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#Meettheresident – Autumn Aurelia

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

My business was essentially born from my lengthy battle with complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I’d been completely unable to leave the house alone for around eight years and was becoming increasingly depressed as a result.

Mostly, I couldn’t handle the pressure of needing to get better quickly so I could go out and get a job. Society generally doesn’t make space for those who need accomodations, whether they be for mental illness, chronic illness or disability.

Toward the end of those eight years, I discovered a love for laser-cut acrylic jewellery. I absolutely adored how these colourful creations were like wearable pieces of art. They were also conversation starters when I struggled with social anxiety and leaving the house. People would ask me about the jewellery and I found it was an easy thing to talk about.

Slowly, I realised how much I wanted to try creating my own jewellery and a few months after that, I started my business.

Having this business has helped me grow tremendously. While I still live with C-PTSD and am unable to leave the house alone, I’m now in trauma therapy, I leave the house most days to work in the studio I share with my partner, and I’m generally just in a much healthier, happier place.

I talk about mental health a lot on my Instagram and I’m finally proud of my story. For a long time, I felt ashamed of being unable to leave the house, of not working. I felt like a burden to everyone around me, but I realise now that I was at my lowest point. I’d been through multiple traumas, stacked up one after the other, and no matter how hard I tried to fight it, I realise what I needed at that time was to just let myself breathe.

Now that I’m on the other side of those traumas, I’m learning how to process them, one by one, and in doing so, I’m able to tell my story as part of my work. Everything I create comes from a place of hope, love, and healing, and I’m honoured I get to share that with the people who support my work.

Any projects you’re currently working on?

Right now, I’m mostly just trying to prepare for Christmas as it’s usually my busiest time of year, but it’s hard to gauge just how busy it will be this year as sales have been incredibly slow for many makers since everything started opening back up again.

In the meantime, I’m in the process of sketching some designs for my first collection of 2020.

What was the biggest hurdle for you starting out and how did you overcome it?

Uff, honestly, there were a few. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of how to create jewellery and while I’ve always been drawn to creating, I don’t have any education in art or design past A-Level art. I also needed to learn to use Adobe Illustrator to prepare my designs for laser cutting. I did try to teach myself, but when it became too difficult, a fellow maker was kind enough to offer to teach me everything I needed to know.

That lack of experience causes a lot of anxiety at times because I often feel like a fraud when it comes to designing. I learn as I go most of the time, so if I don’t know how to create something, I’ll watch videos on Skillshare or YouTube, but maybe that’s how we grow as creatives.

The other major hurdle is most definitely my health. Living with chronic physical illness (fibromyalgia and endometriosis) is incredibly unpredictable. I’m lucky that I work for myself, so if I’m experiencing a flare-up, I can stay in bed for a few days, rest up for as much as I need, and get back to work once it calms down.

The other issue I have is pacing: I have a tendency to overwork myself because I live in fear of when the next flare-up will hit, so I’m constantly trying to make use of the time I’m well enough to work. I very recently made a huge breakthrough with one of my illnesses, which has meant I’m now able to work on my business a lot more, but I’m still learning how to navigate life with chronic illness and working for myself.

How do you stay creative/inspired?

Because my work is often inspired by nature, I find most of my ideas come to me while walking or browsing nature accounts on Instagram/Pinterest.

Who is your creative hero?

I have too many to choose just one. Maybe I can mention two?

My fellow laser-cut acrylic jewellery makers, Lou Clarke and Rosa Pietsch. Both create such unique jewellery and homewares and I’ve loved watching their styles develop over the years.

What piece of software/ tool/ equipment would you struggle to run your business without?

I couldn’t make jewellery without a laser cutter. I don’t yet have one of my own as they’re a big commitment (I’ve heard they require lots of maintenence and repairs are expensive!), but for now, I send my files away to Slice, a laser cutter based in England.

What’s your top tip/piece of advice for anyone wanting to start their own creative business?

Despite my own creative anxiety and struggles with imposture syndrome, I would urge anyone who wants to persue a creative career to start creating. Don’t wait until you have X piece of equipment or until you can afford to take a course (check out YouTube and Skillshare), or until you feel “good enough.” Honestly, I don’t know any creatives who actually feel good enough, even those who have been doing it for years. We all seem to question our abilities and creativity, but it’s when customers share your work on their posts that it really hits you: I get to create things that people are actually wearing in their day-to-day lives. That is always such a joyful, but highly surreal feeling.

Follow other makers/creatives on Instagram as a lot of us share process videos, from which you can pick up a lot of tips.

