Sunday, 31 January 2016

A little time to reflect.

Each year I try to take a little time to think about everything that has happened over the past twelve months and write a bit of a blog post about it. Now that the New Year is very much in full swing, I figured it's time to do it again! I don't often use my blog to write long posts but always find this a great way to take a step back and truly reflect on my thoughts and feelings about the year just gone and set some goals for the year ahead.

A helluvalot happens in a year, as I'm sure most of you will agree so I promise to keep this post as swift moving, honest and interesting as possible - with lots of photos! Last year in January I wrote a pretty long post about 2014 and the challenges it brought along and ended the post with these personal goals to bear in mind for 2015:

  • Continue to work hard (and play hard) with focus to grow Hello Sunshine
  • Spend plenty of quality time with the people I love
  • Make the effort to go on an adventure (big or small) as often as possible
  • And above all LOOK AFTER MYSELF! 

Looking back at 2015 and all it entailed I think it's safe to say I kept sight of these small but important goals throughout the year (some more than others as you'll see). Now I just have to figure out how to use my words and photos to share my experiences with you...

W O R K  :  T H E  D A Y  J O B
Back in January I was still working for Boots HQ but after a scary bout of alopecia areata and some pretty crappy anxiety and stress issues the previous year, my mental and physical health was still suffering. Being part time at Boots for almost a year at this point I was still trying to bridge my income gap with Hello Sunshine and although the extra focus on my business was starting to pay off it was also becoming more work than I anticipated.

I soon started to realise that I had too much to handle, I was trying to spread myself too thin between a fantastic but demanding job at Boots, running my own business, helping care for my Grandad, being in a long distance relationship and still being there for friends and family as always. I LOVED doing all of the above but I just wasn't strong enough to keep it up so it was in the first few months of 2015 that I realised I had to make some important choices and changes.

image : pinterest

Some of you may already know this story, some of you may not but the transition of Hello Sunshine from hobby, to part time business, to full time dream job has not been a smooth one... or intentional to be honest. Please don't get me wrong, it has always been my dream to be here and on the surface I'm sure I've made light of it all - it's the Sunshine way! As it turns out, pushing myself beyond all limits with work, my business, family, friends and health resulted in a very scary time which also forced me to make the hardest (yet BEST) decision of my life...

...and as a result of it all, on Monday 23rd of March 2015 my full time Hello Sunshine dream officially became a reality! I won't waffle on much more as you can read a little more about it all in the blog post I wrote at the time 'Goodbye Boots, Hello Sunshine'

So in terms of working hard and focussing on the business during 2015, I think it's safe to say the focus all paid off!

image : pinterest

W O R K  :  H E L L O  S U N S H I N E
I could waffle on about SO many things that have happened for me and Hello Sunshine during 2015 from it becoming my full time work to finding the perfect accountant. However I have limited myself to a couple of significant events which I believe have had the most impact on me and my business this year...

For the past couple of years I had been plotting and planning a new look for Hello Sunshine, I was tired of my branding and so badly wanted to knuckle down and give it all a face lift. After months of pinning and collecting inspirational bits and bobs I decided I needed help. Towards the end of 2014 I spoke to my wonderfully talented friend, Cat of Twin Pines Creative and asked for her creative expertise to help bring my little day dreams and new branding to life.

And boy did Cat make my dreams come true! In April 2015 Hello Sunshine had it's long awaited facelift and with thanks to the brilliant Holly Booth Photography too I launched the shiny new Hello Sunshine look along with some fabulous new product shots too...

I am still INCREDIBLY proud and in love with how my brand looks and every kind comment and compliment about how strong and recognisable it all is means SO much to me. The fact this all came to life a month or two after I decided to take the plunge into full time self employment means it was by far THE MOST EXCITING time for Hello Sunshine in 2015 and something that has helped my business grow and flourish throughout the year.

N E W  C O L L E C T I O N S
2015 saw lots of lovely ideas unleashed from my little Sunshine filled brain which became shiny new products and hit my online shops and stockists. These included the tasty Cheese and Biscuit collection, some cheery Sunflowers, festive Christmas Jumpers and my favourite range so far... the Tabby Cats, based on my very own Princess Pegs!

