So one of the ways I plan to grow and income was by opening an Etsy store. Originally I was going to design ready made logos, given I have a back ground in graphic and web design.  I have all the tools that I need, and while it’s a very competitive space, it seemed very doable.

Then I got really sick. Pap smear showed precancerous cells, I needed surgery, major surgery, a total hysterectomy asap.  As luck would have it that all went horrendously wrong. I almost died because of that surgery, I lost almost half my blood and I am left with permanent deficits.  I was disabled before the surgery, now things are just that bit worse.

So my plans were slowed down.  A lot.

But now I’m on the upswing and putting my energy back into making money.

I can’t do anything physical, I’m still largely bedridden.  But I started thinking about jewellery.  I made a hand stamped necklace for my parent’s 50th anniversary present.  And I made a few more pieces.  And then I discovered 4Ocean and LOVE their concept.  Every bracelet sold removes one pound of trash from the ocean.  I wanted to do something similar.  Something with a purpose.

One of the biggest problems that those of us with invisible illness and invisible disabilities face is just that – its invisible.   Some people think we’re faking.  Some people think we’re lazy. Most people just don’t realise there’s anything seriously wrong, and therefore don’t think to help.

I want to make invisible illness, visible. So I decided to make awareness bracelets.  I want them to be bright and beautiful and striking, and with an awareness bracelet you can announce to the world that you have an invisible illness, and if nothing else, it can start the conversation.

And I intend to give 10% to the charity of the purchaser’s choice. Whether that be a charity related to their disability, or someone else entirely, is up to them.

So while I was stuck in a chair or a bed, critically ill, a whole new concept was born.  A fully fledged business.  With a social conscience, and a donation to charity.  And I can run it all from home, and when it takes off, I will hire people to make the bracelets for me.

The idea gave me something to work towards, to keep me going through some very, very dark times.  Two months ago I almost died, and the way I was treated by doctors, nurses and friends and the people I love was horrific.  It was a life changing event, and I am a different person now.  I will never be the same person I was again.  The trauma was intense, and I’m still dealing with it.

But this new idea is a positive place to put my energy. And there is a lot to do!

I’m still going to do the Etsy store, but also create my own website.  So that means domain names, business names, Instagram, facebook and twitter accounts.  It means building websites and finding a suitable ecommerce theme.  That I am using wordpress is a given.  I need to source suppliers, experiment with designs, product test those designs, and market test the concept.  I need to make the jewellery and take high quality product photos.  And then I need to start marketing, online and offline.  And approach charities to create partnerships (I will donate to them, and they will help me with promotion), and look for partners.

So that’s a lot to do, right there.  I’ve actually made up some prototypes and tested them on my facebook page, and gotten a very good response.  A few people say they will buy. I know, it’s easy to say. It means nothing until they DO buy, but that’s another thing – start a mailing list for marketing.

I have sorted all the names and created the facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts.  Instagram will lend itself most to jewellery and taking good, interesting photographs and posting on Instagram will be how I will market the business initially.  I don’t like to promote myself, I’d much rather hide in the background, but my story will be integral to the business, so I’ll have to deal with that, and try to put myself out there as the face of the brand.  Or at least not hiding who I am.

I have found some suppliers and placed a few small orders, to see how reliable they are, whether they ship fast and how good the quality of their product is.  For the business to run smoothly, I need to be able to order in raw materials fast, and that will be my biggest logistical problem.  There are no local suppliers, it will all need to be online.  And the lead times are 3-4 weeks.  So I will need to carry more stock than I would like.

It’s a risk.  But I need something to keep me going right now, and get my head back in the game. I’m not physically able to keep going with house improvements or gardening.  But I have had the house appraised, and I need to sell soon. The market is peaking in this area, so the time is right.

So there’s a lot to do!  Better get started!