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!

 

Ethos Mag: A Review

Hey sweet souls! How are you all doing?

Recently I received the super wonderful first edition of Ethos, an independent publication about ‘Good Stories, Good People, Good Business.’ (Get the first issue here!) Now we all know (or should know. If you don’t- yo gal Kimmy is quite the eco warrior/girl boss/wellbeing woman) that ethical business has its foundations of wellbeing. Some folk don’t really understand what ‘ethical business’ is- and its sure as heck a strange one for young people to think about, weaving that into the way of how they shop and feel. So let’s start with what ‘ethical’ is before we review…Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 14.46.19

Being ethical is a lovely foundation of values that something is based upon. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. For example, if our personal thoughts and morals are ‘I believe in being kind to other people’- then that reflects the rest of your behaviour. This includes business, your relationships, everything. Believe in something good? Let it shine throughout whatever you set your mind to. That’s ethics- and to sum it all up, that’s Ethos Magazine.

The Review

From promoting good people and good businesses, the highest impact comes from the chosen front cover from Parley for the Oceans; an overwhelming message of how plastic is ruling our seas. The hard-hitting article on page 18, Plastic Fantastic tells us ‘We are currently living through a profoundly unstable geographical era, which will be characterised by fossils of plastic…we’re toxicating our planet right now and this is what we have to end immediately.’ It also tells the story of the organisation collaborating with Adidas on transforming plastic waste into footwear. A vital message with bold statements for social entrepreneurs and good people alike. Big corporations can make the transition into up-cycling and being more conscious in how they manufacture products. This article is an eye opener in the realm for environmental change.

Flickiimg_20170310_114134618.jpgng through the first parts of Ethos is beautifully constructed. The texture and layout is a dreeeaaam. An insight to the non-profit Crack + Cider, who’s mission is to change perceptions and force people to think about homelessness is a moving piece. Founded by two head strong ladies in London, Crack and Cider is a store where folk can purchase useful items for the homeless. Bringing an innovative movement of charity to the 21st Century. You can donate through their site that is linked previously.

It’s a vivid and strong willed publication. Packed full of inspirational individuals, businesses and infographic content about the world. It’s a refreshing testament to the world we live in, providing a collective of stories that can change how we see ourselves and the impact we have on everything around us.

A key article inside explores the rise of Etsy, the online marketplace for crafters/makers and small businesses. During the economic crash, Etsy thrived. Ethos discusses how a community of makers and creatives prospered by selling their products through the downfall of the stock market. Who knew how innovative and forward thinking Etsy was? I sure didn’t. The article goes beautifully into the ethics of the business and circulates back to the people ‘harnessing the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.’ With every page turn, I’m hooked.

img_20170310_114147907.jpgFrom my perspective as an Entrepreneur, I can’t wait to see what Ethos has in store for the next issues. It’s informative, yet cooly linked to the upcoming businesses and people with a conscious state of mind. From promotional content about people passionate in going green, upcoming events and conferences available around the world, to articles of what is happening right now; its a masterpiece that is up to date on the world of good. It’s not a publication to make us feel bad about the way the world exists- but aims to promote the good and see that change is happening.  Ethos, you’ve outdone yourselves. One loyal subscriber right here.

You can follow them here in their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Keeping’ Up With Kimberley – Progress and Procrastination

Hey you wonderful soul, how are you today? Thought I’d do a little personal post about what I’m up to. What a ramble I have for you!

I woke up early for a driving lesson, and started my day plotting and scheming for my business. I feel like I keep talking about my brand Keep Real far too much for my good- but I don’t necessarily share that much about it. I talk about it too much in my own little head, and realise that I’m not being productive!

After two years of saving up while at University, I finally purchased a MacBook Pro for my work yesterday. TheApple-logo-grey-880x625 software wasn’t up to scratch on my old laptop, and for the work/business I will be doing, it was time for an upgrade. It feels so good to spend my money on
something as wonderful as this (yes, I’m typing away on it as you read!). After all the hard work on my two part time jobs while studying for my degree, paying bills, paying rent etc- I saved up small amounts throughout the year. After something like this, it puts into perspective where your hard earned pennies go. Who needs clothes, make up or more pairs of Vans? Not me!

