Year of Claire – December and the year end

I can’t quite believe my Year of Claire project has come to an end. One whole year of focusing on myself and prioritising personal growth. There were highs and lows, lots of laughs and plenty of change.

Before I reflect on the entire year, here’s a little round up of what happened in December!

My work schedule was incredibly hectic for the entire month (more on this later), but I managed a couple of quick catch ups with friends. I visited the Mill Road Winter Fair (that tartiflette was amazing), crocheted a baby blanket for friends and walked Leo for Hannah and Ian.

My job as a Facilities Coordinator was very busy in December! The tech firm I work for were moving to a new office and it was our Department who managed it all and worked on the fit out. As a Department of only 4 people it was a lot of work (250 staff to move!), but a great project to be part of.

We worked long long hours and weekends too, but it was worth it! My boss and I are really proud of the new space. My favourite part of the project was working with a plant contractor and picking furniture for the Library space. Despite the exhaustion and hard graft (we cleared the old office too so I am a pro at chucking stuff in a skip and moving crates now!), I’m grateful to have had the chance to throw myself into work this year.

The day we started to move offices was also our work Christmas do. We decided to pop by for the meal for a couple of hours break, so I got ready in 15 minutes and rushed off to our NYC themed bash. My work colleagues are so much fun, so I was glad to make it for a while.

Jo and I decided to throw a more low key Christmas do for the Cambridge Creatives group this year. We met for drinks and delicious vegetarian meze at Thirsty and Hungry. We got very tiddly on a school night, but it was great to celebrate everyone’s achievements and let our hair down a bit. Even though I’m no longer running my shop. I’m happy I still get to hang out with my creative pals in the city!

Even though I had limited time to get festive this year, Em and I managed to get a tree and I had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off work to spend with family. I watched TV with the pets, saw my Grandad, played games with my cousins and read festive books with my youngest niece.

December was definitely the most hectic month of the entire year.

The Year of Claire project was one where I continued to embrace change and positivity and it felt good. I had a couple of weekends away to Amsterdam and Brighton. I upped my fitness regime and got stronger. I worked on my anxiety through therapy. I moved out of a houseshare into a wonderful flat with Em. I did so much flat pack. I fell in love and had my heart broken. I went on dates and met some great people who opened my mind and heart again. I closed the door on my business and threw myself into work. I got creative for fun again. I spent a lot of time with friends and family making memories. I rode my bike. I went paddleboarding. I flew in a vintage plane over my city. I drank coffee and went for solo brunches. I read books. I ate a lot of ice cream.

I’m hoping 2020 will allow me more time to blog, make, date, and work. I haven’t set any goals yet, but I’ll be taking January to reflect and plan in my new journal.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Last Chance – Claireabellemakes Shop Closing Sunday

After 7 years and my post announcing my shop closure, the time has finally come! The studio doors will close on Claireabellemakes on Sunday 24 March. It’s been a busy month filled with pink postal boxes and sacks of orders and I couldn’t be more grateful! Thank you for all your support – keep reading to see what’s left in the shop.

Closing Down Claireabellemakesf you fancy a little slice of Claireabellemakes positivity from the last of the stock, you can opt for a surprise bundle of goodies for just £10 or £20.

Each bundle will definitely contain a pin and a bicycle decoration, but the rest is a total surprise! Grab your bundle here before Sunday!Surprise Boxes for Claireabellemakes Closing SaleThe Enamel Bicycle pins are still in stock and just £4 each (includes free UK shipping). They have been one of the best sellers since they launched a few years back. Grab one here.

SHOP_ Claireabellemakes closing Sale bike pinsAnd don’t forget, you can stay subscribed to my blog and social channels to see what I get up to from now on!

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Memory Keeping and Celebrating Individuality

In 2017 I decided to record a one second clip of my life every day. The goal was to capture a memory and create a video at the end of the year with all the clips together. At first it was a fun task, trying to find the best part of each day to film and by the end of the year it became a chore and I was starting to feel strange about how repetitive my life appeared to be through this project.

It wasn’t until 31 December 2017 when I created the year long video that I realised how great it was to look back on the year. There were sick days, bike rides, moments that scared me and far too many clips of the cat. Watching the video back gave me a sense of achievement and I realised that no matter how repetitive or ‘boring’ some days seemed, no one else would have a video like it and that it was completely individual.

Since 2018 began, I’ve been reflecting on the previous year (you can read my highlights post here) and thinking about what I’d like to achieve going forward. Naturally we are goal setters in our house and we really enjoy being productive. At least once a week we will have a ‘get shit done’ day where our productive mindsets spur each other on and we chat about personal projects and crack on with all the things we want to achieve.

Not everyone starts the year this way and that’s OK. Lots of people have the January blues and find it hard to get going. It is tax return month after all and like many I leave it til the last minute and procrastinate a bit! Some people like to leave their Christmas decorations up and keep the relaxed festive vibe going for as long as possible. And some people don’t enjoy the ‘new year, new you’ vibe and prefer to celebrate who they already are and focus on that instead.

