Don’t get A Job… Make A Job

Don't get a job make a job by gem barton

It’s been nearly three years since I quit my safe and stable but totally toxic job. 13 years of dedicated service and all I got was a gift basket and a don’t forget to connect on linked in!! I sort of had a plan when I left, I was going to get a part-time job and then practice my craft and build a business in my spare time. Instead I spent two months recovering from stress induced illness that this job had given me and then just decided to spend full-time learning how to be self-employed.

Skip to nearly three years later, more ups and downs that a roller coaster, some steep learning curves, numerous ‘Oh you’re you still doing that then’ and I’m finally gaining some confidence in calling myself self-employed. I’ve even split my business into two separate entities now that I now consider completely different from each other.

But I digress, dream jobs do not come without its stresses.

Dream jobs come with a lot of compromise, you’re dream job is never going to be a total walk in the park, there are going to be things that you do that you will hate, that is until you earn enough money to hire someone else to do it, and even then that isn’t always perfect. So until then you do your taxes and admin yourself, you do all the listing and editing, marketing, promoting, packing and trips to the post office yourself. It’s a trade-off, some people seem to think self employment is a doss (generally those who have never been self-employed!) but as with everything it’s a compromise, you do the things you don’t like so much so you can do things that you do!

There are a lot do and don’t manuals out there, a lot of this content is repetitive and if you follow these guides you risk producing the same content as everyone else, and secondly if you follow it and it doesn’t work for you, you might end up feeling a bit of a failure and a lot are advertised as fail proof.

I’ve followed some of these and the thing they have taught me is that whilst they are good guidelines, ultimately you have to find your own recipe that works, especially in the age of ever-changing algorithms and social media trends.

This is why I found this book more helpful than the others that I’ve read because instead of dos and don’t of what to do in setting up a creative business, this book is filled with interviews with people who have made it in the creative field through unconventional methods, they had to get creative in order to land those creative jobs/contracts. They didn’t follow the rules, they bent them to their advantage, they saw opportunities and grabbed them, and most of all they took a lot of risks. Sometimes you have to let go of playing safe and take a gamble. Of course this is not always going to pay off but this book covers everything from going it alone, teaming up with other, collectives, putting yourself out there being true to yourself and lots more.

Although it’s more aimed at creative graduates in design, I think if you are self-employed or thinking of being self employed in a creative field, you definitely get some insight out of this book. You might not relate to all of it but there was definitely some helpful information especially as these days coming out of university and landing a job in your field is pretty much over, the competition is fierce.

It also seems that freelancing is very much on the up and a lot of these business/people set up their companies etc during/after the first wave of economic downturn in 2008. In the last few years more and more jobs that are created are under the self-employed umbrella and it is thought to a permanent shift rather than a temporary phenomena, it could be a direct result of the recession, I probably should have done some more research but more and more people are creating jobs for themselves whether it be kitchen table start-ups (craft businesses), rent a chair in a hairdressers or a tech start-up.

Jack-of-all-trades, master of none is quite simple an archaic and inaccurate idiom.

Over the last few years I’ve always thought my weakness was not finding or having a niche, everyone else seemed so focused on their path, they knew what they wanted to do, they knew what they were wanted to design. Meanwhile I felt a bit like a jack of all trades and master of none, when actually the fact that have so many interests and a lot work experience in different areas is actually my advantage and I’ve only just been figuring that out. You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket. I’m also a firm believer or reinventing yourself as many times as you need to until your happy. If you don’t like something or it doesn’t work, either change it until it does or move on.

Here is a link to my favourite ted talk on why some of us don’t have one true calling.

So yes I do recommend this book but not as a how to guide but definitely if you’re looking for inspiration on doing things differently. I picked up at La Biblioteka  on a whim and there are lots of advice on putting yourself out there (which is a priority when you’re self-employed and competing against others), trusting your instincts, being true to yourself and learning. The fact there are lots of interviews from people from different fields I feel, is much better than reading one person’s perspective on a subject. So if you’re a creative stuck in a bit of a rut and need to rethink your strategy through, then I think this will help.

*This is not a sponsored post, items was purchased with my own funds and all opinions are my own.





Work Update


I wasn’t really planning on doing many work updates on here at the moment as you if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you’re probably bored of me bleating on about photography and listing all the time but I figure I should do an update anyway, as I haven’t had much time for blogging at the moment trying to keep up with work.

My new shop is a little delayed because I don’t want to start any new projects because I didn’t want to start any new projects whilst trying to finish old ones for the main shop and end up overwhelmed with work again. I’ve pretty much loaded up all old handmade stock except for a few bits that need finishing or photographing but the number is quite small so that can wait whilst I work on uploading all the vintage stock piling up and also it appears that it is doing rather well and I should probably concede and just concentrate on setting that up first before dedicating time to anything else.I hope I haven’t jinxed myself by saying that but it finally seems I’ve made a good business decision for once.

