#IWD2022 Watch Me Bloom: Jody Appleton
Redundancy in the pandemic was a turning point for Jody and she decided to finally invest in her dream, use her product design degree and run a small scale design and laser fabrication business.
Her practice produces a wide range of products, from jewellery, homewares, signage to corporate branded goods and more. Over the past 2 years she has collaborated with artists, brands and seen her jewellery appear on the ears of celebs on TV. The business focuses mainly on commission-led briefs, an online shop and retail wholesale.
The aim in 2022 is to expand into running courses and teach people how to create their own laser cut creations.
What are the biggest lessons you've learned over your career?
Get a good accountant, they are worth every penny. Especially if, as a woman you plan on having any children whilst self employed. You need to have paid enough national insurance contributions over a specified time period in order to claim statutory maternity pay. A good accountant will advise you on how to structure your company / business based on possible eventualities like this. Tax is complicated, if you are going to outsource any part of your workload, this is the one that should save you money and headaches long term and evade any nasty surprises.
Having your own business might afford you more flexibility of time, but don't mistake this for amount of time. Switching off and and putting firm boundaries in place between work and home is as hard if not harder than a stressful employed role but essential for mental health. You have to be very strict with yourself (I say, typing this at 9pm on a saturday 🤣).
Not to be afraid to turn work away if your gut instinct is saying it's going to take you off in a direction you don't really want to head in. This is such a hard thing to do when you are self employed and starting out, you tend to say yes to everything.
When you made this change, what helped you through the process?
Careers coaching was one of the best investments I ever made in myself. I always wanted to run my own business, but it can be scary to make that leap, especially if you are not a dual income household and have dependents.
Careers coaching is a brilliant way to do a lot of exploration of both of your ideas but also the logistics to get those ideas off the ground without getting into a financial pickle. (Always go to someone that has invested in their coaching qualifications - such as Seb Randall. It's not a protected title so anyone can call themselves a business coach and be a complete grifter)
How did you make the change working for yourself?
I started making the change back in 2015 when I was a single mum, so planned for a longer road due to finances. I went down to 4 days a week in employment by moving jobs, and dedicated my Fridays to going to an open access community "Fab Lab" to learn how to use a laser cutter. I also got up an hour earlier than my toddler every day and dedicated that hour to doing a free online Adobe illustrator course.
Then I sold my car and bought a clapped out van, saved up enough money for 3 months worth of bills, quit my job and spent the next 5 years working either freelance or part time in media whilst designing and learning to work with the laserable materials around that.
By the time I became a media casualty of the pandemic, I decided not to try and pick up any more freelance work and use my savings to buy my own laser and rent a little art studio.
Just as I left my employed role back in 2015 I got pregnant and threw a baby shaped spanner into the works (Wasn't on the business plan). It's important to acknowledge that whilst having a baby slowed my path down, becoming a dual income household with my partner provided extra financial flexibility in pursuing my ideas.
What kept you motivated during the period of change?
At the time I knew a lot of people in the industry that were not really enjoying their careers but had no idea what else they would do.
I figured that even if I didn't leave media, if I had an exit strategy in place I could avoid getting into that headspace.