S U N S H I N E  C O M M I S S I O N S
I have had the absolute honour and privilege of creating some of the most incredibly special and personal Sunshine doodles for you lovely lot this year. Just looking back through my Facebook Page albums and 'Sharing Sunshine' blog posts brings me so much joy. This is my MOST FAVOURITE part of my job and whether it's a beloved pet, an anniversary or wedding celebration or happy family I'm doodling, I couldn't be happier when I'm creating these unique pieces of art so THANK YOU!

It means a lot to me to know that people like my style of drawing enough to commission me to create these pieces so I couldn't miss mentioning the Sunshines! Here are just a few of my favourite from 2015 and I hope to create plenty more Sunshine for you all in the year to come...

All illustrations © Jo Want 2015

I never imagined that anyone would approach me to work together on a project, let alone a super lovely and inspiring lady who I admire and look up to! So when Leona asked if I would be interested in working with her to create a special raffle prize for one of her incredible Lucky Dip Club boxes I nearly wet my pants with excitement!

I was honoured to be part of October's Biscuit Box in 2015 alongside Nikki McWilliams (another creative hero of mine) and the girls from Caboodle magazine who curated the zine. I wrote a bit about it all in these two blog posts back in October:

If you look up #luckydipclub on instagram too you'll be able to see all the fun that goes hand in hand with Lucky Dip Club. I'm sure you'll see why I was so honoured (and still am) to be part of such a fun filled, inspiring and joy inducing project!

And if that wasn't enough for the year, I also has the absolute pleasure of working with one of my dear friends and super talented artist Amy Blackwell to create a limited edition collection of 'Jumpers' for Audrey and Illya in time for Christmas 2015...

I had so much fun working with Amy and revealing each design in the lead up to launching all 12 Jumpers at the Nottingham Contemporary Christmas fair in December. Amy's artwork is absolutely stunning and I am truly thrilled to have had the chance to work with her on such a fun and colourful project.

L O V E D  O N E S
This year saw some real highs and lows for my family and friends, but even through the dark times the strength and love shown between us all will never fail to amaze me. I was so lucky to be able to spend so much quality time with my Grandad before he left us to join my Nanna in the Summer and thanks to those days we spent reminiscing, doing jigsaw puzzles and playing dominos I have some of the best memories I could ask for.

Though this year has been tough for both my Mum and my Dad, as a result we all spent a lot of time together over the Summer and Autumn months. From day trips with my niece to take aways on the sofa, we have all shared a lot of laughs and love - something I will cherish forever and continue to ensure happens regularly.

This year has seen many fun times and giggles with friends too, they are after all my extended family! And even though we all lead very separate lives now it makes those times we all get together and even the odd text message, all the more special as we (dare I say it...) get older! Haha!

Another BIG BIG change for me during 2015 was moving house! And not just moving within Nottingham as I have done before... I moved to a different city... and to live with a BOY! Eeep! I have always lived in Nottingham, I went to school, college and uni in my home town and have never once regretted staying - I love the city, there's so much creativity and beautiful places on the doorstep. I have always counted myself lucky to have my family and friends so close for so long too. Even those friends who moved away have never truly felt far from me as I always try to make the effort to take an adventure to see them.

Robin Hood Kitty for Handmade Nottingham
© Jo Want 2015

However, a couple of years ago I met a boy, and it turns out we get on pretty well... so much so we fell in love (spewk) and decided to try this living together malarky. So 6-7 months after I left Boots and was happy I had proved that I could look after myself in the big scary world of self employment (yes I'm stubborn and like to be independent!) we decided it was time to relocate Sunshine Towers down to Cambridge where Will lives and works.

My personalised moving boxes!
© Jo Want 2015

Being such a home girl and so close to my family this was an incredibly tough decision to make but at the same time one I knew was right for me. Cambridge is only a couple of hours away from Nottingham after all and with my family, friends, creative networks and a whole host of other lovely reasons to go back and visit it didn't feel like I was really going that far from home. Plus, I would get to spend more time and go on more adventures with this beard instead of travelling every other weekend and spending most of our relationship over FaceTime!

