Imposter Syndrome

Doubting yourself is part of growth. It depends on what situation I am in, but recently when it has been intimate/ small meetings I tend to seriously doubt why I should even be there. Why lil ol’ me? My body language shifts, I try cover up the adrenalin/ nerves/excitement as my body blushes and I’m constantly thinking “Don’t go red, don’t go red! Get your words right!”…

Well, I have to remember ‘lil ol me runs a business and it’s time to grab life by the lady balls and realise that my opinion is valued. We’re all human.

I had a meeting last week for something that it being put together in Leeds, which I happen to have the pleasure of being on the steering board for. I sat down with a wonderful mixture of health professionals, each taking it in turn to introduce ourselves and what we’re all about. Each person there was absolutely incredible. Doing amazing things for folk, highlighting elements of health and wellbeing they would like to be improved. Then it was my turn and I felt that prickly red heat spreading over my body before I opened my mouth. 20180821102643_img_3753-01

I’ve spoke about Keep Real many times, in various settings. I’ve done it in small meetings, groups of over 50, even on stage to over 100 people. Small meetings are a struggle for me.  Sometimes I’m in a great headspace and can talk about it easily and freely. Others I can be a big walking rashy queen. It’s a case of mind over matter, I can get so caught up in my body’s reaction that I completely lose track of my thoughts, which are obsessively saying “You’re going red!! Not again!”, “Your neck is getting really hot now, they’ll all notice!“.

But do you know what?

The other wonderful folk in the meeting who spoke after me had the same thing. I noticed they were just like me. The man next to me even said “How do I follow that?!” after I spoke about Keep Real.  The folk after me blushes as they spoke- and I was relieved. Absolutely relieved. 

So it isn’t just me! It wasn’t necessarily the notion of comparing myself to these inspiring people, it was more a case of feeling undeserving.

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Sometimes we have to open our eyes to the fact that it’s ok. It’s ok to feel that way, we can recognise it and move forward. I recently read an article on Forbes around overcoming that ‘imposter syndrome’ feeling (read it here).

I messaged my friend and advisor Catherine about feeling this way, and she even said that she still feels like an imposter at work and every time she’s put in the position to lead a meeting. So, no. No it isn’t just me, and it isn’t my age either in this entrepreneurial world. It in fact, happens to everyone. And that’s ok.

Have you ever felt like a bit of an imposter? Let me know if it’s happened to you!

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 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!

 

Women in Power / Why Keep Real is for Everyone

71Fr2S+6pAL._SL1131_If there’s a documentary I couldn’t recommend enough, it would be ‘Miss Representation‘ on Netflix. Exposing how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.

Although I’m in the UK, sexism and under-representation of females in positions of influence or power exists. It has always existed, and continues to in every country in various degrees.

In the UK, women account for under a third of those in self-employment, and if women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year. Plus, for ever £1 a man earns, a woman earns 81p.

Nothing has really stopped me from starting up my own business, but I do wish there was a higher representation of successful women in the media. I’d like to think that we are becoming more aware of how the media influences us- and that what we see on our screens, isn’t necessarily something we have to take as the right way to see the world, or the right way to portray women.

However, those of a younger age, I believe do not have this awareness. When young girls are at school, they are constantly evolving, changing and growing as an individual. Girls are still trying to find themselves, and with the media being so accessible- is this making it harder for girls to find their identities?

 

This is why I’m starting my business. Keep Real stands for something good, not just in sustainability, it reflects equality as well as diversity as a brand. I’ve chosen the bands, artists or creatives to be involved with Keep Real; because they reflect a true representation of people. We’re not all size 8 for one. We don’t all have the same goals and aspirations, but that’s what makes us who we are. The media portray women (as well as men) as something that isn’t actually accurate at all. We are all on different paths, and it’s time to start portraying that more. Because people need something real. I know its corny, but Keep Real is something I truly believe in as a brand for everyone. It will continuously grow to reflect real people, and support folk’s wellbeing too.

