Welcome to 2015.

posted in: Business, New Year | 4

I wish my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015. I hope you all survived the festive days and are not too hung-over. We celebrated Christmas last year in Cologne with my dad and sister. It was a relaxed affair and one highlight was definitely my sister’s cat Dusty, who is just such a cutie pie – she’s the same age as our Bobby, but has way more energy. She is very different in character, very cuddly and playful. It was so lovely when she jumped on our bed for lots of cuddles – she has super soft and silky and fluffy fur.

My sister's cat Dusty 2014 - copyright Paul White
My sister’s cat Dusty 2014 – copyright Paul White
Dusty close up - copyright Paul White
Dusty close up – copyright Paul White

I also bought more cookie cutters for my jewellery designs from my favourite stall on the Neumarkt Christmas market as you can see below.

Some of my new cookie cutters I bought in Cologne - copyright Helen White
Some of my new cookie cutters I bought in Cologne – copyright Helen White

And I visited my friend Nathan and his family – which is always nice – and yes they also have a cute cat called Maya.
We also visited my gran and my aunt was there with her cat Findus. Unfortunately her cat Pippa died last year and poor Findus was still grieving and rather thin. He’s a gorgeous black cat.
So as you can see – despite being separated from our moggie this Christmas we met and played with a lot of cats- which meant I didn’t miss our Bobby as much.
I don’t know about you, but I am glad to leave 2014 behind. You see I had a lot of plans last year –and some of them came to fruition.
So here are the things I got off the ground:

  • I revamped my journalism website www.hkpress.co.uk and included my brand new German tuition service. So far I have one long term business client, so this year I am hoping to get more clients, who want to German via Skype or face-to-face.
  • I also created my first video tutorials for YouTube and received a lot of positive feedback and views. It was quite a learning curve to make these and I am hoping I will get better and being able to film myself without the help of my husband.
  • And for the first time in years we managed to go on a proper holiday. We went to Menorca – Cala Galdana and stayed in a fab hotel with great food, comfy beds and an awesome hydrotherapy/ spa area. The climate and the hydrotherapy pool helped my shoulders a lot and for one week I was pain free. Unfortunately that didn’t last long.

Which brings me to the tough bit of last year – I was finally given an official diagnosis for what I have been dealing with most of my life (well since the age of 17) – Hypermobility Syndrome ( you can find more info of this condition here: of the shoulders (that and bursitis of the left shoulder – which is incredibly painful). My pain got really bad this year and this meant I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do:

  • I had to lay off making new things for a while due to the disabling pain.
  • And I couldn’t write much. I started out 2014 with the intention of writing a new blog post at least once a week, but that plan fell apart in the summer and my posts got more sporadic. As I also have two blogs to create content for (my journalism website has a blog, which I have also neglected) it’s also harder to keep up with both.
  • I had to change the way I work and adjust my work space – which I also wrote about here. My mini keyboard you can see in that post has died after only eight months in service. So I told the supplier and got a refund as they don’t stock them anymore. So just before the New Year I ordered a new one I am using now. Ideally I have a standing desk as that’s supposed to be good for posture.
    I also bought a motor for my pasta machine. It’s very noisy and I don’t think our cat likes it very much, but it works a treat and should help me to condition clay without using the crank.
  • I also invested in the LC Slicer which I have yet to use more often. Unfortunately the blade fell off after a few uses and I had to glue it back on, but Lucy Clay, the company I bought it from, sent me instructions and a new blade I can screw on, so I will use the old blade first until it’s knackered and then use the new one.
  • Sanding is very painful for my shoulder (I am left handed and it’s the left shoulder which is affected badly) so I created a sanding tool for myself – which I will show you in another blog post (I haven’t sorted out the photos for that one).

So I hope that all these little changes will help. I am still looking for more ways to improve the way I work.
Last year I started a course run by Nicola Smith from A Handcrafted Business. It’s called “Teach your craft online” and it does what it says on the tin. It’s the first time she runs this course. I have been thinking of teaching my craft for a while so jumped at the chance. The course is very good and useful. Nicola teaches you everything you need to know to get your course online from planning a course/class/club to creating the website and marketing. What set my plans back a little are the stupid EU Vat regulations which come into force this month. It caused a massive outcry among small business owners and rightly so – as it’s just another stupid EU law which is seemingly designed to stifle businesses. While the intention was to go after the big guys, Amazon and co, they haven’t thought things through and ignored the small businesses. Basically they want all business owners who sell digital products to charge VAT – which requires a lot of extra work and double accounting (great if you earn loads and just source this work out to an accountant, a pain when you can’t). Anyway you can read all about this new law and its implications here – and also sign the petition and share it – because charging VAT means also that everything gets more expensive – and the plan is to extend the law to physical goods, which is even worse for us.
The UK has one of the most generous VAT exemptions – currently it’s £81k per year. It would be nice if they would keep this exemption for small businesses.
Anyway in view of the fact that we all don’t know what’s happening – if they will go through with it or listen to us small business owners – I have shelved my plans – though I will start working on tutorials nevertheless and learn the ropes of creating quality videos and pdfs. This involves a lot of experimenting with clay and takes time.
Other plans for this year involve:

  • Finding new PR clients
  • Teaching more students German
  • Finally using my Stampmaker kit to create my own texture plates.
  • Start painting/drawing more.
  • Start sculpting with clay.
  • Find new more worthwhile opportunities for selling my ways offline (it’s been really bad last year and it’s really tricky to find good selling venues in Cardiff and the surrounding area).
  • Time and money allowing – I would like to revamp my website.
  • I would also love a kiln so I can work with enamels and PMC.

 

So as you can see – lots of plans and ideas for this year.
Let’s see how much I can realistically achieve.
And that’s it for now. Thanks for reading and getting this far – this post got a bit  longer than I thought it would. 🙂
How was your 2014? What are your plans for 2015? Let me know in the comments below.

4 Responses

  1. Sylvia Plummer
    | Reply

    Happy New Year, Helen

    Sorry to hear of all your health problems. I have pain too so I know what it’s like. Here’s hoping to a happy, health 2015. Love, Sylvia, Derby Branch

    • Helen White
      | Reply

      Thanks Sylvia – all the best for you too – and the cats of course.

  2. Nicola
    | Reply

    Thank you for the mention Helen.

    Online Courses with a live tutor element are exempt from VATMOSS … so courses are a go 😀

    • Helen White
      | Reply

      Thanks for clearing that up. Maybe I will go online this year after all 🙂

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