Where can we find you? (website, instagram etc)

I mostly post on Instagram these days and my work can be found on my Etsy.

#blickstudios on
What one thing could you do today to push your business forward and get your week off to a positive start?

#mondaymotivation #creativestartup #creativebusiness #creativebusinessowner #creativebusinessowners #creativeentrepreneurs #creativeentrepeneur #noprocrastination #justdoit #betterbusiness #betterdonethanperfect
We hope everyone had a lovely July break and a chance to enjoy the good weather.

We are back in the office this week and wanted to share this podcast series that we were very kindly invited by @agencyofnone  to be a part of. The series is all about buiding sustainable creative workspaces for creatives and designers. The series focuses on Dundee but includes insights from throughout the UK. We feature on episode 3, talking about our journey from the initial concept for a shared creative workspace in Belfast back in 2007 to where we are today. It was really nice to reflect back on our journey, sometimes you forget how far you have come and the obstacles you have overcome and lessons you have learnt along the way.

The values of bringing creatives together are huge, particularly following the events of recent years when people are more isolated than ever. There is a lot of work to be done reconnecting and rebuilding networks and communities. Creative workspaces can be a very effective way of building these networks and communities. Working alongside other likeminded creatives gives you the opportunity to share ideas, collaborate, innovate and learn from each other as well as make valuable social and business connections. The challenge however is finding ways to run these creative workspaces sustainably. This is particularly difficult in the current climate with rising running costs and property prices and organisations still rebuilding following the pandemic so there is lots to learn from this podcast series, if you are interested in creative spaces its definitely worth a listen.

Details and links to listen on our blog (link in profile)
MEET OUR COMMUNITY: MALONE RESIDENT ALANNA OFFIELD SEASIDE BOOKS 

I love reading and I love books, I also like to support local creatives and buy local and independent, so I was very excited this week to get to chat with our newest Blick resident Alanna to find out more about her business @seasidebooksni

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

I’m Alanna, the owner of Seaside Books. I moved to Ireland from New Mexico five years ago, looking for a change in career after years of working as a social justice campaigner. I write poetry and have always loved reading. When I became disabled in 2018, books and reading were an escape from long days in bed and trips to the hospital. As a bookworm, I had always dreamed of owning a bookshop, so I decided to give it a go during the pandemic.

Seaside Books is an independent online and traveling bookshop stocking books from Irish authors and/ or published by Irish publishers. We travel to markets and community events across the country. We also offer writing workshops and help authors prepare their books to be published.

Any projects you’re currently working on?

Seaside Books recently turned a year old. I’ve got a long list of ideas for things we could do to celebrate all the fantastic writing happening across Ireland. Currently, we are planning to start a magazine to highlight emerging writers from underrepresented communities. We have been working with local authors and lovers of excellent writing to bring it to life. We are still in the very early stages, but I’m excited to move forward.

What was the biggest hurdle for you starting out and how did you overcome it?

The learning curve for starting a bookshop was steep. I didn’t have anyone who had experience starting a business in my life, so I had to do lots of research to know where to start. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing (I still feel that way sometimes). I started planning Seaside Books during the pandemic, which was sometimes isolating. Finding a community of other folks who were starting businesses was a lifesaver.

Full interview on our blog link in profile
---- Room Hire ---- 

Video of our lovely Main room in our Malone studios that's available to hire

Did you know you can hire out the ground floor of our Malone Studios. We have two rooms available to hire. Both rooms are situated off our lovely glass roofed atrium which can be used to gather for events or classes or as a breakout space during classes or events. 

- Affordable rates of £15 per hour and additional marketing support for long term bookings in our Main Room. We currently have availability on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons for long term booking in our Main Room 

- Affordable rates of £10 per hour for our meeting room for regular bookings. We currently have availability on Monday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons for our Meeting Room. 

- Main Room fits 10 - 12 for yoga or similar activities, seats 15 boardroom or classroom, 25 as a lecture theatre and about 40 people standing 

- Beautiful space with high ceilings and original period features 

- Free use of beautiful breakout space and communal kitchen 

- Safe, well-lit, vibrant location close to Queens University in leafy South Belfast 

- We wehave a small team ensuring you a friendly, personal and professional service  

- We are a local social enterprise meaning your money goes back into the local economy and to support the creative industries in Northern Ireland 

Full details and all our prices for both spaces are on our website (link in bio)
This week we had a quick catchup with our newest Cotton Court resident creative freelancer @emanuela_mae_agrini_art who told us a bit about herself and her creative work

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

Hey there! I am originally from Genoa, a seaside city in Northern Italy; my business was born there about ten years ago and bounced around a bit before moving to Belfast. My idea has always been to offer written communication for companies and individuals, but over time my core is moving more and more in the direction of a mix between visual and written communication. Although I still deal most of the time with content writing and copywriting (both in Italian and in English), I am developing some projects that can combine visuals and words, in the context of graphic facilitation, graphic recording and illustrated content.