The media portray women (as well as men) as something that isn’t actually accurate at all. We are all on different paths, and it’s time to start portraying that more.

There’s an extremely good article on how social media is harming the mental health of teenagers here, which I found so insightful. We’re changing the way we socialise and it’s putting so much pressure on teens, as well as everyone else.

It’s time we started making a difference to how the media affects us, and creating something for the people- not against.

 

Trusted Clothes and Keep Real!

The wonderful Canadian non-profit Trusted Clothes are documenting my brand Keep Real’s journey of sustainability and inspiring wellness. So sweet! Please go ahead and check it out.Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 16.06.15

It’s no good promoting mental well-being as a business, if the business doesn’t have the foundations of trying to be the best version of itself either. So we expanded the definition of wellness to include our sustainable souring policy within our supply chain.

Here’s the first blog post I did as the founder. Excitingggg!!! ❤

Challenges of Starting a Sustainable Fashion Brand

You Can Take The Leap!

Good Afternooooon, how are you? I thought today, I would do a post on where I am now aspiration/career path wise, to where I first started thinking of my own business. It has just occurred to me, that I don’t share so much about how I got to where I am. And that isn’t without it’s hard work! Things do not happen overnight, and you just gotta roll with the day, the here and now. I am not saying I am successful or anything like that (who knows, maybe in a few years huh!), but I am saying that I am content with where I think my chosen paths are taking me. Overcoming mental health issues played a part too, so hear me out.

Anxiety held me back from a lot of what I really wanted to do. During my time at University, I had therapy outside of my degree, but also self awareness and personal development lectures and seminars as part of my course. If I didn’t have both of these things, I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing today. I gradually became more confident in my abilities, slowly gained awareness of my weaknesses and strengths, and realised that it’s possible to achieve anything as long as you believe that you can. One hundred percent of the time, the only person stopping me from achieving was myself. Mindfulness personally helped me take a step back, and learn to pass each moment not worrying about the future, so I eventually found myself focusing on the present.  So what was happening right here, right now?

I started designing in my spare time, developing scribbles into more scribbles on tote bags and t-shirts. Maybe my hobby could be a business! I took the leap, walking with my scrapbook in hand to the local art gallery in Huddersfield, to see if I could put my work up in there. Hey Presto! They accepted, and that’s where it began. My confidence boosted, I continued to draw. At this point, I had no idea what I wanted to do career wise. I liked to draw, and maybe others would like it too!

I eventually found myself drawing more than studying for my degree, it also kept my anxiety at bay too. In the space of a year, I put myself and my work out there. Even though my vision as a business wasn’t clear, I went for it anyway. During the year of 2014, I exhibited my work at the annual Art Walk Exhibition, my work was up in two local stores, amazing arty connections with some fantastic illustrators and creatives made, had my first big commission for a small menswear company down in London, Levi’s looked at my work a lil’ bit and I created my first mini collection.

*phew* – what a year! All of that while studying, and having two part time jobs.

So, fast forward to the present. I’m working on my business plan. It’s getting prettttyyy serious. I have such confidence in my business idea and what to do. It’s very much under wraps (although sneaky behind the scenes is on my Instagram), I’ve been blogging about mental health more, and working with the charity Rethink- where I blogged for them regarding Anxiety and University. My work is more refined and it feels sooo good to have a solid style that I’m happy with. I was asked to go down to BBC Radio 4 in London for All in the Mind (which you’ll get to know more of soon, it’s a wee bit of a secret right now!), and I’m in the process of being interviewed for a Manager in Training at a certain amazing company. Exciting!

You can take the leap into whatever your heart is set on. You wanna start your own business? Go for it. You wanna change your career path? Make it happen. You don’t have to have a clear vision straight away, but once your heart is set on something, I implore you to take the steps in making it happen. In the last few months, I have only just realised what I want to do business wise. It’s taken research, trial and error, plus a substantial amount of patience to get to this point here. It’s only just beginning.

If you believe you can do it, you will do it. I believe in you, because you have never ending potential. You got this. ❤