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THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: Minerva

minerva

We start 2013 meeting Minerva, a trained accountant with a passion for knitting and stitching, who has recently started on a new path to pursue her dream of running her own creative business on her terms.

Tell us about yourself

My grandmother introduced me to crafts in my childhood.  She taught me how to cross stitch, knit and crochet.  Although currently my business is more about knitting, cross stitching got me hooked first.  I did my first one when I was about 6 years old and I haven’t stopped since. I got into knitting again in 2005, when I started learning about lace knitting and instantly became my favorite. Except a couple of stitches one nice lady showed me, I learned everything else on my own by practising, making countless mistakes and unraveling entire scarves to do them again better. 

First love - cross stitch

Give a brief description of your career path up before you started your creative business

I hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting from a university in the USA.  After graduating and working there a year, I moved to London where I gained more relevant experience for a few years.  I worked for various types of companies, including a large bank, while working on my professional qualifications (ACCA and IAQ).  In September 2011, I moved to Edinburgh and unfortunately, or fortunately, I found it extremely difficult to secure an accounting job.  While knitting in my free time, I decided to make my hobby a full time job.

What prompted you to pursue a creative career?

I think eventually, I would have ended up this direction.  Crafts have been one of my main hobbies for about three decades.  Also, by nature, I’m a freedom-loving, creative and independent person so working for myself in a creative environment would have been the ultimate option. 

An elegant neck accessory

While in London, I worked as a freelance for a few years.  I was gaining varied accounting experience and traveling/studying in between jobs.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences for me in more than one ways.  I thoroughly enjoyed this lifestyle and the freedom to do various things I liked.
You could say that life had this plan for me from the start and I was just going along with it!

What was the most difficult thing about this decision? And what was the easiest?

It all happened naturally so it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.  However, the slow and irregular income at first was undoubtedly a major consideration. 

The easiest was that once I decided to pursue a creative career, I could just start immediately.  I already had the skills, the passion, some supplies and the free time to begin.

Knitwear for weddings

How supportive of your decision were your family, friends and (former) colleagues?

Well…I don’t know!  I took a rather unusual route as I only told a couple of people I was going to do this as a full time job.  I had a good idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.  I wanted to trust my own instincts, focus on myself and watch my progress without any positive or negative reactions to distract me.

So when I had my first online sales from people unrelated to me, non UK residents, who liked my work….then I was thrilled!!  It was the perfect start for this new career.

A special piece - Minerva's first online sale

How has pursuing a creative career been compared with your previous career? What are the challenges, and what are the highlights?

The highlights are the freedom I experience to work the hours I want, take the breaks I need and to use my creativity and imagination for my business and my own goals and dreams.  I do put in longer hours than I did in my previous office jobs, but I can honestly say, I enjoy every minute of it. 

The challenging part is the slow start one always experiences when starting a new business.  Also finding those unique products that will set you apart from others can take some time.  But I am patient and willing to take a day at a time and watch how everything unfolds.

Minerva's popular men's scarf

Have you had any regrets about choosing a creative career?

Not at all, it suits me perfectly. 

It was a conscious choice to get into accounting too and I do enjoy that kind of work.  But going forward, I prefer to work for myself in a creative environment.  I will be doing the accounting for me now and this way, I have the best of both worlds.

What has been the best thing about your decision to pursue a creative career?

Being able to use my own ideas to create something.  Converting beautiful yarn into a warm and elegant garment.  Knowing that someone is willing to pay for something I made with my own hands. 

One of Minerva's first designs

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering taking up a creative career, what would that be? 

It is hard to give just one, but if I could summarise: Start with a very good foundation and have the patience of a saint. 

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to design and create more neckwear and some other products.  I intend on offering more cross stitch for sale and at some stage, I would like to improve my crochet. My plan is to be involved in all three areas to make crafts a proper full time job. 

Every day goal: To be happy, patient, creative and make my crafts business successful!

See more of Minerva's beautiful work on Folksy: www.folksy.com/shops/BelaFarCrafts