially if you are a creative one) and it needs to be protected. Trademarking in the UK lasts 10 years if approved. So once its yours, its yours for a long time- even if the business changes!

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One situation I had to overcome- was a trademark battle. An existing company in the UK already had a similar name under the very same classifications I was applying for. This felt all too serious, and something that I was unable to handle myself. I was ready to launch the website…then bam!! I had to file a report stating that my ‘mark’ would not disrupt the preexisting business, how my name was different etc, I was given advice from lawyers and freaked out at the prospect of losing the name. It was absolutely terrifying. What if they opposed my application? What if I had to change the name completely? What else would I call the business, when it means so much?!

With a delay that couldn’t be avoided and with much anticipation, the trademark was finally approved, with the other party deciding not to proceed with the next stage of opposing. Thank goodness! So here we are today, with the 10 year stamp (®) that means that my business name cannot be used by anyone under my categories. Phew!

Taking risks or having someone throw an absolute curveball into the mix- is part of the business game. No matter how much research you do, there will be something that completely blows your mind. Taking a step back and reevaluating is part of the job.

Kimmy’s Top Tips:

  • Describe your business in 3 words. Ask others to do the same. Is it the same? This is a great way to evaluate your idea compared to potential customers!
  • Do not be afraid of change! We all started with an idea- it evolves all the time!
  • Curveballs come with business. How you deal with that determines whether or not you’re passionate about your idea.
  • Feedback and research is VITAL. Knowledge is power…

 

Part Two to come!

 

What is ‘Having it Together?’

Hey you.

Sometimes life is a big jumble of, well…not what we expect. I implore you to take a deep breath while you read this, and breathe out. You’re here.

You’re here.

Life is the weirdest thing, and we all look to others who somehow have it together. But as a matter of fact, they’re all looking at everyone else thinking that they have it together. It’s a big mush of ‘having it togetherness’- when as a matter of fact, none of us do. So why are we caught up in something we can’t achieve?

I sure as heck don’t have it together, but I’m just trying to get by with things that make me happy- all the while trying to accept that wherever life takes me, I’ll never really get to the having it together part of my life.

But we can have it together. Here’s how.

It’s about the journey, and I know how up and down it may be. We all struggle, but the only way we can feel like everything falls into place- is when we accept and focus on the present.

Wherever you are right now is wherever you are meant to be.

You’re sitting/standing, whatever it is right here, is what is important. If you’re having a bad day, be gentle with yourself. If your day isn’t going to plan, breathe and again be gentle with yourself.

Having it together isn’t fancy cars, stable jobs, perfect home and happy relationships. It’s about being wherever you are right now and believing that it’s where you’re meant to be.

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