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I knew that having a child would mean life would be a little different, but there were a few things that I really wasn’t prepared for. I guess it’s the sort of stuff you can’t imagine beforehand because you need the lived experience to really understand.

I’ve seen loads of people talking about the run up to having a baby, preparing their business, maternity leave, and even setting up once you already have a child. But I don’t think I’ve seen any one talking about having to change the way they were running their business after having a baby.

I didn’t prepare my business for having a baby. I feel like those people that were able to do that are in another league of being organised. I had some vague plans about setting up a digital product shop before giving birth and that earning a little money, but then the pandemic happened while I was a few months pregnant and it was honestly hard to concentrate on anything else other than getting my client work finished off. There was also a grey area with what I could earn while claiming self-employed maternity allowance from the Government (UK) and it was easier to be not earning so I knew I could claim the allowance.

Although it occurred to me that life would be different, I guess I thought I’d just pick up work again once I was ready. My husband had a really good full time job and I knew we’d be ok for a while without an income on my side.

Then Kieron got made redundant the week that Logan was born and our whole world flipped on its head. He was a Manufacturing Engineer and we’d thought that those sort of jobs were always safe. Of course with manufacturing of everything slowing down to a halt, his company had to make redundancies to keep trading.

We had spoken about how his heart wasn’t in engineering any more though and the redundancy turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We decided Kieron would stay home with us so that I could focus on my business still as I was continuing to get enquiries for work through the pandemic and my short maternity leave.

I thought that with having Kieron home full time with us, it would be really easy to just slip back into work and it be the same as it was before.

My God, that was not true for me!

How I felt as I started back with work

It initially felt great starting back with work. It was something to pull me out of the fog of new Motherhood and it felt grounding to be doing creative work again.

With having an already established business that had been really active on Instagram and especially on Pinterest over the past 5 years or so, I already had built a bit of momentum for people finding my work and website, and enquiries.

With the pandemic, I’d had a spike in enquires through Pinterest because so many people were at home thinking about starting businesses on the side, or finally having time to dedicate to forgotten things like branding and marketing. I had bookings for work straight away and so that part was the easy bit.

It all felt almost too easy…

Where it all started to feel like too much

I soon realised that even with another parent at home, Logan would want me an awful lot, and that would mean I wouldn’t have the longer periods of focus I was used to.

I was surprised at how long it took me to get back my focus each time and would often end up having Logan in a sling sleeping on me while I worked. I have lovely memories of wearing him in the sling when he was small, and at least while I was wearing him, I didn’t have to think about what he was doing or whether he was ok all the time, so that part of my brain could focus too!

There was the added stress of me now being responsible for paying the bills when it had never been a sole responsibility before.

With work enquiries coming in thick and fast I booked people in as I had done before, sort of always on the verge of being overbooked, but thinking it would be ok. The thing is, it had always been ok in the past because I had the time to work longer sometimes if I needed to. I never did too much that I was burnt out, and I guess it was a bad habit that I didn’t realise would need to change.

It didn’t take long before I was feeling perpetually exhausted, was overbooked, stressed and crying in the middle of the night.

I honestly had no idea I wouldn’t be able to keep up the same sort of schedule and work in the same sort of way I’d worked before (overworked masquerading as well-organsied). I had Kieron at home full time, I felt like I was failing and I should be able to do this!

3 changes I made to my business

Needless to say, something had to give. And of course, it was work. Over the course of the next year or so I slowly made some changes to make the business work for me rather than it running me.

1. Moving to asynchronous communication

A big part of my new ethos for my business is making it fit around my life seamlessly, and leaning into what feels good rather than overthinking and doing things the way they’ve always been done because that’s what people expect.

I moved almost exclusively to communicating with my clients via voice notes, texts, and videos that are sent asynchronously. Asynchronous just means ‘not existing or occurring at the same time’. So we send voice notes when we can and we don’t have to be available for a call at the same time.

I’ve felt more anxious since having a child probably due to hormones, plus I’m a relatively shy person anyway, and I just found myself really getting wound up about Zoom calls during the time when everyone was zooming in the pandemic. So I decided to stop.

I still do the odd call when it feels necessary, like I sometimes do training with current and past clients on design software. But as a rule, even discovery calls before a client books can be done by voice note instead. If a person seems to have a problem with it, they probably aren’t going to be a great fit for working together.

I’ve built some structure into this for my different packages and have specific days where we chat and plan and specific days when I’m doing the design work. I’ll go into that more in next point.

The real benefit is that I have ultimate flexibility with communication – Having a baby or toddler means your schedule can change last minute if they didn’t sleep well the night before, or they’re poorly, or they’re just having a day where they want Mum. I wanted to be able to lean into this

An unexpected benefit is that this works so well for clients I have where there is a time difference! I get clients from all over the world thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, and it allows us to communicate in a personable but flexible way.

2. Shorter process with a stricter timeframe, still being mindful of having enough space and flexibility to work on the peoject.

As I mentioned I was accidentally overbooking myself and you might wonder why I would do this.

A few things were at play. Firstly, I’ve always had a very flexible process where there is a loose structure, but I don’t set dates because I found it hindered the creative process. Instead I’d keep the client in the loop along the way, giving an idea once I was into the design work when the draft would be ready to review etc but still keeping to any deadlines they had in place.

This is the hard way of doing things, and it was always a bit of a juggle to work different projects round each, but it felt right at the time. I had the extra head space to be agile with what I was working on day to day and switch between tasks.

Now I most certainly do not have that extra head space. That space is filled with toddler stuff! I can’t quickly switch between tasks and I have to give myself realistically just the one thing to work on each day, my attention span is much shorter. Just a quick note that this will probably change in the future too, but when talking about running a business during the baby and toddler years, this is definitely the case for me.

