Feature: New Aspirations with James Welsh

 

We all grew up with dreams and aspirations, wanting to be firemen, nurses, ballerinas and footballers. By the time we hit secondary school the lucky few of us who’ve found our calling start working to achieve our career goals. James was one of these lucky few. Having fallen in love with football at an early age as many children in Britain do, James had the opportunity to start making this dream a reality. From the ages of 12-18 James was signed to a professional football club and played as a pro for 2 years before his dreams came crashing down when injury struck.

Having to form a new career plan at just 18, James enrolled onto the business studies and marketing course at Southampton Solent University. Shortly after graduating in 2014, James landed himself his first sales job, staying for only 6 short weeks.

 

Blog- James Welsh quote firstDespite being unable to play, James’s love for football had not faded and he found himself taking on a position as an area organiser for a local sports coaching company. As one of only 7 employees at the time, James worked his way up to become the Director of Coaching within three and a half years. With the company turning over £300k as he joined and an incredible £1.2million now, you would think the role James had achieved would be a great career achievement alone, but it wasn’t all to come.

Feeling as though a change was due, James moved on to work with other professional clubs before becoming the Assistant Academy Director at AFC Bournemouth. With over 2 years at Bournemouth, James continued to work with various clubs in both their academies as well as scouting in the Football League and Premier League. Despite loving the job itself, James became discontent with the football industry and realised he was never really happy.

 

Blog- James Welsh quote middleAs James began his new venture, luckily with an old contact from his football days that he trusted greatly, they figured it out and created a franchise still profitable to this day. With his partner’s contacts and knowledge they were able to create a great franchise, which now takes up about 4 hours a week of work and provides a weekly income every Friday.

At this point James realised how much more there was to work than just becoming a face within many, moving from city to city as he had in the football industry. No longer putting his trust in the industry, James moved on to bigger and better things, deciding then to take on a role within a training company in Sussex working with young people no longer in education, employment or training, through sport. Having worked for them for just over a year, only 3 weeks into the academic term of his second year with the company, James was informed over the telephone that the company had been liquidated overnight. With no prior knowledge of the company’s poor financial state, James found himself no longer employed as of the next day.

 

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While for many this would be a shock and make many people panic or question their options, James saw this as an opportunity. While the experience was an awful one, it did lead James to realise the potential. Knowing that he could succeed where that company had failed, My-Coaching was formed. Having started as his first full time business in February 2013, by December that year the business was incorporated and the limited company My Coaching Education Ltd was formed. The business did not begin as many start-ups’ do. With three employees working for the company and only a £4,000 turn over it wasn’t an easy start. With an investment of £10,000 personal money, the company still needed a £8,000 turnover to break even.

With the financial problems and stresses, James started keeping secrets from his family and employees. Beating staff into work every morning to check the bank account to prioritise what could be paid that day and what could be delayed just to be able to ensure his employees pay cheques at the end of the month. James hated this period and began to examine himself, and the business, in order to better run the company. In August of the first trading year, James found the Entrepreneurial Circle. By joining, James began to grow as a businessperson and notice the negative daily actions causing problems within the company. Eventually realising things needed to change to stay afloat, small positives began to be seen in the company, despite things having not gotten easier.

 

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One night on the way home, James was informed that a college client had not paid a vital invoice. Without this money there was no way to meet payroll and monthly bill payments. Despite days and days of promising the invoice would be paid, the client failed to make the payment. Stopping in the services for a coffee on his way back, James checked the bank account. Seeing the payment was not there was all too much, James started to cry knowing at that point it would mean the business was over. With the situation too dire to ignore anymore, James finally opened up to his family sharing the secrets he’d hidden for a long time. Luckily his family were supportive about the issues and James’s sister agreed to help recover the money due. As a finance director of a large company, she knew what to do and how, quickly recovering the money from the college client within just three days. With the success of this, James’s sister joined the team on a permanent basis, taking over the finances as Financial Director.

 

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This was a turning point for My Coaching Education Ltd. Realising the importance of hiring in the areas that aren’t your strengths is so vital to the success of a business, especially in the important aspects such as finance. With stable finance management and the support of businessperson development with EC it’s been an upward journey since! They began to land big contracts with national partners and large corporations, became a recognised training provider for 5 city councils and 6 county councils supporting schools and education for 16-24 year olds, as well as providing apprenticeships.

 

Blog- James Welsh quote lastFinding a point where their expansion meant their brand no longer matched their services, 18 months ago the brands were split to reflect each business component. Now with three businesses to focus on, while looking for further regional expansion, James has found his stride. The My Coaching Education Ltd story has been featured in the Entrepreneurs Circular magazine in February, and James has been made a associate fellow at Southampton Solent University this March.

