Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full-time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).
Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.
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Lucinda tells us how her passion-project blossomed into a business and proves once again that following your heart is the key to happiness. I found her profile through my love of interior design and sensed a Strong Yet Feminine woman behind the scenes. I wasn’t wrong!
What advice would you give to others who wish to follow their creative passion?
I would always encourage people to follow their creative passions, especially if they have the potential to turn them into a great business idea. I live by the motto that ‘life is too short’ from my own experiences. I used the time I had off work while pregnant and bringing up a baby to explore the ideas that were simmering in the back of my head. I would have hated to have carried on in teaching and wondered ‘what if?’. As I am quite risk averse, I knew I could go back into teaching if I couldn’t make the blogging work for me and my family.
When did your passion for interior design start and have you had any training?
I have had no training whatsoever, so sometimes I have Imposter Syndrome! My love for interior design started from a very early age. I have always taken pride in how my bedroom looked growing up, and when my little sister was born in 1998, I project managed the décor in her nursery; looking back, it was hideous: imagine dark green and multi-coloured patterned carpet, bright yellow wallpaper complete with a lime green, pink and orange border- I felt like Linda Barker! When I was 11, I went to boarding school, again, taking my love for interior design with me, making my room feel homely while away from home; there were a lot of blow up plastic cushions, armchairs and walls strewn with David Beckham, Eminem, and later, Vogue covers and fashion campaigns.
Tell us about your life before interior design, what path did your career take?
Straight after graduating from Manchester University in 2009, I worked for a lettings company in Brighton for just over year as a negotiator, and as I had a burning desire to move to London, I got a job in recruitment in the City. Whilst there, I realised that the sales environment wasn’t for me, so after six months, I decided to move into teaching.
In 2011, I got a position in an inner-city academy in South London, working as a Teaching Assistant in a Nurture Group, which aimed to help students who struggled with the curriculum learn the skills they needed in order to go in to the mainstream school and cope with the demands of Key Stage 4. After a really rewarding year, I begun Teach First in 2012, which is a highly competitive two-year teaching programme, where after 6 weeks intense training, you teach full time and gain your PGCE on the job. I was teaching English to a lot of challenging students from year 7 to 13, and anyone who teaches will tell you how demanding it is; from marking over 100 books every fortnight in detail, to on the spot OFSTED-style observations, and of course, creating lessons and resources for every child of varying abilities to access the learning objective. My students were largely wonderful, and I really enjoyed teaching them all, so it was with a heavy heart, and nearly four years in the school, that I left in order to move to our first home in East Sussex with my husband, James in early 2015.
After a short stint teaching in a new academy nearby, I discovered I was pregnant with our daughter, Sienna. Exhausted and feeling like I was unable to be an amazing teacher and mother, I decided to take the plunge and leave teaching for good. Simultaneously, I set up my Instagram feed @nest_twenty_eight to document the changes I was making at home to share with friends and family, and I didn’t want to lose the ability to write, so set up a blog on the side.
When I started posting pictures of my home, there weren’t many people doing interiors focused feeds in the UK, so I picked up traction quite quickly, as my pictures were shared on some bigger accounts here, and in the USA. Motivated by this, and as I missed working and earning my own money, I wondered whether somehow I could monetise my Instagram page, and after posting every day, I picked up my first client, and I haven’t looked back since.
I have been so fortunate to work with lots of national and international brands, who I create content for in my home and share with my followers. I’ve also met some amazing people through the interiors community, some of whom I consider my friends! I feel very fortunate to do a job that I love, I can do from home and around Sienna, and something that allows for complete creativity.What inspired you to start your blog where it all began?
I wouldn’t say I was inspired, but rather, I wanted something to keep my mind sharp while taking the longest time I’d ever taken off since I started working. I also found it therapeutic to write about my home, and to share my interior ideas with others.When was the moment that your Instagram following took off? Was there a crucial moment?
Yes, in 2016 and after a few months of posting every day, my following took off and I average about 1000 new followers every week. It took me by surprise, and still does to this day.How long would you say it took to make the business financially viable for you?
It took me about 8 months of hard work to begin making money from my Instagram and blog. It’s been a fascinating experience setting my business up from scratch and learning new skills when working with clients.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I get it from everywhere around me: Pinterest, other real but stunning homes on Instagram and also places I visit, be it a restaurant, well designed shop or a National Trust home. James also buys me lots of interiors books, I particularly love the Scandinavian ones- they’re full to the brim of not only beautiful décor, but a beautiful way to live too.
How do you make your business work for you to ensure you are happy and healthy?
Even though I work for myself and from home, I follow a structured working day, probably shaped by my time at school as a pupil and as a teacher. If I have a deadline for a client, I make sure I complete all the deliverables well before, to give room for amendments, if any. I take my photographs for my feed on the mornings Sienna is at nursery and when the light is good, as I don’t use any third party apps or filters. When I am doing general pictures for my feed outside of paid promotions, I try and photograph several rooms in my home in one go to make the styling process less taxing overall, and then I’ll get my post for that evening ready and saved. I also make sure I reply to important emails as quickly as I can, as I don’t like them hanging over me, and every one could be a potential long term business opportunity. I am very lucky that I can work around Sienna and as I stare at a screen for long stretches of time, I do my best to not be on my phone once I post in the evenings, which also allows me to spend quality time with James and enjoy some downtime.
Tell us about a Strong Yet Feminine woman in your life who inspired you.
Hands down, it has to be my Mother. She has overcome so many obstacles in her life, including a near fatal car accident when I was 5, the loss of my brother when I was 8 and getting back up from these physical and emotional blows and showing us, that while these are things you don’t ever get over, you can use them to help you move forward as a resilient and strong person, with a good sense of context in life, that I live by. She has always encouraged me and my siblings in our education, to be appreciative of how lucky we were to have it, and to use it to our advantage. On a less serious note, she also has an amazing vintage wardrobe, that she has pristinely kept from her younger years and we can enjoy now.
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