How do you know when you’re ready to take the plunge and go freelance?

One of the most nerve-wracking thoughts is giving up a steady guaranteed monthly wage to go it alone and become self-employed. Yet there is no reward without risk and if you’re lucky, the bigger risk you take the greater reward you earn.

Of course, every situation is unique and we can only offer information based on personal experience. For Olivia and OnlyWillow there was a significant turning point. It was caused by a car accident, which is not a recommended method of triggering an epiphany for anyone.

First Instagram post, silver heart necklace with LOVE stamped across
First post on Instagram, way back in April 2014

Before going full time as a jewellery maker, Olivia was a high school teacher, concentrating on the subjects Food Technology and Textiles. Her first job posting was at Appleby Grammar School and this is how she came to settle in the Eden Valley that has become her home. At the start, she loved working with the students and using her creativity to challenge young minds. Yet over time the job became stifling, overly structured and the emphasis drifted away from what she enjoyed and became bogged down in excessive paperwork. Instead of looking forward to getting to work, Olivia was living for her time away from school where she could be creative, start making and was building OnlyWillow in these precious hours whilst juggling her full-time teaching and hectic social life too.

Luckily, her jewellery received highly positive reactions and her fledgling business began to grow and grow. That early support and recognition was vital in creating a decent foundation upon which OnlyWillow is now built. Olivia worked hard, long hours and frantically for a long time to maintain both her full-time employment and developing her hobby and passion into more than just something to keep her sane or for making gifts for loved ones.

First OnlyWillow sign
The first OnlyWillow sign, the beginning of a brand

Then one morning, on her long commute to school, she was turning into a junction when a car crashed straight into the back of her. After sorting the necessary details, she got back in and tried to continue her drive, but the car only travelled about 10m and in the end was written off. Due to her injuries, which included whiplash and still causes her pain years later, Olivia took 3 weeks leave of absence. During this time she experienced a moment of clarity, after the shock of the incident began to fade, and decided she wanted to finally follow her dream, take a chance and give OnlyWillow her full focus, instead of working at a job she no longer enjoyed.

On a personal note, I still remember the call from Olivia when she rang me to say she had done it, she had finally handed in her notice at school! She was excited, full of confidence and positivity. Then three days later she rang me on the verge of tears, full of doubt and dread. What if it didn’t work out? What had she done, was she being too hasty? As someone who has only ever had a salaried wage and without magic psychic powers, the only advice I could offer was that she had to do what felt right, and teaching was no longer a passion or making her happy, and at the end of the day her happiness was more important the financial stability. You can’t put a price on happiness.

Garden workshop, feat. Nala the dog
When OnlyWillow was based solely online, this is where the magic happened, April 2015

I gifted her with two bracelets with the chakras for Solar Plexus, which represents the traits of will, determination and joy, and Sacral which boosts self-confidence, well-being and passion. She then hung them in her little garden studio for anytime she doubted her decision, they would remind her that she was strong, talented and capable.

By focusing solely on OnlyWillow, the business has successfully grown into a well established company, that brings joy to Olivia and her customers alike. These next months may prove difficult as our national and global economies react to the current pandemic, but we know that with the support of others, anything is possible.

Thank you to @annalulu1 for responding to an Instagram Story asking for more detail about gaining the confidence to go freelance, we hope this inspires you.

If there are any burning questions you may have and would like to know more about, please get in touch and we will be happy to oblige.

 Stay Home and Shop Local where you can.

For even more OnlyWillow, visit our Instagram and Facebook.

Written by Siobhan Green