I am 26 and I often feel like I have no idea what I am doing or what my life will look like a year from now. I do this to myself because I was brought up to believe I could do anything I wanted, so I chose to pursue my passion. Growing up as a millennial, the media and society taught us to believe that we should have huge aspirations for our careers, and success was inevitable for us all. As most people currently in their 20's know, life is much more complicated than we were told it was going to be.
For four years after completing a Fine Art degree, I tried desperately to find a way to make a living from my creative practise. I worked various waitressing jobs during and after university, using my spare time to work on a career as an illustrator. All I had wanted to do since I can remember was to be an artist, and after I spent 5 years studying to achieve it, I was led to believe that when I graduated at 21 my education would be enough to equip me with the skills I would need to make it happen. I completed my end of the bargain, but the reality I was dropped into after graduation, was not the one I was led to expect. As people around me settled into their salaried jobs, I was left feeling hopeless. The dreams that I had believed were going to become a reality, instead seemed impossible? In August 2014 I approached the Princes Trust. I had heard from a friend that they helped young people become self employed and this is all I knew about what they did, but that was enough for me.
I had a very loose business idea when I contacted the trust; to create illustrated products, however, without any formal business training or actually any knowledge of how to make a career out of my passion, I was completely lost. The first telephone conversation I had with the trust was promising - they asked me what my profession was, and as I said 'Illustrator and Designer,' I instantly felt like a fraud. However, I was told that I was suitable to be put forward for the Enterprise programme, but I was to attend a meeting before I would begin the course in two weeks time. The first meeting was daunting because I didn't know if they were really going to be able to help me. At the end of the meeting I was asked to score on a sheet of paper how I had been feeling prior to contacting the trust, and how I felt now. The relief I felt was overwhelming - somebody actually cared how I felt, and they were going to help me!
The four days of the Enterprise course came, and we were taught a lot of the things you need to know in order to to set up your own business. What struck me the most was that not only we could say all of the ideas and dreams that we had and they were encouraged, but they also suggested practical, realistic, and helpful ways in which we could achieve our individual goals. Less than a year ago I set up my own business, Katie Craven Illustrations, through which I sell a range of homewares, illustrated ceramics, jewellery, art prints and various other illustrated gifts. I also work freelance, creating bespoke wedding stationary, private commissions, logos, and band merchandise for various clients.
Next month sees the release of my exclusive homeware collection for George at ASDA. The project was undertaken in conjunction with The Princes Trust, and 10% of the sales from the range will go back into the trust to help other young people in the same position I was in.
Setting up my own business was a daunting task, and as I am still in my first year of business, every day is a challenge. I have constant support from the trust, as I have a mentor that I meet with regularly. I am making it up as I go along, but now, I wouldn't have it any other way. I want the direction of my life to be dictated by me. I will achieve my dreams, just not in the way I was led to believe I would.
I am eternally grateful for the help I was given by the Princes Trust. I hope that anybody reading this, who feels that they are in the same position I was in, realises that your dreams don't have to be just that - all it takes is a little hard work, a little determination, and a little help from the right people. For me, and so many other people, the Princes Trust were those right people.
Follow Katie Craven on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/katiecravenillustration