In the mellow words of Duke Ellington, I’m in a sentimental mood.
Sometimes we grow weary, even in the midst of the creative process fuelled by a gigabyte of explosive energy. As bloggers we find ourselves losing the very pith of our vision and often, our narrowly carved paths become that little more indistinguishable.
Naively, I had no expectations when I started blogging, and friendship certainly wasn’t one of them. I vividly remember struggling to convey my excitement without appearing arrogant in the text below each Instagram post, yet I found myself alone, with no confrère (of sorts) to share the journey with. Blogging isn’t a team sport, so naturally, it feels lonely as heck when you’ve no cheerleader to bounce ideas off or to share concerns with. Yes – it’s a hobby, but like most things in life, you can easily grow despondent when you’re alone with your mind, an idea, the element of pressure and no support system.
How did we meet? Well, that’s somewhat of a natural blur. Like all good cyber friendships, the first step began with a glorious red notification. Judy aka French Grey Lifestyle and I chatted via Instagram direct messages for weeks and eventually upgraded to Whatsapp. Yes, it almost sounds romantic.
Plot twist: it wasn’t.
There comes a time when you inexplicably know someone, yet the how/why/where/when bit seems completely abstruse. That my friends was well established before we sipped our first coffee together in Middletown.
Judy is kind. Some people are born with the innate (and covetable) ability to listen, care and dispense valuable tokens of advice; she truly is one of those people. Her words are well balanced, and her opinions are rounded. She’ll tell you the truth – an indispensable trait – yet she beautifully softens the delivery with caring eyes that convey nothing but empathy.
But above Judy’s quirky humour, her infectiously airy attitude and her clear-cut view on life lies something special. It’s a certain je ne sais quoi that has formed from a lack of self-realization, the type that sets her apart from others – she is talented, driven, savvy and relentless, yet she doesn’t even realise the true depth of her gifts. That is what makes Judy, well, ‘Judy’ and I love it.
So, in light of this wonderful human doing something so utterly cool, I just had to write this post. Risktakers, dreamers, and doers excite me – whether it be in the small, or the big – they are such wonderful people to be around. To see Judy launch her own online store genuinely fills me with such excitement and pride. Naturally, I had to ask her a few questions about it.
Moving from managing a rapidly growing Instagram, to opening an online store seems like a natural progression – I’m so excited for you! What made you finally take the plunge?
First of all, thanks so much! My Blog and Instagram have been a labour of love over the past two years and I’m so happy and humbled by all the lovely comments and interaction from my readers and followers. I never thought I’d get any more than a few hundred followers but when it started to take off a bit I found that managing both of them became time-consuming.
A few months ago, with this in mind, I decided to think about how to turn what for me so far has been a hobby, into something that could into a potential career. One afternoon, Mr S suggested that I think about an online store, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I work as a healthcare professional though and to be honest I lack any knowledge of ‘business’ and ‘technology’ so I never had any idea where to start. Thankfully hubby knows a lot about these things and offered to help get me started; a few days of later I took the plunge.
I’ve learned a lot in the past few months and it hasn’t been easy. I quickly came to realise that starting an online store is a big commitment in both time and money and of course, there are so many things to think about.
Even though it’s still early days, all things considered, I’m glad I took the plunge. It’s so exciting seeing everything come together, however I know that that I have a long road ahead of me if I’m going to make it a success but you know what? I’m okay with that – I’m just going to enjoy the journey.
Describe your interior style (or taste, for want of a better word) in three words.
Answer: Calm, Homely, Minimal.
Sharing your world with the internet is a feat in itself, never mind setting up a business linked with that very challenge. What mantra shapes the ethos of your store?
When it comes to selecting pieces for my store and my own home, I always reflect on the quote from William Morris: “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.
I think being mindful as a consumer is so important and therefore choosing pieces that ‘speak’ to you instead of buying anything purely for the sake of it (says she who is a total emotional shopper when it comes to clothes…).
So in a nutshell, everything on the French Grey Lifestyle store can be found in my own home. This honestly makes me so passionate about the pieces I sell, and I truly hope that comes across to my followers.
As a newfound businesswoman (hoo-hah, hoo-ray) what’s the best piece of advice you should give to yourself more often?
I think the key to running a business is to give yourself a pat on the back when you do well, but equally, never rest on your laurels. The second you become complacent about success today, you are a step behind tomorrow. I am constantly searching for something new, something that I love and think that others will also love.
Finally – why interiors? Has that passion always been there, or did it suddenly flourish overnight?
I have always had an interest in interiors; something I’ve definitely inherited from my Mum, Aunt and Sister who are also very house proud. Though in more recent times, Mr S and I have had the pleasure (and pain) of building our own home. So just over 3 years ago the obsession really took off!
As a newly married couple we were on a super tight budget meaning I researched EVERYTHING. This, of course, meant I had to be creative with what limited funds we had. The countless hours and days put into creating our dream home really sparked a true passion and an appreciation for interiors. If I now had the choice to spend £50 on clothes, or £50 on something for my home, I would choose my home as it’s something that is totally worth investing in!
To say I am proud of this girl is an absolute understatement. I’ll miss our little cups of coffee together, hours spent linking each other to random nonsense and of course, being in the presence of someone with a wildly daft sense of humour. Thank the technological heavens for WhatsApp!