Self-confessed stationery addict and first time business owner Lizzie tells us how she has turned her passion of journaling into a business and how important it is to invest in yourself and believe you can do it.
This interview is part of our It's Never Too Late series, championing women regardless of age, to follow their big, bold ambitions.
Hey Lizzie, we're so pleased to meet you, can you start with telling us how old you were when you started your business?
Hello! I was 57 when I started.
So, tell us about your business, what's it called and what do you do?
My business is called Redheadwondering, or to give it it’s full title, Redheadwondering Hand Bound Books
I create hand bound journals, using original cyanotype prints for the covers. Cyanotype is a very old form of alternative photography, where you use the sun (UV rays) to develop prints. I use wildflowers from the local hedgerows, as well as flowers from my garden, as the subjects for the prints. It’s a wonderful process … a little science, a little bit alchemy! Every print is completely unique, meaning that every journal or sketchbook or album that I create is a one-off.
How long have you been running this business for?
I’ve only been in business for a few months really. I had sold one or two books privately, but my Etsy shop only went live in September 2020.
Had you run your own business before this?
Nope! I’ve never run a business of any kind before. I’ve worked my whole life, but never for myself.
So what made you take the leap into running your own business?
I did an online challenge with a Business Coach who only works with women over 45. It was all about setting up your “dream” business, and imagining how it would be to actually be your own boss. I realised that being my own boss was exactly what I wanted to be, and that I really wanted to be making a living doing something that I love, something creative.
Moira (Moira Doherty – the Business Coach) had us describe our perfect day, 12 months in the future, when our businesses were a success. I realised that what I want more than anything is to NOT be going out to an office job every day, and that what I DO want is to be creating art and books, at home, and making a good incoming doing that.
So I decided to invest in myself and enrol in a 10 month business course with Moira, to get the coaching I need to make my business a success.
Sometimes you need to invest to get things rolling. What did you find hard in the beginning?
Well, I’m still right at the beginning, and a lot of it is hard! But it’s also exciting. And it’s fun and I’m enjoying it. It’s stretching me in ways I never expected to be stretched, especially at a time of my life when others my age may be thinking of winding down towards retirement.
I guess the hardest thing was believing in myself enough to take the leap and invest in business training.
At the moment, my business outgoings far outweigh my income, but I am trusting in the process and I am trusting in myself. I believe that my product is of value.
The other hard thing is the time that I’m having to put in. I am still working full-time and will have to continue to do so until my business starts to give me a regular income equal to or greater than my current salary. Effectively, I’m doing two full-time jobs at once! But again, because I love creating the books and journals, and I’m excited at the prospect of having a successful business, I seem to be finding the energy!
What surprised you most about starting your own business?
I think the most surprising thing so far has been how much small businesses these days rely on social media. It’s all about posting content, showing up consistently, selling yourself. And that doesn’t come that easily to me … the “selling myself” thing. I guess like an awful lot of women of my generation, I wasn’t brought up to “blow my own trumpet” (wow, I just heard my mother’s voice in my head then telling me to “stop showing off”!).
There is a flip side though...I’m very pleasantly surprised at just how many amazing and inspirational women I have connected with online.
I think there is a huge movement out there, a quiet revolution if you will, of women who want to take control of their own lives and income.
Women like me, who don’t have a big pension pot and who don’t want to be a wage slave for another 15 or 20 years...been there, done that for nearly 40 years, wore the damn tee shirt out decades ago! We want to make our own money on our own terms.
Honestly, I am so fed up with working in a man’s world, where sexism and misogyny are still rife, where women are still treated like second class citizens. I want to be my own boss, I want to call the shots in my own life.
That is powerful stuff right there Lizzie. As you're settling into running on your own business is there anything you would do differently?
I’d have started much earlier! I’d have believed in myself years ago.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about my life! I’ve had a pretty tough life, what with one thing and another, but at the age of 48 I fell in love with the love of my life, and at 50 I got married! After 25 years of struggle and heartache, I finally got to be happy and I love it! I laugh all the time (not in a crazy way!!)..my husband and I just have so much fun. We both love words, reading and writing them (we share house space with thousands and thousands of books!).
We both love photography. We live in the most beautiful place...Wiltshire, with its lush rolling landscape...it’s the perfect place for photographers to live.
And our shared love of words is a huge passion for both of us. He is an author, and I am a keeper of journals. It’s what got me into my business in the first place. I learned how to make hand bound books initially, so that I could make my own journals. As a self-confessed stationery addict and as someone who has written a journal pretty much every day for over 20 years, I love to have beautiful books to write in.
I would really love to be able to encourage other women to write. Journaling is so good for your mental well-being.
What makes you feel good inside?
Wandering around the lanes and byways of Wiltshire, that makes me feel very good inside. It’s so beautiful here. It’s a real balm to the soul.
And, at the risk of sounding cliched, it makes me feel good to make other people feel good. I love to be able to support and encourage other women. As I said earlier, I have connected with so many wonderful artists and craftswomen and makers on Instagram and Facebook lately and I love to cheer them on and applaud their work. All my Christmas presents this year (including several presents to myself!) were bought from independent small business. I love to give them rave reviews. I love to tell other women when I think that they’re brilliant. We’re all so good at putting ourselves down, I think it’s time we started to cheer each other on.
What is something that's made you proud in the last 12 months?
I think when I made my first sale on Etsy, I felt pretty proud of myself. Then when I received a glowing review from the buyer, I was quite pleased with myself too! I also did my first Facebook Live a couple of weeks ago, which scared the bejesus out of me, even though it was in a private group...I was quite proud of doing that. It was a huge hurdle for me to leap over.
What advice would you give to someone who has been dreaming of starting their own business later in life, but has been holding back?
I would say, GO FOR IT! But I would also say, get some coaching or training with someone you feel you can trust. There are thousands of business coaches out there, but they’re not all the right fit for a women in “later life”. There are a lot of scarily gorgeous women, who look like they’ve just walked out of a Beverley Hills salon, or a session with their personal trainer, who talk about funnels and making 50K a month and doing reels and lives and launches and generating leads...don’t get lost in all of that. Find the right coach for you, someone who “gets” you, who understands what it’s like to be a woman in her 40s or 50s or 60s, setting up a business.
Finally Lizzie, what are your goals for the next 12 months?
Short term, I want to get my website up and running and I want to start selling through that. That’s my goal for the coming 3 to 6 months. My goal for the next 6 to 12 months is to be generating a consistent income greater than my current salary so that I can “retire” from work and work on my business full-time.
If you want to find out more about Lizzie here are her contact details:
Take a look at Lizzie's Etsy shop here.
It's Never Too Late
Once thing we hear a lot from women over 40 is "I'd love to do x,y,z but it's just too late now". It's not. It never, ever is. We started this series as a way to encourage more women to follow their dreams and ambitions regardless of how many years they've been on the planet!
If you've got a story to tell you can contact us on Emma@Womenwd.co.uk