With the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards 2020 entry date almost upon us, Mollie Editor Yvette is here to give all you small biz owners some tips in confidence. If you love what you do, but the thought of shouting about it fills you with fear, you’re not alone. Welcome to Creative Bravery 101…
Picking up your cheerleader pom poms for a friend or fellow maker is something most of us find both easy and rewarding. Banishing their negative thoughts, raising them up from the funk they’re in, reinforcing their skills and talent – it feels good to make someone realise their true worth. So, why do we find it so difficult to do the same when it comes to ourselves? Why is it we often only see the flaws in the things we do, make, or achieve?
You might think the biggest challenge to growing a creative business is time or money, but more often than not, it’s that nagging voice called self-doubt. That maker you shop from on Etsy, the illustrator that shares their beautiful art on Instagram, the editor of that magazine you read – so many of them have fallen for the words of that tiny devil on their shoulder, letting fear hold them back. So, when the only way to develop both you and your business is to put yourself out there, how do you go about overcoming it?
Take the leap
While we can sit and hide behind our products, our brand, or our carefully curated feed, showing your authentic self is not only what encourages people to connect with you, it’s your USP. Corporations mass-producing products are everywhere, but you’re the only one who can do you, so you have to have to shout about it.
When Mary-Ann Aveline started Hello Marilu, marketing herself never even crossed her mind. “I set up my Etsy shop and naively thought sales would just come flooding in. I wasn’t even on Instagram at the time and didn’t realise what a powerful tool it could be.” And now? “I know that promoting your brand is a really big part of running a small business. You have to put yourself out there if you want people to know your brand exists.”
For many creatives though, that can be hard. It can feel like when you’re asking people to like – and buy – your products, you’re asking them to invest in you. And what if they don’t love what you do? What if they don’t want to part with their hard-earned cash to own the idea you conceived, developed and brought to life?
The thought of rejection is downright scary, but it’s also a natural instinct everyone has. As Sas Petherick, a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster, explains: “Self-doubt is a self-protection mechanism. Whenever we imagine doing anything that risks criticism, disappointment or failure, a part of our brain warns us by making us feel this discomfort.”
But, simply ignoring it isn’t the solution – Sas advises questioning these thoughts instead. “Do you really need to be protected in this moment? It might be that you’re doing something for the first time, or something that feels vulnerable or just really uncertain.”
Gaining the perspective needed to take those risks can be hard – it’s called a comfort zone for a reason, after all. However, pushing through it and believing in you is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Luxury stationery brand designer Katie Leamon openly admits to having moments of uncertainty regarding her work. “It’s such a personal process, it’s inevitable. Self-doubt has made me question things, but I’ve always gone with my gut. Not much of a business plan, but I’m someone that believes your instinct is a far greater decider than anything else. If you’re unsure about something, hold back and consider your options, but if it feels right, I think you have to be brave.”
Moving forward, even with the smallest steps, also gives you the opportunity to look back and see how far you’ve come. When Mary-Ann entered this year’s Mollie Makes Handmade Awards, she found the experience to be a huge learning curve. “Being shortlisted meant pitching to a panel, which was both scary and challenging. Preparing for the pitch was really useful, however, as it allowed me time to reflect on my brand, where I was going, what I wanted to achieve and what I’d already achieved.”
The more you push yourself, the easier it becomes. So, pack away that self-doubt safety net, focus on the positives, and remember to celebrate your successes. Pom poms and peppy motivational cheer optional.
We hope you’re now feeling full of confidence and ready to show the world your craft. For more tips and tricks, check out our business tips section or subscribe to Mollie Makes to get all the latest news, inspo and projects in the designer-maker community.