I sat next to Jules at my best friend's wedding reception. I knew of her but we'd not met.
We were chatting about what we both did and she said one thing that must have sparked a nerve. I wanted to make a change in my life but didn't feel brave enough, I didn't have the confidence. I'd buried it deep inside as it was easy to carry on with things as they were. At the time I was still working as Design Manager on the cook and dine range at George Home. After all, I loved my job in so many ways, developing so many new ranges with the team, leading the creative vision, inspiration and sourcing trips.
After the wedding I decided to ring Jules, see what her coaching was all about. I realised that, as much as the world sees me as being a very successful confident person, I didn't. I am successful, I have 25 years experience in the design industry. I'd worked my way up the ladder from suppliers, through to Senior Designer at The Arcadia Group, to PAN European Creative Manager at Disney Home, and Design manager at Shared Earth to name but a few.
Many creatives are filled with self-doubt.
To me my designs can always be improved, to others they're beautiful and hit the brief exactly as they are. It's important for design to constantly be evolving to reflect the needs of the end customer. Work is continually critiqued. In the environment of presenting designs to buyers, buying managers and directors you need to really believe in your design and range and have to be confident. I was, but it was a false confidence, one that I didn't believe from the inside out. I thought it was another Michelle that could do all of that so well.
Jules showed me that it wasn't, it was me too.
So I committed to 6 months of coaching with Jules. It was in no way easy, there were tears, frustrations shared with light bulb moments and lots of scribbling thoughts into my sketchbooks. I decided I want to leave my job and do something else. I decided I wanted to take the leap to have my own business in Spring 2017.
One thing Jules picked up that I kept saying was 'I always find a way'. It's true I do. I'm determined, driven and committed; I put my heart and soul into everything I do. I've worked for a few small companies when finances got tight and the roles were made redundant. That didn't stop me, I bounced right back. I'm very resourceful and proactive, so I got myself straight back out there and found something new. All of which actually led me on a more exciting path each time.
My head was always filled with chatter, perceptions of why I thought other people were better than me. This was one of the things stopping me from doing my own thing. It's all made up by me and not based on any facts.
We nicknamed them the 'Cool Kids'. We all have different stories and paths; no one is better than anyone else. A lot of it stemmed from being bullied at school but that was over 30 years ago, time to move on!
To my delight one of those people I'd put up on a pedestal rang me about doing some work with them last year. It wasn't easy; I constantly had to have a word with myself. I could do it, they thought I could, I just had to change the voices in my head. I'm thrilled to have worked on two projects with them now and very proud that they've loved my work.
In my last session in April 2016 Jules handed me my last postcard 'Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness'.
Changes had happened at work and it was time to make that leap. I couldn't be any more prepared!
I'd spent six months investing in myself, building my confidence. I had a nest egg of savings behind me, huge amounts of design experience and supportive friends and family that believed in my dreams too.
In June 2016 I set up my own business Michelle Hughes Design
, a graphic designer and illustrator.
It's easy to get overwhelmed when you start up on your own. There are so many things to do and learn. For me it was about taking one step at a time on that journey. I got in touch with friends and people I'd worked with before and they were delighted to hear from me. All have been amazingly supportive. Straight away graphic design projects came in and I'm delighted to be working with like-minded people on visual identities, marketing materials and product development. So far all of my work has come through referrals. I don't think you get any better recommendation than that!
Jules and I had chatted about me having a portfolio of design jobs. My first year would be about seeing what worked and what didn't, allowing myself that freedom.
In just 6 months my life had been transformed. I work at home in my sunny York studio overlooking my garden, listening to birdsong. I'm working with like-minded people on graphic design projects I love doing. In between that I'm creating lino prints to sell through my website and galleries.