I did something recently that was completely out of character for me…I applied for The Mollie Makes Handmade Awards 2018.
I’m not an overly competitive person in general but I read recently that a great way to help grow your business is to apply for awards, as it really helps you to get your brand out there. Growing my business is hugely important for me as its my livelihood, so I decided to take the opportunity and apply. I didn’t necessarily think I would win but I thought I had nothing to lose by at least applying, and really, you never know with these things...
The application process couldn’t have been easier – you create a Pinterest Board to represent your brand and indicate which awards you would like to enter. You can enter as many categories as you like too which is a bonus.
I decided to enter The Best Established Business Award. To be honest, I was a little bit torn between that one and The Best Small Business Award Category, but felt from the award descriptions and the fact that this is now my full time job, that The Best Established Business Award was a bit more relevant, even though I felt slightly out of my depth.
When I received the email to say that I had been shortlisted, I couldn’t quite believe it! I was so elated and had a huge beaming smile across my face for the whole day. This feeling was quickly followed however by so much self-doubt and my inner demons telling me ‘I would never win’ and ‘My brand isn’t established enough’.
It’s really hard as a creative sometimes to have complete faith in yourself. Confidence issues have always been something I have struggled with, and its held me back a lot in life. But, one of the best things about starting Hello Marilu is that it has helped me to put myself out there and out of my comfort zone in lots of different ways.
After seeing who I was up against, amazing brands with huge followings on Instagram, I actually wondered if Mollie Makes had sent me the email by mistake! Its amazing what a lot of nonsense your inner voice can conjure up. I was having a severe case of Imposter Syndrome and not feeling good enough.
One thing I did realise however, was that the way others see you can be completely different to how you see yourself. Yes, I didn’t feel I was worthy of the award as I felt the other brands were much more established than my own, but I had to keep reminding myself that the judges had chosen me, out of 200 people, so the image I am portraying with my brand can't be all that bad.
One of the things involved with being shortlisted is having the opportunity to pitch your brand to the judging panel of industry experts.
Remember what I was saying about getting out of my comfort zone?! Well this is it completely! I’ve always had a huge fear of public speaking, and although I teach workshops its not without nerves at the beginning. But talking for 15 minutes about your brand to a panel of judges was scary on a whole other level.
Preparing for the pitch took me a while. I spent a lot of time reflecting on my brand, where it started, and how it has grown. Its actually a really useful thing to do as its so easy to get swept along with keeping your brand moving forward, and not taking the time to remind yourself of what you have already achieved.
I will admit I had a bit of a meltdown with my nerves and a teary moment just before presenting my pitch. I was disappointed in myself for letting it get to me so much. I guess the reality is though, that apart from nerves, if you are passionate about something, you will also be emotional about it. If I really didn’t care about my brand or the award, or the judges opinions of Hello Marilu, then I don’t think it would have affected me so much.
So I’m trying to take this moment as a huge learning curve, as most of my business journey has been. There are highs and lows of running your own business, but I’ve come to realise that unless you put yourself out there and take chances you are never going to improve or progress. And even if things don’t go well sometimes it doesn’t mean you have failed. I didn't win the Award and I'm ok with that. I am honestly just so happy to have even been shortlisted – it has really made me reflect on my business and where it is going, and helped me to see my brand through other peoples eyes. It feels like a massive achievement to have got this far, and for that I am really proud.
Although pitching to a panel was scary, the judges could not have been nicer. They gave me lots of words of encouragement and tips, which is so great to hear from respected industry experts.
And apart from the scary moment of pitching to the panel, the rest of the day was so much fun. The Mollie Makes Team really set up a great day out where you can take part in workshops, listen to really interesting talks, go on colourful photo walks, and get to know your fellow crafters. The crafting community is such a positive one, that I am so happy to be a part of it, and it was lovely to finish off the day celebrating with a glass of bubbles!
If you run a craft business, no matter how big or small I would definitely recommend applying next year. It doesn’t matter whether you think you will win, or if you think you are good enough, don’t let any self-doubts hold you back. Be brave! Taking a chance is challenging but it also helps you to grow as a person and grow your brand and that is definitely worth a shot!