Welcome to the first in my interview series - meeting lovely ladies who are doing something inspirational and exciting, something new in their 40's and 50's and beyond. My hope is that you will find inspiration either with a new product or service for you or to try or a new direction yourself.
My first interview is with the lovely Karen Rosser who set up a new jewellery range earlier this year - Inspire my Soul is a modular collection of sterling silver initials, symbols and charms which will totally resonate with you, your life and your personality. You select a chain (optional) and then add your chosen charms - as many as you want - start with one or two may be and add more, whenever you want.
I was invited to Karen's pretty cottage in nearby Berkshire to chat to her and see her range of jewellery for myself.
Scroll down for a discount code!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
I am 47 and mum to two feline fur babies Merlot and Tia. I live in Burchetts Green, Berkshire with my hubby Lee.
In 2010 after a 20+ year career in the corporate world, I became very poorly with anxiety and depression. This was a wake up call and one which made me totally reassess my life / work balance. Being creative was something I loved to do, but rarely had time for it. So as part of my recovery I immersed myself in making costume jewellery and painting furniture.
It really was my savior and after some time renting a small space in a craft collective to sell my makes, I got to thinking about my dream. Having my own little gift shop of gorgeousness, this is the dream I used to daydream of when I was sat in yet another long, boring and pointless corporate meeting. After discussing it at length with Lee and my parents, we all agreed that opening a shop would be the very best tonic for me. Something I could really focus on and be the creative me. There was a worry that I might be taking too much on so soon after my illness, but if I didn’t try, then I was never going to know. The reality was that yes it was hard work and it is not easy being self employed, but I was doing what I loved every single day and it wasn’t like going to work. It was like going out to play!
I did this for nearly 5 years and in 2016 the familiar feelings of depression started to surface. This time I had tools at my disposal and quickly recognised the symptoms before they got out of hand. When I looked deep into what might be causing this, I realised that being a shop owner had totally squashed my creativity. Although I loved my little boutique and had fabulous customers, after much soul searching I knew that for my health and my sanity, I had to close the shop. I didn’t want to stop being a business owner and planned to take some time out to decide exactly what direction I wanted to take the business in.
At this stage, I felt very strongly that I needed something that would give me focus and encouragement to follow this new path. I had if you like what I can only describe as a calling, an urge to buy myself a necklace – an everyday piece of jewellery that I could wear to give me inspiration and empowerment – a necklace with symbols and or charms which resonated with me.
I searched the internet and while there were lots and lots of choice, nothing totally stood out as being the perfect piece for me. I started thinking, could this be the direction I moved the business in? Yes, the more I thought about it, the more excited and inspired I became. I knew for sure, that this new journey would need a new business name and after months of thought and deliberation in January 2018, Inspire my Soul was born. Doing what it says on the tin, it inspires each individual, each soul.
What does an average day look like for you?
I am up, showered and ready for my day by 8.30am and not having children, I only have myself to worry about. I make a cuppa and my breakfast and then I spend 10-15 minutes planning my day in my Bullet Journal. This is something I have only recently discovered and it has made an amazing change to my time management. Plus everything, all my notes and to do lists are all in this one place. No more scrappy bits of paper here there and everywhere!
Once my planning is done, my day really gets going. What I do changes from day to day, but in essence it is a mixture of emails, designing, researching suppliers, working on social media content, answering customer enquiries, creating customer orders, taking photos of my products and keeping my website updated and fresh. Then other days I may meet fellow business women for coffee, lunch or brunch. Or perhaps attend a Business Girls Network networking meeting. This is a great virtual support team and a time to feel encouraged by other women in business who knows exactly what you are going through.
My day usually draws to a close around 6.30 when Lee is home from work. My final task is to have a brief 5-10 minute overview of my Bullet Journal and review how my day has gone.
What has been your biggest challenge?
It’s not a term I like very much, but I am a perfectionist. I’m never really happy with the outcome of many things I do and have been known to do and redo something on more than one occasion multiple times. I have recently learnt that there really is no such thing as perfection and that if you take baby steps and progress this approach is much more powerful and effective – that’s my personal challenge.
My business challenge is getting my head round social media. What content to post, when to post and what platforms to post on. I’ve realised that unless you take time out to do this properly, you will always be chasing your tail and not very successfully. I’ve taken the plunge and am working with two amazing ladies who are helping me create the foundations for successful social media planning and content. Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t do everything on your own!
What advice would you pass on to someone wishing to change career in midlife?
You are never too old to follow your hopes and dreams. If you have a dream and you want it bad enough, it will come to you. That said, nothing is handed out on a plate and it takes hard work and determination. I also believe without a doubt you need someone supporting you emotionally and although not always possible it helps massively to have someone supporting you financially too.
Do you have a signature style, an everyday look that you love?
I guess my signature style would be slouchy, floaty clothing, the kind with dipped and handkerchief hems. I love how they can look fabulous dressed down as well as dressed up. Working from home means there is temptation to chuck on trackie bottoms a t-shirt or sweatshirt, but I do try to make an effort. It makes you feel better too. Interestingly I attended a branding workshop earlier this year and discovered that my personal style is a dramatic creative, which I was thrilled with as this sums me up really, really well.
How do you balance your business with family life?
Honest answer, not very well. I think because Lee and I do not have children, it’s all too easy to just keep tapping away at the laptop or reaching for my mobile or tablet. That said I am very aware of it and that I need to work harder at achieving a better balance. This is something in my plan and the use of my Bullet Journal will keep me on the straight and narrow and help me achieve this.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement without a doubt has to be becoming self employed and opening my bricks and mortar boutique gift shop. I knew nothing about being a retailer or a small business, but I did love to shop for unique and unusual presents for my loved ones. These presents were received with such affection it gave me the confidence to buy loveliness for the shop.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In five years time, I want to still be doing what I love to do. I want for my jewellery and gift collections to be doing their thing by inspiring, encouraging and empowering women every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year!
How can we get in touch with you and find out more about you or your product?
A visit to my website will tell you all you need to know about my product. You can also find me on the following social media channels.
Thank you so much Karen! I loved meeting Karen and chatting about her journey and her plans, talking about her battle with anxiety and depression really resonated with me and it was inspiring to see how she has managed to overcome this through her business.
Inspire my Soul offers so many gorgeous combinations. Charms can be hand stamped with an initial or symbol. Or combine a symbol charm with an initial charm. Choose charms in silver, rose gold or gold or mix n match. It is totally personal, created to your own specification.
Maybe your children's initials? Or you and your loved one? Or a symbol that represents you and your hopes and dreams and gives you confidence? And if you need some ideas then do speak to Karen direct.
I purchased a necklace for my niece for her birthday. Life is a bit tough right now and I chose a hamsa hand, an angel wing and a star with her initial on it. I then added one of Karen's hand stamped bags. It all arrived beautifully packaged and ready to gift to my niece for her birthday. I particularly love the sheet that comes with each charm and explains what the symbol represents. Such a thoughtful and pretty gift or a treat for yourself.
And I have an exclusive discount to share with you - until 31st July you can get 10% off the entire range, just use the code fiftyandfab10 at checkout.
Photos of Karen: Summers Photography
Disclaimer: I purchased the necklace and charms myself, the star bag was gifted to me.
Not Dressed as Lamb
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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