I recently did an interview in preparation for an event on International Women's Day, sadly the event had to be cancelled but I thought I'd share my interview with you so you can find out a bit more about what Women's Day means to me and the experience I've had in my career....
Link & Learn with Exceptional Women on International Women’s Day: Lucy Tidbury
‘Just do it’. Wise words from artist and gallery owner, Lucy Tidbury, one of the speakers at our upcoming Link & Learn event on International Women’s Day.
We spoke to Lucy to find out about her career to date and what visitors can expect to hear from her at the fundraising event on 8th March at Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Lyndhurst.
Lucy, tell us a bit about your business journey
“I studied Art at University, graduating in 2007. After a bit of time doing a few odd jobs and travelling, I settled into a full-time role in HR for a large insurance company. I felt under pressure to earn a salary, get a mortgage and settle down. I did my art alongside my HR role, but there was always a niggling feeling that this wasn't right for me.
So in 2014, I took the leap to focus on my art full time. I handed my notice in on my 'proper job' and went for it. If I wasn't going to do it now, I never would. I had this terrifying feeling in my mind that I would regret it! I had been growing my art business for some years alongside my job and felt I'd really started to build a brand and recognisable style, so it was time to throw everything at it.
I started working from home, exhibiting at shows, selling online, and painting commissions. But in 2017, it was time to move out of the house and I opened my gallery/shop in Swanage, Dorset. I outgrew that shop and moved to new premises in 2019. I now have the Gallery and a team of 4 lovely ladies who help run the shop and deal with online orders. This gives me more time to paint and head out on the road to exhibitions and shows. I also stock around 20 other shops/gift shops and farm shops, which keeps us all busy!”
Do you feel your career has been affected by gender bias?
“Yes, absolutely. The one thing that frustrates me the most is the assumptions some people have made over the years about myself and my business. I often get asked by people if I make a living from being an artist and that is often followed by the question 'What does your husband do?' There is this odd idea that you can't possibly make a living as an artist unless you have a wealthy partner backing you. I assure you that is not the case!! My husband is incredibly supportive of my business in so many ways but not financially. I have built my business myself through hard work and I'm not just painting cows for a bit of 'pin money!' Would you ask a successful male artist what his wife does for a living? The fact my husband is a bit older than me as well often leads people to make assumptions and this is frustrating. I feel I have to explain to people that I have made a success of my business myself but then why should I have to explain? It's none of their business really!”
What unique qualities do you think women bring to the workplace?
“I have a team here at Moo HQ and they are all female. That isn't intentional, it just happened that way. I would happily have male colleagues and I have always worked well with both men and women. But I can say that the women I work with are amazing. It's not just a job to them, they are so supportive of my brand and me as a person. As cheesy as it sounds, we are a bit of a family. I regularly talk through new design concepts with them as I know they are completely honest and also have a very good idea of what works well with my brand.
I do think women are good at supporting each other in the workplace, not constantly competing or trying to outdo one another. I've had experiences at exhibitions where it can sometimes feel a little
hostile when artists make sales. With all the women I've worked with, it's been much more about supporting one another and being proud when a fellow artist succeeds.”
Why did you decide to speak at this Link & Learn International Women’s Day event?
“It's so important to celebrate women's achievements and to encourage and support other females in business. I love to share my story with other women and to hear about other people’s experiences, both good and bad. I hope that what I say inspires other women, but I also hope to learn and feel inspired by the other exceptional women at the event.”
Visitors can expect to hear about my business journey, the stereotypes and assumptions I've had to overcome, and how you can build a successful business in the creative industry, despite the misconceptions. I work hard but I love what I do, and I think that's so important. I've also learned some valuable lessons along the way. I haven't always worked in a very healthy, balanced way. I've certainly learned a lot over the last couple of years about what is important to me and hopefully sharing that might prompt other people to stop, think, and prioritise what’s most important to them.”
What one piece of advice would you give to other women?
“If you are thinking about making a change, whether that be to start your own business or just do something completely different with your career, then do it. It might seem like there's never the right time, but if you don't do it you'll never know! Yes, it's terrifying but it's also incredibly exciting. For me, it was scary giving up a full-time job, a salary, sick pay, pension, holiday, etc to be self-employed. Suddenly I was out there on my own, but it's the best thing I've ever done. I made it work because I had to. I love my job and I might work harder than I ever have in my life. But it's worth it. Now I've learned how to have a little more balance in life, I wouldn't change a thing.