How I remain calm when problems arise

Last week, I had one of those weeks where everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong.  I left my keys on the other side of London, the window in my flat smashed… the list goes on. 

When I started stressing and getting all uptight – a thought came to me. Problems like these are not going to stop happening in life. I can’t prevent things from going wrong, but I can stop myself from getting so affected each time something swings me off balance slightly. 

I realise that by changing my reaction to situations that arise, I am less fearful about what is happening and actually in a way – that allows my life to unfold more smoothly. 

On the day I left my keys on the other side of London, and I was driving from East to West London for the third time that day, I realised the power of what I practice in yoga and meditation. And how actually everything I practice on the mat or in my meditation is just a rehearsal for what I encounter in my daily life. 

What is the point of going all this yoga and meditation if I am going to freak out every time something happens which I am not expecting? Surely in all of these practices, I can find some calm within myself to hold onto when things go wrong! 

For me at this point in my life, this is what I am trying to master; The ability to stay calm and unreactive when life throws you off course. The knowledge deep down that everything happens for a reason and there is a bigger force at work that sometimes I am not even aware of. 

My mum has a saying that she heard from one of her meditation teachers, which is ‘ there are no such things as problems.’ This little phrase is actually gold! When I say it my whole energy changes and actually something that I could have made into a disaster becomes something small and insignificant. 

When things happen that I can’t control I say to myself over and over – there are no such things as problems and immediately my outlook has changed.

See for me, the problems we come up against in our daily lives are where the real tests lie – and that’s where the real yoga practice is for me. By remaining unreactive to situations that test me, I am able to keep my centre as life unfolds around me. It can be tough and challenging but I realise now it’s the little things that count and our ability to stay equanimous and calm throughout. 

5 Tips for dealing with Rejection in Business

Something that I have been thinking about a lot recently is rejection.  Especially relating to the product side of what we do here at Natasha Jade.  Here a few things I have come to realise which have helped me turn rejection into something positive. Just a heads up – this blog is more focused on the products side of what we do! 

It’s inevitable, to begin with. 
I realise now that rejection is inevitable at the beginning. After talking to a lot of people around me, the general consensus is that – quite often when one starts a creative business,  the first few years are really about sussing out which retailers are a good match for your brand. I realise now that there is a type of shop/person that likes my products more than others. And I realise now that it is quite common in the first three years to get a lot of rejection. This is just because you are trying to figure out what works. Once you start to get to know your own brand better and the type of stock that works,  you can be more targeted in your search and therefore get rejected less. 

Rejection makes you learn.
I am really starting to believe that all the great things in life come with a little bit of hard work.  When things come too easily we don’t learn and don’t always reach the full potential of what we are capable of.  Now when I am rejected from a stockist I can actually look at the experience with a little bit of gratitude as I can see how I could maybe improve on my approach for next time. I always strive to do better and improve my business so every bit of feedback I receive, I view as positive now. I must admit sometimes this is easier said than done sometimes!

Rejection makes me want to improve.
If a shop doesn’t want to stock our products, in a strange way this fuels my ambition and drive to do even better, so that one day the people that have not wanted to stock the products may think they have missed out!! Instead of deflating me, it now makes me work harder and double up on my efforts!

Look at JK Rowling – she was rejected so many of times before getting Harry Potter published. I’m sure each rejection gave her the drive and ambition to improve and improve her story. And look where she is now!!

Rejection can be a blessing.
I am learning now that not everyone is easy to work with. Quite a lot of the time I look back at the people we have approached and I think – thank god we don’t work together. Sometimes a job that I want so much might seem like the be all and end all but actually in hindsight I realise it might be more trouble than it’s worth.  So maybe sometimes there is a hidden reason as to why we don’t get something. But I keep reminding myself to trust the situation. There is a blessing in disguise here somewhere! After all – everything happens for a reason. 

You are not alone! 
I think every successful person has had a dose of rejection. I think it’s what makes us who we are and what helps us to learn and strive to be better. As creatives, it is extremely hard to put ourselves in a position where someone has the chance to be critical of our creative work. But if maybe we change the way we look at it slightly then we might be able to take a positive from the experience. 

So many famous musicians, authors, and brand owners have had to deal with so much rejection in order to get to where they are now. What makes a person successful is the fact that they have persevered. So perseverance is key! 

To take a look at my products including greeting cards, gift wrap and mugs, please visit my shop and for a sneak peak behind the scenes visit my Instagram

8 Instagram Tips for Creatives

Written by Jess Molteno Murray – Social Media Manager for Natasha Jade

Within the past 2 years, our Instagram has grown from 0 followers to over 10K!  We’ve made some mistakes along the way but we’ve also developed some strategies that seem to be effective : ). Here are some tips that you may be able to incorporate into your brand’s strategy…  or you could use them to take your personal Instagram up a level ⬆️

1. Mix it up. Initially, we posted groups of similar images which we quickly realised can be a little bit boring and monotonous. So now, we strive to vary our posts, alternating between product shots, lifestyle, inspiration and ‘studio life’ images. This keeps the feed fresh and varied.

