Tag Archives: business

Time for change

When I first started this blog it was meant to be a way for me to share what we had been up to, exchange ideas for sustainable living and, yes, to give the occasional shout out to promote my business.

As I scroll back through the things I have posted over the last couple of years  it strikes me that so much of it is no longer relevant. Of course we still need to live greener, simpler lives. Of course we still need to consume less. Of course we still need to educate ourselves about the impact our actions are having on the planet and the effect that it’s going to have on our children and our children’s children.

The problems just seem to have become so much bigger. Or maybe it’s not that they are bigger, it’s that there is an increasing awareness of how much damage is being inflicted to line the pockets of the few at the expense of… well it seems to be at the expense of just about everyone and everything.

I used to think that there was a way to opt out. To live on the fringes and lead a simple, low-consumption life. That if we just shared our ideas our collective consciousness would grow. That if enough people took action we really could change the world and leave a better future. I’m beginning to suspect that I was incredibly naive.

Like many people I spend most of my time content in my little bubble. I try to live an ethical life, supporting local business, fair-trade and environmentally sound initiatives because I do believe that consumer power is one of the best ways to effect change. After all, the whole world seems to be run on this made up thing called money.

Of course those that have the majority of the wealth want to keep it all to themselves. This is not news. I find it ridiculous that they want to do this at the expense of just about everything else, but it seems that they do. And it’s getting ever more difficult to get away from the corporations and profiteers who are robbing each and every one of us blind.

I get so angry about it all. I can’t even find the words to express myself anymore. Well I can, but they’re mostly expletives. My partner calls it “Toryettes Syndrome” but I seem to be affected by every single politician, not just the f***ing Tories.

The cost of living keeps going up and the wages keep going down. Every day we are told that we have to work harder for less, be grateful to have a job and yet there are fewer and fewer jobs to be had. If you don’t/can’t work you are labelled a scrounger and, despite the fact it’s illegal and immoral, you can be forced to work for a big corporation for free. This means there’s less paid employment for everyone.

And all the time the big companies make bigger profits and the banks keep getting bailed out. I mean, what the actual fuck?

It won’t be long until self-employed people like myself will be in the same situation as those who are unemployed. Like many working parents, I am entitled to Tax Credits to top up my income, however under the proposed new system I could be forced onto Mandatory Work Activity if my earnings are low.

Never mind the fact that it’s incredibly tough for a small business like mine to compete with the big boys, especially when they get free labour as part of the governments “welfare reform”. Not to mention the numerous tax breaks big businesses get plus their rampant exploitation of natural resources and people all around the world.

I just want to opt out, really I do. But how do you go about opting out when those with the money have all the control?

There’s just so much to be angry about but the thing that makes me most angry is how bloody ignorant so many people are. I am constantly stunned by the bigoted and self-righteous comments that I read on social media, newspapers and blogs. Is it really that difficult to understand? Or is it just that people are so brainwashed by the corporation controlled media that they have forgotten how to think for themselves and empathise with their fellow human beings.

Take a few steps back and put on a wider lens. The bigger picture is pretty terrifying.

We really need to take action. Now. But where do you start? Clicking “like” on a picture on Facebook won’t do it, that’s for sure. We need to get out into our communities. Meet each other. ORGANISE! Share our stories and educate each other, because we’ve all got a lot to learn.


Inside the Creative Cauldron – The Barefoot Books UK Ambassador Conference 2012

The Barefoot Books Studio, Oxford

Where do I start with this amazing weekend?  I just love the Barefoot Books Ambassador Conference.  It’s one of the highlights of my year when our small but ever growing Barefoot Books community of artists, storytellers and entrepreneurs get together to share stories and inspiration.  We had 2 days of workshops, presentations and good old chinwags over a cup of coffee and biscuits. We took a peek inside the creative cauldron and learned some of the stories behind the stories from Tessa Strickland, the Editor-In-Chief.  Nancy Traversy, our CEO, nearly brought a tear to my eye as she shared the story of her own personal Barefoot journey with all of its highs and lows.