 

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If you had asked James at 16 what he thought his career would have been, he’d have believed pro football was his path, at 19, or even 5 years ago, I am sure he would never have guessed where he would be now. With a completely different career plan and dream that had to be rethought and re-planned, James has moved between some amazing opportunities and jobs over the years. With such an incredible business now, it really couldn’t have worked out better in the end. There’s always going to be difficulties and set backs in life and in career, and James has had more than his fair share. But despite these set backs this story just proves that if you keep moving forward, keep giving your all, you can get there in the end and have some amazing experiences on the way. It’s easy to get set on one dream, but maybe there’s a better dream out there. The only way you’ll know is if you keep moving forward and keep learning.

 

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To find out more about My Coaching, or to get in touch check out their website here

It begins with a name

Choosing a name for your business can be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make. For some people it comes naturally but for many of us it isn’t that simple.

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I have always been awful at these sorts of task. Fake business activities in school would have me stuck at task 1- Name the business. I was the last person you’d want on your pub quiz team (and not only because I suck at general knowledge quizzes); I’m just not witty or funny enough (it’s ok…don’t feel bad for me, I have my…um, I’ll get back to you on that). The thought of someday having to name a child terrifies me, not the having a child part but the giving them a name they are stuck with forever. At least with my business I could rebrand.

Now there are lots of terrific ways you can come up with ideas for business names that should help you work out that name in no time. It still took me a year…but I’m pretty sure that for most it really isn’t so much of a challenging task, I’m just a little special that way (and a lot fussy!).

So how did I come up with my name? Well after a year of having the idea, discussing it and ending any conversation with ‘but what would I call it?’ I’d tried word games and market research but my mind was still blank. No matter how many ideas I had or how many ideas other people suggested nothing felt quite right. When it’s your business, starting up from the ground, it has to feel right to you. I took this very seriously though and once I found something I liked became very attached. It was the only thing that felt right so nothing else would do. Does that mean it was the best name for my business? Who knows. All I know is that finally I found something I was happy with and I wasn’t going to waste another year of “hmm, I’m not sure. It just doesn’t feel quite right”

A Thousand Yellow Daisies is actually a reference to a pretty big US TV Series. Got any guesses? I’ve only ever had one person make the reference when they first heard my business name, some of my best friends who were also fans of the show didn’t even make the connection!

 

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When trying to come up with business names and nothing felt right, I realised that a name that meant something to me could be the solution. While the reference to the program is not a specific scene or moment that I personally related to, the program itself has significant meaning to me. Having been part of my life at a time that was needed, while I was at the right age to be connecting with the show, it has had a significant role in my teen development and will always be a fond favourite. My business is a small, personal brand. It all comes from me, is all directly influenced by myself. So for the business name to reflect something so personal and directly mean something to me, it feels right.

Even once I decided I wanted something personal that didn’t make the process instant or easy as you may presume. It’s always difficult even if you know what you want. I sat listing and talking about all the things that I liked, all the things that meant something to me or that people would relate to me when asked. My housemate and I would sit for hours talking it through and making lists while our favourite TV shows played in the background hoping to spark some inspiration. Thankfully after a few (ok, quite a few!) episodes I heard it. “Wait, rewind that. Right there. That’s it”. In the end that’s all it took…an overheard sentence in the background. A Thousand Yellow Daisies. It’s not the shortest name in the world, and trust me, that’s had its issues. But we always figured if I made it big enough to get a store, everyone would just call it Daisies. It turns out the Internet is a much more difficult place and finding a name that is allowed (which is different on every platform…super helpful!) means that I had to be creative, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

There’s always ways around it. Once you find the name you want and it suits your brand then you can make it work. Of course you do need to be sensible and check the legalities, such as does the name exist? Check on Google and social media to check, you don’t want to be competing with another company with the same name! Not only would that be frustrating and make your business and audience growth un-necessarily difficult, it could also cause you costly legal issues down the road. You can check for existing companies at https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/ but bear in mind that only Limited companies have to register their name, not sole traders so it is always worth doing a Google check as well as checking the government register. You will also need to check for trademarks, as you will not be able to trade under or use a name that is trademarked. It is best never to use a name that exists as a name is intellectual property and will have a common law trademark automatically, however using a registered trademark is a sever and costly mistake so do your homework and check out the trademark register here: https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/welcome

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If you’re looking for a business name and don’t know where to start try these simple activities to see if they spark an idea for you…

 

The Word Association Game-

 

Write a list of all of the words that you want to be associated with your brand, the words that describe your business and/or industry. Now take one of those words and start a column, underneath think of the first word that comes to mind when saying the first word on your list. Now do the same underneath looking at the 2nd word and on and on.