2. Engage and comment back. If someone has made the effort to comment on your post, it’s nice to comment back with thanks or an answer to their question. This encourages more people to comment and also shows appreciation and gratitude. 

3. Think in threes. As you know, Instagram is organised in rows of three posts, so it’s good to be aware of how each row of three appears on your feed. Perhaps you may choose similar colours or shapes (if using frames) to create a uniform and branded feel. For example, Harrods seem to move through different colour phases and Zachary Pulman Design Studio posts three similar photos for each row. The downside to this is –  once you start you might find it hard to break free from the ‘rule of three’. So, you may want to be more randomised, after all – rules are made to be broken!

4. Edit your pics in flight mode. If you like to use frames or scheduling software such as Hootsuite, then it’s useful to pre-edit your photos. If you put your phone in flight mode, then you can use Instagram’s editing features (crop, filter, brighten etc) without actually posting the photo to your feed. In flight mode, edit your pic and post it – the picture will fail to post but a copy will appear in your photos. Your filtered/edited pic is now ready to be framed and/or scheduled!

5. Master your product shots. It’s worth spending a bit more time on your product shots. After all, this is your chance to present your work/products/artwork at it’s best. Be aware that white can sometimes appear grey, especially when there are shadows within your pics. We noticed a big difference when we started using photoshop to make white backgrounds whiter.

Before and after editing: 

6. Use emojis. Because they just make your posts more fun and help to break up big chunks of text. 💕

7. Use hashtags to your advantage. A good exercise – is to think about which hashtags your target market/potential fans use. You can then use those hashtags to find and interact with new potential fans. You can also use some of those hashtags within your posts to help people find you… 

8. Shoutout other brands. Each trade show we exhibit at, we create a diary (read our latest diary here) showcasing new brands that we discover during each show. We then post about them on our blog and social media. This has led to new collaborations with brands and features in newsletters. It also gives our followers an insight into fresh new brands that they may not have discovered otherwise. So tell the world about brands you admire!

Visit our Instagram here

My Response to Robert Rauschenberg’s Exhibition at the Tate Modern

Last week I finally managed to go and see the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at the Tate Modern.  Being one of my favourite artists and having studied his work whilst I was at school, I was desperate to go and see the retrospective exhibition. But you know what life is like in a big city like London, work gets on top of you and it’s extremely hard to fit in things for one’s self!
 
Having seen an exhibition of Rauschenberg when I was very young in Paris, he has always been an artist that has been at the back of my mind. While I was at this exhibition at the Tate modern I found it really interesting to see the similarities in our work. When I make a painting I tend to use whatever materials I can find around me, such as my boyfriend’s old CDs, bits of fabric from my studio mate, nails on the studio floor or anything else I can find. I like being inspired by objects around me that might otherwise be thrown away and reusing them by incorporating them into my paintings in an organic and natural way.
 
With Rauschenberg – one of the key themes, especially throughout his earlier work, was his use of found materials. The curators of the exhibition described his work as connecting worlds –  as he works somewhere in the boundary between humans and human’s stuff. He would find old t-shirts, umbrellas, old lights, radios and incorporate them all into big pieces of work. He would then drop paint onto the canvas and dramatically change the aesthetic of the piece. 
 
Another side of Rauschenberg that really excited me was his collaborations with musicians John Cage and the choreographer Merce Cunningham. Rauschenberg would make these wonderful colourful set pieces, and Merce Cunningham would choreograph the dances and John Cage would write the music. 
This interaction between music, dance and art is something that I find extremely interesting and inspiring. It’s really really exciting when the boundaries between the different art forms become blurred. 
 
On a personal note, in my studio – I am an artist, my social media manager Jess is a musician, and my Sales Manager Leanna is a dancer.  Because we have different creative backgrounds, we bring different ideas to the table. We work together harmoniously in a way where our skills are balanced and in tune with one another. 
 
So, basically what I am trying to say is you should really go and see this exhibition before it finishes on 2nd April 2017. It’s fantastic and I would definitely advise getting the headset –  it was super informative!

#BeBoldForChange – Our Message on International Women’s Day

Written by Leanna Wigginton – Sales Manager for Natasha Jade 

Today, women from all around the world are striking. As I am sure you are aware, many people took to the streets after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a historical march. Inspired by this turn of events, women from over 30 countries from around the world are striking on International Women’s Day (8th March 2017). The strike is called “A Day Without a Woman.” 

A gender strike is nothing new, in 1975, 90% of Icelandic women went on a nationwide strike to fight for equal rights. As three female artists working together at the Natasha Jade studio we feel very strongly about the importance of making this a gender equal world that’s more inclusive. That is why I would like to turn my attention to the Guerilla Girls and shine a light on the importance of their message – supporting female artists and making sure we live in a fairer world. The  Guerilla Girls fight discrimination and support human rights for all people and all genders. They recently had a commission at the Whitechapel Gallery revisiting their 1986 poster stating “It’s Even Worse in Europe”. Which was hung above Aldgate East station. It explores diversity in European art organisations. They produce posters, banners, stickers, billboards, projections and other public projects that expose sexism, racism and corruption in art, film, politics and culture at large. Click here to read more.