Storyteller Daniel Morden had me on the edge of my seat as told us some of The Adventures of Achilles. I was already pretty excited about this book which is due to be released in the autumn and now I literally can’t wait! When I finally get to read it I will be hearing the words in his captivating Welsh accent and I am so looking forward to being able to share these ancient stories with my girls.  Getting the opportunity to look at the entire creative process from rough drafts to the completed, beautifully bound, hardback book is a real privilege and I feel so fortunate to be able to participate.

The Adventures of Odysseus

Naturally I also took advantage of the chance to get my much loved copy of The Adventures of Odysseus signed and learned some great tips about storytelling from a master of the art which I will certainly be putting into practise in my own  work.   I make no apologies for my gushing enthusiasm about the whole weekend – I love beautiful artwork and I love gorgeous stories.  Needless to say I was in seventh heaven!

This year I was even asked to share some of my own expertise and present a workshop on how to hold successful home shopping events.  I received some great feedback and I’m really looking forward to doing it again and helping more Barefoot Books Ambassadors to achieve success through home parties.

Friday night was devoted to an amazing Djembe workshop where we learnt some traditional African rhythms.  I think it was a perfect illustration of the magic that can happen when you all work together and to a greater or lesser extent, that’s what being a Barefoot Books Ambassador is all about.  We’re part of an inspiring community of women (and men) who are committed to bringing beautiful stories and fantastic illustrations into the lives of children everywhere.

Playing the giant sized Children of the World memory game

But what were my children doing while I was busy enjoying myself?  One of the best things about being a Barefoot Books Ambassador is their total commitment to making sure that the kids have a great time too.  The whole family were invited to a delicious dinner at The Perch on Saturday night where we were entertained by the Barefoot Busker, John Ruddock, who performed a great selection of Barefoot Singalongs and other music.  The girls spent Friday and Saturday exploring Oxfords many museums with their dad (The Pitt Rivers Museum is an absolute must see) as well as popping in and out of the studio throughout the day.

In the Storytellers Chair!

On Sunday we spent the whole morning together in the Studio where they had their faces painted, listened to stories, played games and enjoyed a lovely organic meal from the Storytellers Cafe before we made the journey home.  You really couldn’t ask for more.

To top it all off I actually won the most beautiful Donkey puppet in the prize draw!  I ADORE puppets and he is just perfect (not to mention the fact that I never usually win anything, ever!)  This puppet must be magic because he can talk my youngest into doing whatever I can’t get her to do.  He is a very welcome addition to the family!  All the Ambassadors also received a goody bag packed full of the latest book releases, marketing materials and even some lovely foot treatments to make our (bare) feet scrummy.  I feel totally spoiled and totally inspired!  Thank you Tessa, Nancy and the whole of the Barefoot Books team for giving us such a fantastic weekend.


Lifestyle Entrepreneur – So that’s what you call this work from home thing!

I came across this term the other day – Lifestyle Entrepreneur.  Finally I have a name for what it is I do, or rather why I do the things I do.

If I’m honest, my anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist politics have never quite sat right with the fact that, on the whole, I make a living by selling things.  Yes they are planet friendly, socially responsible, good quality things but they are things all the same.

However, the things I sell are also things that immensely benefit my life.  My kids benefit from having a good selection of books, toys, puzzles and games to play with.  I love the fact that I have a massive basket of books, toys and CDs on the floor for my 3 year old and a shelf full of more mature titles for my eldest.  It’s strewing at its finest yet all my business samples are easily accessible and (mostly) in one place, ready to be taken to an event at the drop of a hat.

As for the rather lovely collection of blue glass bottles that line my bathroom.  Well, they not only support organic farming and are largely fair-trade but all the products and even the packaging is manufactured in a little eco-factory in the UK so have a very minimal carbon footprint.   And I really do like having a nice moisturiser to use, especially as my acne prone, stress-susceptible, sensitive skin is looking a thousand times better now than it has ever done before.