Now I have the right kit to work on, I finally feel like I can be more efficient with my time, and to get my head together. Since Christmas, it’s been quite a struggle for me to get going with Keep Real. So purchasing this, has put me into gear.

I’m still working on my  presentation for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which is next Monday! Exciting stuff!! I also sent my final design to Heads Above The Waves for the Keep Real Collaboration. Also extremely exciting stuff!

I’ve also been reading an incredibly motivating book which I’m sure quite a few people have heard of, called ‘#GIRLBOSS’ by Sophia Amoruso  which has really helped me to take control of my negative thoughts about setting up my business. I cannot sing enough praises about this book. Thank you Sophia. Man. With the right determination, things will work out. Leave the negative folk behind, and the people that don’t push you to be the best version of yourself. Work hard, play hard. Focussing too much, can sometimes lead to a blurry goal. I just gotta keep at it, and not expect so much of myself all the time. A downfall I have to work on!

Anyway folks, thanks for reading my morning ramble. I hope you enjoy the day ahead!! Kill it! Own it! Rock it! And of course, keep it real!

Much love y’all xxxx

 

 

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. ❤

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #8

Hello my lovelies! Man, this week has been rad so far! I’ve been having such a wonderful time and there’s so much to be getting on with. Here’s what I’m excited about lately and some updates on my adventures.

I got a beautiful little email this afternoon from Rethink Mental Illnesscropped-wpid-img_20150525_132636.jpg, saying that they are going to publish my post sometime next week! I’ll keep you informed when it is up on their page so you can check it out! It’s all about my experiences with anxiety and how it is possible to come out of the other side. It is possible to break through those barriers you feel you have ❤ I thought to share my experience so it could hopefully help some folk. Plus, I’m training for my fundraising with Rethink- so I’ll be posting up a JustGiving page real soon!

Plus some exciting news concerning my garment and goods brand Keep Real (follow on Twitter and Facebook). Designs are being finalised and selected for the brand new collection. I am so excited about these dotwork illustrations!! I able to tell you that the new collection will be called ‘Brotherhood/Sisterhood’.cropped-wpid-img_20150608_1012111.jpg It’s all about feeling real good, doing good and celebrating the bond we all have with each other. We all stand together. We shouldn’t be tearing our friends down or making other people feel bad because they are on different paths- we should be supporting each other and pushing ourselves and everyone around us to be the best they can be. We are part of a brother/sisterhood and collectively, we all have the ability to stay true to ourselves and be humble in our walks of life. We gotta keep real. 

I will keep you all up to date with my ‘Keepin’ Up With Kimberley’ posts- so have those lovely eyes peeled in your inboxes or wordpress readers!

P.s it would be awesome if you could fill this quick poll in for my blog ❤ Sending you all the love and posi vibes!

 

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #7

Helloooo lovely people! Sorry for the lack of posts- but it was my 21st birthday yesterday (woo!). So I’ve been out celebrating the last few days and spending time with the family. Very blessed to say the least ❤ wpid-img_20150711_092915.jpg

So apart from that what have I been up to!? I submitted a piece for Time To Change as a ‘StoryShort’ which is a little post about my experiences with mental health. My little post may be up at the tail end of Summer, so I’ll keep you posted on that! I think it’s important to share such things, as even an experience like mine could help someone feel not so alone. Anxiety used to be quite a big part of my life in college, but now I feel more confident than ever. Mindfulness has helped a lot, if you’re feeling a bit stressed or find it hard to calm down your day- check out Frantic World.comIt’s a simple form of meditation that can make you feel wonderful inside and out.

With Keep Real, the designs have kicked into overdrive lately, and it’s been such a wonderful experience seeing the collection come together in quite an unexpected way. My style has definitely come through, I am so pleased with the outcome. I have a lot of planning to do, but the designs are grounded and are 80% ready to go! After I’ve posted this, I will be taking down the online store so I can focus on building up a rad as hell site.