It was a HUGE move in October, at one of the busiest times of year for me and Hello Sunshine but after three months and a fun filled Christmas it's safe to say I am settled in our Cambridge home now and LOVING it. I obviously miss my family and friends who I used to see so regularly but I visit Nottingham as often as I can and will continue to do so. It also means my favourite faces can visit Cambridge now for punting and funtimes down the river!

Oooh and I can't talk about moving house and my loved ones without mentioning two very important Sunshine Towers residents... Princess Pegs and Toby Cat!

These two tinkers are a constant source of happiness and cuddles for me (and Will) and they seem to like their new house too. I don't know what I'd do without these little stars of instragram!

© Jo Want 2015

I guess you may all know by now that adventures are a BIG part of my life, whether they are mini days out on my doorstep, food related adventures to new restaurants or great big ones off to different cities or countries to see and do new things. I bloody love a good adventure and 2015 certainly saw plenty of them!

New Year camping and hiking trip : Northumberland

Valentines trip to see my best friend : Tintagel (and the toilet kitty!)

Five Guys opened in Nottingham... would have been rude not to!

Will's birthday camping and hiking trip : Yorkshire

Birthday trip : We climbed Ben Nevis!

Girls road trip and camping in a friends garden : Oxford

Wiggle Wight Sportive (74 miles) : New Forest and Isle of Wight

Standon Calling Festival : Hertfordshire

Cragside and Rothbury walks : Northumberland

Visit to my friend's new restaurant and the Zoo : Chester

#luckydipclubmeetup : Hoxton Hotel, London

Winter walking in Aviemore : Cairngorms, Scotland

It's so exciting (and amazing!) to look back and pick out some of the things I've been able to do and places I've visited this year and it's been hard to pick just 12 to highlight what I consider to have been the best adventures. So hard to choose in fact that I can't let a couple more things go without mentioning them because they too feel like significant 'adventures' from 2015...

L I V E  D R A W I N G
I hate being watched so this was super scary but after a couple of glasses of wine and with the company of some good friends this night was so much fun and it was great to see a sea of kitties adorning one of the big mirrors in one of my favourite Nottingham locations.

S U N S H I N E  O N  T V
Back in 2014 I took part in the Poundshop at the ICA in London. I sent a bunch of snowflake lapel pins and studs down there and little did I know that the BBC were going filming part of the event for a TV show called Poundshop Wars to air later in 2015. The night the show aired and featured Poundshop at the ICA my phone went crazy and I was swamped with screenshots of my little snowflakes on TV and excited texts from friends and Sunshine followers. It was one of the most surreal but exciting moments for me and I am still astounded and flattered that so many people recognised my branding and work from such a quick shot on the telebox!

T R A C K  C Y C L I N G
I experienced the thrill (and fear!!) of the velodrome when the new arena opened in Derby. It was pretty scary but a lot of fun and something I'm glad I got to try!

I was lucky enough to visit this amazing place twice in 2015, once for a super fancy and absolutely delicious evening meal with Will back in February and then again for afternoon tea (courtesy of my Boots colleagues). Such an incredible experience - the food, service, decor and of course the toilets!

Ooh and I got another tattoo... trouble is I want more now!

S E L F  C A R E
I think I have talked enough some of the struggles I have faced in the past so I won't waffle too much. I would like to mention though that after the significant changes I have made to my lifestyle this year (and with the help of some painful injections and magic hair lotion) the bald patch on my head is no more! YAY! I have a couple of inches of new growth and it's looking much healthier and actually much curlier than the rest of my hair!

This is the first time I've opened up about this publicly with any kind of photos but to go from having a naked patch on my head like this... having my hair feeling full and healthy again is a significantly important and very personal thing for me to recognise and remember. I have learnt to listen to my body (and my mind) more over the past 24 months than ever before and although I still have many wobbles and have lost a lot of my self confidence I believe this scary experience has helped me no end.

This past year or two has definitely changed me, in some ways for the better (work-life balance in particular) but in other ways for the worst, especially where anxiety and self confidence are concerned. I'm still trying hard to work on  looking after myself more and fighting these demons but in the mean time knowing all I have been through and achieved throughout 2015 is a huge lift and amount of positivity to focus on.

