This week on my Parents in Business series I’m delighted to feature local Mum Shannon who created and set-up Mockingbird Makes. I love the creative nature of this business, the quirky nature of her products, and how the art of Making has helped Shannon overcome her anxiety and depression. Plus it has also led to her speaking about Creativity for Wellness.
One of the other refreshing points in this interview is how Shannon views her business success which is based on helping others and sharing, being there for her family, and most importantly having fun! Please do have a read of my interview with Shannon and you can take a look at her designs at the same time.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I’m Shannon, a Kiwi living in SE London with my husband and two sons (12 and 8), and founder of Mockingbird Makes. As well as being Maker of bespoke contemporary and traditional handcrafts I also teach crochet, knitting and pompom making and speak on Creativity for Wellness. I come from a corporate innovation background so creativity seems to be the thread (excuse the pun!) that runs through my life.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
When I had my children I could no longer avoid the fact that depression and anxiety were part of my life and I needed to address it. So alongside therapy, yoga and meditation I began Making. Despite previously being a facilitator of creativity workshops and an expert in what is needed to create a creative environment, I had never given myself permission to play. It had always seemed like a frivolous way to spend time, not efficient enough and anyway I wasn’t a “Creative”.
When I did give myself this permission I was struck by how we outsource our creativity so easily by following trends and fashions and ideologies and, like me, thinking that we aren’t creative or, if we are creative in one way, then not in another. There seemed to be so many rules in my head around what was the right kind of creativity and what was not. It made me realise how unhealthy this disconnect from our innate creative drive is for us. And if not harnessed, how damaging it can potentially be both internally and externally.
My work started to get noticed and I took the leap into becoming a brand and continuing to explore this correlation between mental health and creativity. I worked mostly bespoke and then started Making for markets and fairs and Etsy. I’ve followed my nose along the way and when I was invited by Shona Chambers of Space at 61 to speak on Creativity for Wellness I had to say yes. The connections I’ve made by sharing my story have been so powerful. I’ve since spoken at many more events and it’s always so rewarding. For example over Christmas last year conceptual artist Laura Hepworth invited me to collaborate with her for her exhibition at Two Spoons Café in Honour Oak Park. I created the decorations such as pom-pom wreaths, crochet reindeer and Christmas pudding pompoms and her amazing artwork was displayed on the walls. We also did an artists’ talk during the event and this gave Laura support with her first public speaking event.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
My business is run around my family as I can Make while I’m with my children and am available for most school events – I have been known to take my knitting along to sports days! My husband is a fabulous support too. I do my design, planning and admin when my kids aren’t around and I need to focus.
That’s the logistic side of the business. The REAL secret to the way I balance my business around my family and children is that I am constantly using my creativity to grow and learn and find calm and clarity. Following my intuition is key and I’m getting better at saying no too.
Since setting up your business what has been your biggest success to date?
How we measure success is key to our self-esteem and motivation. My “why” for my business is always mine and other’s mental health, so my biggest success is sharing this with others and inspiring them to find their heart led way of life, including my children. When I look back on a working week and can see I have been kind to myself, connected with others, my children are happy and safe, and I’ve had fun creating, then I see success. To grow my business by seven times last year is none-the-less a satisfying experience.
What’s your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Network! And not with the view of selling your product and service to these people (although that may happen too) but more for the support, ideas and help you can give to each other, the shared experiences that make you feel less alone in your endeavour, and cheerleading squad that have your back. Support others as much as you possibly can. Work with everyone you can – even your “competitors”. Be humble and learn, learn, learn. But mostly learn how to hear your heart – tune into that voice and you’ll very quickly know what direction to take because our gut is NEVER wrong. I’ve learnt to give myself more permission, be more compassionate and kind, and reclaim my agency. And the more self-care I practice the more effective I become, the more profitable I become, the more flexible and responsive I become and the more joy I have. As a farmers daughter myself, any farmer will tell you that having a good climate generates high yield – a punishing climate provides no growth. The way we treat ourselves is our inner climate. Be kind to yourself and you create a winning inner climate. Claim back your creativity and thrive!
Thank you so much for letting me feature you on my blog, and all the best for the future!
You can find out more by visiting about Mockingbird Makes by visiting Shannon’s store on Etsy, and her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Wiio Ltd, De StartUp Lab,and Bisou Candle Co