It’s been a while since I wrote any kind of meaningful blog post over here, well any kind of written post for that matter. Today, I’ve felt inspired to share with you, my business story, and how, after seven years, it’s all finally starting to feel like it makes sense. The stars have aligned, as have all aspects of my business.
Seven years ago, I left my job as Event Manager for Booker. I gave up my pretty decent salary and company car to open up a physical shop in Boscombe and to pursue the Photo Booth business I’d already started to get to grips with. The lack of any kind of business investment never stopped me. I took on a dingy shop in a run down part of town to start selling vintage and handmade wares. I also had a make shift photo studio in the basement in conjunction with the vintage photobooth.
I’ve never been able to focus on just one thing, I’ve always felt like I needed several income streams, and always wanted to do it all. It’s not a good thing, but I’ve learned that over the years and finally that’s paying off. Although maybe I could have got somewhere quicker with just one focus, but then that wouldn’t be me!
After six months of a deadbeat shop with very few customers and no idea what I was really doing, something had to give. I was working around eighty hours a week in the shop and in a bar and I was still not making enough to pay the rent (in the shop or at home) and I hit rock bottom.
I made the decision to give up the shop to focus on the photo booth and finally there was light at the end of the tunnel. I trained as a graphic designer in college, although I was a little rusty, I was able to do all my own logo and taught myself how to build a pretty decent (at the time – in hindsight, it was rubbish!) website. I was doing wedding fairs where I could and online promotion too. Bookings began coming in for weddings throughout that summer and everything was looking up. I was still working part time at a bar in Boscombe but with that and the photo booth income, I was finally able to afford my rent. With the photo booth only taking my time on weekends and the bar in the evenings during the week, I had a little extra time to myself to enjoy the summer.
During this time, I started blogging. Mostly it was a place I could share the struggles and mental torment of giving up a business I’d fought so hard for, which then evolved in to sharing my love for fashion and quirky things. I was pretty late to the blogging game tbh. I remember my friend at the time had been writing her blog for years and I had no idea really what it was all about.
Since the photo booth had lead me in to the wedding industry, I discovered Kat from Rock n Roll Bride, who became a massive inspiration in my time of discovery, in this new self employed life. Whilst I was still living in Bournemouth, I attended her School of Rock blog class in Brighton to try and learn more about blogging. Back then I’d envisioned wanting to take photos of other people in a street style capacity, but I never had the guts to go up to anyone and ask to take their photo!
In summer 2012, the photobooth was going well even if it was still in its primal state. I mean seriously I started off with a photobooth in a gazebo at festivals with a polaroid printer, which evolved into a smaller version of that with a camera on a tripod with free standing flash lighting and a backdrop. Still with very much a vintage feel, while vintage was still a big trend at the time, I was ahead of the game. It was unique and people we lapping it up and it was starting to run itself.
Since I had nothing tying me to the south coast (aside from my love for the beach) and the photo booth business could move anywhere, Brad and I decided to move in together in Bristol after being long distance for three years.
I immediately threw myself in to my new life. I was still finding my feet with blogging. If a little confused, I was drawn to blogging about wedding stuff because I was immersed in the wedding industry and it was all I knew. I was also blogging about my style too and it was all a bit of a mess but I was just trying to find out where my place was in the online world.
I took a leap of faith and signed up to the Blogcademy with the money I had set aside for my rent, because I knew this was something I wanted to do but I needed to learn more. If i’m honest I was a little over inspired by Kat from Rock n Roll bride at the time. She was another pink haired girl in the wedding industry, who was doing amazing things. The internet still felt like a such a small world at the time as I hadn’t discovered all the other sources of inspiration that I now know. I was trying to find myself without knowing what that was and the only way I knew how to do that was to find inspiration from others.
After the Blogcademy, not long after my move to Bristol, I met up with Ali from Bristol Vintage to try and get a foot in the door with the wedding industry in Bristol. After a morning of brunch discussion we’d decided to put on an alternative wedding fair, the Weird and Wonderful Wedding World was born. We ran the show for two years and it was really successful but it was so much work involved for not much income so in 2014 I sold that business – yup sold my first business at age 28.
