Introducing: Pastel Elixir

Being able to finally bring this to life excites me beyond words. I have decided to rebrand my two year old business Llama Talks with a fresh new name, image and I'm so in love. Pastel Elixir is the new name of my online shop and this will also be the name for my Etsy shop and any other work that I do illustration wise. I adore this name and unlike Llama Talks, I put a lot of thought, contemplation, playing around and restless nights into this so I really hope it is something my customers like too!

Although Llama Talks was fun and playful, I didn't feel much for it anymore. I wasn't proud to say the name as I felt it confused people too much or perhaps came across a little childish. Whatever it was, I wasn't feeling positive about it and whilst I'm a little upset to leave it behind, I'd like to see this as an evolution of Llama Talks rather than forgetting it ever existed.
This is also the new logo for Pastel Elixir which I think is pretty self explanatory and also sums up the name pretty well. When I was trying to create a logo for Llama Talks, it was originally black and white. I'm a huge lover of colour so as you can probably imagine this niggled at me a bit. Then I changed it to a banner style logo with the llama in the middle and it was blue because I feared using pink would give off too much of a girly feel and people told me it would put both sexes buying from my shop. Rubbish. Eventually I changed it to the llama we all know and love and I'm even a little sad that I'll no longer be using his face to represent my brand, but even more excited to move forward with Pastel Elixir.

So how on earth did I think of the name? I wanted something that would be nice to say, something that as you say it makes you feel bubbly. Pastel shades are my all time favourite colours and my shop consists mainly of pastel coloured products so that's that. The word elixir I've always had a fascination for; it feels magical, pretty, exciting. I played around with a lot of words over a few days and even tried to get myself set on something that 'flowed' better as you said it, but I kept coming back to Pastel Elixir, feeling it was the one I wanted to go with.

I think overall since quitting my job to follow this huge dream of mine, I have had to take it a lot more seriously. That sounds scary and no fun at all, but the thing is I do find it fun. I love feeling as though I'm putting a lot of effort into my work, treating it like a business (which takes practice trust me!) and wanting it to progress and look professional. Rebranding felt like the right thing to do and I'm really pleased to finally show you all what I've been working hard on.

On that note, since this is the year I quit my job and I'm now doing this full time, I will absolutely be able to focus on bringing more to my shop and also do proper Christmas cards and gifts nearer the time, rather than just the odd card here and there like it has been for the past couple of years. That excites me a lot and I have so many ideas and projects that I can't wait to get stuck into.

I feel as though I say this an awful lot, but seriously thankyou so much to each of you who visits my blog, my channel, my shop, chats to me on Twitter, leaves wonderful comments or even a like - I wouldn't have had the faith in myself to do half of this without you, so again thankyou.

If your interested in buying from my shop, I have a celebratory 25% off discount code which is PASTELELIXIR and is valid until the end of August.

Thanks for reading!

My Biggest Influence

I think most people have a huge influencer in their lives, someone they look up to, admire, gives them inspiration. Mine is my Mum.

When I was in my teenage years, my Mum and I didn't get on. Chances are we were fighting, bickering, disagreeing, never seeing eye to eye, never understanding each other. I desperately wanted to move out, I had a better relationship with my Dad and I just couldn't seem to improve the way things were when I went back to my Mums after a couple of days at my Dad's. I feel like I tried to get on with my Mum more and I feel like I tried to explain to my Mum that me moving out would make things so much better for us, but it broke her heart that I wanted to leave home at what is considered to be a very early age. I left at 19 and unfortunately had to move back to my Mum's after 4 short months due to a nasty breakup, but another 12 months went by and I saved up again before finding a new place to rent on my own. I haven't lived at home since and I'm now nearly 26.

Things did improve for us which is the gut feeling I had all along. I suspected we may be way too alike but at the same time such independent and stubborn characters and being surrounded by each other's energies 24/7 sometimes isn't good for people. We still see each other on a very regular basis, at least once or twice a week and sometimes more, but in these past few years I've learnt that my Mum is my best friend, not my enemy.

