“I had a burning desire to follow my heart and get back to my paints,” she says. “But I also wanted to tap into something I’ve grown to feel very passionate about while watching my kids try to make sense of their emotions and feelings.”
By combining the two, illustration and imagery, she has created a range of prints that encourage easy, everyday, positive expression for the way we feel and behave.
“I began by creating an alternative A to Z that went a step beyond the obvious, using a whole family of animal characters to represent an alphabet of positive words and attributes in a fun and engaging way, designed to appeal to both kids and adults alike,” she continues.
The name Fearless Flamingo was pinched from the ‘F’ in the A to Z series, not just because flamingos are fabulous, but because it resonated most with Charlie.
“After 15 years working in advertising and three babies I finally had the confidence to venture off on my own journey,” she says.
“It’s a happy coincidence that it also reminds me of the two most important little F’s in my life, my kids – Flora and Fred.”
The range now includes her Stand Tall, Fly High and Dream Big prints, focusing on inspiring words and phrases, and typography prints to bring joy and inspire and nurture a positive mindset.
”There is plenty more to come, my notebook and pad are bursting, and I can’t wait to expand the collection,” she says.
Here she talks to Mumfidential’s, Lulu Luckock
What inspired you to start Fearless Flamingo?
I was pregnant with my 3rd baby and found myself in a bit of a rut, stuck on the neverending treadmill of work and childcare logistics and feeling like I wasn’t really doing great at either, let alone enjoying it!
I’d always thought I’d love ot set up my own business but I had no idea what it could be, or indeed where to start. All I knew was that I had a mat leave ahead of me and it felt like it could be the perfect time to get something underway. A kind of now or never.
The prospect of making my own hours, pursuing something that I loved and having flexibility were all key drivers.
So on a friend’s advice I started keeping notes of all the things that brought me joy. My interests and passions – the things that made me feel excited and rekindled some of the ‘old’ pre-family me.
Not fixating on how to monetise these loves helped me define what they were and after a few months I picked up a paintbrush for the first time since leaving school, and that was the start.
How difficult was it to launch your own business?
I had a bit of time pressure on my side in the form of Isla’s imminent arrival a few months later, but it actually helped to have a deadline!
I knew I had three months to wrap up work and get my first set of prints up and running.
My plan was to launch the web shop just before she was born so I could focus on printing and despatching orders rather than creating.
Our house was a building site at the time too so it was pretty stressful with lots of late night painting and trying to figure out heaps of new things like setting up a website, sourcing supplies etc.
It was so amazing to see it all come together. I finally ended up launching the site when she was about three weeks old, so I almost made it! Getting those first orders in was unbelievably exciting and helped soften some of those memories!
What would you say is your USP?
I hope my work goes beyond just sitting pretty on a wall. I’ve tried to create pieces that spark more meanginful and mindful conversation with children – a catalyst for firing their imagination and opening up their minds.
Do you have a bestseller?
The Alphabet of Emotions print was the first one I created and is still one of my bestsellers.
It’s an A to Z of positive and inspiring emotions and attitudes which I illustrated with a whole family of animal characters to bring it all to life.
This thread of positivity and the desire to inspire has continued into new prints and ranges and I hope that’s what they all bring!
How do you manage to juggle running a business with being a mum?
It’s a constant challenge, I’m not sure there’s any other way to describe it!
I have one in school and the two youngest are at nursery part time so I do have time alone to focus on the business, but not everything fits within allotted hours.
I tend to feel creative at night so there’s a lot of evening and weekend work.
But while it can be totally exhausting and no day off as such, there is such a buzz knowing it’s going toward something I’m building and back into our family.
Working from home has it’s benefits but it also makes it incredibly difficult to switch off as it’s just too easy to pop in and send that last email or start packing the next day’s orders.
Setting boundaries is definitely on my list to work on!
Has Coronavirus had an impact on your business at all?
It has, but totally not in the way I expected!
At the start of lockdown I was convinced this could spell the end for my business but I’ve actually had my strongest two months so far.
Rather than retreating into hibernation mode I tried to think about what I could do now, how I could help and be of service with the skills I had, and through this came ideas that turned into the things that have kept the momentum going.
I shared various free colouring downloads I designed, including a pen pal letter for kids to colour in and send friends and family with all the things they were missing and couldn’t wait to do again.
I also produced packs of colouring postcards too and it’s been amazing to see all the pictures of the writing and colouring going on and how families and friends have loved receiving them.
Who is your inspiration?
So many to choose from but I think Holly Tucker is right up there.
She founded Not On The High Street 14 years ago which has been business and therefore life changing for so many small, kitchen table start ups like mine.
She now dedicates her time to helping creative businesses in all aspects of their journey and I never fail to be inspired by her passion, knowledge and authenticity.
I started listening to her Conversation of Inspiration podcasts when I was thinking about starting a business and they totally gave me the push to just do it!
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