I am a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist, and so at first, even though I knew I was finding it harder to focus on multiple projects, I didn’t want to let people down. I thought that if I told people when they were booking in the process would be a bit slower, it would all be ok. It wasn’t and the work built up and it just added to the stress.

I found I didn’t want lots of projects going on all at once any more, I wanted to be able to finish a project in a smaller timeframe, with the process more clearly defined. But I did need to keep a lot of that flexibility.

I’d heard about Day Intensives, where you plan beforehand, and then get all the specified work done in one day. I liked the quick sound of this, but I wanted to have the balance of it being quick…without the stress of only having one day.

And so I came up with a 2 week Design Intensive package. Usually with a day intensive the research and exploration will be done during the days before the intensive, and you’ll kick off with a call. I didn’t want to do calls and I wanted everything to be contained and explained inside the process.

I developed a process where during week one we chat via the voice messaging app Voxer to plan what I’ll be designing during week two. The pacing is the key for this package. There is enough space during the two weeks to check in with the client each day and work through thoughts and ideas, but as long as I haven’t got a load of other things booked in at the same time, it leaves room for life to happen.

I priced it relatively low at the beginning and each one went so well and had great feedback. I’ve increased the pricing now so that I can almost block off the last 2 weeks of each month specifically for one of these projects. There is a really well defined timeframe, so it’s great for cashflow – I’ll often be booked a few months in advance for these, and I know that what I’m charging for that is enough to pay our bills.

Then I fit a larger branding package in, one starting every other month, and work it around the design intensive. I try to plan it so the two weeks of the design intensive are less intensive weeks of the full branding package, so the part when I’ll be doing refinements rather than the full on design work.

I’ll be creating a training all about my Design Intensive package soon!

3. Going ‘all in’ on my project management software, streamlining, and getting help.

I know it’s really important to be super organised with everything now. I use Notion as my project management software – it’s not the same as other project management tools because you can set it up however you want to. It has the balance between flexibility and rules that I seem to be craving ?

Here’s a mini course I made about how I use it that you can access for free right now before I make some updates and turn it into a paid course.

Access the mini course >>

Access the mini course >>

As well as getting really organised with Notion, I have hired out for help on things like brand strategy for my own business and my end of year accounting!

All of this just means there’s less in my already full head and I can concentrate on what I do best. Previously I really hesitated spending money on things but I’ve now seen how much time and headspace it’s given me!

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The thing I find truly fascinating about visual branding is the layers of meaning that can be brought into the design work.

Layers of meaning and symbolism can of course be used in all types of visual art, but in my opinion, it’s an especially important part of branding.

What do I mean by Symbolism?

To be clear, what I mean when I talk about symbolism here is the use of imagery like the illustrations in your branding to represent ideas or qualities.

Symbols can come to mean something in retrospect, and that will be true for imagery used in your branding, that’s true for many big brands and was certainly true for my own logo design. Sometimes the image comes first and it gathers meaning as the brand grows.

But it’s also wonderful to make design decisions from the outset based on what has meaning for you as a business owner, and also what will have archetypal meaning for your customers or clients too.

Again to be clear…

An archetype is a term used to describe universal symbols that evoke deep and sometimes unconscious responses. Archetypes are defined as recurring patterns of situations, characters, or symbols existing universally and instinctively in the collective unconscious of man.Citation

Why is adding meaning and symbolism to my brand identity useful?

When we use imagery that has universal meaning behind it we’re holding up little green flags for our audience that show that we’re the same as them, we think the same, we care about the same things. This is the very start of building up that ‘Know, like, trust’ factor with your audience.

When we add a layer to our branding that has deep meaning for us as the business owner, it means it’s more likely to feel right for us long-term. We do it once, we do it well, and we do it with meaning.

Branding illustration for Helena Rose Photography

How can symbolism play out in my Brand Identity?

Take this Moth design for Helena Rose Photography; There is a layer of archetypal meaning with the design that like minded people will be drawn to.

The style of drawing, the witchy vibe of the elements, the Moth being a creature that is drawn to the light. This last point makes sense for a photography business where working with light is part of the skill of the art form. These are things that we intuitively understand as humans when we look at imagery, without really thinking about it.

And then we uncover the symbolism of what the design means for the business owner. It’s a deeper layer that might not always be apparent at first glance, but it’s important none the less.

Here the Moth represents the ethical and sustainable businesses that Helena works with; they are drawn towards the light in the sense that they are conscious of the how they impact the world.

If possible, we’re looking for something that works on more than one level, but you can always combine symbols together or weave meanings into other parts of your brand identity.

Tips for how to start weaving layers of meaning into your Brand Identity

  1. You can start by noting down any imagery, things, symbols that you’re drawn to. You need to love the imagery you’re using in your branding as well as it holding meaning.
  2. Think about any imagery that holds meaning specifically for the industry you work in, or for the specific services or products you’re offering.
  3. Think about what imagery, if any, is evoked by your business name.
  4. Symbols could be really simple, like a triangle, or it could be more complex imagery that would be more of an illustration, like a type of bird, animal, or plant.
  5. It’s important to research any symbolism you intend to explore in your brand identity to make sure it’s culturally appropriate for you to use. You also may need to sift through the many meanings one symbol alone can have to make sure there isn’t anything negative that might come up for people.
  6. The internet is obviously a great source of information, but books are even better and often more reliable. Try the Signs and Symbols Sourcebook by Adele Nozedar as a starting point.
  7. Reference meanings of imagery in different places to make sure you have a good understanding of all the meanings.
  8. Can your symbol link back to your business in more ways than one? It’s ok if not, you can add layers of meaning with other branding elements, combining symbols in a design, embellishments on typography, pattern designs, your colour palette, even photographs. Don’t force multiple meanings, lean into your intuition about what feels right.
  9. Remember that your brand identity is not your logo alone in isolation. Everything should work together to form a multi-layered, meaningful design for your brand.

If you’d like to explore weaving symbolism into your brand identity with me you can can apply to work together in my Signature Branding Package called ?The Unfurling.

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I can’t believe how much has happened in the past month. When I wrote my last ‘life update’ it was early February. We’d just put the house on the market and had sort of settled on our plan.

The house was on the market for about 17 days. We had SO MANY viewings in that time, 3 offers, and we accepted an offer that was over our asking price.

It’s now Fri 18th March and we moved into our temporary home last weekend – a static caravan owned by family members on a lovely nearby holiday park.

Kieron wasn’t quite ready to move as he wanted to have everything sorted out at the house, plus we haven’t actually finalised the sale yet (it’s close and is running smoothly as there’s no chain either end).

For me though, it got to the point where the house was feeling less and less like home, we’d sold or put a lot of the furniture into storage, and I was already letting go in my mind. We have some final things to sort out over the next couple of weekends at the house before we say goodbye for good.

I had some questions over on Instagram so I thought I’d answer those to help me structure this post.

How do you feel about leaving the home you worked so hard on?

I’m not sure I really know how to articulate it well, but I almost feel guilty for not finding this harder. I’ll never forget that home, because it was wonderful in so many ways.

I built my business there, we put so much thought and work into the garden and the renovations. We went through IVF together whilst living there, we brought our gorgeous baby boy back from the hospital to a perfectly renovated, beautiful, cosy home. And we loved living there. Until we didn’t. It was perfect, until it wasn’t.

The last couple of years have made me mature a lot and it’s not like how things look are no longer important to me, they are. I’m a designer, an artist, I like things to be beautiful. But I feel like we bought and renovated that home when we were different people. Or maybe, different iterations of the same people.

We are different, we’re a family unit now and we want more from life than that home could give us. Kieron’s job loss and pandemic isolation allowed us to reflect on what we want and get creative about how we could get there whilst keeping our newfound freedom. Less outgoings (no mortgage) is a huge driver for all of this.

So all that is to say that I don’t really feel sad. As an eternal optimist I’m much more interested in looking forward and know that there’s so much we’ve already tackled together and so much potential for what we could do.

And you know what? I’ve been getting more sleep. Which means I’m even more like my old sunny self.

Logan now has a double bed in the static caravan rather than a cot. Yes the double bed takes up the entire width of the room, but it means there’s no need for a bed guard and no way he’s going to fall out.

I/we can now lie next to him while he falls asleep rather than me having to hold him for him to fall asleep. He WOULD NOT be put down awake in a cot and was waking up 3-4 times at night…needing to be held to sleep each time (what felt like a regression after him being more easy-going with sleep for most of his first year of life). It wasn’t so much the amount of wake ups, I’m happy to get up for a toddler cuddle, it was the amount of time it was taking to get him back into his cot, which meant I was super wide awake and finding it harder to get back to sleep myself.

He now wakes up once and I lie next to him until he’s asleep and then sneak back to my own (our) bed. Sometimes I fall asleep next to him and that’s fine too. It works. An unexpected up-side of static caravan life that may or may not have been one of the reasons I wanted to move before we’d properly finalised the sale.

I’d already intuited that either a double bed or floor bed scenario might be an answer to our sleep woes and by this time there was no point making the change in the house. We’ve bed shared a little through sheer desperation, with Logan in the middle of the two of us (because of no bed guards) but none of us seemed to sleep as well.

Maybe it’s just because we’re temporarily living on a holiday park, maybe it’s the novelty aspect, but I actually have that holiday feeling.

I’m still being a Mum, being a wife, cleaning and tidying (not cooking, Kieron does the cooking ?) running my business and doing my client work, all the things I usually do, but I feel different. The internet is a bit sh*t and the Labrador is still malting her winter coat (if you know you know ?) but there are no real negatives so far.

In fact, with the living space being smaller we can be doing various different things, but still have an eye on Logan as he potters about and plays. Even the outdoor space works really well – there is a small deck that runs round the front and side of the caravan, it’s fenced and gated so is safe for Logan to wander around. At this point in time, with the size of our family and and how old Logan is, it feels pretty perfect.

I’ll let you know how it feels when it’s all less new.

Was it hard to downsize your belongings and have you had to put loads in storage?

We’re still in the process of doing it and it certainly hasn’t been easy but that’s because of the volume of stuff that you accumulate over the years!

It’s been a lot easier with knowing the space we’re moving into and the amount of storage we have. So we’ve not been downsizing everything by an unknown amount – we visited the caravan a few times to get a feel for the amount of storage and that really helped.

We do have a local storage locker that we’re paying for monthly to keep a few bits of furniture I couldn’t part with, the lawn mower, power tools, and some of the stuff from my studio office.

Most of Logan’s baby things we sold or sent to charity shops except for his cot and pram because they’re great quality and we’ll store them, even if it’s just for a while.

I love that we now know exactly what we’ve got because we’ve sorted through absolutely everything, and have let go of everything we don’t need. My head feels a little clearer because of it.

What’s the next step and where are you moving to?

The next step isn’t solidified, and that’s what partly makes this feel fun for me!

We would like to earn an income through buying and renovating a property within the next couple of years.

The property to renovate could be here in North Wales, or in West Wales. We may do more renovation projects if the first goes well.

We would also like to have some land that we can make a living from. Initially as a camp site, and eventually with small holidays cabins amongst other things. Ideally the land will be in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, by the coast, where we have family ties.

We may buy the land and live on it in a static caravan, or live in a towable caravan at the sites of the renovation projects. The renovation project is likely to happen before we do any work with land we buy so that once that house is sold we have some capital.

Land/house projects all depend on what’s available once we have the money in the bank.

As a long term goal as mentioned in the previous blog post, we would like to self-build (with help ?) our dream house. And THAT all depends on how these other things go over the next few years.

