I could not wait to share with you Charlotte's journey. Her candid honesty hits home the mindset challenges of impostorism, but also offers practical inspiration on how to overcome it.
Charlotte Argyrou, Botanical Illustrator and founder of the Wedding Bouquet Illustration Service
Number of years as an entrepreneur: 18 months since the launch of her first website and e-commerce shop.
Number of kids she's juggling: Two. Aurelia (5) and Evanthe (3).
Chloe: What was your main reason for venturing into solopreneurship?
Charlotte: I was standing in the queue for the cashier at Marks & Spencer. My (then) three-year-old daughter said, “But Mummy, how are we going to pay when Daddy’s not here.” It hit me really hard. I had always been financially independent until the point I had been pregnant with her. I knew I had to create something for myself that could grow alongside my children. Something that energised and inspired me. Something I could do from home, so that I could still be the primary caregiver. My former career as a fashion PR was no longer viable (too much travel, too many late nights). I looked inwards and realised it was a long-standing secret passion for illustration that must be rekindled and monitized.
Chloe: What have you found most challenging so far and how did you overcome it?
Charlotte: Here’s some notes from a document I wrote in summer 2017 to try to pinpoint my fears, so I could work on confronting and smashing through them.
- “I feel embarrassed to describe myself as an illustrator”.
- “I lack the confidence to pitch my work to my dream stockists. I am not a qualified artist or retailer.”
- “I am nervous to spend money on the start-up costs of this venture, out of fear I may end up backing out of this and having to get a ‘real’ job once the girls are settled in school.”
I can’t believe it when I read that back now. It makes me feel teary with both sadness (that that’s where my head was at), and immense pride at how far I’ve come professionally and personally.
How did I overcome this grim list of my failings? I worked with gritty determination on myself and painting the picture of the life I wanted to live. Confident. Elegant. Creative. Botanical and beautiful, always. I didn’t want to feel stuck and invisible any longer and that was motivation to take action:
- I gathered evidence - through new bookings and client testimonials - that my illustrations made people genuinely and wildly happy.
- I worked with a business coach, who illuminated the pathway for me.
- I surrounded myself with an online community of like minded creative business owners who could entirely relate to every negative thought I’d ever experienced. Together, we sent virtual fist pumps for every emotional and practical WIN and learned lessons and laughed through the inevitable fails.
Chloe: What's your most recent 'WIN' and how did it come to fruition?
Charlotte: The relaunch of charlotteargyrou.com was a monumental line in the sand for me. ON the far side of the line, every aspect of the business was bigger, bolder and most intimately me than I had ever dared to share before. I was terrified the day before I launched my first teaser photo on social media. I felt like I was going to vomit. But once I’d hit “publish”, within 24 hours I felt like I was vibing on a different frequency. And within a week, it didn’t feel like this massive deal anymore. I just finally felt at home in my business – which is an AMAZING place to be.
The whole process took me about six months from the moment I committed to going for it. I work very part time around my two young children, so it was a grind to keep the rebrand moving forward whilst doing illustration work. I loved it though, because I’ve come to recognise the difference between tingly, bubbly excitement and nervous, fearful butterflies. I was really ready, and so the work happened exactly to the timeline I set myself.
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Charlotte's story is a testament on how you can reinvent yourself and walk a new path after you leave your career to become a mother. I hope this interview serves as uplifting motivation, if she can do it - so can you!
You can find out more about Charlotte and her services by visiting her fabulous website at www.charlotteargyrou.com
...And be inspired by her visually elegant Instagram feed here