Freelancing Stories: On Mothering And Freelancing with Theodora Gould

5 September 2017

Theodora is someone I've been following for a while, someone I always turn to for inspiration. She runs her own business in rural Somerset - which looks like a dream, if you ask me. And she is also a mother... And I don't know about you, but I so deeply admire anyone mastering mothering and freelancing at the same time! I can only imagine the difficulties, but she's surely doing such a great job at balancing family time and work.

She's joining me today for this episode of Freelancing Stories, and she's sharing her journey and story from the very beginning. We're chatting mothering and freelancing, and so much more. I hope you'll find it as inspiring as I did!

Freelancing Stories: On Mothering And Freelancing With Theodora Gould
What do you do?

Primarily, I design and make jewellery in silver and gold.  My pieces are inspired by nature, history and country life. They’re designed to be beautiful, slightly quirky sometimes, wearable and to last more than a lifetime.

Secondly, I’m an artist and will paint anything that stands still long enough.  I’m in the throws of setting up another venture showcasing my artwork. But here I’ll talk about my jewellery.

How did it all begin? When did you decide to go for it?

Over the years I’ve had various ‘employed’ jobs in order to pay bills and life in general. I enjoyed them all from estate agency to PR but I’ve always had my own business (which was antique restoration) ticking away in the background.  I was working as an estate agent in the day time and at weekends and evenings I was restoring the occasional piece from the workshop in my garden.

My partner and I decided we wanted to start trying for a baby, and within a month I was pregnant.  It took us both by surprise, a happy one, but a surprise all the same. A month before my son was due I took maternity leave and my mother took me off for a few days of fun.  I’d heard about this stuff called ‘silver clay’ and was intrigued, so we went off to learn about it.

We had a happy three days creating wonderfully wibbly pieces of silver jewellery whilst covering my bump with silver dust.  I loved it and knew I had to do more.

I put in my first order for supplies in the car on the way home. It seemed to me that I’d found something I loved, that I could do from home and work around the family. Whilst my son was small and just eating and sleeping, I set up my website. And I was off, ready for my mothering and freelancing adventure.

What was your biggest goal or dream when you started?

My biggest ambition was and still is too make enough money to fuel my silver addiction and allow me to keep creating.  I’ve never been particularly ambitious, I have no desire to take over the world, I just want a nice, happy life.

There’s a Walt Disney quote which I love, “Money doesn’t excite me, my ideas excite me”. It sums up how I feel about my work! As long as I can keep creating, I’m happy. The money is a bonus and gives me the freedom to keep going and growing.

How was it, when you took the risk? Anything you didn’t expect?

Having had my own business before and making plenty of mistakes in the process, I had a fairly good idea of what I was getting into, but I hadn’t realised just how much the jewellery bug would get me and quite how much there was to learn on a technical level. I’m still amazed. My skills have grown hugely and I now primarily use traditional silversmithing techniques, with a little bit of silver clay... but there’s always another skill I want to learn and another tool I want to buy.  You could spend your whole life working in jewellery and there’d still be something new to work towards. It’s wonderful!

Theodora Gould chats mothering and freelancing as a jewellery designer

I’ve struggled a bit on the marketing side, I did a rebrand about a year and a half ago. The original business had got a bit messy, it was undefined and seemed to go in all different directions.  I’d done too many offers and giveaways and had the wrong sort of following. Lots of people hanging around just waiting for the next giveaway.  The rebrand consolidated things and I feel that I’m on my way to finding my tribe now. I have some wonderful loyal customers who I feel have become friends, despite never have met them.

Did/do you have to face adversity?

I’m lucky that my family is hugely supportive of what I do! But I do struggle a bit with balancing family life, mothering and freelancing, working as hard as I want to. Little people can be very demanding, which is completely understandable and fine. But sometimes I do get a bit down about not having more time. For this reason I’ve kept the business small. I’ve been tempted at times to start approaching some shops about wholesale, but the reality is that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill any huge orders at the moment. Mothering and freelancing at the same time can be hard.

The house work often suffers as I spend every spare minute working. Luckily my husband is also a creative person and is more than happy to come home to a house that looks like it’s been burgled, as long as my son and I are happy. My husband’s a bit of a legend!

I also find my location of a bit a double edged sword. I live in a very rural part of Somerset, which I absolutely love. It inspires me daily, but it also prevents me from popping into Hatton Garden to look at stones etc, seeing exhibitions and going to trade shows and exhibitions. I’m an introvert at heart though, so there’s a part of me that loves the fact I can’t do those things...

What’s your biggest goal for your freelance career at the moment?

My happy work/life balance goal is still the same. As long as I’m achieving that and not bankrupting us, then I’m happy. However I would like the business to gradually grow to a position where it is profitable enough to allow me to pay for a really good education for my son.  I’m a long way from that at the moment, but once he starts school (this September), I plan to work on my PR a bit more, and hopefully get some wholesale orders.

At the moment I only sell through my website. As a consumer myself I understand that its difficult to commit to buying something expensive (like a piece of jewellery) without first seeing its size, details, trying it on and feeling its weight.  Jewellery’s such a personal thing, what one person loves another won’t... I’d love to be able to tell people to go to such and such a shop and have a look at the pieces in the flesh.

Tell us your secret! Your best tip about freelancing?

Just do it and keep it simple are the things I always remind myself.  Don't wait for everything to be perfect, you’ll never get going otherwise. It’s better to start with something than not to start at all. You can work out the details as you go along.

Keeping it simple is something my husband and I always come back to. We should have it tattooed on the back of our hands! Sometimes I can get caught up in a design or a marketing idea and I overthink it to the point that it’s become a big blurry mess. At this point it needs stripping back to the essentials, then it makes sense again.

I can be a bit of a cushion, I bear the impression of the last person that sat me... There’s so much business, marketing and design information out there! It can be very easy to get caught up in it all and think that you’re doing it wrong or you’re not doing enough. However if you’re being true to yourself and have a happy feeling in your gut, then you’re on the right track. Listen to other people's advice, take what feels true to you and go with that, ignore the rest.

Want to be featured in the next episode of Freelancing Stories? I'd love to hear from you! If you run a freelance business (of any kind) and would like to share your inspiring story, please feel free to get in touch!

Giada Correale brand e web designer donna per business al femminile
Bonjour, hello!

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In this article:
Giada Correale brand e web designer donna per business al femminile
Bonjour, hello!

I'm Giada Correale, brand and web designer of Miel Cafè Design graphic studio. I design intentional and editorial brand identities and web designs for heartfelt women-owned businesses. 

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A creative atelier curating brand and web designs for women-owned businesses.
I design and curate intentional brand designs and websites to cultivate your idea and bring your value out there.