Think we all love this time of year when we see new life and colour in our lives, buds and blossom on trees, lambs in the fields, bulbs and shoots poking heads through the earth, and we have even managed to catch a glimpse of the sun between showers and cold winter winds.
Working from home you can feel very isolated at times, even in a lovely workshop and such beautiful countryside it can be difficult to remain focused and motivated. It can also be quite difficult to make sure you get enough exercise. So as you may know already, I do split my day up with a bit of cycling when the weather is fair. Over the winter i have grabbed a few hours during the day while there is daylight however now that spring is here I can now go out in the evenings too. It has made me a little bit fitter, clears my head, helps me deal with lifes little stresses and lets me know that there is a world outside my workshop which is very beautiful here in the Scottish Borders. Great inspiration which I have needed past few months as I have been challenged to develop some new products and handbag designs.
This one as you can see is very cute and remains nameless so that will be one of my challenges over the coming weeks.
There are another two new handbags styles now in my collection and a purse which I hope to get online very soon .
So although I have had a quiet start to the year it has been very challenging but productive in my workshop. Just wondering now where the next few months will take me.
You can view all my most current products and even buy them from my on line shop http://julia-cunningham.co.uk/
Have you ever really thought about your handbag and how it is so important to you, in fact even the men in our lives are finding they cant live without them. This is usually brought home to us when we missplace them or loose them, you know that feeling when your heart just drops. Your whole life was in there, your house keys, your car keys, your purse with your money and cards to access all your funds in the bank and now our I pads and phones are in there too. They really are full of all our stuff that represent our lives.
Some people spend thousands on a designer handbags others have a different one for every outfit, occassion and time of year and then there are those who more or less make do with a couple until they wear out.There are so many shapes and styles and ways to carry them its incredible.
But they all do the same job carry and protect our valuable “stuff” that we hide in our bags. That bag of sweets, the childerns tissues, a spare pair of tights, makeup, photographs of the childern or a loved one, Books, telephone numbers, bike parts? scissors, plastic shopping bags, receipts, wet wipes, pens, diaries, girly stuff, etc etc.
They carry around our hidden lives, secrets, they are little spaces that are belong to us that we dont often let others into. People can admire them from the outside and can only guess whats hidden inside.
Whats secrets are you carrying around with you?
Its been a cold and dreich January thats for sure, when the sun has failed to break through the cloud and storms have hit us one after another. Being an optomist I still know that the sun is still there and is just building up its strength for our spring and summer. I think we have had a few reminders. However a apart from going into a cold workshop in the mornings it means there has been no excuse not to get on with some work.
So thats what I have been doing slowely and gradually coming up with my new “Funky” Range of bags which is a big acheivement for me as I have wanted to put script on to my bags for some years now and 2016 has seen me accoumplish this. So hopefully they will go down well.
I have managed to sort out most of my website and hope you think it is now more informative , easier to navigate and looking a lot fresher.
I also have lots of new bags in my online shop. If you havent popped over yet you must have a wee look.
So the the long cold dark days have been put to good use. It has of course not all been hard work I have managed just a couple of bike rides which I do use to clear my head and for inspiration and when you work from home it is a great way of keeping fit!!
So now with new challenges ahead of me this month I have to make two new style bags and a purse as well as keeping my accounts and blog up to date. I have also signed up for a 55 mile cycle from Glasgow to Edinburgh in September so that is going to mean grabbing all that sunshine that will pop through and putting it to good use.
So lets go full steam ahead into February 2016.
I have decided to call this post Challenge as I reflect back over 2015 and look ahead to 2016. When I look back I realise that this time last year. I was probably in the same situation as I am today. Wondering what 2016 will hold for me or throw at me, where it will take me and how will I rise to meet the challenges on the way.
2015 saw me make a decision not to attend the Trade Fair in January that I always do. A big decision as its how I get a lot of my work. However I felt I needed to look again at my business and take some time to reflect. However although this started well, when I looked at rebranding and did some courses. An oppertunity then came my way a very large order to export to Japan, with an invite to attend the British Fair in Hakata and Osaka and demonstrate scarf and bag making. So a huge decision but an opportunity of a lifetime. Of course I had to go. Huge challenges were then faced, completing orders, meeting deadlines organising passports and Money, Clothing and organinsing family, leaving family behind. The list was endless mainly because I havent travelled abroad for 25 years and never on my own. Anyway I must have completed all the challenges including 6 flights because I did find myself in a hotel in Hakata,on a bullit train and in the centre of Osaka. Japan is amazing especially if you come from a small village in the Scottish Borders and find yourself in a huge city. The people are lovely and very welcoming, it was a great honour to be invited and I had the most amazing time. The family also seemed to scrape by without me.
So that was not my only challenge of the year but it was the biggest and what helped me cope with the stresses of each week was more or less giving up alcohol and and heading out on my bike instead. Which really does make you feel good and clears your head.I am missing this desperately at the moment due to the weather, and no I havent turned to alcohol but to knitting in these dark wintery evenings.
So 2016 isnt going to hang around and wait for me to get started. Its here and swiftley moving forward. I know I have challenges to face this year both in my home and business life including how to move my business forward again. So I will hopefully rise to those challenges that are thrown my way and I am sure that I have learned and grown stronger from those Challenges I have already faced. I thank everyone who supports me and helps me pull through.
Dont you just love April. I do there are holidays, its my Birthday, its Easter, its Spring, the weather is usually quite good after a long winter and we see new growth in the gardens, lots of colour and baby lambs.
Its been a good time to take a wee step back from my business and refocus. I now have a few new products in store Wee Bowlies and a new much larger bag . More larger Bowlies are in the pipe line as are some notebook covers.
As well as new products I have a friend who is helping me to bring all my branding together so by the end of May I should hopefully have some new labels developed.
There are still challenges and decisions to be made before the end of the month, as I need to make decisions about events I might like to attend in the coming year.
I also did a lovely project this month where I received some fabric from a family whose Mum had died and in return I had the girls over to choose bag styles and choose fabric and buttons from my studio. They had a great time raking and choosing. The bags are now made and hopfully they will enjoy them.
I do have a real sense of being Scottish this was brought home to me when I lived for a shortwhile over the Border, infact quite a bit over the Border, down in Berkshire which is really beautiful and very pretty. However it never really felt like home. I used to drive back to my dads and as soon as I reached the Hills of the Scottish Borders it would feel much more like home. It was rougher landscape, beautiful but open and not quite as pretty, but it always felt like I belonged here when I reached those hills and the landscape and architecture changed. I do wonder if thats why I love working in all the Scottish tartans and tweeds. Its about belonging and that sense of being grounded in the history and culture, Both the tradional and the modern. I love working with fabrics that are beautiful and reflect the countryside around us, but which have been made for hunderds of years and have sustained generations before me.
Countdown to Scotlands Autumn Trade fair on the 22nd and 23rd of September is now on. Have worked most of the weekend making some sparkly Fairies. Now I need to get some bags made.
Remember to register to come and visit the show.