One of my key values is community: I love connecting with other small business owners and get inspired by how they run their businesses and live their lives. In this interview series I’m asking lovely small business owners to share how they run a slow, gentle and profitable business. In this post, Natalie Warner shares her journey to living a slow and gentle life, and the steps she’s taken to creating a slow, gentle and profitable business. Enjoy!
Natalie designs easy to follow and relaxing knitting patterns for lace sweaters, cable sweaters, shawls, cowls – ideal for summer knitting projects, winter knitting projects and building an inspiring wardrobe. She is also a qualified teacher and shares favourite sewing tips, tricks and techniques on her blog, where you can also find advice on designing knitwear and sewing pattern reviews.
Natalie is a voracious reader, with a particular interest in storytelling, cultural history, clothing and textiles as artefacts, handcrafted objects and embodiment, and constant curiosity about the many ways in which clothes can be designed, cut, sewn or knitted. When not engaged in anything related to clothing, Natalie can usually be found in her beloved garden.
What does living a slow and gentle life, and having a slow, gentle and profitable business look like to you? What does a day look like for you?
It means working with my natural ebbs and flows so that I have the best chance of being the best human I can for everyone in my life. That’s my aim, and so far it’s worked better than I could’ve imagined!
I’m definitely still learning and unlearning how to get the best out of myself. Having my own business has given me the first real opportunity to explore my strengths and weaknesses without feeling pressured or guilty; to see what I’m like and what I can achieve when left to my own devices.
Having a slow, gentle and profitable business means working with my natural ebbs and flows so that I have the best chance of being the best human I can for everyone in my life.
Creating a structure that suits me has been scary but enriching – it’s a completely different lifestyle. For example, I learnt that I’m better off having two full or long days working on the business, two days reserved for teaching, and reserving Wednesdays for refreshment and recalibration. I often have a late teaching evening on Tuesdays, so this is ideal. On Wednesdays I keep away from the computer and focus on anything practical, work or non-work: piano study, gardening, art, sewing, knitting, photography, walks – anything away from the desk.
What inspired you to live this way? Which choices and changes did you make, or have to make?
It was partly necessity and partly enforced.
I’m a very reluctant entrepreneur! – I never had the idea of having my own business, not at all, so it’s also a process of self-discovery. For instance, I’m coming to terms with the fact that evening teaching doesn’t suit me very well. I compromised for years, but now I don’t have to – or, to not lose touch with my evening students, do it in a way that doesn’t drain me.
Having my own business is a process of self-discovery.
The necessity of slow and gentle work stemmed from my design work. This has always been freelance, or mine to organise or cope with, but my teaching hours – intentionally my stable income and routine working pattern – became unstable due to political, financial and market reasons. I needed to find a way to keep earning a living doing the job I loved, and I came to the conclusion that working under my own direction and initiative was my best hope at creating financial stability. It was an opportunity to teach with more freedom and imagination.
Seeing teaching as a business is a work in progress, but I can say hand on heart that the hardest part was getting started; feeling emotionally and mentally ready. Once I was, and accepted the state of my life, the motivation and ideas came flooding in.
What three tips would you suggest for readers who also want to create a slow, gentle and profitable business?
#1: Take the time to listen and tune into your body.
Accept it when you feel tired, flat, motivated, energised – and go with the feeling. We can be too used to pushing through physical alarm bells, and for what? Eventually, after tuning in, you’ll observe patterns, and you’ll deduce how to create routines that work for you and prioritise your wellbeing. This will be hard, especially if you have a very giving job or usually put others first, but allow yourself grace and time. Doing this will ignite more passion and energy for your life, and you’ll sleep better and feel healthier. You’ll be able to do what you want to do, but on your own terms, but your body has to lead the way.
Allowing yourself grace and time ignites more passion and energy for your life.
#2: Acknowledge the time you spend on errands, grocery shopping, preparing meals, and time you want to spend on hobbies.
Use the time for yourself to break up the day and recharge your batteries. Not cramming in necessities like this, or seeing them as another obligation to wear you down, will alleviate some stress. You need to eat; sustenance is an inescapable part of your life, so give it the space it deserves.
#3: be on the lookout for traditional habits or ideas about work that may not be serving you.
If you’ve been used to working for a company or institution, keep an eye on any habits or thought patterns you’ve acquired. You may not even realise that they are there, but they will make themselves known! Don’t be afraid to question and challenge them. Let go of them if they seem to be getting in the way of your goals, and allow yourself to be inspired by people in other industries or sectors. Sometimes you can find insight, opportunities and inspiration thanks to other perspectives and different ways of life. I’ve learnt a lot this way, and I hope you will too! Good luck 😊
Thank you Natalie, for sharing this peek into how you are running a slow, gentle and profitable business. I love how you’ve created your own weekly structure, and your emphasis on giving ourselves grace is something we can all learn from I think. Find out more about Natalie, her knitting designs, her love of nature and her writing through her website. You can connect with her through one of her two Instagram accounts.
If you’d like to answer these questions on how you are building and running a slow, gentle and profitable business, do get in touch with me. More interviews on how to run a slow, gentle and profitable small business are coming soon! Sign up for my newsletter below so you never miss one.
And, if you want to create that slow, gentle and profitable business that truly nourishes you, discover how we can work together here.