Roz has such an inspiring story to share with us at a difficult time when so many around us are struggling. 2020 was a challenging year for Roz and she explains how hitting rock bottom helped to bring up back up again and build herself a business that she is completely passionate about.
Hi Roz can you introduce your wonderful business to us?
I own The BIG Jewellery Company, where I design and make big beautiful jewellery and sell this alongside well chosen accessories including scarves.
How old were you when you started your business and how long have you been running it for?
I am 41 and started my business back in September 2020 having never owned my own business before. I left the NHS after 14 years in 2018 and went to work as a Client Manager for a private care company, which I very much enjoyed...it was the first time in 14 years I'd not had to wear a uniform and could express myself through outfits and accessories, which has always been something I've loved to do.
So 14 years in the NHS - what made you take the leap into starting your own business?
Back in January 2020 I experienced a breakdown, following several years of emotional trauma which I hadn't fully dealt with, compacted by the busy work/life balance that had occurred over time (I was working full time and I have a 10 year old daughter, whose father lives in Northern Ireland). Having been signed off work by my GP, I took the very difficult decision to leave my job in April 2020 and by this time I was in weekly counselling and knew I had a long recovery ahead of me.
Running my own business wasn't on the radar at this point and the idea of getting back to work was incredibly daunting and I would say somewhat hampering my recovery as the thought of even going for an interview made me very anxious. At this point I had applied for universal credit (just before the first lockdown) and the Job Centre have been amazing, offering free courses to build my confidence, strengths and creative ideas, allocating me a Work Coach who talked me through my options regarding employment. They could either help me with getting interviews for jobs, or they could refer me to another organisation under their New Enterprise Scheme, which supports people to set up their own business, including writing a business plan, having approved my initial idea. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands...the idea of going back to work for someone else and back to the daily grind was too much, setting up my own business just felt right, a no brainer.
Initially I wanted to do something with wellness, for obvious reasons. I have a diploma in aromatherapy so was thinking about how I could expand on that. The ideas raced around my head for weeks, morphing into new things over and over. Then the penny dropped! For me, jewellery has always been something I have used as a form of armour, if I have big bold pieces on it gives me strength, makes me feel like I can face anything and gives me a sense of calm, of grounding.
I have found it more and more difficult over the years to source the type of jewellery I was after on the high street, either that or it was far too expensive. Costume jewellery all the way! Scouring charity shops for preloved pieces has always excited me. I want to stand out (without being seen...I have chronic anxiety, it's kind of an oxymoron!). So, I thought huh, why not make it myself!? I started sketching ideas - earrings first, then one thing lead to another and before I knew it I had ordered my first lot of materials and was actually creating my own designs - it was such a buzz!
You've really had such an incredible journey. What did you find hard in the beginning?
To start with, self doubt was the hardest thing. I loved my designs and my finished pieces but that didn't mean anyone else would, let alone part with their hard earned cash for them. It brought a lot of anxiety into the mix, which I guess is natural, after all each piece I created was a piece of me, which made it an entirely personal affair. Also the competition is fierce out there, although I did find comfort in my designs being unlike any other.
What surprised you most about starting your own business?
I have to say I have been so surprised at how easy I have found starting up my own business, I guess the key is to find something that sets your soul alight and to not be afraid to ask for help, or accept it when offered! Creating beautiful jewellery which makes people feel empowered, along with accessories too - you have to love what you do in order to set up a business, it won't work otherwise.
It feels like you've really found your calling! What would you do differently?
If I was to do anything differently I guess it would have been to realise the dream sooner, however I truly feel this all came at the right time for me and probably would never have come to be had it not have been for counselling - getting rid of that excess emotional baggage, allowing my creativity to come to the fore. It really has become part of my recovery.
This is what I am so passionate about - not only creating a brand but empowering women through what they wear and how it makes them feel. Getting dressed is form of self care and expression - that's what makes me feel good inside, along with creating this business from scratch, with little or no funds, on my own, just me, BOOM!!
What is something that's made you proud in the last 12 months?
Looking back over the past 12 months is quite an emotional experience - from breakdown, to unemployment, to hitting rock bottom, to counselling, to grabbing every opportunity going to help me to find myself and get back to work. Sitting here now, a very different and much improved version of myself, with my own business - that is what I am so incredibly proud of.
What advice would you give to someone who has been dreaming of starting their own business later in life, but has been holding back?
If anyone is thinking of starting their own business but thinks it is too late - it's never too late. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. What's the worse that can happen - it's not what you thought it would be, so you go back to the drawing board...or, it could be the best thing you've ever done. Find something that sets you alight, be prepared to put the work in, do your research, seek and accept help where needed, by all means listen to people's opinions but don't be put off by the negative ones (people love to tell you what they think, the good the bad and the very ugly!) and JUST. KEEP. GOING.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Looking ahead to the next 12 months I'd like to expand on my designs to include some wire work. I'd like to become more of a name locally and beyond for the unique pieces I create. Once we are allowed, I'd like to do more markets so I can interact with my customers face to face and show the world what I have created. Ultimately the goal by September 2021 is to make this my full time job so I no longer need to rely on universal credit. My number one job is to make sure my Etsy shop is fully stocked!!
If you want to find out more about Roz & her gorgeous pieces you can find her 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
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