Mum is a graphic designer by trade; she can code, build websites, is very nifty with Adobe programmes and is my go to for any computer or printer related problems. But it doesn't stop there, she is a keen photographer, painter, portrait artist, crafter of anything and everything, new blogger and a recently qualified garden landscaper. She just doesn't stop and what makes her even more incredible is just 3 months ago she had a major, life changing ileostomy operation. Just three months after this operation, she treated herself to a new bike and that same week, rode the 7 miles from her house to mine and came whizzing down my road, pinging the bell and looking very chuffed with herself. Mum has since attached a basket to the front of her bike and upon closer inspection, I could see it has a cute strawberry design on the paint work and is the cutest bike I've ever seen. I wouldn't expect any less from her.

Earlier this year, the tables were turned and I was the one showering my Mum, trying to comfort her when she was so poorly and doing anything I could think of to make her more comfortable. I knew the operation she was going to have would make her better, but I didn't think she'd come back anywhere near as strong as she currently is, especially since her Dr's told her she wouldn't be doing very much at all within the first 6 months of recovery. She is incredible, defying gravity and refusing to back down. She completed her gardening course and can now add the gardening to her list of many skills. And for those of you who may have been thinking about going back to college or uni and think you've missed the chance, my Mum is in her early 50's and she only went and did it.

One of the most inspiring things about my Mum is she has never let anything or anyone stop her. Growing up, not many people appreciated her love for design and weren't keen on her taking it seriously as a career choice. When I was at school, I understood how this felt and it was only my Mum who backed my decision to take my art and design work further and try my damned hardest to make a career out of it. This also doesn't mean my Mum held back when she didn't like something I had created...this was one of the many causes for arguments we used to have! My Dad on the other hand always appreciated my work and praised me, but he also wanted me to have chosen something a bit more academic. I think because of what I saw in my Mum, I too didn't let anyones comments or lack of faith stop me and if anything, used this to spur me on. Sometimes people want you to fail; prove them wrong.

A piece of my Mum's art - 'The Kingfisher'
On top of being a crazy creative lady, Mum is also a machine when it comes to the gym. She's strong, in great shape and you would never have thought she was in her early 50's. She eats well, cooks a lot from scratch and is also very receptive to me whittling on about animal rights and cutting out meat. She's very close to becoming a close. Her passion for design is reflected in what she wears, never a dull outfit to be seen and she's possibly Irregular Choice's biggest fan. She inspires me everyday, her strength baffles me and I hope I end up being just as wonderful as she is. 

If you want to pop over and say hello, her blog is Looby Hancock and I'm sure she'd love to make some blogger friends :)

Thanks for reading,

I'm Rebranding!

A few posts back and if you're a regular to my blog, you may have noticed things have been spruced up a bit in these parts and it's time I addressed the niggling voice in the back of my head that just hasn't shut up in a few months. I'm going to be rebranding Llama Talks.

For a while now, I've not been feeling any sort of connection to my brand's name and although it was fun while it lasted, I don't feel for a second that it represents what I'm about anymore and feels very restricted to being a lot about llamas. Don't get me wrong, llamas are bloody amazing, but I feel awkward now I'm wanting to include a lot of other animals, whimsical nonsense and branch out into different themes. I was torn between changing my shop name to just my actual name, did some research, worked out the pros and cons for this and decided I would take full advantage of creating a brand new name. One that was lovely to say, I felt really connected to and above all, represents my brand better than ever.

The response so far has been very 50/50 and I've only told around 6 people. Some of whom said I should stick with Llama Talks because it's unique and fun, others saying 'this is crazy exciting, I can't wait to hear the new name', but I've had to remember I'm doing this because I don't really feel anything for the name Llama Talks anymore. It doesn't excite me and I hate when people ask what my business is called because most of the time they look at me blankly...I've even been asked if I run 'talking with llamas' sessions. See, it just doesn't go does it? The good news is, people who have heard the new name love it, so that's a relief! Apart from James, he's a little bummed out because the name Llama Talks was his invention! It's a shame to leave it behind, but change is good and I'm ridiculously excited for this.

I'm going to be an asshole now and not reveal the new name until I have my new business cards and have sorted out some other bits like a new domain, linking that to my shop and having everything ready for it's new launch. There will also be a discount code going out with the launch so keep your eyes open for it, but for now I'd really like to thank each of you who visits, comments, shares, likes, literally anything to do with any of my work. It means more than you could ever imagine and I can't wait to start bringing new pieces of art to you all.