When that’s pretty much down to a minimum, I’ll be able to dedicate some time to work on new designs properly, rather than half starting things and then not get round to finishing them. So it real terms I’m probably not likely to start on the new shop until probably June or July, which is okay because it’s for a good cause. I’ve also pretty much given up all my challenges so I can concentrate on work, yes I’m back to workaholic mode, I’m even writing this whilst poorly because there is no rest for the wicked or sick when you’re self-employed! But on the plus side I am enjoying my work even if it does leave me a little worn out at times.

So that’s it really on the work front, concentrating on building up Natasha de Vil Vintage, I love vintage as you know, I have learnt that everything sells eventually because there is something for everyone out there, you just need to be patient and it’s paying off. I’ve sold in the past but only personal stuff but I’m really enjoying hunting out stuff for shop and sending things off to new homes around the world. Who knew that my talent involved shopping!

Anyway So thanks for bearing with me and I’m planning on getting back to a regular blogging schedule in May!

Natasha x


Making Changes

I’m a big fan of change, change is good, change is growth. When people tell me I’ve changed I take is a compliment, I don’t want to get stuck and stagnate. Some people dislike change and that’s okay, that is their choice and I’m not here to question that. But things change regardless, we get older, we learn, we are shaped and influenced by our surroundings, by our experiences and sometimes we outgrow our old selves and it’s time to embrace our new selves. Spring I feel is always a good time to implement any changes we want to, we come out of semi hibernation from winter, the days are getting longer, our energy levels getting higher, it’s a good time to get the ball rolling on starting anything new and that’s what I’m currently doing. I’ve had time over the quieter months to think about what’s working, what’s not and how to move forward with my business/life and what I want to be doing.
I came up with Natasha de Vil when I briefly flirted with burlesque, I never made it to the stage but I enjoyed dance the lessons and finding my alter ego. I initially used it to set up a separate FB page to hang out with my vintage and burly friends but it just ended up being who I became to be known as and it stuck. I thought about changing it a lot but I kind of preferred having it as a handle for various reasons mainly my business. I threw myself into the world of self employment three years ago after my last job got so toxic it was making me ill, my hair starting to fall out was probably when I realised that it was me or them and if I didn’t act on it I was only punishing myself. I was fortunate enough to have (and still do) someone supporting me and helping me along the way. I tend to fall into things and just go with the flow but recently that has not been feeling right and I need to make some changes.
I’ve been think about turning 40 a lot lately, I figured by now I would have sussed, achieved a lot more but I realise that doesn’t matter. We live in a world obsessed with achieving goals/targets etc that we forget that in the grand scheme of things it’s not that relevant. I see people obsessed by numbers, weight/followers/earnings but it goes beyond healthy, beyond competitive and down to obsessive. I myself have become a little obsessed with goal and challenges recently but mostly to improve myself, I really don’t care what other people think, I want to push myself to the best of my abilities after years of believing this is the best I have to offer! I’m not having a turn forty crisis, in fact I’ve kind of been looking forward to it, treating a new decade as a new chapter of adventures which is why I’ve decided to let go of being known as Natasha de Vil, as it just feels right.
So I opened up a new store, as you might know I am focusing on what I’ve really wanted to do all this time which is more art based. I’ve always loved art, I’ve never formally trained but over the years I kept making promises to myself to take it up again that I never kept, maybe because the timing wasn’t right or maybe I’ve just been hesitant in taking the next big step, probably a little bit of both. I’ll be talking about getting back into art based stuff in a future post, as I fear it will make this post far too long to read but that’s the short of it.
The Natasha de Vil etsy shop will still be around for as long as it is. I’ll been using it to sell all old designs and supplies until they have gone, and then will be keeping it for vintage as I still love vintage and vintage will always be apart of my life. Natasha de Vil was kind of born out the vintage lifestyle I found and fell in love with when I first got into the blogging back in 2009, so it seems apt to keep the name for the shop and not kill her off completely. It will probably have it’s own Instagram account (so much for streamlining but a perk of giving up FB I guess) dedicated to all things vintage and vintage selling. I have some lovely new stock that has recently arrived and things seem to be slowly fitting into place.
So there it is, a change that has been unfolding over time, and is still happening, these things take time to deal with, changing handles, links etc, a faff I know but that’s just the way it is. The blog will be changing a bit too, mainly in name, I tend to blog about whatever takes my fancy and it will probably stay that way with a few more work/art pieces thrown in for good measure. I just can’t decide whether to stay here on blogger or move to WordPress or maybe even Squarespace but that’s a decision for another day.