After being so immersed in the wedding industry, I was tired of it. I still wasn’t engaged myself, after dropping many a hint and it becoming occupational hazard to talk shop a lot of the time. I was bored of talking about wedding stuff via the blog and it had evolved into more fashion and style. I was still blogging on my photo booth website and it was all a little disjointed. It was a conversation I had with Em from Bespoke Bride that I mentioned that the blog and business didn’t fit together, she immediately agreed and suggested I gave the blog it’s own platform. And Mermaid Gossip was born and everything fell into place.
Throughout all this evolving, I’ve taught myself to get better at design by continually upgrading my logos and branding, and then taking on clients to grow my portfolio. I’ve taught myself how to build several wordpress sites, again taking on small business clients and have in the background built up a design & website service also. Always with the fingers in all the pies!
I worked so hard to blog several times a week. I got involved with lots of local blog stuff and it felt so natural like I’d finally found my place online it was exciting. So naturally, I shifted my focus from photo booth business to blog. I was still trying to do it all, build websites, work the photo booth and write the blog.
I was still evolving the photo booth, again with no investment, because any income had to pay bills etc there wasn’t much spare. Brad helped me build several different upgrades of the booth, continually striving to make it better. Better set up, better software, better printing options, better props. Any spare money I had went back in to the business to constantly evolve. I was kind of happy with the way it looked, but it was never perfect and never exactly how I wanted.
With my new found love for all things Mermaid Gossip, I started to fall out of love with the Photo Booth, and I let it slide. I stopped driving the business and just let it run. I took bookings when they came in but I did nothing to help it grow and things started to slow down on that front. In the meantime, I started to make an income from the blog and youtube. Finding new ways to share my skills I’ve accumulated over the years in the form of Girlboss Gossip. Enjoying creating more design work to sell in my online shop. Youtube seemed to be where I got the best response, that really took off as did the income from that so I stopped writing blogs and focused on making vlogs, and concentrating on the stuff that was making me money.
Mermaid Gossip Launches Gossip Booth
Mermaid Gossip became such a strong brand that I am so proud of, that I was embarrassed about my old “vintage” photo booth. The two had become so far removed. For a while I thought I would let it run down slowly and just focus on my design and online business. Then after christmas this year, I was reinspired. It seemed such a shame to just let it go after seven years of growth. I’d thought about selling it but it wasn’t really in a position to sell after I’d let it slide for a year. So I decided to reinvest, rebrand and relaunch completely to give it a new lease of life. (The photos you see here today!)
(if you’re still here, brownie points to you!)
I feel like I’ve come full circle but now I know exactly how to do things and have learned so much over the last seven years. Finally all elements of my creative business are working in harmony together. Now that I’ve discovered who I am, because of me and my loves not because I’m over inspired by anyone else, I feel like my businesses can also represent me perfectly. The photo booth now shows off my colourful personality in a premium and professional manner. Mermaid Gossip is all encompassing Girlboss, Designer and Youtuber. I’m so proud I can finally shout about all sides of the business.
It took this whole journey to get to this point. I needed to separate the businesses for them to come back together under my mermaid tale. I needed to experience all this to be able to learn and grow and find myself. It feels like it’s taken a life time, and sometimes I still wondered if I’m any better off financially (mostly because now I shop to a premium income instead of budget income but I’m always going to spend to my means!) and I still need to teach myself how to manage money.
I genuinely feel like I’m where I dreamed of all those years ago when I had ideas of running a photo booth and a blog and being a designer. I’m here in a position to work it!!
I’ve said it before, I may not have taken the easiest route to finding my success, but everything happens for a reason eh! I’m still on schedule for world domination, maybe just before I’m 40, instead of 30!
Thanks for listening to me if you made it to the end. I didn’t set out for this to be my life story, but I wanted to share to help inspire and also so I have something to look back on in several years time.
Lots of Love
xoxo Mermaid Gossip xoxo