It’s important to celebrate the diversity of women in business. They do so much to inspire others to take a leap of faith into self-employment. Today’s interview is with Rebecca from the New Black Studio who shows success is more than possible if traditional education is not for you. Enjoy reading about her journey to success and how she is a whizz at planning events with attitude.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenager years
I had a very happy childhood and slightly turbulent teenage years. I’m sure my Mum would tell you I was pretty horrid from 13 until I woke up on my 17th Birthday! Now in retrospect, I put a lot of that down to frustration. I sometimes struggled at school, I’m dyslexic so traditional education isn’t really the right format for me. I’ve always wanted to run before I could walk, so I was frustrated at not being Bill Gates aged 17.
What was your first job? What did you learn from this?
Despite what I’ve just said about not being suited to traditional education, my first job was at a school as an event coordinator. I was 16 at the time, so it taught me a lot about how to behave around adults. Although I’ve always been mature, it forced me to grow up pretty quickly. It was my first insight into the working world and showed how much I love working.
What led to you setting up your business?
Pure passion really. As I said above, working for myself is something I’ve always wanted to do, so as soon as I felt I had the right experience, it was go time. I watched my Dad set up, grow, and sell a business, so I guess it’s in my blood!
I wanted to start a more authentic company. Somewhere I can say what I like on Instagram and wear a leather jacket as uniform (something I’ve since implemented in a T-birds esc fashion). Sometimes when working for corporates, you get pushed into a box. You have to act a certain way and behave in a way to gain “acceptance” and “respect”. I write both those words in speech marks as the irony of it is that no one really respects anyone, because it’s rare anyone is being honest.
What are your products and/or services?
We’re a Creative Events Agency, and more importantly team of radicals that produce considered, creative and successful events above all else. Too often, events are seen as big expensive parties rather than what they actually are, a tremendous tool for marketing and engagement. To say it’s a great deal of fun would be the understatement of the century!
What makes your business special?
Definitely the business values. At The New Black Studio, we believe that passion prevails. We’re less concerned about qualifications and more interested in working with dedicated, enthusiastic individuals.
The same logic applies to suppliers, we only work with the best. We’ve spent years identifying who’s who in London and have built relationships (mainly over wine) with the people you want to know.
Creativity runs through the veins of everything we do. From your choice of venue, to how your invites are sent, to the way you gather feedback, every single step is an ingredient to construct a great event. Professionals are invited to events all the time, meaning it’s more important now than ever before to make each one stand out.
What tip would you give to someone who wants to set up a business but lacks self-belief?
Know that no one has the answers. Everyone is winging it, making the best decisions they can at the time with the materials that are in front of them. Everyone experiences a lack of self-belief sometimes, but I find it can often be something else wearing a mask. For example, for me it’s always pressure masked as a lack of confidence. Once I see through and take the mask off, I can deal with the pressure. Plus, you’ll get to a point where the highs ride you through the lows… keeping a list of everything you’ve achieved is a sure-fire way to get rid of limiting beliefs. You can’t argue with your achievements written in black and white!
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
I came across a really useful article a while ago which prompted me to think about all the small things in life that make you happy. Things such as drinking a cup of tea at exactly the right temperature, seeing your dog bouncing around after a tennis ball, really small things.
My business takes over my life most of the time, so I can’t take 5-month trips to Bali in the name of self-care. Instead, I try to incorporate the small things that make me really happy where I can. For me, that means listening to podcasts on the train, watching Netflix, and eating out. I love food, so my biggest form of self-care is eating a really good meal!
Who supported you as you set up your business?
What things would you like to see change about the position of women in society?
I’d like to see more women in higher positions without sacrifice. I think we are getting closer, but unfortunately, I’ve seen first-hand the prehistoric way in which many industries still operate. At the moment in certain industries it’s not a fair fight. Sexism and sexual harassment are still very much present and equally ignored, partly due to a lack of understand, and party due to ignorance. If you’ve not seen Bombshell, I’d recommend it for a view of very real issues. I reported issues I was having at work when I was 19, and they were put down to “normal behaviour”. I’d hope by the time our daughters reach that age, they’re never ignored.
If you could recommend ONE book to women what would it be and why?
My favourite book at the moment is “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. It’s about the creation and growth of Nike, and I was utterly gripped the whole way through. It’s extremely motivating and a brilliant example of what’s possible with a bit of hard work. The book also really helped me get over my fear of mistakes too. If Nike can have as many blows as they did and still create such a successful business, imagine what we all could do!?
If you could recommend ONE website (to women, what would it be and why?
Can I sub this for a Podcast? My dyslexia means I find it harder to read, so podcasts and audio books are my godsend. For a good laugh, I highly recommend Chris and Rosey Ramsey’s podcast (although it’s not for the faint hearted! It often has me in stiches walking down the street, and we all need a bit of laughter in life! Search for their names on Spotify or similar to find it.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just to try your best to control the pressure. We live in a society which is flooded with information telling you to “do this to be successful”, and “do that if you want your business to grow”. It took me a long time to learn that you have a choice in all of these matters, and your opinion is the most important. If you don’t agree, you don’t have to do it, no matter how many podcasts, books, life coaches and gurus are telling you otherwise.
If you are a business woman who would like to share your story on this blog, pop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org