Recently, when the nights have been drawing in and after I have spent the day researching and talking to our brilliant Club members, I have been taking some time out to listen to the wonderful Holly Tucker’s podcast - Conversations of Inspiration. As a small business owner, I am drawn to her stories in a way that resonates totally with me, and I love to hear her chat to a new business founder each week, hear the highs and lows encountered whilst building their business, and soak up some of their advice and inspiration along the way.
As founder of Notonthehighstreet and Holly & Co, Holly Tucker has spent the last 15 years growing and empowering small businesses around the UK, and as the UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses, Holly works tirelessly to positively influence the creative movement by amplifying its voice where it matters most. Just like me, she is passionate about ensuring handcrafted doesn’t become a thing of the past, and that talented artisans have the support and tools they need to continue making a living doing what they love.
In Conversations of Inspiration, Holly invites each guest to share their own story around how they came to start their own business. From Julie Deane OBE of The Cambridge Satchel Company, to Deliciously Ella and Jo Malone, I have found myself gripped listening to their talks, and it makes me wonder - what are my lovely reader’s stories?
I can hear you lamenting already, ‘I don’t have a story!’ - but wait a second. How can you not have a story? We all get up in a morning, do something with our day and go to sleep at night, but what we do with our waking hours is a choice fuelled by our passions and shaped by our circumstances and history. In that sense, no one of us has an identical story, and for me that makes everyone’s tale an important one to tell.
As you may know, I share our directory member’s stories on the blog in our feature The Hills Meets. Be it an account of chronic illness (my daughter Mary bravely opened up about her battles over on our latest blog), a separation, burn out, or simply an urge to live a less mundane existence, I have learned that the more passionate a life we live, the greater our urge to be creative and break the corporate mould.
Take The Hills club member Jo Smith for example, who was so unfortunate and suffered a completely unexpected brain haemorrhage in April 2009, resulting in a lengthy stay at The Walton Centre, Liverpool and several months off work. After also being made redundant from her day job as a Health and Safety Consultant at a university, it is clear that she now grabs every opportunity with both hands and is involved with a range of businesses such as her own cheese making at The Little Welsh Cheese, event venue Hope Mountain and as a passionate business owner is a champion of local and rural enterprises, and can also be found on the committee for a number of local groups.
I strongly believe in designing a life around your passions, and during my twenties I travelled the bright, busy world from my Paris base, and loving the high contrast, bold experiences, the buzz and noise of difference found everywhere I went. But after having my first child, I longed for her to know the love of the countryside, to live what I felt was a ‘real’ life and so I left the city for anywhere green, and somewhere I could set down roots.
The Hills was born from my desire to work again after a long break to raise my children. I needed to feel the stimulation of running my own business, creating something and doing it my way. I married my love of writing, reading and other people’s stories to produce my online magazine and used my training and experience of marketing to share it all with others and help them to find their better work life balance. Like many business owners, including those mentioned in this article, my passion has been lead by an undercurrent of my life choices. My animals and the beautiful hills, forests and lakes surrounding me have always brought me a feeling of happiness and peace.
Like Ella Mills whose inspiration came from her struggle with illness Postural Tachycardia Syndrome or Molly Gunn who continues to be inspired by honest parenting and sharing 'what us parents are really thinking', my Welsh hills continue to provide mine. Here, I am surrounded by like minded people and those who embrace small businesses and village life. On my own doorstep there are a talented array of artisans including jewellery designers, artists, highly skilled carpenters, and even a book binder.
I’m making it my mission to go and find out their story, and discover what brings them to The Hills, but I’m also curious about you.
What’s your story? What, who or where is your inspiration?
I would love to know you more and share your stories with other entrepreneurs. Let’s have our own conversations of inspiration right here!