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Also with kimmykeepfit, I have been planning my runs and exercise to really go for it. It’s been quite hard lately with the weather, as well as my celebrations too! But it’s important to be patient and be kind to myself. Incorporating mountain bike riding will also help. I used to go mountain bike riding quite a lot in my early teens, so my Dad has offered to go with me as he’s so passionate about it himself. I love how my family push me to do whatever I set my mind to!

Anyway, that’s it for now! I hope this post finds you well.

Keep Real xxx

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #5

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working on a commission this week!

Hello lovelies! Man it’s been a crazy week. I have just one week left until I move out of Huddersfield to go back home after the University life!

I’ve been working on a real cool commission for a living room piece (pictured). It’s right up my alley with the whole botanical/mandala vibes going on. It’s become more intricate than I initially thought, but I cannot wait to finish it! Soooo many detailllsss!

There’s so much to look forward to, I have my 21st coming up near the beginning of July then I have my graduation! It only hit me yesterday I don’t have much time left. Student life over- now I gotta get ready for new beginnings!

Speaking of new beginnings, I want to congratulate my dear friend Ayshe- who got ENGAGED this week!!! I can’t believe she will be getting married! I wish her all the wpid-img_20150617_181808.jpghappiness in the world- it was lovely to hang out and catch up after quite a while ❤

This week has ended up being quite an emotional one for me. It’s a fairly overwhelming experience to finish my degree in Counselling Therapy and move onwards. Looking back into the year with working two jobs, finishing a degree, working on Keep Real amongst other things all at the same time, it’s just unbelievable how far I’ve come personally. I work hard to get by, to follow my passions alongside a degree and two jobs. I have become more resilient and determined to get where I want to be.

There is so much more to explore and do! I cannot wait to share with you more adventures and happenings with Keep Real!

So much love to you all ❤

Chelsea Art Exhibition, Brixton and the Nigerian Traveller

Oh yeah, you read right.

Friday afternoon I travelled down to London to attend the Art Exhibition down in Chelsea. I got an oh-so-fancy special guest invitation, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Originally, I was asked if I wanted to show my work down at the Exhibition- however the prices to rent the space for the few days was too expensive at the time. Plus the boyfriend and I had tickets to see Fightstar with Mooseblood on the Friday evening in Brixton.

On my way down, I sat next to a man who I had an solid two hour conversation with- and after two hours I never got his name. I seem to have the ability to make friends with strangers travelling quite often, but his story was a lovely one.

He told me he had travelled to the UK on business from Nigeria. The last time he had travelled over here was in Aberdeen, Scotland. We spoke in deep discussion about work and marriage. The customs over there in Nigeria are different towards marriage. His wedding ceremony last over two days and he had over a thousand guests. 1,000. holy moly! From what we spoke about, a wedding isn’t just about the church and an afterparty- invitations are not even considered important. The whole of his village will turn up, then they will tell their friends and so on and so on. Plus his wife’s village will turn up, and tell all their friends too. He told me how he had to feed all of the people that attended. Imagine the cooking pot!!

We also spoke about work- as I said I worked two part-time jobs, as well studying and running my own business. In Nigeria, unemployment is severely high. This lovely chap told me he worked over 12 hours a day, 5 days a week- and sometimes on weekends. He loved the fact he could travel, but he missed his family. He said he was lucky to even have a job, so working so much was a given. I loved how he spoke of his family and what his view of the British were ‘You are so polite! Yet you are so reserved!’ 

I gave him directions out of Kings Cross Station to a hotel and he went on his way. No matter where you’re going- just be kind. I could have just sat next to this man for over 2 hours ignoring his story and his existence. This nice chap was thousands of miles away from his family having never been to London before. He worked hard, he stayed positive and did everything to provide for his wife and child. This guy was a pleasure to talk to- so where ever you are man- I wish you all the best!

That night, we travelled to Brixton to see the almighty Fightstar perform at the o2 Academy. I bought the tickets ages ago as Josh’s christmas present. Just incredible, I can’t believe how amazing they were. Plus, I’ve always wanted to see Mooseblood- so wizard!! Had an amazing time at the gig (even though one pint was a fiver, and for a Yorkshire girl- parting with that dolla’ was insane).

