This weeks Start-Up Story is from Shannon, maker and founder of creative business Mockingbird Makes. She helps people to explore and use their creativity, and explains how an unexpected deadline helped her to launch fast; without overthinking it…
Tell me a little about you & your family, what your business is, and the inspiration behind getting started…
I’m Shannon the founder of Mockingbird Makes, a wife and mother to 2 boys (aged 12 & 8) living in South East London.
I believe we outsource our creativity too easily and it’s my mission to reconnect people with the joy that comes from creating. So I work bespoke to allow those who can’t Make to express their ideas, teach people how to Make for themselves, and speak on Creativity for Wellness to share my story to hopefully inspire others to choose a heartfelt life full of self care and compassion.
After having two children and not going back to my previous career as an innovation consultant I felt very lacking in confidence and struggled with depression and anxiety. I allowed myself to start creating things for fun – something I felt was totally frivolous and not a practical thing to do. It really took a lot of permission to let myself do it at that stage. Even with all the encouragement around me and the expertise I had around the benefits of creativity.
I explored embroidery, reclaimed knitting and learnt to crochet and make super luxurious pompoms.
How did you make the leap from idea on paper to reality with your business idea?
I then flirted with the idea of this being a business for me despite all the evidence to the contrary that there was “any money in it”, as I so often get asked. When I realised that wellness needed to be my top priority I let myself follow my heart and that intrinsic motivation has driven me, from within, to make it work.
Now that I am in touch with WHY I do this i.e. to re-connect myself and others to our creativity to support our wellness and bring us joy, I can always find the direction I need to go in.
How did you get your first sale or client?
My first sale was a friend who had been admiring a well known designers outfit for her daughter but didn’t like the material is was made out of. I had been doing some embroidery and suggested I embroider her own design onto a garment that suited her and it was a great success. I felt bad taking any money at all (imposter syndrome!) but charged a token amount and put the rest down to experience.
What ‘lucky breaks’ or helping hands have you had along the way that have really boosted your progress?
I was then invited by a friend starting up her own business to create a line of pompom hats to match her gender neutral children clothing line and this gave me the motivation to create a brand name and logo. And since the timeline was quite short I had little time to agonise over getting it perfect and instead just trusted my instinct and make quick decisions with the mantra “good enough, good enough”. It’s one of the best learnings I could have had!
Joining the networking group First Fridays at Space at 61 had been the single biggest boost for me. Mostly in confidence but also in making contacts, finding collaborations and supporting others. Lots of opportunities have arisen from this group such as the chance to speak on Creativity for Wellness which is the perfect combination of sharing my earlier corporate creative thinking skills experience with my personal story of using my own Making as a path to wellness.
What do you LOVE about your business and working for yourself?
I LOVE that I get to work to the rhythms of my own live (especially with having children – but not only because of them), whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, termly, yearly etc and I’m learning so much about myself and when I’m most effective.
I also LOVE that the more I work with and experience the benefits of working with my own creativity the more I can share that benefit with others. (Imagine me getting all very excited and waving my hands around now!)
What’s the scariest thing you’ve had to do since setting up on your own?
I’ve had to put pieces of myself out there for people to decide if they like them or not. It’s been so very hard, and its getting better. As is speaking in front of a group of strangers telling my story!
Who is your support network that you simply couldn’t manage without?
My husband. People ask me how I make so many things and I answer “because I do very little else”. He even makes pompoms.
What exciting plans do you have for your business over the next 6-12 months that you’d like to share?
I’ve a new idea incubating about delving a bit deeper into Creativity for Wellness which feels exciting, I always have new products on the go and I’m increasing the amount of public events I will be attending too so I will be out in public more. Follow me on Instagram to see more.
Want to start up your very own business?
Sometime the hardest part of getting started is just that: getting started.
I’m Lucy, a Business Coach, and I work with women 1:1 who are starting or growing their own self-employed ventures and are craving support and missing accountability.
I offer 30-min free Consultation Calls to anyone who wants to chat about how to take their ideas forward, to figure out your next steps and talk about how coaching could help.
Get in touch now to find out how I can help you: