In my last post, we left off with me standing in my kitchen in the dead of night, swearing to myself, our dishwasher and the stars above that I’d take charge of my life.
What happened next?
I got called a pushy, money-hungry bitch on Twitter.
Anthony and I had made some changes by this point. We’d moved to Scotland, got married and continued to work as actors.
When Anthony landed a regular role in a TV show, we used the money to open Merry + Bright – a bricks-and-mortar store selling stationery, clothing and homeware with a relaxed and happy style.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely that first year and, as far as we could tell, so did our customers.
But…there weren’t enough of them.
All the money from the shop was going back into the business. We were flat broke and living with my parents.
The creative side of our business was no problem. We felt completely at home there. But marketing?
So I had the bright idea of hiring a marketing consultant.
If we didn’t know how to get more people through the door, we’d pay someone to do it for us.
The professional we chose – let’s call her Phoebe – came highly recommended. She said she’d prepare a roadmap, written for our specific business, which would tell us precisely how to attract the customers we needed.
Her fee was eye-watering. We scraped and borrowed until we could pay.
We also handed over all our notes – mind-maps, to-do lists, customer profiles, snippets of copy I’d thrown together.
Our business might be frustratingly stuck…
…but at least we could kit this clever person out with all the information and ideas we could muster, then sit back as she solved our problem.
So imagine our horror and pain when six weeks later, we didn’t have our roadmap and Phoebe had stopped replying to our emails.
The due date had come and gone. Anthony was frantic. I was so ashamed I’d got us into this.
One day, having just left another pleading voicemail for Phoebe, I looked her up on Twitter.
She was roasting me at the British Museum.
Apparently on a daytrip with her kids, she was subtweeting the hell out of me for the amusement of her followers.
She said I was a “pushy, entitled, money-hungry bitch.”
She said she shouldn’t have to deal with my insane demands during her family time. Didn’t I know she had children and they always, always came first?
Her friends were chiming in with “So sorry, hun” and “#clientfromhell.”
I literally crawled under the desk and sobbed.
A few days later, she contacted us by email and grudgingly agreed to send us a £200 partial refund plus the roadmap, even though writing it would mean her staying up all night.
We agreed. We downloaded the roadmap and opened it up.
She’d just rewritten our notes. There wasn’t one new idea in there.
We closed up, went home and unlocked my dad’s wine cupboard.
Our experience with Phoebe stopped me in my tracks.
Her tweets set off my old shame and fear like a match in a fireworks factory. Her cut-throat behaviour made me question whether I was cut out for business.
But the real shock to my system was being called money-hungry. That gave me a gigantic jolt and here’s why:
She was absolutely right.
Slumped on our Cabernet-spotted couch that night, it finally sunk into me:
I’d been a starving artist for over a decade.
That didn’t begin to describe the hollow, burning feeling inside of me. I was out-of-my-mind famished for the safety, freedom and peace that money can bring.
Waiting for someone else to fix it had been a horrible failure.
So if I was going to live the rollicking, wildly creative life I wanted, I had to get my hands dirty. I couldn’t say “Bluuurgh” or “I don’t know how” to marketing any more.
I had to figure out how feed myself delicious, satisfying cash.
How did I do that?
Stay tuned and I’ll tell you!
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