What was the biggest hurdle for you starting out and how did you overcome it?

When I started as a freelancer ten years ago, the main obstacle was to convince companies and clients that remote work is still work: the mentality was very different from today and there was a lot to work to do on it. I always supported remote work and for long periods I have been traveling while working between the countries. Today luckily things seem to have changed.

How do you stay creative/inspired?

I pass pretty much all my free time reading books, drawing, and painting and when possible, I travel to see new places and meet new people. I love also to be around the city the more I can to listen to the stories of random people I meet. When I want to recharge, I go to the sea, which is my happy place.

What’s your top tip/piece of advice for anyone wanting to work for themselves/ start their own creative business?

Just make sure you are into it with all your energies and passion, and love every moment of it 🙂

You can read the full interview on our website (link in profile)
Don't forget to take a break for the long weekend. It can be hard when you're self employed to justify taking time off to relax and rest and not feel guilty about it and for many if you arent working you arent earning. But there is always more that could be done so take as much of a break as possible and enjoy the peace of these extra couple of days when people don't expect you to be answering emails or phone calls

#worklifebalance #bankholiday #longweekend #balance #rest #relax #smallbusinessbelfast #selfemployed #freelance #smallbusinessowner
Since the pandemic we have been very busy with new residents and behind the scenes work in the studios, but are planning to start picking things up again with more for the wider creative business community in Northern Ireland in coming months. So we thought it would be a good time to re-introduce the people involved with Blick. Who we are and more importantly why we do it, starting with Blick founder Christine. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How has your work at Blick compared to what you imagined you would end up doing? 

I'm Christine. I studied fashion and textiles at Belfast School of Art and worked briefly as a textile designer for fashion in Italy before returning to NI to start my own creative business. I was one of the founders of Blick way back in 2007 with a group of other creatives all struggling to find suitable workspace in Belfast, somewhere affordable and flexible alongside other like minded creatives. I will talk more about that journey and the story of Blick in future posts. I currently run Blick with my sister Rosy who does all our finance and operations with support from our board of Trustees as Blick is also a registered charity. 

I always wanted to work in fashion for as long as I can remember, so working at Blick is very different to what I imagined in one way, but I also always dreamed of working for myself. I just didn't think it was even possible. Not knowing any business owners and going to a very traditional grammar school starting a business just didn't seem feasible to me when growing up. So I ended up pursuing a career in fashion, but the reality of having to work in a big city, sitting at a desk all day, alongside the financial challenges of working within the industry led me to make the decision to return to NI to start my own fashion business. I struggled working alone at home and then met a group of creatives on a creative business course at Ulster University and we all realised just how important being with other like minded creatives on a similar path was and we came up with the idea for Blick. I ended up then taking over running Blick myself 
Link in bio to our blog with the rest
Hill streets lovely breakout areas, where you can sit and have some lunch or a coffee away from your desk 

#hillstreetbelfast #sharedstudios #coworkingspace #blicksharedstudios #cathedralquarterbelfast
Congratulations to our resident Dani McFerran, founder of award winning Graphic Design studio @doneanddusteddesign, as she was recently celebrated for her contribution to entrepreneurship at the House of Lords to mark International Women's Day! 

Read all about the F:Entrepreneur event, and Dani's amazing businesses on our blog - link in bio. 

#residentnews #residentpromotion #blickresidents #blicksharedstudios
Our lovely main room in our Malone studios is available for hire and we now have a special reduced rates for anyone wanting to make an ongoing longterm booking of 8 weeks or more, we currently still have availability for Thursday and Friday evenings and Sundays. Prices and details are on our website (link in bio) or email christine@blickstudios.org for more info 

#roomhire #maloneroadbelfast #belfast #eventspace #blicksharedstudios
Our Malone Road studios illustrated by resident and team member @jenny_eva_design 🌿

Offering private and shared studio space, 51 Malone Road is a beautiful space full of character and natural sunlight, perfect for finding some Monday motivation!

Find more of Jenny's work at jennyevadesign.com ✨

#blicksharedstudios #blickresidents #belfastcreatives #belfast #maloneroadbelfast #illustration #studio #coworkingspace