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!
Sarah is 50% of jewellery designing duo Sugar & Vice. She co-founded the company in 2007 and takes on an equal share of designing, making and general day-to-day administration. Completely self-taught in both business, and design and laser cutting, she’s also an avid cross stitcher, tea drinker, cat cuddler and tattoo collector.
Sugar & Vice has grown exponentially over the last decade and their jewellery has been featured in magazines like Marie Claire and Teen Vogue and on celebrities like Miley Cyrus.
Find out more at Sugar & Vice
What does being a misfit mean to you? Tell me a little bit about a time when you felt like a misfit…
Being a misfit is often thought of in negative terms, particularly in the mainstream, but to me it means being able to offer something different, on both a personal and a professional level. It means approaching things from a unique angle and procuring an individual perspective, which can only be a good thing in my eyes.
I often feel like a misfit, even now. Whether that involves stares from strangers for being heavily tattooed, or people mistaking my shyness for ignorance, it can be a daily struggle, but only if you place too much emphasis on ‘fitting in’. I say embrace what makes you different and utilise every bit of uniqueness possible for your benefit. It’s also important to seek out other misfits and find comfort in likeminded folks.
How and when did you decide to work for yourself?
I made the conscious decision to work for myself around 8 years ago after being tremendously unsatisfied in an office job. I spent my days feeling pretty lost and bored and, as a depression and anxiety sufferer, it was definitely amplified by my job at the time. Sugar & Vice was around a year old when I decided to leave the comfort of a steady income and it was utterly terrifying but it was also the best decision I’ve ever made, and am likely to ever make! I never set out to be a jeweller by trade but my personality and creative impulses lead me here organically and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Tell me a little about what you do – day to day…
A lot of companies have a very carefully cultivated public image but I’m not afraid to say that what I do for a living might look fun and occasionally glamorous, but that couldn’t be further from the truth most days. A large portion of what I do is communication and social media based, and the rest of the time is spent fulfilling orders. The routine keeps me sane, and I’m very lucky that I can use my free time to be creative, which also benefits the business.
Who is your ideal customer?
Our ideal customer is hard to define because they don’t have the characteristics of any one specific person. Our ideal customers are kind, true to themselves and courageous, even in small ways. We’ve had the pleasure of building up a really special and divergent fanbase over the years and it’s opened my eyes to how wonderful it can be to build relationships with customers.
What does success mean to you?
Success is often measured financially but for me it means being happy, healthy and being able to do something that brings you peace and satisfaction. Being financially comfortable is also important in life but it certainly doesn’t define success to me.
How do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I don’t really have any hard and fast rules as things often feel overwhelming and I regularly have to remind myself that I’ve been here before and I do have the emotional tools to get through it. In the past, I’ve found meditation and yoga helpful but on a more basic level, sometimes you need to separate yourself from the problems and just have a bath and a cup of tea. Never attempt to address the tough times in moments of panic as you’ll dig yourself a hole. Work on your mental and physical health first and everything will fall into place.
How have you developed your confidence? Or learned to believe in yourself?
This is still something I struggle with from time to time. It doesn’t help that my business partner Matt is a wildly talented artist with two science degrees and I’m a university drop-out with no relevant qualifications! The main thing that bolsters my confidence is that people like what we do. Amanda Palmer once said, to paraphrase, that you can’t appeal to everyone all the time, so you should address your focus at the people who are already willing to pay you attention.
I have regular doubts and creative meltdowns but deep down, after 9 years of experience and of being able to grow a business, we’re obviously doing something right and that gives me confidence.
What advice would you give a younger you?
Eat less sugar, give up smoking sooner and stop caring what other people think. Negativity breeds negativity so stay strong and keep your head up while the haters drown in their own intolerance.