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Did you know.....?

Just how much do you know about this book artist and her past?

Did you know I've run three very different businesses over a period of nearly 30 years?

Business Number one: Childsplay Unlimited - Early Childhood Centre.

Long story short....

I came to NZ when I was 22 to work as a nursery nurse (early childhood teacher).

This is me soon after my arrival in New Zealand with one of the children from the centre.

Two years later, I had two major additions to my life. 1) The childcare centre which I bought (just how that happened is another story for another time). 2) A new baby (well, that's self explanatory how that happened!!).

At the age of 24 I was a single mother with a new business and a new baby. Some days I felt like I was raising the business and running the baby. Other days I got it the right way round (raising the baby and running the business). I had a staff of about 7 and brought my work home with me every night (the baby and admin). I knew nothing about being a business owner and in those days (before the internet) there wasn't a lot of information outside of books and tapes to help you. There was certainly nothing available on how to run a childcare centre as a business. I began to go to Tom Hopkins real estate seminars to learn how to sell (and run a business). I had to interpret the information from real estate into childcare. But as I was used to taking information and simplifying it for children I was able to do this with ease. Some of the changes involved: asking my staff to refer to me the director of the centre not 'the boss'.

I had tee-shirts made up with our logo so parents could identify who the staff members were and bought name tags. I also created a too good to throw away pack to give to potential parents when they visited. I would always do a follow up call afterwards to keep in touch. I was one of the first to offer before/after school care as well as running holiday programmes. I also offered birthday parties at the weekend!! I started a breakfast bar (for parents on the run so they could eat with their children). I was also good at getting free publicity and often appeared in the local newspaper.

It was my intention to create a magical space in which children thrived, were respected, had fun, were cared for, loved, and extended.

I couldn't afford to put up a new fence, as it was a large property, so I commissioned a local artist to paint murals on wooden panels. We hung them around the fence, the children got to paint the insides that faced the playground. This was on the gate at the entrance to the centre.

By the time I sold the childcare centre 7 years later, I had fantastic staff, a waiting list, an excellent reputation but sadly, I was burnt out.

Business number two: Careermakers - career & life coaching consultancy

I wandered around, lost in the wilderness for a few months after selling my first business without a clue about what I wanted to do next. One day, I stumbled across a careers advisor quite by accident. I popped into her office (I had wondered if there were career consultants for grown ups!). I only spent about 5 minutes talking to her, but as I left her office I said to myself, I want to do what she's doing. I discovered AIT were putting together the first ever course to train people to be career advisors. In those days, it was mostly school teachers who ended up on the course and saw themselves as the one who drew the shortest straw (one of them actually told me this). I however loved it!

One of the books we had to read was What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles. I discovered the author ran one workshop in Oregon every year (a life/work balance workshop - I believe the term these days is mindfulless!!).

I knew I had to go.

So I did.

Oh my. Dick Bolles was unlike any other teacher I'd ever come across. He was playful, mindful. funny, sharp, intelligent and deeply spiritual. I loved his approach to teaching. We sat outside by the pool in small groups, we marvelled as his glow in the dark chalkboard, and cried buckets at the end of the two weeks.

When I asked him to sign my copy of his book, we opened it to discover a small creature had been squished. He couldn't resist writing the word splat next to it! He was delightful and so full of fun.

Dick sadly passed away in 2017. I will treasure this book and always be grateful for what I learnt with him. He was one of the greats when it came to teaching.

Again, cutting a long story short, I set up a careers consultancy on my return home. And worked with people and occasionally companies for the next few years. When I came across book artist Ailie Snow

I feel deeply in love with her books and knew I had to learn how to make them for myself. Book Art Studios slowly evolved moving from a hobby into a business. I knew where my heart lay when one day in the middle of a coaching session I said to a client: "Oooh if you ever get tired of that shirt you're wearing can I make it into a book cover!

Business number three: Book Art Studios

This has by far been the most challenging of all my three businesses. I started it in the middle of a recession selling niche art!! I have nearly thrown the towel in on many occasions. I recall one time thinking, it's too hard to be an artist I'm going to give it up. I then walked into the library where one of the librarians said to me: We are all so in awe of you living your life with passion doing what you love. We love what you create. You are such an inspiration to us all". I can't begin to tell you how many times this has happened ALWAYS when I"m about to quit!! So here we are, TEN years later. What a ride. So many ups and downs, change of studios, trips to Frankfurt, too many classes to mention, three published books later another on the way!

As for the baby, she is all grown up and out in the world on her own adventures. She doesn't like her photo on the internet so I can only show you us 27 years ago.

I wonder what 2018 will bring for Book Art Studios. Well, by some miracle (and a hell of a lot of hard work) I'm still here so I guess I'll be as surprised as the rest of you!!

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