Twenty-One of 20-21

Twelve months. A lot can happen in twelve months. After the unforgettable year that was 2020, I think we were all in unison hoping for a brighter and much lighter 2021 but in short, it was an odd year. It flew by in the blink of an eye but simultaneously dragged along so slowly. Anyhoo, I managed to get another year running Darwin & Gray under my belt and in a bid to be a little more reflective here are my 21 thoughts of 20-21 to take forward.

1. I can do anything but not everything.
2. Planning just ain't my thing meaning that rather than planning or budgeting....I'm far more of a go-with-your-gut kind of girl that is best being present and reactive to my audience rather than planning my launches or products within an inch of their lives because truth be told it's ALWAYS the last minute design that out perform the ones that take weeks to complete (Obv. not a recommendation for everybody).
3. Cheap scissors do indeed leave scars from repetitive cutting of fabric.
4. Invest time in streamlining processes. Early 2021, I set up an online processing and collection service with The Royal Mail. Geoff my postie comes 5 days a week at 4:30pm with his van to collect my parcels. Literally THE best thing I could have done to move the brand forward and it really elevated my Christmas season (and lowered stress levels). Gone are the days where I used to have to carry bag for life bags to my local PO and queue up. 
5. Say Yes (but only if I mean it). I need to know what I want. Know when to quit and know more than anything, my own worth. Saying no is never a good feeling but it feels so much better than stressing or overwhelming myself by doing the thing that I don't have the capacity (or desire) to do. Also remember that there are nice ways to say no so I need to quit feeling fearful of people snapping at me.
6. Make time to draw or paint something that isn't related to D+G because it's an instant boost.
7. It's important to stop to appreciate my hard work and recognise what I have achieved but also recognise the contributions and support from those around me because Darwin & Gray really does take a village to not only keep the business ticking but also to keep myself in a good place. Basically give yourself a pat on the back Stace and focus on the good shit!
8. Rome wasn't built in a day so don't think for a second that juggling a small business and renovating a house will be a match made in heaven. It's already been a huge challenge and will only get harder but it's going to be SO worth it.
9. Automated messages aren't a cop out. Creating my answers for frequently asked questions for Instagram DM's has been a game changer. 
10. Identify key moments and make them shine. Last year was the first time I stopped to work out what occasions/season worked best for me. Valentines is a big no no (kind of a personal vendetta) so I've never really designed a collection for it but Mother's and Father's Day, always favourites of mine. 
11. Blocking isn't the end of the world. Social media is soul destroying sometimes. Sponsored posts kindly shows me every banner maker now under the sun as well as regularly being sent fellow businesses in my DMs that may or may not have taken a little too much inspo. My go to now is to simply block anything that makes me uncomfortable. Out of sight, out of mind (unless they really are crossing copyright boundaries which we won't go into).
12. Technology is shit. Emails will go into spam uncontrollably and DM's on instagram have a little hidden folder that you will forget about again and miss 100's of messages. Websites will crash and printers will stop randomly working 30 minutes before your post collection. This goes back to can't do everything and technology is most definitely not my strong point. However, I take full responsibility and it's definitely my fault when I let things run out of battery though, I need to get better at charging things up.
13. Creative focused or Business podcasts are THE worst for overloading my little noggin with information and initiating a creative block. Listen to something off subject whilst working and save the business stuff in my ears for car drives or travelling. I stupidly love a crime podcast and wonder why I can't sleep at night!
14. Bigger isn't always better. When it comes to building for physical market displays, reign it in Stace. Simplify it and make your life a whole lot easier. I never thought i'd see the day but creating a carefully considered, transportable and efficient display top trumps my old giant walls now. I've not fully retired the big display but it's definitely in storage for the foreseeable future. 
15. Take note of my weekly IPhone hourly usage. Scroll less, read more (by reading, I mean actual books....not reading crap on my phone obviously)
16. Shifting Focus...Darwin & Gray was always banners, banners, banners and whilst I still hold a lot of pride in the designs and the quality we have now achieved, 2021 was the year that I realised that we have the capacity to be much more. Darwin & Gray has become identifiable as a brand and that is predominantly reliant on my hand lettering and stylised consistency. We are a creative studio that serves as a daily reminder for you and for your home (whatever form it may come in).
17. Put myself first.....Sounds simple but truly, it's something I've always struggled with. I'm a people pleaser, hate confrontation, avoids making situations anymore awkward than they already feel and get uneasy in more environments than I'd like. I've delayed or altered projects and ditched ideas entirely in the past due to not wanting to quite frankly piss anybody off and i've learnt that it gets me nowhere so 2021 was the year that taught me to stop putting the thoughts and feelings of others ten million miles ahead of the thoughts and feeling of my own because mine should matter to me too.
18. Make it count. Having bought my first house in Sep '21, Darwin & Gray counts for something now. It's my way of living. It's the fuel for me to actually survive. It was a reality check for me that I'd made something myself that feels secure enough that the bank trusts me to lend me money to be an adult and pay for a mortgage so I can't f*ck it up basically.  
19. My favourite place to work is on my bedroom floor.
20. I want to paint a mural. A big one. On a building somewhere one day. Manifesting it here and now.
21. Focus on your own shit. Sounds easy but in reality, we're all easily swept away with judging ourselves against others. Just try your best, do your best and be your best self. 
So 2022, let the preparations begin.....

"By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

– Benjamin Franklin