At the end of the day I have always worked in sales – with the exception of working in catering for a brief period of time (the “spilling the last portion of trifle down a customer’s back” episode spelled the end of my Nigella aspirations).  I’ve worked in dozens of shops, done more than my fair share of telesales jobs, sold advertising space for an international merchant banking magazine (yes, really) and even used to sell roses in pubs and night clubs when I was saving money to go to uni. Do you know what? I was good at it too.

Even though this particular flower girl had a shaved head, a face full of piercings and a pair of para-boots on her feet, she used to shift around £200 of roses in a night.  How?  To be honest I have absolutely no idea.  It might just be because I love chatting to people and that at the time, selling roses was my only opportunity to get out for a night and go dancing. However I do remember one customer saying that the only reason he was buying a slightly manky rose from me was because I had “an honest face”.

Now I don’t really know what he meant by that, but I guess it might have been something to do with the fact that I really didn’t mind if someone bought my roses or not.  I’ve never been a pushy sales person who’ll say anything at all as long as it closes the deal.  If you don’t want what I’m offering, it’s fine with me.  There’ll always be someone else who likes it, and as I now only offer products that are ethical and in tune with my ideology,  I’m happier today than I ever was in any of my previous jobs.

Despite my politics, it seems that sales is my thing.  It’s what I enjoy doing and for some unknown reason I seem to be good at it.  However I’m really not one of those people who is motivated by making huge amounts of money.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to be better off financially than I am right now, but the thought of acquiring vast wealth really doesn’t float my boat.

Instead, selling things and running my own business allows me to earn a living while spending time with my kids and that is something far more precious than all the wealth in the world!  The fact that I get to support fair-trade initiatives, promote children’s literacy and empower people to live healthier lives at the same time is a bonus, and one that helps me to see that what I do is about far more than just selling alone.

I love the term “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” and I’m glad I discovered it this week.  It’s the perfect way to describe my aim of living a sustainable, happy, healthy life with my family while getting to enjoy some very nice things without it costing the earth.


Write your own success story with Barefoot Books – Starter kit special offer!

 

*** edited to say that you can now find out more about becoming a Barefoot Books Ambassador at www.barefootnaomi.co.uk

Just a quick little post here to let you know about this fantastic offer from Barefoot Books!  For a limited time you can join the Ambassador program for just £59.99 instead of £89.99 and receive books, puppets, puzzles and business tools with a retail value of over £200.  I’ve been an ambassador for 2 years now and Barefoot has become an integral part of our homeschool curriculum as well as a great way to earn a living from home by doing something really worthwhile.

Becoming a Barefoot Books Ambassador allows you to really make a difference in your community.  It’s not just about sharing amazing stories (although that is quite a big part of it).  You have the freedom and flexibility to run your own business in the way that suits you best – be that through parties, community events or running children’s book groups in your area.  The wealth of support and resources available means that you can even earn money from working as a story teller or by running children’s birthday parties.  It really is up to you what direction you take your business in.

Whether you just need to do a few extra hours to top up your tax credits, or you want to make a substantial income by becoming a sales leader or building a team, the Barefoot Books Ambassador program is flexible enough to allow you to achieve your goals, big or small.

You will have the benefit of being part of a global community of parents, grandparents, teachers, writers, storytellers and artists. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with others and encourage children to explore new worlds, while instilling a love of reading, art and stories that will last a lifetime.

As I said earlier, usually the Barefoot Books starter kit is £89.99 but for a limited time new ambassadors can begin their Barefoot journey by purchasing the kit for just £59.99 instead. This “business in a box” contains over £200 worth of books, puppets, puzzles and business tools – everything you need to start a successful work from home business.  Not only that, but you will have the support of an experienced team leader who will be help you grow your business in a way that suits your lifestyle.

For more information click on the link above, visit www.barefootnaomi.co.uk, like us on Facebook, or contact me to find out more.  Love living Barefoot!

*** edited to say that you can now find out more about becoming a Barefoot Books Ambassador at www.barefootnaomi.co.uk

 


%d bloggers like this: