I’ve never had a proper job. From selling homemade cards when I was 14, working in the film industry, starting one of the first virtual assistant companies and my current work as a life and business coach, for self selected misfit entrepreneurs I’ve always made my own rules.
In my book, Misfit to Maven: From Argh to Ahhh, I openly and candidly talk about my unusual journey from Misfit to Maven, from hard working outsider to smarter working financially stable Maven and Entrepreneur.
But is my journey unique?
Whilst it has certainly been more sex, drugs, and misadventure than others, elements of my story are actually shared by many.
To celebrate the launch of my book, Misfit to Maven, I interviewed a series of Misfit Entrepreneurs about their journey and I hope that our conversations inspire and empower you to move from ARGH to AHHH in your own business and life!
Rebekah Shirley is the woman behind Plumquake illustrations and Beksies Boutique. Beksie’s Boutique is a UK handmade accessories store, focusing on quality well made items for special occasions and everyday life with a twist. Beksies boutique spends time in the summer months trading at music festival with a portable market store specifically designed for headdresses, bumbags, fur hoods, russian hats and A LOT of glitz and razzle-dazzle. Rebekah’s designs are practical and beautiful, you know it will fit and make you shine out of the crowd, whatever the occasion. Rebekah’s main aim in life is for people to feel beautiful, happy and to have fun!!
What does being a misfit mean to you? Tell me a little bit about a time when you felt like a misfit…
Errr I always feel like a misfit! HA! I like it though. Being a mega geek and super super motivated makes you quite isolated it think. I have never felt part of a group, but i think that’s why I am so productive. When you find a group of people that feel the same way it is very very exciting, and you can’t believe there are others out there that have lived in the same way.
How have you developed your confidence? Or learned to believe in yourself?
My confidence comes from making my dreams a reality, i think pushing on through and never giving up on your dream is great for your confidence, eventually!
For the things I know I can’t do I have developed alter egos. Sounds mental but it really helps me. It is like putting a screen up in front of your face so no-one can see how embarrassed you are.
My characters have their own jobs which they are really good at (that i am not) like speaking in public, or on the phone, selling at markets and being the centre of attention, all important things in my business to be good at.
Knowing that they are really me has helped my own confidence, it proves you can do anything you put your mind to if you really have to/want to, just working out a technique that works for you is key I guess.
How and when did you decide to work for yourself?
I decided five years ago. As a trained illustrator/painter/seamstress i had dabbled in dancing, acting, wig making, teaching, set design, loads of things really. Then one day I woke up and realised i had been running a pub for 2.5 years as well but not really succeeding in other areas. I poured my creative soul into it, and it was awesome but I wanted to do something bigger. So i essentially walked out, started from scratch again, got a part time job in a fabric shop and started being creative again, it grew from there really. I knew I had to work for myself so I could select my type of work, i had too many strings to my bow to be one thing, i needed time to work out which direction to go in and what would still pay my way. There are definitely things I till have on the list, but a few are crossed off now, i would never have got this far part-time or working creatively for somebody else on the side, there is only so much you can give before another area suffers.
Tell me a little about what you do – day to day…
Day to day I mainly sew, sometimes I draw, and admin days are long! In the summer I drive round the festival circuit selling my wares. In the winter I make faux fur products and get me stock up again for the summer.
Who is your ideal customer?
Somebody who is fun living, somebody with an adventurous heart, that appreciates high quality goods and having a big fat laugh in them. Somebody who values ethical production. Someone who doesn’t care what they look like, that’s why I love accessories, anyone can ware them and feel fabulous in them, they are not for a certain demographic, they are just beautiful and practical.
What does success mean to you?
Success is a custom returning to you because they love what you do and think it’s the best they have found. Happy customers. Somebody said to me the other day at a market, ‘i follow you on Instagram and wanted to meet you in real life, you made a bag for me one day and sent it next day delivery the next and I wanted to thank you for doing that for me.’ I thought that was success in my mind, they loved the product and the service and wanted to put a face to the bag, that made me super happy! i think also keeping your values is super important, I could have expanded early on in my business and made some cuts in my production, but I just turned people away instead as they couldn’t meet the standards i see for the future of my own production. I felt that was successful, even though I am the only one who knows about it! HA!
How do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I am pretty lucky when it comes to motivation, actually it’s a bit weird. I think it stems from my up bringing, if I ever feel lazy I have to get on with something immediately. I try to remember how lucky I am that I can get up and go to work in the morning by myself and make what I have made up essentially because it’s pretty (and practical) there is so much freedom in just remembering those simple facts, it gets me up. one of my alter egos Janine is a positivity coach, she is pretty motivating. I am so lucky I do what i love, if i wasn’t motivated I would be worried…
What advice would you give a younger you?
Don’t go to uni, you already know what you need to do and you already do it well, do it now and do it all the time! Although i do think the fun times were a good idea! Don’t be embarrassed by being good at something, just be the best and be proud…shout about it, don’t be shy (hang on i think I am just talking to me now! HA) You are great oh and don’t worry about what people think about you…best friends are for life and love and support comes naturally when it’s true.