Behind the Scenes | January & February 2023Cherith Harrison
Hello, friends! It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post – moving house and having my 2nd baby are mostly to blame, fairly reasonable excuses, I would say! I am pretty active on social media, but given the algorithm logic these days, my posts are rarely seen, so many of my updates go amiss. For that reason, I have decided to write monthly blog posts sharing all of my business goings-on, new designs I am working on and, if I feel they are worthy of sharing, the occasional sketchbook spread or 2! I suppose you could say my blog posts will act as a long-form version of my social media posts.
So, let’s get right into it. What has been happening with me/the company besides juggling running a business and looking after an 8-month-old who won’t nap? Surprisingly, quite a lot! It’s amazing what you can fit in in the evenings when both kids are down (FORTUNATELY, they both go down a dream). I work in the evenings Mon-Wed and, with a bit of luck, a few hours during the day a couple of days a week with family help.
I have been busy finalising my Pheasant range for SS23, and I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to get the products in and sent out. The new collection should have been completed end of last year, with photography taking place at the start of this year but seeing as I am technically still on maternity leave, I will cut myself some slack for not being on track with my newest product launch! I am thrilled with it, and I hope that you are too. It will be available to pre-order soon for delivery in April. I started designing this collection in November of last year. It features my detailed illustrations of 2 pheasants walking amongst long grasses and sedges. I decided to use Procreate (on my iPad) for creating the designs. I usually work in pen or pencil on paper, but I wanted to try something new for this range. Also, given how short on time I was in getting the new collection designed and sent off to print, creating it on the iPad was going to save me a LOT of time as I wouldn’t need to go to the printers to scan everything in and spend time ‘cleaning’ the drawings up in Photoshop. That said, I still prefer drawing the old-fashioned way, using a real pencil on paper.
I have also been busy working on a few bespoke projects and one pretty exciting commission. I can’t reveal what the latter is at the moment, but all will be revealed soon. If you are on my mailing list, you will hear via that. I’ll give you a clue; it involves starlings and murmurations.
I have been drawing Loch Melfort, which features the stunning, wait for it, Loch Melfort! I’ve also been drawing lovely meconopsis flowers – otherwise known as blue poppies, which I had never heard of before. They are just stunning. Their bright blue hues with vibrant orange stamens make them so eye-catching. I can’t say much more about those bespoke projects at the moment but I thought you might enjoy looking at the designs at least!
Last year I came out with my first-ever calendar (yay!), which features my detailed designs of popular seasonal flowers. All my newsletter subscribers receive access to my digital wallpapers/phone backgrounds so I spent a little time in January creating 12 brand-new floral digital wallpapers for them. The 12 designs include snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, bluebells, fuchsias, sweet peas, peonies, foxgloves, lilies, alstroemerias and pansies. My personal favourites are the snowdrops and sweet peas.
On a more personal note, I have been lucky enough to enjoy a little bit of me-time in these last few weeks. My favourite thing to do when I get such a chance is to go for a lovely big walk and draw. I carry a tiny sketchbook around with me and although I mostly sketch in it at home, I often make a start on any drawings whilst I am out, taking LOTS of photos so that I have enough reference to work from later. I managed two sketches in the whole of January and February, which, for me (and my quest for more me-time), is a BIG achievement!
One is of a nearby tyre swing that we quite often visit, and the other of a gorgeous snowy-hill sunrise, which I drew on my iPad. The scene is real, the hill is beyond our back garden – I added in the starling murmuration for a bit of drama, The latter will be available as a print very soon. If you are interested in possibly getting one, please sign up for my newsletter to be the first to hear of its release.
Another favourite pastime of mine is making up mini artist books. Some are better than others, but they are mainly used for entertaining Arto – so long as they depict him and a bus/boat/tractor, he is happy with whatever I create, he is obsessed with London buses and is desperate to go to London so that he can travel on one.
He loves being read to and making up stories together. I am taking a Julia Donaldson course on BBC maestro as it is my dream to write and illustrate a children’s picture book. So far I am really enjoying it.
I feel the need to caveat the above (which are all the lovely and fun things of my job) as there are a TON of boring things I have been doing too. Updating my trade order forms to reflect this year’s prices, and chasing manufacturers for pricing on bespoke items so that I have prices ready for when Alison and I do some prospecting, to name a few. Invoicing, stock control and managing cash flow are three other tasks which I do daily, and they are just the dullest, least fun, but also the most essential of activities.
Running your own business is very intense. I love what I have created and what I do immensely, yet I get terrified and stressed in equal measure at times. And since having my second baby, life and work have become a lot trickier to balance.
It was on one particularly stressful morning in January that I really wanted to throw in the towel. I was getting tons of ‘where’s my order?’ emails from the postal strikes in December, I was operating on about 2hrs sleep (we had also run out of coffee which made things 10x worse), and shortly after receiving my 14th email from an annoyed customer, I received an email from Feefo telling me that I (my company) had been awarded the Feefo 2023 Gold Trusted Service Award for excellence in customer service throughout 2022. Talk about turning your day around! I was still absolutely exhausted, the angry emails kept coming even after that and we were still out of coffee (the biggest travesty of all), but a huge smile sprawled across my face that morning and set me off such on a positive note for the rest of the week. It’s thanks to my wonderful customers that I get to win such an award. I am so thankful to them for not only choosing to spend their hard-earned cash on my products but for taking the time to leave a review. Every order means so much to me. And just to clarify, all the annoyed customers turned into happy ones after I explained why their orders were delayed!
And that’s it! A bit of an abrupt end I know but I’m not quite sure how to end this much longer-than-planned blog post more eloquently – I do hope you enjoyed it! I found writing it surprisingly (and strangely) cathartic, in a good way!
x Cherith x