This week the Gillian Kyle Facebook page reached 10,000 likes. Now, I know thats not the be-all and end-all in terms of business success, and in the general scale of things its fewer than lots of other brands, but it feels like a HUGE milestone for me and my wee Scottish business, which has been, and still is, a labour of love and my precious 3rd child!
So, it feels like an appropriate moment to share some rambling thoughts about my rollercoaster journey to this point. Be warned, this blog contains some emotional honesty!
From printing and drawing at my kitchen table after graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2008, deciding to turn my wee project into a ‘proper’ business, to working with brands like Tunnock’s, Barr’s, Glenfiddich and Tennent’s and selling my designs in Liberty, John Lewis and Paperchase (and as far away as Japan and South Korea); its been a whirlwind ride.
One thing it hasn’t been is all plain sailing. Mostly its been fun and creative and interesting, yes, but its also been HARD at times (yes, so hard I’m shouting it). I’ve CRIED (and cried and cried) I’ve felt talentless, hopeless and useless. I’ve come so, so close to giving up and doing something else. Like everyone does at times I guess, whether they have their own business or not.
The shape of my business has changed, flexed and evolved in ways I’d never have imagined when I started, and I’m glad I loosened up enough to let that happen. I’ve learnt things about myself that I’d have denied with my whole heart when I was 21! Maybe running your own business is the key to self-discovery.
I’ve met some wonderful people and made some lovely friends – colleagues, customers and even competitors. But I’ve also come across folks with an axe to grind and a chip on their shoulder who have said and done some pretty horrible stuff. C’est la vie – and guess what, I’m still standing. Running your own business also teaches you resilience.
I’ve become a ‘proper’ grown up over the last 9 years too. An old married lady, mum of 2 smart, sassy and hilarious wee boys, a homeowner (yikes), an occasional maker of homemade bread. Oh yes.
I won’t lie, having my babies and keeping my business going was hard and would not have happened without the hard work, support and love of certain selfless and wonderful people (you know who you are). I was not prepared for how sick I’d feel all the way through the pregnancy, how tough I’d find it all and how my brain would down tools and take a 2 year holiday with each child, leaving me bereft of any creative, logical or coherent thoughts. And then how hard it would be to carve out the time I needed to work and balance it with my desire to be a present and conscious parent, plus the hefty financial considerations of child care.
And now here I am. Rufus is nearly 5, Angus is 2 and the Gillian Kyle brand is (unbelievably) 9 years old and going strong. I’ve given it my all and I’m so happy to be right here, right now, doing this. My vision the future is to keep building a brand with personality that stands for modern, fun and original Scottish design. I recently launched my Gillian Kyle Home range and I can’t wait to add wallpaper, fabrics, candles and lots of other lovely stuff into the mix, as well as creating beautiful new collections. Its a pleasure and a privilege to spend my time visually celebrating the best wee country in the world, and hearing all of your overwhelmingly lovely and encouraging feedback over the years has made out all the more fun.
I feel SO MUCH GRATITUDE that I am able to do this wonderful thing that I love for a living. That people actually spend their hard, hard-earned money on the fruits of my creativity is an amazing, humbling feeling. I’m so, so thankful to each and every person who has bought something from me, signed up to my mailing list, liked or commented on my Facebook page, followed me on Twitter or Instagram, read my blog or supported me or my brand in any way at all. THANK YOU!
ALL SO MUCH! You are at the centre of everything I do.
Till next time – and bring on the 20,000 likes!