Have I lost you yet? It all makes sense in our heads…

We saw a patch of land this week actually that we are going to have a look at. It’s in Pembrokeshire, and it’s called Rainbow’s End – what a perfect name! It has woodlands, meadows, a stream, and a variety of buildings already on it (making planning permission for caravans and other structures more likely). I’ll update you on that next time as it’s bidding via an online auction – we may miss out as our sale won’t have gone through yet.

What’s the most exciting bit about the whole process?

Just knowing that we are working towards a bigger future whilst still staying flexible with neither of us having to work a 9to5 or other set shift pattern.

Not saying it isn’t going to be hard work, but it’s a different hard. Hard work at our own pace. Feeling frazzled? Let’s take a holiday.

Having all the power in our own hands about how we make our money and dare I say it…build wealth.

Knowing that we have an awesome set of skills between us and the same dream in our heads.

Having the possible chance to build, run, brand, and market our own family business THING and leave a legacy for Logan is bonkers exciting for me!

Looking forward to updating you again in a month’s time.

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I thought I would start doing these personal update blog posts because I know loads of you are interested in what goes on behind the scenes and in day-to-day life.

My business is so much tied up with my life and the two cannot really ever be completely separate. I’ll never share absolutely everything because a lack of boundaries can be dangerous, but when it comes to talking about the essence of how we are living our lives and what we are doing to be able to have more flexibility and freedom, I feel those are important things to share about.

The quick version of this blog post is that we’re selling our house and downsizing dramatically so we have less outgoings for a while. I’ve gone into detail about why this feels right for us, so read on if it’s something you’re interested in.

Some background information…

As you may or may not know, Kieron got made redundant during the early months of the pandemic in 2020, right before we had little Logan. Kieron’s heart wasn’t in engineering any more, but he wasn’t sure exactly how to move forward or what else he might want to do yet. So we decided he would be a stay-at-home Dad for a while and we’d see if my business income would be enough to allow us to do that.

We also had plans to travel in our campervan which we’d bought pre covid, and finally had converted in spring/summer 2021. Europe/the world didn’t quite open up the way we’d hoped, so all we’ve done in the van so far are a few UK trips. We knew if we did want to travel, KP would probably leave the world of work for a while anyway, so that was one factor in him not getting another job.

We were already toying with the “what if’s” and the “why not’s” as well. “What if my business could support us really well?”. My heart is very much in my business, and whatever shifts I have to take over the years, the freedom it allows me outweighs anything else.

And It has been fine, a year and a bit later and we are still happy with our decision, there hasn’t been one single month that we’ve not been able to afford to pay the bills as well as buy a few ‘nice to have’ things too. We LOVE the flexibility of both being at home and completely setting our own schedule.

BUT, we haven’t been able to actually save any money, and that feels like a huge thing that’s been missing. We did spend a chunk of money that Kieron had saved while he was still working on converting our campervan. We figured it was necessary for traveling and for holidays, and it’s a big asset that’s worth more now it’s complete.

I don’t think either of us realised *just how much* having one income would mean I’d have to work though. Along with a tonne of other things health wise in the family going on in 2021 it has often felt like a bit much. I was (am) working enough so that I can pay for everything we need to pay for, but also, that’s really hard with a toddler who needs his Mum really often too, even with Kieron at home. He is often pretty wakeful at night and only wants me. Sleep training and that sort of thing don’t feel like an option for us, so it has definitely been a challenge.

I’m being gentle with myself. It’s a lot of new responsibility all at once so I am really aware that I’m doing extremely well considering all the challenges.

I’ll also never forget the privileges I have for being born into this body, in this country, in this time in history, into this life where my challenges are significantly less than the challenges that others face.

Where we’re at right now…

So, this brings me to the Christmas period just gone where I finally had some proper time off after our decision to have the one income!

We’d been tootling along, everything fine, but like I said, not really able to *get anywhere*. It felt like we’d be stuck right where we were, in this hand-to-mouth cycle financially.

I’d already identified that I couldn’t work in the same way I’d always been working before having a child. It’s something you can’t really plan for, because every child is different, but also every Mum and every parent is different! People can advise you on what it’s going to be like, but it’s a learning curve and you just have to feel your way really.

I realised that my previously laid back approach to timelines with projects wasn’t going to work for me any more. In the past, if projects stacked up a bit, it was no big deal, I always caught up. But it has just been so damn hard to catch up in the past year with anything that’s gone on longer than planned. It’s not really anyone’s fault, I’m just glad I realised that I needed to change the way I was working.

So I toyed with really strict timelines and no set deliverables instead. Enter my 2 Week Design Intensive (as well as a few other new services) – and my God, it was night and day. Getting the project completed and out of the way during 2 weeks has just been amazing for keeping a clear head.

I still have my full branding process available, but having these supporting services with very set timelines means I can book less of the larger projects leaving more space to complete them and allowing me to be fluid still. They are the projects where I’m working with multi-layered businesses that perhaps span different industries. They do need the space and time for creative thinking and I can offer that when I know exactly (or near enough) when the other smaller projects are ending.

Sorry, back to now…

Over Christmas we’d got to talking about the future as you do. We talked about how the house we’re in is wonderful, we’ve renovated the whole place over the last decade, including major lansdcaping work and the garage built (my studio office is above the garage) and we do love it, but there are things that we’ve always wanted that just aren’t possible with this house.

I think the past few years have been seriously perspective altering. Finishing the renovation of the house once felt like the ultimate goal to me, but we’ve surpassed that now, and after becoming a Mum I’ve realised that it’s not all about how the house feels decor wise. That is important, but almost more important is how the house functions for us as a family and how we see our lives in the future.

Having Kieron at home and being as flexible as we are has brought those loftier dreams to the surface. Like, could we actually do these crazy things we dream about?

Things like owning land to raise a few animals on to give Logan a little slice of what Kieron had on the farm he grew up on. Having the space to perhaps have holiday lets as an income stream. Building our own house from the ground up. Living by the coast. Where could we move to while we’re not tied down by employment and schools locations?

A smallholding for sale sparks a whole host of thoughts

This all ramped up a bit when we saw a smallholding with 14 acres, a farmhouse, and farm buildings available for 450k in Pembrokeshire. Pembrokeshire is where Kieron’s parents live, so it was a place we’d always considered we could move to.

The smallholding was a fantastic price for what it is, and we wondered if we could afford it. So we had our house valued and were pleased to know that it’s now worth a lot more than we thought. It was bought for 140k and is now worth 400k after all the work we’ve done to it and the current housing market.

400k is not 450k though. We looked into mortgages and with me being self employed, on maternity leave recently, and with us having only one income, the bank would not even consider giving us anything more. And in fact, because a mortgage is paid off when you sell, and you take out an entirely new one on your new property…it wasn’t even an option for us to buy anywhere else at the same value. We wouldn’t even be able to get our current mortgage again (don’t get me started…?).

We realised that if we wanted to move to a different property any time soon it would have to be somewhere that costs much less and would involve downsizing.

It sparked this whole discussion about how we were going to begin making our dreams happen if our only option was to downsize. Was that too much of a step backwards? We looked at house prices in other countries – take Canada for instance; if we moved to Nova Scotia we’d have enough left from the sale of our current house to buy somewhere with land out there and be mortgage free. And that sparked our thoughts about mortgage freedom and how great that would feel for me…how much less stressful day to day life would be.

Canada ended up being too far – being that far away from family now that we have Logan felt like too much.

But we thought about other ways. Perhaps downsizing drastically in the short-term would hugely benefit us in the long run? We do own over half of our house, so we thought about what we could actually do with the money left from the sale. How could we continue to live with this flexibility but begin working towards the future now, with projects for Kieron to get stuck into?

So what’s the actual plan then?

What we landed on was this: We can buy a big caravan to live in for a while…and buy a project house to renovate. That would still leave us some money to actually do those renovations, and I’ll just need to earn enough money to pay our much smaller outgoings, and can save whatever extra I have.

We’d flip the house, the idea being that we’d make a profit on it…and once it’s sold there’s no mortgage to pay back so the cash will be all ours. Having a towable caravan means we can then repeat the process, moving the caravan to the next site, hopefully increasing our cash pot again.

The end game is to have enough cash to buy some land and build the house of our dreams. By the coast. With room to have animals and holiday lets and whatever else we can dream up.

It’s a risk, as any investments and drastic plans are. But while Logan is young and not in school yet, and while we’re relatively young (and stupid?!!) it feels like it’s now or never.

We’ve gone through the renovation process once, and we won’t need to do everything ourselves as we’ll have enough money to pay for the big bits of work. It’s a plan that both Kieron and I are really excited about. In fact, it’s the only plan that we’re both fully on board with out of the many we’ve pondered. We’ve both always been interested in property, renovating, self-building etc.

And when we say caravan, what we mean is this baby. Perhaps not this exact one, but something close that’s towable with a pickup type truck, that gives Logan a bit of space to play and a separate sleeping space. Oh, and we are keeping our little campervan too – a studio space for me, plus we’ll still need holidays.

Downsizing in this way actually feels so expansive. I am really looking forward to consolidating all our belongings down to the essence of what we actually need. We don’t buy a tonne of stuff, but there is definitely a lot of sorting out to do.

We’re under no illusions that this is the easy way. My God, it really isn’t. But here we are, house on the market, excited and anxious to step into this new phase.

Living small for a while so we can reach our dreams a little faster and way more flexibly.

Wish us luck!

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A question I frequently get asked is how to make sure a brand identity stands the test of time. It’s so hard to work on your own brand identity; you’re really close to it and you see it so often that your own perception of it is skewed from what other people see. People need repetition!

The main thing to note about your brand identity is that people need to be able to identify you again once they’ve seen your branding the once. So there is a little wiggle room for variety, but things always need to be identifiable as being yours. This is where trends can harm you rather than make you necessarily look more up-to-date.

And so here are my thoughts on making sure your brand identity stands the test of time.

Firstly, you’ll need to think about what your brand stands for on a wider level. If you had to pivot and change your product or service, what values or elements of your story and brand would stay the same?

An example is if you’re a jeweller, your work and style might evolve over time, but what inspires you at it’s core probably won’t. What is it that’s at the very core of your brand – the why or how you got here?

It could be a set of values, it could be your story, it could be a number of things. I don’t mean all the rest isn’t important, it totally is…but you want to get right to the heart and work out what’s unwavering.

And so how do you translate that into design?

The fun bit! You’ll want to build these foundational things into your main brand identity – so into your logo and branding elements, your colours, the mix of fonts you use. It’s about finding the balance.

It’s not an easy process, but what I mean is that different parts of your brand foundation can come through in different areas. Always try to see the bigger picture of how things work together.

Not every part of your brand identity needs to convey EVERYTHING. That’s why you have different ‘moving parts’ (logo, palette, font system)

Colour is great for quickly conveying FEELINGS, EMOTIONS, and VALUES. Typography can show if your brand is MODERN, CLASSIC, or RUSTIC.

And logo icons, graphics, and illustrations can actually tell stories, or convey ideas and meaning in visual form. Everything works together to build a picture for your audience.

You’ll want to make sure it’s clear and that the things you’re showing are going to resonate with your audience. BUT at the very beginning you might not know your audience well, so don’t let that bit hold you back.

Focus on conveying the true essence of your brand so that people can quickly self-select. “That’s for me”, or “That’s not for me”.

The WORDS you use need to be much more rooted in the knowledge of who your client or customer is, and your WORDS are something you can easily tweak as you get more clear on that. Your brand identity is there to show the core of who you are (as a business), what you value and why, so that you attract like-minded people. Then you can have fun with trending things like gradients – as long as not every part of your brand identity is changing with trends, you’re allowed to have fun!

If you need more help with this don’t hesitate to email me at with your questions, I’d love to help. You can see the branding packages and other services I offer here.

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Laney from Silent Goddess Art Jewelry got in touch via Instagram after seeing the work I’d done for fellow jeweler Rosy Revolver. I’m always so pleased to be able to work with jewelers because I specialised in jewelry design and silversmithing in my Art degree. I later got into branding and graphic design via a corporate role – it’s so much fun to be able to combine my knowledge and expertise in these two industries and create beautiful, multi-faceted brand identities that really show the heart and soul of my clients’ work, but that also allow them to grow.

This is exactly what Laney needed – a brand identity that felt true to her work now, but that would allow her work to evolve and grow over time.

Here’s the summary of how Laney’s brand needed to feel:


(This addresses 2 key things to help keep your brand consistent and strategic: (1) how you want to make people feel and (2) what words that you want them to associate with your business.)

I put together the mood board below first, before diving into the design phase.

I was able to create a brand identity that Laney loved during the first design phase! See part of the process of bringing it all together below, plus a closer look at each element.

Main logo design over an original painted background created on Procreate/iPadPro
Main logo
Secondary Logo
Secondary logo
Circular logo and makers marks

After working together Laney said:

From the first moment Meg sent over a preview of the branding package she created for me, I’ve been pretty speechless and I find myself in that same predicament as I’m writing this. I HIGHLY encourage you to reach out to Meg if you are interested in branding for your business. She did such an outstanding job and is so wonderful to work with. Meg, I continue to be in awe of the package you created for me. You are incredible. Thank you ⚒️???

If you’re looking for stunning, professional branding head on over to my services page to see the packages I’m currently offering.

Please do get in touch if you have any questions, the chat box in the bottom right of the page is the quickest way to chat to me!

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Safiyyah approached me via Instagram and asked me to create a Brand Identity Design for her business and I couldn’t wait to get started working with her!

Safiyyah is a British born artist and textile designer based in Birmingham. She specialises in floral print and pattern, taking inspiration from her original art work.

Her unique watercolour style embodies the magical unexpected beauty and wilderness found in nature, with all its imperfections. Safiyyah’s style encapsulates nature in its entirety as she strives to transport you to a world full of enchantment and beauty through her art.

Her audience for her beautiful nature inspired artwork had grown quickly on Instagram and so she wanted to make sure her website and the packaging for her paintings and products was professional and created a beautiful client and customer experience.

Here is our goal for how the Safiyyah Studio Brand Identity needed to feel.


This addresses 2 key things to help keep your brand consistent and strategic: (1) how you want to make people feel and (2) what words that you want them to associate with your business.

After we were on the same page about how the brand identity needed to feel, I put together a mood board to show the direction.

After the mood board phase I was excited to dive into the design and I managed to create something Safiyyah loved during the first design round!

I created a unique typography logo, hand-drawn the leaves and branches, and overlaid them with Safiyyah’s own watercolour work and photographs.

I used overlay effects in InDesign so that the different layers of the background somewhat blend together to create this gorgeous textural effect. It bridges the gap between Safiyyahs floral artwork and her landscapes and feels distinctive without taking the emphasis away from her art.

See the process video of the brand identity I designed for her, along with a closer view of all the details below!

Main logo design
Main logo and colour palette
Typography logo with green textured botanical background
Logo design for Safiyyah’s watercolour landscape series
Circular logo
S monogram design
Tagline design
Product packaging

Here’s what Safiyyah said about working with me:

Meg from Lemon & Birch was a joy to work with. She just completely understood me and my brand and created something that was full of magic and soul. She helped me create beautiful cohesive brand packaging that evokes a feeling of enchantment!


If you’re looking for stunning, professional branding head on over to my services page to see the packages I’m currently offering.

Please do get in touch if you have any questions, the chat box in the bottom right of the page is the quickest way to chat to me!

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TLDR: Your photo, your words, my animated doodles! Click here to see my availability and book this design service. Scroll down to see examples ??

There are so many wonderful people with small businesses these days – you shouldn’t see this as a a bad thing for your business at all though. There is more than enough work to go around, it’s just a matter of being MORE YOURSELF, because you are the only version of you.

People can sell something similar to you, but no one’s going to do it exactly the same as you do it. Plus, the people following along with you probably don’t follow along with all the other people in your industry. They probably follow a select few that they relate and identify with personally in some way.

You don’t need to share absolutely everything about yourself, but bits of what really makes you YOU here and there will go really far to forging connections with people that just GET you and your business.

I think we’ve all been through that phase of wondering whether we should make it clear that it is JUST US in our business, or whether we should use the WE instead of I. I think years ago we all thought it looked more professional if our businesses looked bigger than they actually were. Nowadays though there has been a big shift towards people wanting to buy from small businesses, solopreneurs, and people just like them. It goes for both product and service based businesses – being small is now a superpower!

One of the most fun things about being a small business is your ability to experiment and try new things – there are no gatekeepers, there’s no one to approve the new thing you want to do. There’s just you (and possibly your VA or small team). Experimentation is something I personally just love to do and it’s what can often lead to really cool new offerings, or a new way of sharing what you do via social media, or a fun thing that can make your website shine just that little bit more.

I found something that is all of these things for me, and I want to share it with you right here!

As you probably know if you’re reading this, I’m a designer and illustrator, and I’d seen some super creative people drawing over their photos and sort of ’embellishing’ them with the procreate app and their iPad and apple pencils. I gave it a go and it was fun and creative and just a nice extra to share on my insta account. I’d also seen that GIFs had become really popular, you know those ‘stickers’ on insta stories where you can add little moving phrases and pictures? That’s not the only place you can use GIFs but it’s where I saw text animated so that it ‘danced’.

I thought “What would happen if I put these two things together, the embellished photos and the dancing animated text?”

