HerStory - 1 Our Story
Since starting our business in January, we've met so many inspiring women taking on the world and running their own businesses. All of these women have a common thread of breaking away from crappy jobs, walking from the 9-5 ballast and pursuing their passion. It's truly incredible how many have risen from the ashes of adversity, and used their tough times as the driving force to smash their own ventures.
Over time, we'll be interviewing these women, sharing their stories and hopefully inspiring others to take the leap into self-employed life. To start with though, we're going to be telling our story -not just the nice fluffy stuff in our 'About Us' section; full cards on the table. So here goes...
We're going to take it back to 2015. By this point we'd been working in hospitality for about 11 years. We'd worked all over the country in some of the most beautiful venues, alongside some seriously talented chefs and front of house folk. By this time, we were in our first Restaurant Manager position. We loved working in hospitality; meeting different people all the time, the instant gratification of a guest enjoying the work we were doing, the buzz of service, the ability to show off our product knowledge and constantly learning. Unfortunately, the industry wasn't great to us and we were starting to fall out of love with it. Not only were the long anti-social hours, missing key family celebrations and the low wages taking their toll; we had bad experiences with poorly run venues and bullying managers.
October 2015 we were offered a dream role - restaurant manager position at a Michelin star restaurant in the Lake District, working alongside an incredible manager we'd worked with years before. This was going to be our final attempt at keeping the hospitality love alive. And so, November came and up to the Lake District we relocated.
Things fell apart soon after we got there. We'll keep the details brief. On our first night there, mere hours after arriving, and hours before our first shift was to start, we were assaulted by the member of staff we were replacing. 24 hours after leaving home on The Wirral, we were back at our parents' trying to make sense of what had happened. After a month of trying to recover, we stubbornly (and naively) returned to the hotel; driven to make it work and not let the incident get in the way of a career we'd worked so hard for. Unfortunately, being on site where it happened, with very little care or support and far away from our loved ones had a huge hit on our mental health and we left the role end of January with PTSD.
The next 6 months we spent recovering and wondering what we were going to do with ourselves. Hospitality had been our lives; we'd known nothing else. We temped in a couple of hideous office jobs to cover bills, but the mundanity and lack of creativity was making things worse. Over time, we started doing bits of digital marketing work for a friend's agency; slowly building up our skills whilst utilising the flair we'd found we had for social media and brand personification.
Soon, that agency were in a position to take us on full time and we were able to break free from the soul-sucking corporate world. To help this agency build themselves as quickly as possible, in view to me becoming a co-director we agreed on me being self-employed rather than going 'on the books' and a low hourly rate all to save money. Unfortunately, these sacrifices were rewarded by being made redundant the week before Christmas 2017 with no notice or warning. Nice, ey?!
As you can imagine, we were pretty much rock bottom. We had been living hand to mouth anyway, but this left me questioning having to move back in with my parents. For the first year in our life, we turned up to Christmas empty handed. Our mental health was in such a place we couldn't handle the responsibility of taking on a new full time roll, yet part time work wouldn't cover bills. We were the lowest we've ever been and truthfully, we were pretty confident in making sure we weren't going to be alive for our 30th birthday.
In the midst of all this, somehow, somewhere, completely fed up of working for other people and with few other ideas of what to do, we decided to set up our own brand. Rock Rose Digital was born on 3rd January 2018. Unfortunately, thanks to depression, anxiety, overwhelming fatigue and what we later found out what CFS, we spent the majority of January and February in bed. It wasn't until 15th March, our first client signed their business agreement and things have grown from there.
Running our own business has been life changing. It's given us the control we needed over our own life, the flexibility to self-care and proactively manage our mental health, as well as earning more money we've earned in nearly 3 years. Leaving hospitality left a void in our lives that needed filling; finally, Rock Rose Digital has filled that and given us the sense of job satisfaction and purpose we'd been lacking.
It's not been easy, but it's also not been as difficult as we anticipated. It's worth noting, we've not had a significant dip in our mental health since things have been running smoothly the last few months. And, we made it to our 30th birthday! People often say toddlers have the 'terrible twos', but for us it was terrible twenties. Since turning the big 3-0 *touch wood* life's been relatively stable. Having our own business allows us the time and autonomy to put the necessary processes into place to ensure and safeguard this.
Honestly, if we can set up a business, within a few months get it making more money than our outgoings, whilst fighting off some pretty vile demons and with minus in our bank account to start-up; anyone can!
Next blog we'll be sharing some of the lessons we've learnt growing our own sole-trading brand.
See you soon!