Amanda owns Head & Heads in London, a store focused around self care and slow living. She also hosts workshops and has recently launched a workshop hire space for art and wellbeing in central London. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease aged 15.
In this interview she tells us more about being a business owner with IBD.
Q: Tell us about your business
A: Head & Hands is a carefully curated store centred around self care and slow living. It supports small independent makers and artists by stocking a range of goods and gifts, from ceramics to jewellery, homeware to apothecary. Everything is made by loving hands and with good intentions.
Head & Hands also runs a number of slow craft and wellness workshops. We host a number of different artists and teachers, making space for them to share skills and expertise. These take place around London and are often invited into workplaces, to events and festivals delivering creative wellbeing workshops. We have worked with Adidas studio, Moo.com and The British Library.
More recently I launched a second business, a workshop hire space for art & wellbeing in central London; Holdspace which has since been rated one of Londons Top 10 Calming Spaces by Time Out.
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Q: When and why did you start your business?
A: I started my own business because I was struggling to manage the exhausting London commute and working the 9-5. In response to my unpredictable IBD, I needed to find work that allowed flexibility so gradually I created my own job.
I founded Head & Hands in June 2016 as I wanted to find a way to promote slow living, crafts and self-care rituals as they had been such an integral part of my journey coping with IBD.
Q: How does your IBD affect your business?
A: If I am having a bad day, I take the day off to rest. But there are some days where I’m booked to run workshops and I can’t cancel and those days are tougher but more occasional. I enjoy running workshops so much that they energise me and don’t feel like work. I make sure to schedule meetings after rush hour so I don’t have to face it and I also plan my day so I can have slow mornings and work harder in the afternoon when my energy is better.
Amanda's store and art/wellness space
Q: Are there benefits to running your own business when you have IBD?
A: Absolutely. I’m the most sympathetic and understanding boss I’ve ever had! And because I work in wellness, I am surrounded by supportive peers, clients and colleagues too.
Q: How do you deal with the stress and workload of running your own business and do you think this has an impact on your IBD?
A: That can be tough but it’s a worthwhile trade off not having to commute or feeling the anxiety I used to have from regularly calling in sick. I can be much more reactive to my unpredictable energy fluctuations and I have learned how to say no to things, manage my schedule and have boundaries. I didn’t do this right away, it took me a year of running myself down to realise I had the balance totally wrong.
It can be challenging working for yourself at times because there’s no set working hours and you care a lot more. You can easily find yourself over-working in the evenings and at weekends - but I always try to balance busy times with rest and time off.
Workload can be a challenge but the key to wellbeing and growth in business is knowing your limitations and accepting the need to delegate and automate. So I have some automated workflows, set up an ad-hoc assistant that works remotely for me and I can share some of the workload and tasks which don’t require a personalised approach from me.
Q: What are your hopes for your business in the future?
A: I’m in the process of growing some new areas of the business, responding to the demand for wellness events in workplaces, hoping to expand the store and launch my own range of products.
Q: What advice do you have for other people with IBD who are thinking of starting a business?
A: I think it’s a great solution to a problem we all face, it means you can design your work-health balance. But ease into it. Maybe have a part time bridge job while you’re testing and sowing the seeds and only leap in when you’re ready, have some savings and feel confident to give it your all.
Also be proud of having IBD. Your diagnosis can be your strength if you choose to work with it rather than fight against it. The more authentic you allow yourself to be in your work, the easier it is to thrive with whatever you’re facing.