The theme of my holiday (and my first week back at work) has been generosity. Generosity not necessarily of a material nature, but of time and knowledge. People have taken the time to invite me into their homes, to spend time showing me their favourite places (blue lagoons) and activities (snorkelling, sailing and hiking). Entrepreneurs have explained their business ideas to me and shown me the inner workings of their businesses. People have shared their future career concerns with me. Experts have given me knowledge about business psychology and market research. None of them asked for payment and nor did I charge for the career counselling 😉 It is wonderful.
A woman in tech
Sue is an Honorary Professor at University College London in the Department of Computer Science and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge. An outstanding advocate for women in tech, Sue founded BCS Women (a network for women in tech) and #techmums (a social enterprise that empowers women through technology). By 2020 TechMums aims to have 1 million women in the worldwide network.
Change in mindset
Sue started out in tech at a time when there were very few women in the industry and she says statistically (after all she is a polymath) not a lot has changed, but public opinion has shifted. In her own journey, her confidence grew after she attended a conference in Brussels where the delegates comprised 100 women (& 1 man) in tech. For the first time, she was in the majority. Not ignored or belittled but amongst women just like her.
Say positive things to yourself like I am completely awesome” (and don’t forget to strike a superwoman pose while you do!)
Women like me
#techmums was a course Sue would have liked to be available when she was a single parent, living in council accommodation and on benefits. It was a suggestion from her college tutor who told her to do Polymath rather than A Level Math as she would get bored with it, that set her on her tech career path. After she qualified, she could have gone into the tech industry, but instead she went on to do a PhD as it fit in better with school hours.
Life has thrown a lot at Sue – from losing her mother when she was only 12 (to a brain haemorrhage), through suffering the ‘loss’ of her father into a new relationship, leaving home very early and then single parenthood (after an abusive relationship), so she is often asked how she coped.
If I can do it so can you. All I did was work out where I wanted to be and put one foot in front of the other until I got there.”
This redhead is on fire
If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens and who wants a life like that?”
Sue is very proud of her public involvement whether that is campaigning to save Bletchley Park (where half the 10,000 employees were women), to speaking in front of 16,000 women in Orlando (where she got them to shout “I am going to change the world”) or her championing of women in computing. Despite all these achievements, however, the most publicity Sue has received was after her now husband Paul proposed (very appropriately) via code entered into the Enigma simulator.
Sue has some sage advice on social media for mums. “Think about the fact that anybody in the world could be reading what you are putting out there so don’t put anything too personal which could affect your or your kids life in some negative way.” She suggests that as a parent you have to educate yourself about what is going on. Banning children from social media doesn’t work, it only lessens the chance that your child will talk to you when they need to. She doesn’t have all the answers, as we are all working out what the best thing to do is, but her message is to ‘be your best self’ on social media.
Hard working kitchens
Lindsay has a really interesting life story, she has overcome a number of obstacles, including a stroke two years ago from which she is fully recovered.
Why kitchen painting? & other unusual career choices
As a single mum, Lindsay started her business to support herself and her daughter. She first painted her own furniture, 25 years ago, as a result of being unable to afford a cream Laura Ashley dressing table. Friends and family had asked her over the years to help them with their own projects. Creative Chic was a natural progression from there.
Lindsay had given up her high powered career as an area manager for Pinkingtons. That role had fallen into her lap purely by coincidence when she temped for them, as the current area manager resigned, and she had been spotted as a potential replacement. Although it wasn’t a job she’d necessarily have applied for, she knew they wanted her, as they had asked her to apply. When the company was bought out for the second time, she left and took a year off, accidentally falling into a job doing car valeting, as you do!
People actually requested me specifically because they knew I was so particular (about cleaning their cars properly)”
Starting your own business
In 2011, Lindsay started Creative Chic using the skills she’d built up by painting furniture. Initially, and still today, most of her work comes from word of mouth because she is so good at what she does.
I never get runs, never at all”.