E.G.-

 

Design

Drawing

Pencil

Lead

Metal

 

The word only needs to directly relate to the one above, not all of the words above. Metal is related to Lead, but is not directly related to Design. You can do this game for as many of the descriptive brand words as you like. Now look over your lists, does anything stand out? Does anything sound good as a business name or spark another idea?

 

The Word Map Game-

 

This game is similar to the previous word game but will give words only directly related to your brand and industry. Fill a page with words related to your brand, industry and company only. There are far more words than you think. Once you have run out of words that may relate to your brand open a thesaurus and start looking for synonyms of these words. You may find that you’d like the idea of ‘Confidence’ to be part of your ethos and brand identity but find the word ‘Sanguine’ to be a much more interesting and suitable word for a business name.

 

Personality Game-

 

List all of your strong traits that you associate with yourself, list your favourite things, people, places and moments. Now ask others, what do they associate with you? Once you have a comprehensive list of what matters the most to you, who you and who others view you to be, you can filter through to see what’s relevant. Is there a personality trait that could be a business name, or a synonym of that trait that would work? Is there a thing that everyone relates to you? Is there a book, a program, film or place that means a lot to you? Break it down; if it’s a place is there a street or a beach etc. that stands out in your mind? Is that a good business name? If it’s a book, film or TV show is there a line or a word used that gives the feel of your brand while only you know the true meaning and relevance?

 

Naming a business can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, but it’s worth it in the end. Having a name that you are truly proud of will only help your business succeed and make you feel more connected to your company. Try to have fun with the process and good luck! If you’re naming a business now or have a story behind how you got your business name why not share it with us? We’d love to hear more naming stories!

Feature: Live your life doing what you enjoy with Rothbury Creates

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The turning point in life is realising that it is ‘not worth spending your life doing something you can’t enjoy.’

Having grown up in Lesotho, South Africa after her two British, trained potter parents moved there to run a pottery studio for 10 years before Sarah was born, she spent her childhood until the age of 17 in South Africa. With wonderful early memories of playing in the grounds of the pottery studio, surrounded by people working with clay every day (that she ensures me the workers must think less fondly on than she as her and her sister spent their days pestering and getting in the way while they made beautiful things!) her childhood was filled with creativity.

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When Sarah grew up (or at least tried! as she likes to say), she began working as a Design Technology teacher in Blackburn. While Sarah loved teaching the kids, she found the bureaucracy of the job was stifling both their creativity and her own. With the arrival of her own child these feelings were amplified and Sarah found herself realising there is no point spending your life doing something you don’t enjoy. This is such a crucial point to become aware of, that moment when you realise there is no point going through life unhappy. We give up so much of our time to work; it’s a necessity so most of us just do what we have to do. We spend most of our week traveling to, and being at work; leaving our partners, our kids, our friends and family to be at work. While working is a necessity for most of us that doesn’t mean that we should be giving up such a large part of our lives to spend every day hating our jobs, unhappy and stressed. By finding your place and your passion, you’re no longer sacrificing every day. You go to work for yourself, not for necessity- because you love what you do, not just because of the money. Of course financial stability is vital and does have to be taken into consideration, but we also have to remember it’s not all about making the most money. Find your passion and find a way to do what you love. Whether that’s working for yourself or working for someone else, there’s always a way of finding your passion and working in something you enjoy.

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When Sarah had this realisation, she approached her parents to explain how much she was struggling in this system that did not put the kids first. Sarah’s dad, Graham Taylor (As seen in the first series of the BBC Great British Throw Down and other TV programs) runs the very successful ceramic replica business: Potted History. As Sarah explained her concerns, she joked about becoming her father’s apprentice. He needed the help due to the success of the business and Sarah needed a new job, she quit teaching and never looked back having made what Sarah refers to as the ‘best decision EVER!’

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Sarah left her job, moved the family to Northumberland and began learning everything she could from her dad. By joining her father and learning his skills, Sarah was able to add the pottery classes that Graham had always wanted to be able to offer to the business. Now responsible for creating some replicas sold in museums, shops and private individuals across the world and running the workshops, Sarah’s clearly come such a long way.

