Spotlight on Spouses – Amy Nolan
Name: Amy Nolan
Artist/Owner at ginger rainbow
What is your career background?
The majority of my adult career has been spent working for the NHS in specialist Mental Health Services. Supporting people within a range of settings from Forensic Services to community services, both in more clinical supportive roles and later in a public engagement project role. I later worked for PALS and Quality Improvement teams in administrative and customer liaison roles when I first moved to Oxfordshire.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I have always loved art and using my creative skills, I just never had the opportunity to explore it as a potential career option before. The idea for the core aspect of my business came about 10 years ago when a friend asked me to make some colouring in t-shirts she could give as gifts to her friend’s children. Since then I did the occasional weekend market but really the idea went on the backburner until a couple of years ago. We moved to quarters and the commute to my job was impossible and I was struggling to find another job. My husband encouraged me to see what I could make happen with ginger rainbow and go for it.
The Pillowcases With Love (Colouring in pillowcases) idea came as a result of sending my husband a pillowcase when he was deployed and a customer wanting a present to send to her husband that the children could make and be involved with.
How did you move from the idea to the actual business?
A lot of experimentation, mistakes and general faffing about and finding what worked. I knew what I wanted to do, “pay the bills from drawing”- I just had little or no idea of how to get there. I made stuff up as I went along. My biggest breakthrough came from doing the Unsung Heroes Business start up course in wolverhampton. It suddenly helped me get a plan and give me a framework for my ideas. It opened the door to meeting other business owners in a similar situation. Peer support is huge- especially when you are new to everything.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I am not a naturel on social media at all, and I have really struggled with telling people what I am all about. The thing is, if you don’t tell people , they won’t know. I approach people and organizations that I think would benefit from what I do . I think about how I can make their lives easier and do my best to get involved and network my socks off. I am pretty shy on social media but in real life I can talk the back legs of a donkey, because I love what I am doing and I’m really interested in what others are doing as well.
As a Military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/ kids/ your spouses military commitments?
My biggest challenge has been moving to a rural base with limited facilities with little or no public transport nearby and not being able to drive. I would also say that sometimes people can have some strange ideas about you and your life when they find out you are a military spouse. I think there can be a bit of a view that we are all relaxing, popping out to get our hair done with no financial responsibility and that we are simply having a great time doing “nice hobbies”. I enjoy re-educating people on the drive, diversity and challenges faced by the military spouse community especially when it comes to work.
What has been your proudest moment?
So many proud moments from my first online sale, to a customer sending me a photo of their kids colouring in a pillowcase, to hearing my husband proudly describe my business and what I am trying to do with ginger rainbow.
Why is work so important for you?
I’ve got lots I want to do and offer and contribute. I enjoy working and creating and it makes me happy. I’ve always worked- I don’t intend to stop now. I want to be able to say I pay my bills from drawing and colouring in. How cool would that be?
What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get back into work, retrain for a new career or start their own business?
Do it. Do it. Do it now.
Military life gives us lot’s of challenges don’t forget to utilize the opportunities. Grab a course, see what funding there is, talk to people and go for it. What have you got to lose?
Facebook – @grainbow1
LinkedIn – Amy Nolan
Website – www.gingerrainbow.co.uk
Instagram – @mylifescribble