She has learned to skillfully apply multiple spraycoats of paint to her kitchens. The benefit of spraypainting, Lindsay explains, is that unlike roller painting there is no contact of the surface to spoil previous coats. In truth, the real work in spraypainting kitchens is done before painting begins, with the preparatory stripping of previous paint from the wordwork and priming correctly. You get the feeling that Lindsay is pedantic about her prep work and that shows in the quality of her finish. That, and really good quality paint, plus the years of experience are what make her kitchens durable. “It must be scrubbable”, Lindsay says of a kitchen surface.
Isn’t painting a very physical process, I ask? The answer is yes, Lindsay replies. I attribute this physical fitness to her quick and full recovery from the stroke. It is also one of the reasons I think that this kind of career is less attractive to women. In response to a question, I tell Lindsay that I fully expected her to be the marketing arm of a business in which her husband or partner did the actual painting. She laughed and said she gets that a lot!
In addition to the moving of furniture around the workshops, there is the logistics of moving furniture around the country. Creative Chic work with clients around the UK and not just local to their Somerset workshop. Lindsay has painted kitchens for a few celebrities too, including a couple of England Rugby players.
What’s the most unusual item in your handbag?
Lindsay has established a really good business for herself and is passionate about what she does – we teased her when she pulled a Farrow & Ball colour swatch out of her handbag to discuss the latest trends in colour schemes (dark blue, grey & black are popular schemes in 2018) and the unusual blue, pink, purple and grey scheme chosen by one client. By the way, she could name all the blues & greys when tested by her daughter (Downpipe, Dix Blue, Hague Blue, Stiffkey Blue, St. Giles Blue – the colour of the kitchen shown in the photos).
It turns out that the kitchen, once prepped and painted, can be updated regularly and more easily in the future (as the prep work has been done and the spraypainting method once again proves its value), so a kitchen need not be painted in neutral colours to last.
Find Lindsay on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/creativechic1/
Find out more about her latest project HPKUK (hand painted kitchens UK), which is an elite team of specialist Kitchen Painters across the UK, Ireland, Spain, Jersey and Europe – http://hpkuk.uk/
Just this week I was discussing internet rabbit holes and how they are a complete waste of time …. and now I have spent over 30 minutes looking at craft materials on CraftStash because they are running a bank holiday special offer with free delivery this weekend and I could get some shiny new stuff ….. Enough said.
Craft industry in the UK
For more than half the makers in the UK, crafting is a second career with, actually, quite a reasonable average income. The vast majority of them are sole traders. (Source: Crafts Council)
The area that I live in has a surprisingly high number of artists, sculptors and craftspeople in it, so much so that they hold a festival once a year and you can visit them in their studios. These visits can be a fascinating. Last year I watched jewellers, printmakers, stonemasons and glass blowers creating wonderful items right in front of my eyes.
40% of UK adults have purchased and a further 23% are considering purchasing a ‘craft object’ which makes this a substantial industry, generating in excess of £1.8 billion a year. (Source: Creative Industries Council)
I’m sure all of us know of someone who creates beautiful items (a friend of mine who makes intricate quilts comes to mind). Are you one of those who creates or are you one of those that admires (and buys)?
We’ve already started discussing Christmas in the office. Colleagues have spotted Christmas items in the shops and adverts are creeping in. Now, I totally understand why, from an e-commerce shop owner point of view they need to optimise the amount of sales they make between now and the end of the year but not everyone feels that way.
Super organised mums
We mothers have to be super organised, and though I have a long list of birthdays to get through in the next couple months, I have also started planning Christmas gifts particularly for those friends and family that live overseas.
Wishing you a merry Christmas!
Top of my wish list this year is jewellery, which I think is always a special treat, like the chunky charm chains from Tilly Sveaas.
I also need/want to replace my trusty yellow Radley handbag that was ruined by a spillage this year. One that I can’t even blame on the toddlers. My beloved Radley is admired by everyone and is the conversation starter I have used to my advantage at networking events and in shopping malls.
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I’m admiring this pretty pink handbag by Kate Spade, the stripey inside appeals to my sense of humour…..although I also like the really bright cherry/vivid combo of the Cedar Street Hayden Satchel, my sister would have an apoplectic shock as she hates pink/red as a colour scheme.
These are closely followed by the usual suspects of clothes, perfume and candles. As I will probably devote my energies to the presents I need to purchase for friends and family, I may have to leave these ideas as hints for SO and other loved ones to buy on my behalf 😉