Yes, that's right. I never thought for a minute that when I entered the PaperAwards organised by Top Drawer that I would have been shortlisted, never mind the winner.
It was a last-minute decision to enter that new category as I've usually only entered my greetings cards, but it's always a tough one as there are so many brilliant brands out there.
Now that I'm back from the show with a framed certificate and a really heavy glass plaque, both of which are taking pride of place in my studio, I am getting on with printing a batch of new orders. And of course, catching up. Being out of the studio for a bit means it's always waiting for you when you get back.
I gained some new stockists, said hello to existing ones and made lots of new trade show pals. I also did a lot of chatting. And if you know me, you'll know that's not very difficult.
As a winner, we had a photo call where we received our plaques, put names to faces of all the other winners and runners up, and on the last day of the show we were invited onto a panel hosted by Nicky Dewar from The Crafts Council. It was a talk titled 'From Part Time Hustle To Full Time Design Led Life'.
It's important to share the obstacles, anxieties, and especially the rollercoaster that is the life of a self-employed individual and running a small business. You quickly realise you are not alone and we're all in the same boat. No matter where you are in the journey of your idea, startup, scaling your business or plotting global domination, there's someone who's been there, doing it or able to give you advice that allows you to suck it up like a sponge.
The best bit of advice I can give; go for it. Go with your gut. Don't (always) listen to friends and family. They are good for some advice but only you can make that choice and take the risk. And also don't bricklay. By that I mean stack up all the things you have to do one by one, because that way you're building a wall and it's harder to get over it if you do that. Take it one step at a time.