Oooft! So there you have it, the highs and lows of 2015 and a lot of photos... I hope the pretty pictures helped? It's been another challenging year full of life lessons (good and bad) which all ended on a real high - literally as Will and I spent NYE floating in a tree tent in Norfolk!

So I guess you can say 2016 has already started on a high too as we obviously woke up in that same tree tent and then spent New Years Day exploring the nearby beaches and enjoying the seaside air. I am also incredibly lucky to be able to say that the holiday love and feel good vibes have continued since then too as we have spent most of January on holiday!

If you follow any of my adventures on Facebook or Instagram you'll have no doubt seen that we have been lucky enough to spend a week in a cottage on the beach and the past two weeks surrounded by snow and ice in the beautiful town of Ouray in Colorado! A proper blog post about these trips will follow I promise but in the mean time I think it's time to talk a bit about the year ahead...

2 0 1 6  G O A L S : H E L L O  S U N S H I N E

T R A D E  S H O W
In April I have my 1st ever Trade Show booked! Yikes! I have already kicked off some plotting and planning with Cat and Holly again to work up a brand new wholesale catalogue and new branding material for the occasion! I'm so scared as its a HUGE investment and step for Hello Sunshine but a challenge I'm also excited about! Wish me luck... please!

N E W  J E W E L L E R Y  D E S I G N S
I've been secretly working away on several new collections since last summer and although I have shared a few peeks already you'll have to keep those peepers peeled for for more this Spring!

I'll be the first to put my hand up and admit I don't use my blog effectively or regularly enough. I tend to do short posts as an extension from posts I pop on Instagram or Facebook which keeps the content going but I'm not sure how valuable or interesting it is to my followers.

This year I'd like to use my blog to talk to you all more, whether it's about new work I'm planning, experiences with my business, behind the scene peeks at Sunshine Towers or sharing holiday adventures and new foods...

What do you all think to that? After all, it's one thing for me to use my blog as a personal visual diary but it's another to keep you lovely lot entertained so I'd love to know your thoughts too!

You all know how much I love creating them and I hope to be able to continue to spread sunshine and grow my commission base throughout 2016. I'd like to make more of a habit of illustrating in general too so watch this space for a few more personal Sunshines and projects along the way!

© Jo Want 2015

2 0 1 6  G O A L S : P E R S O N A L

I haven't been living here long but I'm already falling for the charms of Cambridge and aim to explore much more of what this city has to offer! Expect foodie updates and as many creative adventures as I can discover!

New address cards by the wonderful Paper Pipit

It goes without saying that I'm going to do my very bestest to keep on exploring new places and trying new things. In particular things that push me out if my lovely warm and safe comfort zone... like Ice Climbing in Ouray for example!

image : rawpressco

After everything I've opened up about here this is the one goal that makes me quite nervous but I'm determined to give it my all in 2016. I want to become fitter and stronger - both mentally and physically. I know I need to love myself more, trust in those I love and let go of toxic thoughts and people but it's a daunting task and one I don't have a solid plan for yet.

I can set myself physical health goals like running, swimming and cycling but the mental health side will prove more tricky and will deserve a bit more thought and effort along the way. Maybe I'll start with some colouring in though!

There you have it, me and my waffle about 2015 and a few hopes for 2016.... I hope you enjoyed the read and made it this far! If you have any pearls of wisdom, goals or general thoughts you'd like to share I would love to hear from you - I realise I'm not the only one who writes up yearly reviews and plans and it's great to share experiences.

Thank you all so much for continuing to support and follow me and my creative adventure, I hope you realise just how much it all means to me. Wishing you all every success, health and happiness for the year ahead and whatever your goals and dreams may be, keep smiling!


  1. Hi Jo! What a lovely post... really inspiring and filled my heart with a bit of extra joy this grey Monday morning! Hope you had a wonderful snowy adventure x x x

    1. Thank you so much :) That means a lot to hear and makes me smile no end! Thank you thank you! xxx

  2. What a journey you have been on my lovely. Love and miss you always. You're an amazing spirit, I'm proud to call you my friend x

    1. Aww April! Thank you lovely lady, I love and miss you too! I hope you and the family are all well :) xxxx