Last week, the one and only podcast that I've appeared on, appeared on the internet. I've purposefully waited until the initial buzz had died a bit to write this blog post. Buzz, bees, see what I did there?!
I run my business a bit differently from many dyers; I don't collaborate much, I don't wholesale to shops, I don't dye to order, I keep much of my personal life to myself, I have a shop front that people can visit. It probably looks as though "no" is my favourite word.
The way that I run my business is because I have high functioning autism and although I've briefly, in passing mentioned it previously, appearing on Shinybees' podcast felt a bit like coming out. Autism means that I have certain strengths, I am incredibly focused, I'm always exploring new techniques, I do my own thing and ignore what other people are doing and I'm not afraid to pull people up when I feel they're taking advantage.
But autism also comes with challenges, mainly with regards to social interaction and overwhelm. I don't experience white noise, just noise, so it's difficult to determine what information I'm supposed to be processing. I'm also not ashamed to be autistic, just grateful for finally knowing why I've always felt like an outsider and why my brain goes at a million miles an hour. Also why I won't get out of bed in the morning unless all the digits add up to a three. Don't ask.
I've always said no to podcast interviews. In a pressured environment, I stutter and then shutdown. I know exactly what to say but I'm unable to say it and I like to be in control of how I come across.
I originally said no to Jo of Shinybees. Apparently I'm the only person who declined an interview but she took it in good grace!
Over the past few months, Jo and I have become mates (which in my book is an honour because it's difficult for me to make that leap into friendship, but I'm okay with that.) I was listening to her Zoolander episode and it occurred to me, as she was describing how she'd like to dye her fantasy yarn of Orange Mocha Frappuccino, that I could do that. Obviously, it wasn't to be an interview, oh no. Definitely not. And that's what we did.
The response of the episode has been phenomenal. Yes, I sound posh - that was the speech therapy as a kid. I'm not really aristocratic. I'm originally from The Republic of Merseyside and say things like doyaknowwarramean? and antwacky. I tend to swear as though I work down the docks.
The feedback has been incredible, especially from fellow neurodiverse people praising me for sticking up the middle finger and making my business successful in spite of my limitations.
Obviously I'm going back to being the mysterious Countess again. The beauty of the episode is that Jo and I are mates and have a similar sense of humour so we tend to bounce off each other, hence why we dyed a gas explosion death scene. With this in mind, I won't be appearing on podcasts with anybody else. I am exclusive to Shinybees, I would be robotic with anybody else.
It's been quite jarring as well, in a way. Overall it's been a brilliant experience but I will admit that I have been feeling a bit raw and exposed. I'm not used to doing something so open although I do not regret doing it. You know that scene in Dirty Dancing of "This is your dance space and this is mine," I go through life like that. I let you briefly into my space, now I need it back. I'm quite a reclusive introvert and if you're into Myers Briggs Personality Horoscopes, I'm INTJ (which means each emotion I have is displayed on my face like Vladimir Putin's expressions but I look fabulous in a super villain cloak.)
I'm quite firm on having boundaries; I don't know if this is an autism thing or not. Rightly or wrongly, I get overwhelmed and upset when boundaries are overstepped and I feel that I finally need to bring this up, because this is happening daily. I know that people don't mean to but...
The FAQ page details every question and answer that crops up, I heavily refer to it on the Contact page. I get upset, yes I'm a wet lettuce, when the boundary is crossed and people try to talk me into doing something that I do not do when I've explicitly said no. I've confidently turned down some big name shops and designers, I turn down a lot of opportunities that others would love to be offered because I know my limitations. I'm also often on crutches for a physical condition. But I also know my strengths. If I change the way that I work in the future, I'll be the one putting out the feelers.
A strong reason why my business works is down to the community that it has fostered. It didn't really hit me how important the community side was until I opened up my dye studio and find how many people come to visit. With a busy knit group each week, sell out events, over 120 people visited on Yarn Shop Day, it's just incredible. I want to thank each and every one of you who has brought me this far. I do have plans for furthering this, don't you worry.
Also a huge thank you to the shiniest of all the bees, Jo, who successfully managed to hide a massive microphone in plain sight so that I could push myself a little bit further. It was fabulous to reminisce about our favourite kebab shop at university as well as mush some yarn. Sparkly BFL, only the best.