Creativity to make you happy

Zabby Allen Instagram Best 9 2017

It's probably a bit late to say Happy New Year now isn't it? But ah well... I read back my Reflections & Resolutions posts from 2016 and 2017 earlier and felt really proud. So much has happened in the space of a few years that I never thought could have. Looking back to 2015, I was still so nervous about releasing products into the world and sharing aspects of my creativity - even setting up this website and blog was a big step for me. Fast forward to 2018 and I work as an editor for three independent magazines, am wholesaling my products and have completed numerous commissions (of all sorts!) for several wonderful clients. As someone with the memory of a goldfish, having these blog posts (and thousands of photos and instagram posts!) to look back on is really important, and also very useful! If you're in that same mindset I was back in 2015/16 then I encourage you to just go for it. I promise that things get easier and your confidence will grow the more you share and the more you sell. Your work will improve the more you do and it deserves to be seen! It might take a while to get off the ground, but try not to lose confidence and keep creating and sharing. Your time will come!

Last year, inspired by an instagram post by Emily Coxhead I started a new tradition on New Year's Eve - looking back through the thigs I'd done in the last twelve months and writing a silly poem about them. The process for me is very cathartic, and it's a lovely way to end the year. The saddest thing that happened to us in 2017 was losing our dog, George. He was such a good friend to me and inspired my Crafty Critters interview series and of course my Underdog pin. I was truly humbled by the outpouring of love and kindness from people when he was sadly put to sleep in June. In December we decided to start fostering dogs, and we currently have Saffie staying with us (you can see her in my Instagram Best Nine above). It's already been such a rewarding experience, and ended our year on a high. On NYE I also sat down and set some goals for 2018, which I wrote in the front of my bullet journal. Having looked back at my previous blog posts I thought it was important to share them here, and look back at last year's goals to see if I achieved them. Despite what I said above and how proud I feel about how far I've come, I know still still have a way to go before my creative career is where I really want it to be, and I'm taking small steps to get me there every year.

Zabby Allen Poem 2017

So what were my goals for 2017 and did I manage to achieve any of them?


  • Give mysef time to draw and develop more products: In 2017 I released new pins, patches, postcards, stickers, t-shirts, letter sets, notebooks and keyrings. I feel really happy with how the shop is developing and can't wait to design some brand new products this year!
  • Improve this website and blog: I wanted to have an integrated shop on this website by the end of 2017 and that didn't happen - I decided that it was more important at this stage of my business to spend time and money developing new products and working on commissions. I do still aim to have my own online shop eventually though, as I still don't want to rely on Etsy too much. For a chunk of 2017 I was selling on Tictail and Etsy, but ultimately decided to stick to one for now, until I work out what my best options are for selling online. I did start a new interview series on the blog - #SPREADTHEGIRLPOWER, which had me chatting to inspiring and creative women I'd discovered through instagram and I did blog at least once a month - twice for the most part. This year I have some ideas for new blog series up my sleeve, which will hopefully get me out into the real world too! I also still aim to use this blog in a more organic way, as more of a diary and sketchbook - but we'll see how I get on with that!
  • See my family more and explore more of the UK: As you'll read in my poem above, I saw a huge chunk of the UK this year and visited places I'd never been before which I really enjoyed! I had a wonderful time visiting my Aunty in Cumbria, my cousin in Newcastle, my Mum and TG in Scotland and my Dad in Somerset, as well as friends in Machester and Kurtis at various jobs around the country in places like Lincoln. I worked on Caboodle in York and hung out with the In Colourful Company crew in Margate (and even hosted my own colour walk!). There are still so many places in the UK that I'd like to visit, so I hope 2018 will be as travel-filled as 2017 was!
  • Make use of my bookbinding skills and perhaps develop some workshop ideas: Although I did make some notebooks for the shop, I didn't do much bookbinding in 2017 which is a shame! I definitely didn't develop any workshop ideas, as other work just had to take priority. Maybe this is something I'll come back to this year...
  • Read more, go to more exhibitions, go to the cinema!: I could ALWAYS be doing more of these things, but I did actually give myself proper weekends off for the most part this year and made sure not to work into the night or work myself too hard (OK... sometimes maybe I worked myself too hard and took on too much!). I have just bought a big stack of new books from Waterstones, am off to an exhibition next week and have a long list of films to see this year, so 2018 is off to a good start.

2018 GOALS

  • Develop more products and focus more on wholesale: In 2017 I did release a whole bunch of new products, but I focused on turning a handful of my designs into several different products, rather than designing lots of new ones. I don't earn a huge income, so I do have to be careful with cashflow and how many products I buy at once. This year I'd like to expand my range more and also get my products into more shops and onto more websites. I am also going to give myself more time to draw and paint for fun. I figure the more I draw, the better I'll get!
  • Improve this website and blog: I have a feeling this may be a goal every year, but I am aiming to blog at least once a month, use my website in a more natural way to document my business and develop some new interview series.
  • Reach a wider audience : I'm definitely not one to get caught up on numbers, but I'd LOVE to reach 10k followers on instagram so I can unlock the swipe up feature and share links with my followers. I also plan to set up an email newsletter in the next month or so too, so I can share freebies and offers with my customers easily - this is something I've been putting off for ages.
  • Sell in the real world: Towards the end of 2018 I'd like to apply for some markets. Having sold at lots of markets before (mostly selling vintage clothes!), I know that they can be TERRIFYING (mostly in a monetary sense) but can also be WONDERFUL. So towards Christmas I hope that I have a good enough product range to apply for a few stands.
  • Read more, walk more, watch more films, go to exhibitions: I'll probably include this goal every year, as I could always be doing more of it. It's so easy to get stuck in the same old routine and stay indoors at my desk, but it's so important to get out and do things. There's no way I'm going to get inspiration for new products sat in front of my computer in the studio. So 2018 needs to be the year of getting out and doing things!... and also sometimes sitting inside and reading a book.

I have a good feeling about 2018! I'd love to hear your resolutions too so send me a link on instagram or twitter.

Happy New(ish) Year!

Tagged: Small Business Posts