The most incredible part of Sarah’s work is her approach to the workshops. They do not run classes on a strict curriculum of teaching the way many classes do, but focus on the freedom to create. After teaching the basic skills of hand building and wheel throwing, they then work individually with the students to help them produce something they can be personally proud of. Sarah explained to me that this way of teaching requires far more work for the studio, as projects can range so vastly. Her example: that projects could range from ‘a tea set for a teddy bears picnic, to a memorial plaque for a loved one lost, to a green man water fountain’ shows there really are no limits. At Rothbury Creates, it’s clear they place the importance on their customers and their individual needs. The concept that someone who has never made ceramics before can go learn the basics and make something so personal to them is wonderful. Imagine wanting a bespoke memorial plaque for a lost loved one, that rather than commissioning to have done by another creative individual or mass company, you made it with your very own hands.

They have such a wonderful outlook on creativity at Rothbury creates, truly believing that everyone can create when given the freedom and encouragement for ‘pure creativity’. Sarah says ‘We love people of all ages in the workshop, it is brilliant to have a family were 3 generations can all sit around a table and all create together. Playing with clay really is fun for all ages.’

If you’d like more information about this wonderfully creative and passionate ceramics company then check out their website https://rothburycreates.co.uk/ or facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RothburyCreates/

If it’s difficult it’s worthwhile…

I was recently asked to write a feature about A Thousand Yellow Daisies for an up and coming new site (Serious About Social) dedicated to being the one stop for crafters looking for advice, ideas and opportunities.

I was asked to write about the business, my journey, what i’ve learnt so far and where I aim to be. This seemed like such a normal task, it should be easy and straight forward and full of positivity right? Wrong…in reality being asked to talk openly and honestly about my journey was far more complicated. I would love to be able to say I’m one of those budding entrepreneurs who merrily jumped into business and made my first million age 21 (are any of those actually genuine? If so what am I missing!?). Or that I was one of those creatives who started a business out of nothing and 6 months in is making an amazing turn over, has quit their day job and continuing to rapidly expand, but i’m not. Not yet at least.

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It’s not been an easy journey, but having started to talk to other creatives for my new feature pieces (coming every Friday) and I’ve realised it’s not just me! My whole process of figuring out what I wanted to do, then starting this business has been problem solving and overcoming obstacles. At times it even had me wondering whether this was the universe’s way of telling me it wasn’t to be. What I eventually realised was it was telling me that something wasn’t right. Not that I should give up, but that I should keep trying and keep changing to find what does work. Having spoken to so many other creatives and hearing their stories and challenges, it’s reassuring to know this is how most new creative business owners feel in the initial stages.

I’m still working it out, trialling different shops and galleries around the UK to work out which ones and which areas are right for my products but I have now worked out what I want from this venture. I now have a clearer picture of what I want and where I want to be than ever. While it’s a slow process and there were times I wondered what I’d ever been thinking taking this on, I’m so glad I have and that i’m still giving it a shot. Every day gets better and gets more fun, eventually I know I’ll get it right and be so glad I never gave in.

 

Now we have a brand new range of products launched on Etsy and being sold in 3 stores as of this coming month, we’re offering personalisation and even more freelance graphic design services… We’re blogging more, offering freelance creative blog writing, and offering social media management services!..

…With even more exciting updates coming soon! We’re finally on our way, and soon I’m sure I’ll be able to look back and need to remind myself why it was once so difficult!

To enquire about a service (Guest blog for your site, Graphic design project, Personalised Design Commission or Social Media Management services ) please get in touch via our Facebook  or via email at Hello@athousandyellowdaisies.co.uk

 

 

DIY- Space themed kids costume

A friend of mine has a daughter at school where they are celebrating space day next week with fancy dress. Fancy dress days for kids are always a difficult decision, do you buy in, which is usually an expensive solution and one that only gets used once (or a couple times if you’re lucky!), or create a DIY option is time consuming and involves skill and materials (often working out not much cheaper than a bought solution!).

For space day there were two options, buy an astronaut costume online or after having researched ideas create a 3D planet top. While the 3D option looked amazing and so much fun, my friend is not the creative sort. So I thought I’d give it a go knowing that I had all the materials I’d need at home and a (fairly) free weekend.

So so here it is, how to make a DIY planet sash to be used with a plain black outfit or to complement any space themed costume!

Starting out with polystyrene balls of varying sizes and ink, each ball was rolled in and sponge painted with black ink. The one major issue with trying to ink polystyrene is it tried to absorb the ink, but sponging the ink on works pretty well and pretty easily!

 

Once they were entirely black it’s a matter of a waiting game until this layer has dried. You can move on to the next step before its dry but remember the more you touch it the more the ink ends up on you and not the project! If you can be patient its much better to let this layer dry at least partially.