In the morning we suited and booted for the Art Exhibition. We’ve never been to Chelsea before, but it’s a beautiful place. 04As we went in, we got free red wine and walking around the different pieces. There were three Artists I absolutely loved who are Michela Antonello, Hepzibah McLeod and Elena AbessinovaIncredible work, and noticed how Hepzibah McLeod’s work specfically is quite similiar to my own work. It was a lovely afternoon in Chelsea and I really urge you to check out their work!

It has been a wonderful weekend, with last night I attended a Charity Quiz at the Picture House for PAPYRUS– prevention of young suicide. Although my journey from London to Yorkshire prevented me from taking part in the actual quiz, I donated and spent a great time with my friends there! Well done Shaun for putting on a fantastic event!

I hope everyone else enjoyed their weekend and your monday is not too dreary.

Much love,

kimmykeepreal x

The Adventure Starts Here!

Tomorrow marks a crucial day for my dreams with Keep Real. This hobbit will be rolling in business plans, meetings and designs before the eventual stroll up to Mordor to conquer all (defeating evil and opening a really cool Store is my aim).

I’m meeting with a Business Advisor to talk business (ahem, clearly) tomorrow and discover what my first steps are. I’m exploding with ideas I haven’t shared, and only sneaked one post in concluding the initial Store ideas IMG_20150208_163728in my blog. For now, that’s how I’m going to keep it- as the ideas and themes I have are long to be made a reality. Plus, I want to do this right and not rush into posting every lil’ detail. Gotta have a bit of mystery surrounding it!

Of course I realise that opening up and running a store successfully will take a few years. Plundering through plans/ permissions/ costs/ premises etc. will take time. But I truly believe that with the determination and mindset I have now to make it come true, nothing really is stopping me at all. Unless my idea sucks of course (which it hopefully doesn’t).

It got me thinking, what drives you? I’ve been so consumed in talking about my dreams, I haven’t asked about yours! So what dreams do you have? What would you love to do? I would LOVE to hear what makes you wonderful folk tick. Please comment if you have any!

Enjoy the rest of your evening ❤

My Dream: The ‘Keep Real’ Store

So, as some of you lovely people may know- I run my own small business I set up last year called ‘Keep Real‘. Providing goods and illustration to all who seek a positive place. At the tail end of 2014, I had the delight of being interviewed by an independent magazine website called ‘Sheffield Unchained’ where they stated very accurately, ‘Kimberley decided to combine interests in design, illustration and mental health with the launch of what she terms a ‘positive illustration and goods movement’, which is less about selling objects and more about promoting meaning and positive messages.’

I couldn’t havIMG_20140405_141826e put it better myself. I want to create a store that people can just hang out at and shop. No rushing in, no rushing out if you don’t want to. You wanna sit and talk to your friends about your day? Do it. You wanna buy a present for a relative, and hang out on the sofas reading a book? Do it.

There aren’t enough places when you’re shopping, to make you feel like you’re welcome to stay as long as it pleases you. ‘If you’re going to stay, you have to buy something’. I don’t want that bullshit for you. Shopping is hard enough, then when you want to rest you feel you have to go to a coffee shop just DSCN0014to sit down and take a time out. So you have to pay extortionate amounts for your Americano, which you didn’t really want in the first place. If you’re gonna hang at Keep Real, just throw your loose change into a jar- where it contributes to raising money to Mental Health Charities. Just don’t abuse the freedom (I’m flattered that you wanna stay from 9am til 5pm but really? really?!)

I have so many ideas with Keep Real, creating a positive environment for all you individuals out there. They’ll be sofas, throws and chairs around, where they’ll be loads of books that you can just pick up and read. Artwork on the walls for sale, clothes, accessories, bags, prints and homeware.

Shopping is hard enough, then when you want to rest you feel you have to go to a coffee shop just to sit down and take a time out. So you have to pay extortionate amounts for your Americano, which you didn’t really want in the first place.

Who knows what the future holds for it, but after I graduate- that’s where I will make my dreams come true (ultimate corny thing to say, right?). ‘Staying True’ and ‘Keeping Real’ are the traditional sayings that prove a foundation for what I really want to create. It will happen, I just can’t wait to see where it takes me and who follows the journey with me.