Have a lovely day & thanks for reading,

Things I've Learnt From Three Months Self Employed

Back in May, I made the decision to finally quit my day job and pursue my dream of being a full time illustrator. In that time, I have become a much happier, healthier and nicer person. My old job was pumping poison into me, I had no patience anymore, I was a demon to live with, I was sarcastic, short fused and extremely unpredictable. The worst thing was, I knew it was mainly down to my job that I was behaving this way, not that there was any excuse, but I think it made it even more unbearable knowing I wasn't happy with where my life was going.

Throwing myself into unemployment and teaching myself and others around me that it is in fact self-employment has been a little bit strange, especially when people ask what it is that I do. I was so used to replying 'dog handler' and always in the back of my mind longed for the day I could say 'illustrator' instead. I also appreciate 110% that I wouldn't have been able to do this without James supporting me; if I lived alone this wouldn't be happening right now. That doesn't mean it's impossible though and I wanted to collect together what I have learnt from the past three months of becoming full time self-employed.

1. Save Up A Safety Net
This to me made things a little easier, knowing I wasn't plunging head first into the land of no money but still having bills and a mortgage to pay. Save up as much money as possible, whatever you can scrape together. If you can, reassess what you really need and what is in fact just a luxury. I've cut back on so much since leaving my regular income behind and you know what? I've since realised I never even needed that stuff and I'm so much happier for it. Have a clear out, sell on clothes you never wear, get on eBay, get on Depop and have a total revamp. Reinvent yourself, go wild, start getting creative over how you can redesign your life on a tight budget. It sounds scary but it's doable and fun! I have started selling some dresses that I never wore and have found a lot of fun in buying clothes from eBay myself. I have managed to swipe a couple of skirts recently, one being £1.20 and the other being £1.04...bargain! Cancel those monthly subscription boxes, anything like Netflix (you can recycle films at places like CEX and buy new ones for 50p). Get creative!

2. Some Days Are Going To Suck
Some days, I get the most overwhelming feeling of failure and usually it revolves around money and I get terrorised by thoughts of having to get a new job and go through some terrible interviews. I've had one of those days/weeks recently when my printer died but in order to realise this, I had already bought a whole new set of ink which set me back £50 and then I spent a further £40 on a new printer. I also spent a fair amount on new stock for my shop and also a lot of time on people on Etsy who wanted specific bulk orders arranging but then dropped out at the last minute. It can be really disheartening but the best way I deal with this, is to understand that moments like this will come and go. It makes it so much easier to cope with knowing that it'll pass and the freelancer life in particular is very much peaks and troughs. 

3. Equally, Some Days Will Be Amazing!
As Horace Slughorn once said, there is no light without a dark and there are equally as many brilliant days as there are bad ones. More good days in fact! Some days, I'm that busy with packing orders that I have to carry on working after my dinner or well past the usual time I hit the sack. Sometimes the motivation just hits me and I can spring out of bed at 6am and start drawing, working throughout the entire day and well into the evening. 

4. Get Out Of The House
I always thought this was something I would never struggle with but after three months of my own company, a quiet house and the same old surroundings, you start to notice a bit of a dull block in front of you and it's really important to get out of the house for a bit and regularly too. Today I got invited out for a cup of tea in town with a friend I haven't seen in ages and I nearly didn't go, simply because I suffer quite badly with anxiety and going out, plus I'm a huge introvert and sometimes just don't feel like being around people. But I slapped myself and realised getting out and spending an hour or two with one of my creative friends would do me the world of good and I'd probably return home feeling really fresh and inspired.

5. Remember To Have Proper Breaks
Another one that I didn't realise the importance of, but I used to be a bugger for working whilst eating or skipping lunch altogether. After a month or so of this bad habit, I started to train myself that between the hours of 12 and 2, I could choose an hours slot for lunch where I could fully immerse myself in a film, some music or even read. I like to visit other people's blogs during this time and especially get a change of scenery so I don't always stay in my studio for lunch, although it is really cosy and smells amazing so I do like to stay put after retrieving a sandwich or some salad. I do get myself unlimited cups of tea as well throughout the day because I'm English and that's what we do.

It's been a crazy journey so far and sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise I'm not dreaming and I finally made it to this point, something I never thought would realistically happen. If working from home or working freelance is something you want too, don't give up hope. Carry on working hard and have faith. I'm a big believer in good things come to those who work their socks off for it!

Thanks for reading,

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