As we were ushered into the New Year and 2019, I felt overwhelmed thinking about the phenomenal year that has just gone by and the new & exciting times that are yet to come.
2018 was an eventful year for me both on a personal and professional level, and boy do I feel excited about 2019!
But before we talk about any of that, I thought it was about time that I gave you a little background about me and how Spirit & Grace actually came to be!
My name is Katie Topping and I own ‘Spirit & Grace’
Back in 1998, Post University I joined IBM on their graduate scheme and spent 9yrs doing various roles from Service Analyst to Offerings Management and finally finishing up in a Bid Management position in their Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery division.
In 2005, following various acquisitions of smaller organisations my role suddenly changed and took me on a new path which I was not particularly comfortable with, I suffered from some mental health issues and unfortunately this also coincided with the realisation for my husband & I that starting a family was not going to be an easy ride for us, we had infertility issues.
So to cut a long story short, I made the decision that in order to have a healthy body & healthy mind, I was better off out of the Corporate world!
So what now!
I knew I didn’t want to go back into the humdrum of the 9-5 life and it wasn’t healthy for me!
I had always had a passion for anything with 4 legs and we had recently rescued a delightful black Lab from Battersea Dogs Home, I decided to combine this passion with my working life, so I set up a Dog Walking and Pet Sitting business called ‘Be There Pet Care’ and it was great! I gradually felt stronger and happier and we were finally starting our journey into IVF.
Now, have you ever considered trying to walk 3-4 dogs at a time, 5-6 times a day with a double buggy in tow? Yes, that’s right TWINS!! We were blessed with our two little miracle boys in 2009, but they did totally ‘quibosh’ the business, but after a long 5yr wait, they were well worth it!!
My clients were obviously thrilled for us and totally understanding when I told them I was stepping down and that this was no longer a feasible business for me! And after so long having craved to be a ‘full-time mum’ I quite literally wanted nothing else and actually had no time for anything else either!
As all you mums/parents out there will understand, however, when you become a mum, you can lose some of your own identity and so when the boys turned 2, I signed up to a Network Marketing company to give me a challenge, keep me sane and keep my foot in the door, I wanted to be Katie again and not just mummy, wife and housewife!
Fast forward 5yrs and the boys started school and I found myself was suddenly lost, my best friends had gone! The Network Marketing company was fun, I had met a lot of lovely people along the way and learnt a lot of new skills, but it was not as fulfilling as I would have liked and having not had very much spare time, it had not grown to a level that I was happy with.
I gave myself some thinking space, time to take stock & some time to mull over the rollercoaster of the previous 6yrs and took the headspace to decide what I wanted to do next.
I always think you need to be careful in planning a change in your life, especially when it comes to work and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
From a young age, I had another passion!
For all things glittery and I can remember being caught dressing up in my mum’s jewellery and accessories on plenty of occasions, much to her annoyance!
Taking inspiration from this passion and the desire to remain as a ‘stay at home’ mum, I launched a business called ‘Isla Grace Jewellery & Accessories’ or ‘Isla Grace’ as it became to be known.
With Isla Grace, I sold all my hand-picked jewellery & accessories in the main through corporate & charity events and school fairs and fetes and I loved it.
I’m not the creative type who can handmake my own jewellery, I have no creative bones, but I do have a good eye for what looks great and how things combine to create a unique style and I have been complimented on this many times over the years.
I loved nothing more than attending the trade shows to curate new collections and in doing so supporting small business and up and coming new brands.
Isla Grace would have been 5 this year and then Dec 19th 2017 happened!
Unfortunately, I had an accident at home and I fell over on the lounge floor, breaking my coccyx! (I promise, there was really was no alcohol involved!)
Having always suffered from back issues this just exacerbated my existing problems and was the final nail in the coffin for lifting and shifting heavy boxes in & out of my car every day, so Isla Grace was no more or had to change.
So, I was ready to walk away, or hobble away if truth be told! Resigned to having to re-invent myself yet again!
But what I hadn’t considered or anticipated was the disappointment and sadness I received from existing customers, friends and family when I told them.
I was told quite blatantly in fact that I couldn’t walk away from 4yrs of hard work.
So, instead of walking away, I dug deep & decided to bite the bullet and invest and re-invent Isla Grace, my passion, my baby, to really believe in myself and go online!
I decided a complete re-brand was in order, partly because it was a new beginning for me, a chance to start afresh, but also because if you typed in Isla Grace into any search engine, all the results came back to pretty baby names, this is obviously not the image that I am aiming for….or my target market, to be honest!
I also wanted to expand my offerings to include gifts, giving me greater scope & opportunities within a tough market.
So here we are in January 2019 and I launched my new business, Spirit & Grace, an e-commerce gift boutique in September 2018!
“Curating fabulous things for fabulous people!”
I chose the name Spirit & Grace to keep some of the identity of Isla Grace and ‘Spirit’ to capture the essence of the business that I want to build, being mindful of others while being in good spirits and looking after myself & others.
I currently offer a selection of unique and stylishly elegant gifts, jewellery & accessories from up & coming brands at affordable prices and in the not too distant future would love to work with local artisan traders, to bring them greater exposure and to also provide more unique ‘not on the high street’ products to my customers.
I would love ‘Spirit & Grace’ to become known as a ‘quality’ gift boutique, offering fantastic customer service & value added aftercare shown in the presentation & delivery of my wares.
I love to put a smile on people’s faces and hand pick all of my products with this goal in mind and I will maintain my business model of supporting other small businesses.
I would love your feedback on the products that I currently have available on the website and if there is anything else that you would love to have featured or if you know of any artisan traders that may well be a great fit, it would be fantastic to hear from you.
I will try to write weekly blogs about style & gifting and my general musings and will happily accept guest bloggers too!
Oh, and if you sign up to my newsletter you will qualify for 10% off your 1st order.
I am on FB, Instagram & Twitter, so please have a look, like & share posts if you see fit.
“Curating fabulous things for fabulous people!”
So there you have it, my background & my story. I am Katie Topping of Spirit & Grace.
I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling year and Spirit & Grace to date has surpassed all my expectations!
Through working with The Business Girls Network, I have made new friendships and grown professionally, whilst creating abundant memories that will be treasured for a lifetime.
Even though the New Year simply marks a change in calendar date, there is something about it that excites me. It gives me hope, positivity and a reason to look forward to better things in life.
Simply by writing this post and thinking about the year that lies ahead of me, I feel encouraged and motivated to work even harder to get closer to the career of my dreams.
Thank you for reading and I wish you all a very happy and blessed New Year 2019!
In case you missed reading some of my posts, here’s a list of my favourite posts published in 2018: