HerStory 8 - Caron Romney @ The Creative Nib
This week's HerStory guest is calligraphy extraordinary Caron Romney. By day. she works for BUPA Health insurance and by evenings and weekends she runs calligraphy workshops and works on her commissioned designs under her brand The Creative Nib. I was lucky enough to be gifted a class earlier this year by Caron herself and she is an absolute delight!
Hi Caron, thank you so much for speaking with me! Do you want to tell us a little more about your business?
"I’ve been teaching Modern Calligraphy workshops for approximately 18 months. I teach the basics of modern calligraphy, how to fake it for larger projects like chalk boards and also how to add a little something extra to your calligraphy by introducing embossing. Basically with modern calligraphy there is no right or wrong way and everyone's style is personal to them."
First hand, I know these workshops are glorious and a skill I'm so grateful to be learning. Have you always run these classes?
"Nope. I work full time for an insurance company where I’ve been for almost 20 years. This is a sideline for me which allows me to be creative and share my passion with others."
WOW that's quite a difference in jobs! What made you take the leap and start up your own workshops?
"After testing out loads of different crafts (most of which I was crap at) I found I was actually quite good at calligraphy and my teacher encouraged me to teach myself. Before that I hadn’t even considered it, it was merely a way of fitting mindfulness into my weekly routine and finding a creative outlet. I started off teaching a small local class in Prestwich where I live but then word soon spread and now I teach all over the North West from Halifax to Liverpool, Leeds to Wigan, and everywhere in-between. I’m really lucky."
It's incredible how you fit it all in! How do you juggle the two?
"By being super organised and putting in the effort! If you want something to work you have to be prepared to forgo certain things and set time aside to respond to emails, pull packs together, attend to social media. I always try to be done by 8 each night, but know most weekends I’ll either be out somewhere teaching, or planning my next workshop. You also have to let some things slip, my house could probably be a little tidier, but tidying or teaching? I know what I’d rather be doing!"
That's such a great point. Some times we do have to let go to the notion we have to do EVERYTHING, make a compromise or two and follow what the heart wants. I can imagine it can still become overwhelming sometimes. How do you keep on top of your self-care?
"Make sure you take time out every now and then. I practise gratitude, so every night i sit for half an hour with a cuppa and write a list of 10 things I’m grateful for. Doing that makes me relax and also realise how lucky I am. Also don't be afraid to say no. Initially I probably took on too much as I was new and wanted to please everyone which resulted in anxiety. When it feels like it’s getting too much, it probably is, so don't be afraid to turn work down or ask people to be flexible and fit around you."
Gratitude is something we've just started actually. A really good way to wind down and also help put things into perspective if something hasn't quite gone to plan that day. Saying 'no' is so important; setting your own limits and not spreading yourself to thin is key. Something I've been extremely careful of since I started up.
Running your calligraphy classes seems like a pretty idyllic job, but what would you say is the best bit of it?
"The people! Without doubt! I have met some wonderful, amazing people and every time I run a workshop I meet someone who either becomes a friend, a business associate, or who teaches me something new. I’m learning sign language at the moment after teaching a couple of ladies who are deaf, as I want to be able to share my passion equally with anyone who attends my courses."
I love that! Never stop learning! And it's incredible you're finding ways to bring your skills to more people. I've definitely found over the years in customer focused roles, it really is the people we meet on our journey that make it or break it. It's an incredible feeling when a client becomes so much more than that.
Speaking of journeys, none are without their bumps in the road. What's the biggest struggle or difficulty you've had to overcome?
"That not everyone will be happy for you. When I first set out there were some who tried to sabotage me which really affected my confidence and made me doubt myself. I genuinely put my heart and soul into every workshop and I’m an easy going, positive person, so to have this negativity directed at me really hurt. Luckily I have a really supportive family who built me back up again and pushed me to continue. There will always be those who feel threatened by you, but I genuine do believe there’s enough sun for everyone."
That's horrid that someone would try to do that. I'm so sorry; running your own business, self doubt and imposter syndrome can be crippling enough and there's really no need for anyone else to be contributing to that. So pleased you've come through it. I honestly think times like that make us stronger and more resilient.
What would you say your proudest moment so far is?
"By far its writing invites out for Serena Williams, David Walliams and Prince Harry for a charity event!!! I was tempted to put a kiss on Harrys!"
You TOTALLY should have done! That is PHENOMENAL! I would never stop talking about that, what a claim to fame!
Looking back at when you first started The Creative Nib, what advice do you wish you'd been given at the beginning?
"Don't be afraid to ask for help. Crafters are generally a lovely bunch and will pitch in to help each other. Some of my former students have gone on to teach themselves and nothing gives me more pride than when they come to me for help and advice on suppliers, securing venues, fees. And if you don't ask, you don't get!"
That really is so true! Generally, people are good sorts and willing to help out. At worst, they'll say no. Just got to bite the bullet.
You've just mentioned your former students come back to you and ask for advice; what's one bit of advice you'd give to someone else thinking about getting into your industry, or going self-employed?
"Once you have a name for your business, buy the domain even if it feels like a pipe dream. The rest will come in time."
I remember we spoke about this when i met you. I'd just bought the domain for my mental health sub-brand. Lord knows when I'll have the time to get it going, but I feel I've made a bit of commitment and accountability to do something with it. And it means no-one else will snap it up too!
Final question; for the HerStory playlist, what's your go-to song to put on and get you super motivated?
"Oh lord thats tough! I like Sigma featuring Birdy, Find Me."
Brilliant choice! Thanks for joining me Caron!
If you're interested in Caron's designs or want to know more about her incredible workshops all links are below. At the very least, give her a follow just for her gorgeous posts!
Facebook The Creative Nib
Instagram The Creative Nib