What I created was SO MUCH FUN to design! The embellished and animated photos are eye catching and quirky (I haven’t seen anyone else combining both these methods…yet!) and SO filled with personality.

I’m hooked on creating them and so I now offer this as a sweet new design service. You can book your slot here!

I also made a tutorial for anyone that has an iPad and the procreate app so you can try it yourself if you want to. iPad and Procreate are just the tools I use and a similar method would work if you have other drawing software that uses layers and allows you to export as file types like .gif and .mp4 – Photoshop would work if you have a tablet that allows you to draw directly into it.

The examples

I thought it would be really helpful to show you some ideas of how this animation method could be used over your own photos, but the possibilities are endless. All I need is a photo of your choice and some text that you’d like me to add over the top. You can specify whether you’d like colour added too, or can leave it to me to work my magic!

This example is a really lovely way to share more of what your brand is all about on a wider level. What’s the inspiration behind everything you do in your business, what mantra really resonates with you? A stock photo from unsplash could be used, but your own photos are always going to be the ones that are best placed for your brand. You can post this on Instagram repeatedly! Obviously not in a short time frame, but you should never feel like you can only share something once. No one is going to see everything single thing you do, so repurpose and re-share!! Photograph taken by my brilliant branding photographer friend Sophie Carefull.
Here’s another example that works well for brand building. This is a mantra/affirmation that I use myself often when I’m feeling anxious about the future (both personally and business wise). The photo is another of my brand photos taken by Sophie Carefull and it works really well on my ‘About Me’ page because I talk about loving dungarees and hydrangeas!
Here is something that would work nicely for product based businesses – your tagline, or what you do over a really great photo of your products is a winning combination for your website ?? Photo by Sophie Carefull
This one is perfect for those introduction posts we all love to share on Instagram periodically. You could also add this to an ‘about me’ or ‘start here’ highlight for when new people arrive on your profile and want to learn more about you. It’s also obviously would absolutely great for your website – homepage, about page, blog sidebar, so many options! Photo by Sophie Carefull

So there it is: Your photo, your words, my animated doodles!

The introductory price is £75 and the file types I’ll provide are:

  1. One still (non-moving) version as a jpeg file
  2. The animated version as an mp4 video file – this is usually only a few seconds long but Instagram automatically loops it when you upload to your feed, or you can loop it to make it longer with various free apps
  3. A gif file – many website platforms/builders will allow you to upload an animated gif file in place of the standard still jpeg or png file.

After booking your slot in my calendar, please email your photo over. If you’d like text on your image, please email the text over along with your photo. I’ll need this BEFORE the date you booked in my calendar. Usually I’ll provide the files within 2-3 days, but I’ll always keep you updated.

Please do email me at or click on the chat box (in the bottom right corner) if you would like me to check your photo for usability. You can upload files via the chatbox 🙂

If you’re ready to book your slot for this in my calendar you can click here!

And don’t forget the tutorial I made if you have the tools and software and would like to learnt the method yourself.

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Recently, my bike had a bit of a spruce-up (stick with me…). The bike itself is a sweet ‘ladies’ style one I bought when we were on a campervan holiday in France years ago.

I had still been using an old Saracen mountain bike that was a bit rubbish and really uncomfortable, and in a bid to make bike rides fun again I bought this new one. I let the old, uncomfortable one go and it felt good.

This new bike made the holiday SO MUCH MORE FUN for me. I was excited about riding again because the ‘sit up’ style of the bike and the comfier (wider ?) seat meant I wasn’t in pain after every ride.

I bought a cute basket for the front from an outdoor market and we rode to the bakery and back again for baguettes and pastries in the mornings. I was living the dream.

Fast forward to when we got home again to our rather hilly area of North Wales. My low budget bike meant that the thing is made of steel and is HEAVY. That’s no bother when you’re cycling along the flat, but it makes life a lot harder when cycling anywhere means you have to ride up hill all the way back home ?

My lovely new bike sat in the garage gathering dust. Cycling just wasn’t fun again.

Now, my Dad is really into his bikes and cycles for miles up and down dales, and in a bid to get me back on mine again, he and my husband hatched a plan to fit it with a motor and battery and turn it into an e-bike for my birthday.

What a bloody brilliant idea – they did an epic spruce-up of my bike and it certainly did the trick! 

A pregnancy and a newborn baby meant it sat for a little while longer until we found a kids seat that fits over the pannier and battery at the back…but now I’m all ready to go and am EXCITED and looking forward bike rides again.

I was reflecting on this and it made me think of our businesses and how they can either serve us well and feel light and FUN, or when things are no longer serving us they can just feel like a real hard slog.

Things change over the years, and our businesses need to shift and change with us. Things should feel exciting and light and fun and if they don’t, we need to think about how we can make moves in the direction of excitement again.

I’m not talking about ‘shiny new things’ necessarily. Sometimes ‘new’ is what’s needed, and sometimes it’s just about letting go of some things, sprucing some things up, and doing more of what feels light and enjoyable.

Here are some ideas for sprucing up your biz world and for tuning into what feels light and enjoyable!

Let it go (Let it go… ❄️)


Are you on ALL the social media platforms? Are you trying to do ALL the things to market your business? This can just make you feel scattered because you’re spreading your energy too thinly. Doing a couple of things well and with great energy is so much better than trying to do everything. Which social media platforms do you enjoy? Stick with those.


Go further and think about which features inside the social media app you enjoy using. Yes it might be true that apps like Instagram ‘reward’ (for want of a better word) those that go all-in and use every feature, but what’s the ‘reward’? A bigger following? Can you stay engaged with that following or are those numbers just a vanity metric? I’m absolutely not telling you to not try each feature. Please do try them all if you want to and have the headspace to do so. But find out what works for you and let go of the rest.


