Thursday 18 August 2016
2inspire Inspirational Woman: Artist Elle Smith
Elle Smith is an artist who has followed her heart to pursue her dreams, read her inspirational interview below and be encouraged to live a life of your dreams.
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
Well, I do not think there is anything like a typical business day when you work alone. Usually, my day will start with a long list of planned tasks for the day, which I will systematically tackle. However, I have come to appreciate that things may not pan out as first expected, and that there is always a tomorrow, or the next day to achieve those goals.
There is always much administrative work to address, involving speaking with people on the telephone. This is actually part of the task list that I actually enjoy as I find people very interesting, and these interactions even on a business basis can be very enlightening and a learning curve.
A great deal of my time is spent on social media and interaction with my fan base, which is in the region of some 65,000 people. Even I do not appreciate the enormity of this number, as it has grown very rapidly. I guess having worked within finance that I have come to normalise large numbers.
However, it is quite a challenge to manage social media for such a large fan base. I do have some help now, but I still ensure that I personally interact with my fan base on the various platforms; as to me this is very important. These people or “friends” have supported me on my journey, and sometimes even the criticism has been the thing to push me to work harder. It is often moving to me, and humbling to hear the stories of people that I have “touched” with my creative works. Even the other day, someone opened up to me about some abuse they had suffered as a child. It was through a poem that I had written, which had resonated with them and offered understanding to the deep wounds they feel.
I try to include some element of creativity in each day; however whilst I am developing the business, it has meant that my creative time has reduced. Clearly, I love to paint and write poetry especially if the inspiration is given to me. My mind is a furtive place for imagination and alternative perspectives, so I especially enjoy developing ideas. Sometimes this is easy as I connect with the topic, but not always. I have at times had to go on a rapid learning curve, but that’s good as I enjoy learning about new topics.
My day is always busy, not just in physical terms but intellectually too. My head is often flooded with new ideas and thoughts constantly. I must admit this is challenging to manage, so I now tend to reach for a sheet of paper or my I-pad to note down those thoughts. Usually the day starts very early and goes on into the early hours, when I enjoy the silence of the night as there is a clarity of thought at that time, provided I can stay awake.
What made you start the business and how did you get started?
The path to this business was a strange one indeed. I have always been very creative, even in my commercial career, as I would always visualize problem solving differently to others. My actual artistic side was present to a lesser degree as well, and probably only manifest itself in terms of fashion and cooking.
People would often say “You should really get into that as a career”, but I had been brought up to believe that being creative would never amount to anything. Thus, I never explored my creative side probably for financial and social reasons.
I was inspired by someone to explore art a few years ago. Equally, I had probably at that point served enough years in the world of finance and academia. I suffered a bad injury from a car accident, which also had other ramifications to my health. I was in fact, advised that I could have been paralysed from that accident. However, not being one to give up, I decided to fight on and overcome those injuries, which still cause me problems but I live with this daily.
It was totally accidental that I discovered I could paint, and I now realise that if I put my mind to a task, there is not much that I cannot achieve.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
My greatest accomplishment is probably that I have built a brand without any help of others, and as I was reminded this brand is about me. It is still surreal to hear people saying how fascinated and interested they are…in ME!
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Well, doing this alone is on a certain level a mammoth achievement, but it is also extremely hard. Financial stability is always a concern, as I do not have that support mechanism. I would love to have a mentor and that support around me, who knows maybe it will come in the future as the business grows.
What are your future plans for the business?
I have so many future plans, including joining the literary world. I have started to write a book, which has a great concept behind it but it is stalled, as I need a team around me to bring this to fruition in the right way. Clearly, this is new territory for me and as always, I will not do the project unless I can do it justice.
Recently. I created a fashion item, which is simply stunning. This is more the territory that I feel comfortable with. This new bolero scarf even surprised me, as seeing your design in 3D is so different from an on-screen impression of what it will look like. I was truly overwhelmed to see my scarf in reality.
One of my goals is to touch everyone with creativity, and I would like to exhibit my art in a unique way. Quite what this will entail, I have no idea but maybe some day soon this will be possible as the business grows. There are so many people who cannot access conventional exhibitions, that this would be a great project to host.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
The only aspect that I would like to have changed is perhaps the financial pressure of doing this alone.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I think the times that we live in are very different and there are many challenges for young people. One of these challenges is belief and self-worth. There is a lack of role models and people willing to inspire the young that every door is open to them.
There is much undiscovered talent around the globe, where individuals never explore their dreams, as the external pressures are too great. Even my personal story is one that would fascinate and motivate the young, given the obstacles and hurdles that I have overcome.
Women still sadly face inequality on several levels, so inspiring them to overcome such hurdles would be a great thing to do. Of course I am biased but women do bring strength and empathy that is quite unique as it is instinctive. It would be wonderful to inspire young women to see that their dreams are achievable.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
I do not want to give some vague advice, but to say that it is possible to do, but not easy. You must believe in yourself every step of the way, even when the challenges occur and they will. You need to remind yourself that you are amazing and that you will succeed. Determination is definitely a key factor to success. However, you must realise that success is unlikely to come overnight, and in the form you expect as often we set our sights too high. Success is relative to your perspective of life.
What or who inspires you in business and why?
Well, there are several people who inspire me. Firstly, my mother who was an amazing person in her own right as she had an inner strength that was phenomenal. The person that made me awaken to my creative side is also an inspiration to me. They have a natural ability to nurture and inspire everyone around them by challenging thoughts and ideas. This in itself is a rare talent.
Of course, there are many conventional characters like Richard Branson, where his inspiration is about his ethics too. I like that his Virgin brand has an honesty factor about it, and is not just solely about money.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Ghandi