“It might have been the best thing that has happened to me,” says Michelle-Marie, the mind behind the creative universe Flair. She speaks about getting fired from her job and at the same time not being enrolled in her dream study. This is a story about the highs and lows of following your destiny.
“Innovation happens outside your comfort zone”
“My company, blog and webshop, called Flair, is a creative business with several branches. On the one hand it is a DIY-blog, where I share tips and tricks on how to succeed in making the things you can see on the site, such as a guide on how to sew scrunchies or a doorstopper made of concrete. On the other hand, it is a business where I sell my one of a kind crafts- and art products, such as rainbows and plant hangers. I also organize creative workshops for children,” explains Michelle-Marie, owner of Flair.
“I have spent a lot of time and effort creating and developing Flair and it makes me very happy when I can inspire others to get creative as well.”
From employee to self-employed
”I have always been the creative type,” Michelle-Marie says, ”and my dream has always been to be able to make a living from it. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to do this, so that’s why I chose to become a primary school teacher instead, thinking I could teach arts. This seemed to me the best way of being creative and still have a steady income.”
Instead of becoming a teacher in arts, Michelle-Marie became employed as a Danish teacher, teaching Danish to refugees at a boarding school for adults (højskole, as it is called in Danish). Even though Michelle-Marie enjoyed her job, she was still dreaming of finding ways to live from her creativity, because after five years of being a teacher, she had become weary of the same routines. She was therefore contemplating a fresh start with a new education and applied to be enrolled.
But things didn’t turn out the way Michelle-Marie had planned. She was fired due to budgetary cuts and what should have been her new education, fell through, when her application was denied. However, Michelle-Marie wasn’t defeated. Instead, she saw this as an opportunity to do what she always had dreamt of.
She took a leap of faith and registered Flair as her own business at the Danish chamber of commerce. “I started Flair at the end of 2018 and in February 2019 I was out of the social benefits system.” Even though becoming self-employed was a nerve wrecking process filled with doubts, Michelle-Marie comments: “Very little development happens inside your comfort zone.”
One of a kind
Flair offers many different creative products in its webshop, but Michelle-Marie says that it especially is her rainbows that have struck a chord at her customers. Initially Michelle-Marie started making a couple of rainbows so she could create a DIY-guide for her readers, but it quickly became a healthy obsession.
Michelle-Marie: “I was instantly hooked! I love choosing and combining the colours and see how each and every rainbow turns out differently.” The various colours and textures of the yarn give the rainbows their own character and that is why Michelle-Marie has started giving them names and even added short personality descriptions to some of her rainbows. You can for example find Sofia in the webshop, a rainbow made of pink, yellow and white strands, who is a girly girl that loves flowers and dresses. You can also find Aksel, a guy in a muted colour palette with dusty greens, yellow, grey and white, who is curious but down-to-earth.
The fact that they are handmade and unique is a big selling point says Michelle-Marie. “Many of my customers, who are mothers or moms to be, appreciate the fact that I make them myself and that I do it in a sustainable way.” Michelle-Marie also uses social media to brand herself and her products: “It is important to me, that my customers know who I am and trust me. That is why I also dare to be vulnerable on for example Instagram and talk about my insecurities when I experience them.”
Ups and downs
And being insecure can be a part of being self-employed, Michelle-Marie says, since you are on your own, also when you have to make difficult decisions: “It can be a bit lonely and there is no one around to give a pep-talk when you have to face a tricky task. A large part of being self-employed is doing your own VAT- and tax reports for example, and that is a big headache for me. But I am determined to know every single part of my company and that is why I buckle up and do it myself anyways.”
There are also moments that doubts creep in. “I worry sometimes; will I get enough orders? Is this the right thing for me?” But luckily she knows that she can overcome those doubts by simply not giving in to the negative thoughts: “I know myself pretty well and I know that this is the right thing for me.” A walk in the woods or by the fjords also helps, which is why Michelle-Marie actively plans them as part of her working day: “This is where I get my best ideas.”
All in all, she is happy 9 out of 10 days: “The freedom that comes with being self-employed is immense and I love the fact that I can do everything in my own pace. Sometimes I work in the middle of the night and other days in the morning, when I wake up at six.”
Michelle-Marie’s plans for the future are simple and straightforward: “I see Flair as an investment. It gives me joy and flexibility, also when the time comes that I have my own family. And of course I dream that you’ll be able to find my rainbows and other products in many Danish households. I will keep going, this is where I belong.”
All pictures were made by Michelle-Marie from @flair_blog, who has given me her kind permission to use them for this post.