Do a digital de-clutter and shut down the profiles that aren’t serving you. I’m taking my own advice and shutting my twitter account down. I don’t really get it, it doesn’t serve me, and my mind will feel less cluttered with it gone. Remove people from your following if they don’t engage with you, and unfollow anyone that doesn’t inspire you. 

Spruce it up


Sometimes brand new is necessary, but not always. It’s amazing what a little spruce up can do, you could feel renewed and excited again. Refreshing your branding is an obvious one (you know I’m here for you for that ?) but there are so many other things like making improvements to your website or refreshing the things you share or the ways you share on social media. Mix it up!


Refresh your product offering, client packages, or process. Especially when you’re delivering services you can repackage things in a slightly different way perhaps with a refreshed process too, and suddenly it might click with people who have been following you but haven’t bought from you or invested yet. This happened for me with this new offering. For products, you could refresh your packaging and make the experience of buying from you even more magical.


Repurpose past things you’ve created/written. With a few tweaks it could feel like something totally new ??. Think about new ways of delivering what you’ve already created. I recently discovered HelloAudio (affiliate link) which is a way to create private podcasts. You can create audio content, or repurpose video (they’ll do it for you, just upload the videos) and create a link that will allow your audience to subscribe and get the episodes in their own podcast app. No specialist app needed, most podcast apps work – it really is like a private podcast feed! You could provide it for free, as part of a course you’ve created, or it could be a standalone paid offering. This is something I want to take advantage of because it means people can take your content AWAY from the screen and listen to it whenever, wherever ??. Even things that need visuals can work – it takes some of the overwhelm away just consuming the content with one of your senses first. Then people can look at the video or visual elements afterwards when they feel ready alongside the audio. 

Something new?


If there are some things you’ve let go of, can you start something new that feels aligned with your values and the way you want to run your business? I want to encourage you to experiment. Ask yourself ‘What would happen if..? and insert your own crazy new way of doing things that might just actually work. Sometimes we have to offer our audience NEW ways of working with us, at different price points. Sometimes people have been following along and for ages and are just waiting for the right time and the right thing to invest in.


If the way you’re presenting yourself and your brand online feels particularly misaligned maybe it is time for an overhaul. A new brand identity that perfectly shows the heart and soul of your business will make you feel excited about showing up and sharing your magic again. After working with me on her branding, Katie said “I’ve adored the experience of working with Meg on my branding and I’m totally in love with the final result. The concept she came up with is so stunning and so me – I still can’t quite believe it’s mine! I can’t wait to start using it.”


Is there a new tech tool or some new hardware that’s going to make your life or your work easier and more efficient? I invested in a macbook pro earlier this year which is loads more powerful than my desktop computer (and so is quicker with many tasks) and allows me to work away from my desk. That’s invaluable to me – I need ultimate flexibility because we want to travel soon and I’ll be working on the road more. Just because something is expensive it doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to invest in. Reflect on what will make your life/work/business easier, more efficient, or more enjoyable and invest in that.

I hope this has helped you to think a little differently about your business. If you feel like you need a little clarity I can help you un-muddle things via a 1to1 session.

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May will soon become June and this year (2020-2021) has certainly been one I will never forget. I’ve had some amazing opportunities to work with some incredible businesses and had my largest earning month to date in March, but there’s also been a couple of things that really didn’t go to plan.

I had to terminate the contract for one project I was really excited about working on. It’s the first time this has ever happened to me and I’ll be honest and say it really knocked my confidence. The client paid a deposit, we had our kick-off call to make a start which went really well, but there was information I was waiting on.

I asked multiple times for the information I needed and in the end really couldn’t wait any longer. After not hearing anything for over a month I offered to restart the project at a later date (with no restart fee) but have had to shelve it for now with the earnings from it I was expecting to make crossed out of my books. I still haven’t heard anything!

That, coupled with the easing of lockdown in Britain where everyone is happy to be able to see friends and family again (and rightly so) has made for a slower couple of months in terms of earnings compared to my mega month in March. I’m STILL learning, after 4-5 years in business that this is just the way it works.

It’s an ebb and flow, a seasonal rhythm, yet it still catches me off guard. You have times where your business makes you feel like you’re on the top of the world, and then something shifts, and you’re second guessing whether you’re doing the right thing, whether you’re really cut out for running a business.

I’m learning that everything moves with the seasons – my business tends to be busy for bookings from late Summer through to Spring, it’s that ‘back to school’ energy where everyone is hyper focused on starting new things, and it’s the same with the new year too.

That energy runs all the way until about now, where everyone seems to just slow down. It makes sense now I’m thinking about it, Summer is to be enjoyed, it’s for relaxing and going on holidays (staycations this year maybe!). And I think I need to let myself ease into that too. Soon enough the energy will shift again, and if I don’t let myself rest and be at peace with the season I’m in, I won’t be ready to be swept up in all that energy again. 

Sometimes though, it gets to the point where you just need a little sign from the universe that you’re in the right place and it’s ok to rest for a little while.

My sign came in the form of a message through my website:

“I came across your website last year & was COMPLETELY wowed by your work & your warm approach, WHICH SHINES THROUGH ON YOUR CORNER OF THE INTERNET. I wasn’t ready to “take the leap” in my own business then…but I am now. So where did I head to once I made this decision? Straight to you!”

A few days later, this lady has booked into my calendar and we’re looking forward to working together soon. It flowed with ease, no back and forth about scope and pricing, just warmth and excitement and it’s been an exchange that will stick in my mind for a long time.

It reminded me that the seeds you plant now might not bloom straight away. But some time in the not too distant future those flowers will spring up and you’ll realise the things you put in motion in the past made this happen TODAY ?

A potential client and customer that finds you will likely not book or buy straight away. They need to see you and hear from you multiple times until they’re at the point in their life when they ARE ready. Then you’re the obvious choice if what you’re sharing resonates with them and they’ve been reminded about you enough times.

Keep showing up, keep shining. You are seen even when no one ‘says’ they see you in this moment.

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