What is great about life is that we can all chose our own mindset and approach to the new year. Individuality is what makes people interesting. I shared on Instagram stories recently that I had experienced a rather judgy week on social media with lots of people vocalising their opinions on how one should start the new year. My posts received so many responses that many of you felt the same frustrations as me and that you want to do your own thing.

My hope is that social media doesn’t become the place where we are told how to begin our year or live our best life. Not everyone has the confidence or self esteem to brush these kinds of things off. One person responded that they were worried about sharing their 2018 goals blog post for fear of judgement about goal setting  or ‘resolutions’.  (For the record they are planning to publish the post as it feels right for them). Another said she was leaving her Christmas decorations up for a while despite judgement and my response was ‘good for you’.

So the first week of January has been a strange one on social media. My plan is to be kind and to celebrate individuality. I have set goals for 2018 and I am pleased about that. If you haven’t and you are not going to – so be it! We are all different. However you choose to start the year, I hope it is happy and you make some good memories along the way.

I’ll be taking a break from the 1 Second Everyday app this year and starting a creative memory keeping journal. If you’re interested I’ll share some of it along the way.

How do you like to start your year?

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Bank Holiday Happiness

Well would you believe it, it’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and the sun is shining! I’m looking for positivity this weekend after a tough week for our country. I’ll be spending time with friends, having a date night with G who has been away this week for work, and of course working on some new goodies for the shop!

This weekend I’m also having a sale in my Etsy shop yay! Just use the code MAYBANKHOL for 15% off everything. A great time to stock up on cards and gifts or maybe even a treat for yourself.SHOP- Bank Holiday sale & giveawayALSO I HAVE NEWS OF A GIVEAWAY! I have teamed up with the lovely folks at Sew Magazine for a big giveaway and I’m thrilled about it. There are 10 of the SEW necklaces up for grabs in their competition. All you have to do is complete this form to be in with a chance of winning one.
SEW-NecklaceWhat are you planning to do this weekend to stay positive? I better run, I’ve got to get to the post office and send out your lovely orders and of course grab a coffee to start my day. Happy weekend!

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What’s Happening Around Here?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Thinking about the business and what direction I want to take it in. Thinking about what I value in life and who I want around me. Thinking about all the drama that has been surrounding blogging and social media. I thought I’d share what has been happening around here because I’ve come to some conclusions and it’s always helpful for me to write them here on the blog – my online journal if you like.

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I want to do less to get more

I have decided to refocus Claireabellemakes to bring it back to what it originally was in 2012! Rather than doing all.the.things, I’m going to focus on products and the blog. That’s it. I’ve ended freelance contracts and finally made the decision to retire Cambridge Craft Parties. I did feel sad at first (because how much fun were they and who doesn’t love buying party supplies and creating with others?!), but I know it’s the right thing to do. They needed a lot of work to make them more profitable and in my heart I was more drawn towards designing products. That’s not to say I wont run workshops in the future, but it was time to say goodbye to the parties.

I’m not giving up freelance work all together, I’m just being way more selective and only working on things I really believe in and enjoy. I’m not going to lie, this part has been scary. Especially as it has meant letting go of income when the landlord just increased our rent!

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I don’t want to stress about social media

There has been a lot of drama about social media lately (Instagram bots, algorithms, etc) and I kind of don’t care about it. I did join an Instagram pod because I was curious to see what would happen (I like experimenting), but actually I now use it to keep connected with my favourite creatives and I really don’t care about numbers or engagement anymore. I care that people enjoy my posts online and that maybe they will like my designs enough to purchase something. I care that I am part of a community that supports one another – I certainly don’t care about getting on the Explore page of Instagram or getting  a ‘blue tick’ to become verified. After all – what does that really mean? My main goal is to enjoy social media without analysing. It’s always been fun for me and I want to keep it that way.

I know why I am doing this and what I am now

Being reflective these last few months has reaffirmed why I want to have a creative job like this. Ultimately it’s to live a happy life and to make money. That’s it. I’m not looking for validation or for anything else – I just want to be creative and live a nice life. Pretty simple really.

I now feel like a designer maker. For years I didn’t want to use the term for myself and that’s OK. The imposter syndrome has left the building and I finally feel confident to tell people “I run my own business designing products and writing a creative blog”. Self doubt still happens every now and again, but it’s way less often now.

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So what’s next?

I’m working on new designs. I’m streamlining the business as well as my physical ‘stuff’ in the studio. Doing fewer things means I can do them really really well. I’m working on wholesale plans. I’m working on a new website design with a shop. I’m meeting creative friends regularly. I’m creating community and attending face-to-face meet ups where I can.

In a physical sense, I’ve probably got less to show for my business since I quit my full-time job last Autumn. However, in an emotional sense, there is more clarity than ever. I just needed the head space and time to figure it all out.

I’m grateful I have had the chance to try so many things. It has helped me determine what I want my brand to be and I’ve learnt a lot. Letting the business evolve from nothing has been so valuable and I’m ready for the next steps now!

Wish me luck…..and thanks for reading my brain dump today 😉 What’s new with you?

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