Problem-solver and project architect Tara Agacayak of Turquoise Poppy presents the stories of creative entrepreneurs building their global niche. She examines the transformational circumstances, tools and vision that can enable us all to ‘bloom where we’re planted’.
Meet UK-based Susannah Conway – writer, photographer and founder of the Unravelling e-courses. Nearly 2,000 “Unravellers” report life-changing results from her photo / writing/ introspection online workshops.
When a personal tragedy changed everything for Susannah Conway, she began to unravel and find out what she was made of personally, and professionally.
Susannah’s story in 1 minute:
If you’ve got more than a minute, here’s the full interview:
Turquoise Poppy: What was life like before you started your creative business?
A BIG RISK My path to self-employment unfolded in fits and starts, but it all began in 2002 when I left my job as a newspaper fashion editor to work as a freelance journalist.
I’d been building contacts in my industry in the lead up to going freelance, but looking back I realise that I really did just jump into the unknown. I hadn’t saved any money to support myself while I looked for writing gigs which put a lot of pressure on me in the first few months until I settled into a few regular writing jobs.
However, the creative business I have now came about in a much more unexpected way. In 2005 I suffered a devastating bereavement and was unable to work for over a year; gradually I began accepting some copywriting work, and started a blog in 2006. This proved to be a crucial turning point, both in my healing and also my creative life.
Blogging reignited my passion for photography (which I’d studied for three years) and in 2007 I launched my photography business. The next year I was invited to teach at a local arts centre and I had my idea for the Unravelling classes.
The evening classes were a great success yet since blogging was such an important part of my life it seemed natural to find a way to share the class online.
I knew of only one other e-course so had no idea if this would turn into a fully fledged creative business. But I took a leap of faith and launched the Unravelling: Ways of Seeing My Self e-course in January 2009. It sold out in a week and has since morphed into a full-time business for me.
TqP: What challenges did you face that shaped your current path?
NON-BUSINESS MODEL I didn’t design my business model, it just happened! Every step of the way I am learning and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve never considered myself to be a business-minded person so it still surprises me that I have a business at all.
It helps that it’s not exactly a traditional business.
TqP: What did you learn about yourself in the process?
I love what I do and this is not a “job” to me – this is a vocation, which is why I work seven days a week. It’s my hobby and passion as well as my job.
TqP: What technology and/or applications do you use to run your business?
WEB OFFICE I’m constantly trying to find new and better ways to run my business – for example, how to streamline the registration process and make it even more efficient. I may need to get some help with admin so am currently looking into working with a virtual assistant.
As for triumphs, I’m a single woman and I’m very proud that I’m able to support myself 100% through my creative business.
TqP: How has the intersection of innovation, self-discovery and available technology shaped your current business model?
DISCOVERIES AT THE CROSSROADS Innovation, self-discovery and available technology is the reason my business exists in the first place. My audience is global thanks to blogging and the internet. I work online thanks to the availability of sites like Paypal and Flickr.
And self-discovery is where all of this started for me, as I grieved the loss of my partner and learned how to live again.
BUILD YOUR GLOBAL NICHE TqP: Thank you Susannah for sharing your experience with us. Now a question for expat+HAREM readers — how have you transformed a devastating setback into a new way of life?
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