Hello, Gorgeous! Can you believe we’re here celebrating my 11 years in business right now?!
2020 has, without a doubt, been the hardest year of my business – even topping year one, when I decided it would be a great idea to become self-employed during a recession(!) Between Covid-19 and impending #FullBrexit, I have cried more tears in the last twelve months than I probably have in my entire life. Watching a successful career, that I have grown and nurtured over more than a decade, struggle under the uncertainty of international work/trade, endless lockdown restrictions, exclusion from all government support government and suggestions that I should get a ‘better job’, has sent me through the seven stages of grief more times than I can actually keep count of. And yet… here I am. More resilient (or stubborn?) than I give myself credit for. Still determinedly fighting for my art, my creativity, my passion. Because I know this is where I belong – and when things get tough, we humans need creativity more than ever. So, with that in mind, here are a few beautiful experiences to come out of 2020 I’d love to highlight…
Firstly, in April, STRIP/TEASE became an award-winning book! Based in Michigan, US, the Independent Publisher Book Awards (also known as the “IPPYs”) are an annual event that aims to bring increased recognition to exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles. When a bottle of champagne turned up at my door one weekend from Working Class Publishing with the announcement that STRIP|TEASE placed bronze in the 2020 Performing Arts category, it was a double whammy of joy that led to me bouncing, singing and dancing around the house for the entire weekend! As I’ve said previously, publishing a book has always been a life goal of mine and to have created something I’m so proud of, accompanied by this level of industry recognition, is beyond what I ever could have hoped or dreamed.
Another huge achievement to have come out of 2020 is my Virtual Boudoir Shoots, which were designed to help us connect, celebrate and create beautiful art together. What started out as the humble Facetime shoot has been elevated over the last 9 months to offer a range of connectivity options, including full RAW files capability through DSLR cameras. This means that if you have access to a compatible DSLR at home, it is now possible for me to provide the exact same quality of images to my clients as I can in real life – from my studio in Hertfordshire to anywhere in the world. Over 70 of you have taken part in a Virtual Boudoir Shoot (or two, some three, and one of you has just booked number four!) this year and I have loved connecting with you in your homes to create magic together. After lots of consideration, I’ve decided that Virtual Boudoir Shoots are now here to stay, so you can look forward to more of these in 2021.
Probably one of my favourite ever sentences; This year I was naked on The BBC! Back in January, I was a guest on BBC’s The Naked Podcast, Hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield presenters Jenny Eells and Kat Harbourne, the Yorkshire duo undress with a guest each week for revealing confessions & conversations, based on a concept to see whether we’d talk more openly about ourselves when we remove the boundaries of clothes and styling. Interviewing incredible guests ranging from a dominatrix to a reverend – and covering a vast range womxn’s topics from pregnancy (including loss) and periods to gender reassignment surgery and menopause – there’s something in there for absolutely everyone and I thoroughly recommend a listen. My episode went live in August and you can listen to it here via BBC Sounds – or on pretty much any other good podcasting platform.
Finally, but most importantly, I have seen and felt the true power of community this year. They say that when you buy from a small business, somewhere a person does a little happy dance. For me, every sale this year – no matter how big or small – has been a piece of kindling keeping the fire lit under my creative soul. I am so grateful to each and every one of you that has supported me from a distance this year, from taking part in virtual boudoir shoots to buying a book, print, gift voucher or card. To my incredibly generous publishers, Working Class Publishing, who gave 100% of all proceeds from book sales in March as royalties to myself and the other artists to cushion us during the first lockdown. To every single one of you who has liked, shared, commented or retweeted my content to help spread the word, there will never be enough words to express my gratitude for your support.
Usually, at this point, I like to give a little insight into what the year ahead is going to look like, but as we still have a month to go of 2020 I feel like that might be tempting fate! However, what I will say is this: I have plans and dreams that are still to be realised, so, I’m coming for you, number twelve!
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