Here at the Natasha Jade studio, our team is made up of three female artists striving to express ourselves through art. We all have many strings to our bows and are creating our own work in different ways.

Leanna Wigginton is the Head of Sales and Marketing for Natasha Jade. Leanna is also an improviser and actor.

She says; ‘I am an actor and started improvising a few years ago. The hardest thing about being an actor is sitting around waiting for someone to give you a script that’s perfect for you. You can’t really practice your craft either, not like a musician or an artist can. It doesn’t quite work sitting in your room reciting characters on your own, we need an audience to feed off. That is why I started improvising. I have the freedom to become anyone I want and the audience accept my choices. If I want to play a male astronaut I can. The most exciting thing is that the audience are part of the action. They give you a word or suggestion that you use to improvise, in the same way that a client might be part of the process and discuss ideas when commissioning a painting from Natasha. When I first started improvising comedy I took classes at Hoopla and out of a class of 16 –  I was one of two girls. This scared me, but I persevered, now I regularly perform improv. I still hear people say women aren’t funny/don’t make good comedians. There has been a 62% rise on women performing comedy at the Edinburgh fringe, but with women accounting for 17% of comics at the 2016 festival, equality has some way to go at Fringe. Find out more about Leanna’s upcoming shows here.

Jess Molteno is a Singer, Songwriter and Producer as well as being our Social Media Manager. She creates and performs dreamy, indie/folk-infused tracks and through working with Universal Publishing has had her music used in adverts and productions including a Starbucks advert!

She says; ‘As a female musician in a very male-dominated industry, (less than 5% of recognised music producers are women and only 14% of PRS members are women) it’s often assumed by others that I can’t play guitar well or produce my own music. I‘m often earmarked as just a Singer/Songwriter but I don’t see why being a woman makes me any less able to produce or co-produce my own music as well as singing and writing songs – as men often do! When I was 15, a venue owner who had booked the band I was in at the time to perform, suggested that I stop playing guitar and just focus on my voice – I’m so glad now that I didn’t pay attention to ‘advice’ like this! I persevered with guitar as well as working on my own material –  writing songs and improving my production skills – this enables me to better communicate my vision for each song in the studio when working with other musicians, producers and engineers. It’s important for us girls to stand up to and correct these assumptions, and to give young girls the message that they can be whoever they want to be within the industry.’ Listen to Jess Molteno’s music here

 

Natasha Jade is (as you know by now!) is an artist from North London who creates artwork and art products from her East London studio. 

She says: ‘As an artist and at the same time a woman in business, I find people often expect me to work in a certain way, and come with a few pre-conceived ideas about the way that I might choose to conduct my business. I know that as a woman, I can be rather emotionally invested and in certain situations that can be taken advantage of. Like many other women I know, I have a strong connection to my work and can be heavily invested both mentally and emotionally. I do feel that being a woman in business gives me a different outlook compared to perhaps a man in the same position as me. This can actually be extremely beneficial as it allows me to see things from a different angle.

To finish on a positive note, we have all come up against obstacles in our careers where we feel our voice is small and unheard but rather than retreating and not feeling strong in numbers – we have stood up to prejudice.  And in pursuing those dreams, our message gets ever clearer and we continue to be listened to, inspiring younger artists to do the same. 

For International Women’s Day 2017, we’re all being asked to #BeBoldForChange. Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a more inclusive, gender equal world!

From favourite childhood bookstore to Natasha Jade stockist!

img_9807Growing up in Hampstead, I have always had a big connection with the quirky independent shops in the area. As a child, I loved visiting Daunt Books and getting absorbed by the magical feeling of the shop which is unique compared to other bookshops in London. 
We have had our cards stocked in the Hampstead Heath branch for a year or so and I am very glad to announce that we now also have a selection of cards and gift wrap in their Belsize Park store
After my travels around India and Nepal, I spent a lot of time in Hampstead heath – sketching as a means to absorb the tranquil surroundings of the Heath. In turn, I used these sketches as a basis to create a collection of Hampstead Heath paintings. These images have all been recreated as cards which you can find at Daunt Books. I thought this was a lovely touch as it’s always nice to see areas recreated in an artist’s distinctive style. It’s inspiring to see a place one often visits through the eyes of someone else. 
As most of my artwork has been inspired by travel I feel very connected to Daunt Books which was initially set up as a travel bookshop.  I am very honored to stock my gift wrap and cards in these lovely shops. As we now have our products stocked internationally in places as far away as China, it’s really important to me to have wonderful stockists closer to home. Daunt Books is located where it all started, a place that means a lot to me as it is where I spent most of my childhood. 
 
So, please do head to Daunt Books in Hampstead Heath or Belsize Park to shop for your Natasha Jade essentials, pick up some great new reads and soak up these great areas within London!