Now comes the fun part! Using a sponge again (and this time it definitely needs to be a sponge!) you’re going to add the colours. I used acrylic ink here as it dries fast and is pretty amenable. Starting with white paint, sponge on areas of speckled paint. This looks the most convincing when creating a strong patch of white using thick paint and slowly becoming lighter and more speckled as it disperses.

Once they had all been given speckled areas of white and had a few minutes to dry, I started playing with colour. You can’t really go too wrong with the choice of colours at this point. Colours like dark blues and purples are great as they give more depth to the darkness and a bit of a shimmer while being subtle. Then the light bright colours give a wonderful sparkle to your project, from lime greens to florescent pinks there really is no bad option.

The colours were added much more gently than the white, giving small hints of colour and more speckled looks than the white.

The great thing about this project is you really can’t go wrong. Add too much white? No problem just sponge over some more black and you’ve toned it back down. Add too much colour? No problem, just add a light layer of white and you’re in the clear! Whether you need to tone down what you’ve done or re-do an area you can slowly just add layers until you have the final look you want.

Once these had dried, I added a little bit of sparkle to make them just a little more special! With the right speckling you don’t need any glitz for these to look magical and sparkly but a bit of added glitz never did anyone any harm! So using a silver glitter spray, I carefully spritzed a few sprays to each planet.

A few minutes for the glitter to dry and it was time to turn these planets into a sash.

Taking plain string, I poured a little black ink into a shallow pot, bunched up the string, dunked it in and ran it through the ink. Making sure it was fully covered in ink I left the string to dry while I started on the holes.

I used a basic wooden skewer like you can find in most discount shops and supermarkets to pierce the holes. As I used quite large polystyrene balls so a long skewer was the best option here. For smaller polystyrene balls any thin but sharp tool will do the trick.

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Pierce the ball straight through from one side to the other. Use a large needle and tie the string through the needle. Place the needle in the hole and using the skewer, push the needle straight through and out the other side. Once you have done this to every planet you can move them around on the string to be spread out as you want.

To finish off, tie the string at the right place to suit the length needed and voila! You have a planet sash perfect for any space themed fancy dress!

 

Creative Space

I’ve been asked a few times now about my creative space and been asked for photos of where I work. I have a studio (currently a prepped desk and a room full of unpacked boxes in our new apartment) but I do not solely work in this studio. I have always found working at a white desk in a university studio, a computer desk in the library or a desk in my studio to only release a certain amount of creativity. While there are great benefits to having a specified work area, a set up desk and work room, there are also some great benefits to flexible working.

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This is one of the biggest benefits of working for yourself. In a work environment you are expected to work in their office or studio, the most flexibility often being potentially hot-desking. By working for yourself, it gives so much more flexibility. Depending on your work, your equipment needs and your work style, the options are expansive. From hiring desks, renting studios or working with someone else, working at home or local cafe the options just keep coming. By having a set work space you will always have somewhere ready to work where you know you have all your equipment ready and can be productive and creative. But the option of flexi-working ensures you stay inspired and creative rather than finding you get stale working within the same 4 walls day in day out.

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I work where I can, where I feel inspired and creative. Using a home studio as my consistent and permanent base, I then adapt based on my work. This article for instance is being written on a commute, while my thank you notes, postcards and marketing are written in a cafe. During the summer months you’ll find me sat in local parks and arboretums under a tree with my sketchbook, and the winter months cosy in a local cafe or my living room with a hot chocolate and drawing implements. So when asked where I work, what do I say? My studio? Well that is true but for someone who works most hours you won’t find me in my studio as often as you would expect. But as a creative there really is no better way to work, stay inspired and creative. You need to see the world, experience new things and new environments for the creativity to keep flowing.

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Blogging Beginnings

Blogging is a fantastic tool, both for business and personal use. However it is a commitment that many put to the bottom of the pile to focus on social media platforms that connect with customers easily and take less set up and management time.

Recently I wrote an article for Print and Press about London Fashion Week. It was a tight deadline, and the first time I’d written for a blog in over a year. While it was difficult, took at least 5 edits and hours of research, It reminded me of exactly why I used to blog. There is something hugely satisfying about writing for a blog, and something exciting about sharing expertise, inspiration or your own work with an audience.

I started A Thousand Yellow Daisies to be able to do what  I love. Don’t get me wrong, as a start up there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done that I do not love. However, it’s the bits like designing, like blogging that keep me going when it gets difficult, when it gets too stressful or when I’m sat doing accounts and all the other things I never want to do! Now that I’ve blogged again, there’s no turning back! So here starts the beginning of the A Thousand Yellow Daisies blog.

I can’t wait to start sharing more about what we do at A Thousand Yellow Daisies, as well as start up and design information with you all soon!