Refocusing Priorities

Sometimes you just need to take a break. The last few weeks I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed and that I haven’t got enough time to do anything despite how much planning and working I’m doing. The truth is I’m actually doing okay and meeting targets but lately I just feel that there is too much to keep up with. Maybe it’s FOMO, maybe it Impostor Syndrome in reality it’s probably a combo of both. There’s a lot going on right in the world and it can be hard to focus on your priorities without feeling guilty over ignoring other stuff. I run an internet based business and on Monday night the broadband went down and secretly I was quite relieved, it was out of my hands, there was nothing I could do, I then I realised it doesn’t have to be this way and by that I mean I don’t have to keep up to date with every single piece of news, I don’t have to know about every thing your kid did, and I don’t have to respond to every message/email right away.
It is so easy to get caught up the tide of things and get swept away, and then suddenly feel out of your depth. It’s all too easy and all too common, especially when there are so many articles and expert telling you how it should be done. Now don’t get me wrong I love the Internet, it’s a powerful of communication and knowledge and it’s made the world better and worse in equal parts but you still need to take a break sometimes so that you can refocus your energy to the places that need it most. So I found myself yesterday deleting a bunch of apps and turning of notifications. I deleted messenger the other day (mainly because I don’t use it) and also binned the FB app on my phone because you just find yourself mindlessly scrolling through repeatedly in the hope that someone has posted something vaguely interesting, and the only item people like your statuses or interact with one your posts is when you post a picture of your cat!
So I’m streamlining my accounts. Yeah I know I did a whole post on why I have separate accounts for everything but who knew as things got busier that would mean more work right? Yes I know I need to be less sarcastic but now I’m focusing on one twitter account which means trying to strike the balance between personal and professional without pissing off or boring everyone! Cue stepping back and taking a long hard think about it and maybe not tweet every god damned opinion in my head! This has not worked so far as now my main twitter feed is a mix of crafting and politics and I have an opinion on everything!
Pull back on promoting! This sounds like business suicide but you know I believe that you can over promote stuff. At times like these I look to when I’m customer and what annoys me, you know what too many promo emails! I also looked at my favourite accounts and why they are that way and it’s because they are an interesting mix of personal and professional. It can be done. Variety is the spice of life and all that. I also unsubscribed to a bunch of them mostly to also stop enabling me to buy stuff because let’s face it I’m week and I love a good bargain and pretty things!
Delete accounts/people that I don’t interact or serve me no purpose and by that I’m mostly talking about hyper negative people where there is always something wrong, and never take ownership, negativity disguised as a form of constructive criticism ie they know better that you and make you feel like you’re failing!  Sometimes there is too much external noise and influence and you just need to shut it up. I get in some cases that people are trying to be helpful but sometimes they can just make you feel a little stupid as well!
Figure out what I want to focus on. My Blog, My shop and my Instagram that’s it. They are my three main focuses of my business I want to concentrate on this year. I’ve found FB pages to be a waste of time, unless you got the funds to pay constantly for audience reaches but even then that doesn’t always work. I like twitter but I want to keep it as tool for interacting, socialising and networking, it’s also my go to newsfeed, it’s literally where I find out something major has happened. I haven’t actually read a mainstream newspaper or website in years!! I also use IFTTT to auto post to most of accounts so at least I don’t have to worry about that scheduling stuff too much.
But mostly the next few months I’m going to concentrate getting all my work projects done instead of harping on about how much I have to do instead. I do have a pretty long to do list for this year and I need to test and try as many of these projects as possible to hep me find my focus/area. I will be blogging because I’ve always loved it and I just like to write a bout stuff but it’s not my source of income and for the time being I’m just gonna  keep it my personal blog. Instagram because I like it despite the stupid algorithm, I like taking photos, I like looking at photos, and I like Instastories, though Boomerang makes me feel a little sea sick at times! If you see me procrastinating around on the internet too much feel free to give me a stern reminder that I’m supposed to be working!
I still want to focus some on my time to being a better activist in the things I care about as well, maybe this will now help me to find that time without feeling so overwhelmed.
I’ll let you know how it goes!

Pinch Punch!

September is here and I love it for many reasons, mainly because the mornings are getting cooler and autumn is on it’s way and autumn is my favourite season. I always think of September as more of a new year than January, maybe it’s because of the summer holidays and school starts and so many people starting a new school year etc I kind of use it as a fresh start and have made a massive o do list.

 So I’m tidying up my social media feeds and working on that, trying to spend less time trying to keep up, and spend more time engaging and producing better content. Easier said than done, I know. I realise I didn’t do a July round up but to be honest I haven’t been posting much over the summer months as I kind of lost my Instagram mojo and was too busy working to blog. So I didn’t really post much in August either, so no August round up but I will be posting about our weekend away to Rock en Seine over bank holiday weekend shortly.

So I hope I will be finishing some unfinished projects and actually getting round to blogging about them but also worry less about setting a blogging schedule and concentrate on quality and not quantity, which is the approach I’m taking to a lot of things at the moment especially my work.
Also working on decluttering the flat and my work room and preparing for the busy season ahead, I’m currently in the midst of a epic shooting of stock, so there will be lost of bits and pieces heading to the shop and probably Depop throughout the month.
I really want to start on my new projects (which I’m really excited about) but I also really want to finish all old stuff first, so I don’t end up with an even bigger pile of unfinished stuff!  So that the long and very short of it really, just wanted to pop by and say hi and give a little heads up on what’s going on.
In my next post, I be sharing some photos of a beautiful Japanese garden we visited in the suburbs of Paris.
Do you have any plans for the month?