Meet my latest guest for my Inspiring Women series. Julie Brown is a transformational writer and business coach. Julie helps entrepreneurs get more eyes on their business through the telling of their own story. But Julie’s had a fascinating journey from Nursing to management in the NHS before following her passion to write. Julie is also a talented seamstress who has a passion for adrenaline hobbies!
Tell Us About Your Background And Early Career
I left school at sixteen (wow that’s an age ago). After a short stint in a council office I trained as a general and then psychiatric nurse.
At the height of the HIV/AIDS scare I became a counsellor working with affected men and women and their family and friends – such a sad time and very humbling.
After moving into NHS management, I worked for the Government as a hospital review manager. I was responsible for awarding NHS trusts with quality stars or stripping them of existing ones, depending on what I found.
I studied for and achieved a first degree and MBA during my time in the NHS.
A Change Of Career
A lot of life changes come on the back of a particular event and this was no exception.
My mum died after a hard-fought battle with cancer and it made me see life in a different way.
It brought on a determination to follow my dreams. I love writing, am nosey and live close to one of the biggest publishers in the country. Shortly after losing my mum, I saw a job for a writer advertised.
I applied and a few months later took my seat on a specialist magazine with an enormous pay cut to go with it. I haven’t once looked back. I’d already learnt (from a spell as a single parent) that money wasn’t everything. Enjoying what you do and nurturing your mental health is just as important.
That job was on Your Horse magazine, the UK’s number one equine mag, and as horses have been a lifelong passion, it couldn’t have worked out any better. I became an editor just five years later followed by a four-year stint as a magazine publisher.
I published a title called Back Street Heroes about custom motorcycles (choppers, as we used to call them) and the people and scene around them. The bikes were beautiful, but it was the people that made it memorable.
Not always easy to work with, but all of them were characters. Under my guidance we reversed a decline in sales and increased subscription numbers too.
LEAP TO SELF-EMPLOYMENT
When I was getting ready to leave paid employment (scary!) I trained as a life coach after working with a coach myself. I knew this was something I would enjoy doing and be good at.
Once I’d started down this path and people realised I was a journalist too, I found myself attracting business owners who wanted help with developing their writing skills or who wanted me to write for them – blogs, web copy etc.
This prompted a slight shift of direction and Write Little Madam was unleashed.
I am a transformational writer and business coach, which allows me to use the whole range of skills in my toolkit.
I help business owners get more eyes on their business through telling their own story. Coaching them in writing skills, getting into the press and online and communicating directly to the heart of their customers.
I still work as a journalist for publications and online, which continues to give me joy, credibility and carves me out as an expert at what I do.
A TALENTED SEAMSTRESS
As a business owner it can be so easy to get sucked into working all day, every day. But I believe that taking time to do a bit of what you love is important and I make sure I practise what I preach.
I try to do a bit of sewing a couple of times a week in the evenings, then will spend longer on it at the weekend. Having a system helps. Cutting out patterns and fabric can be the time-consuming bit, so I do this in bulk, using dead time, like watching TV to cut out the paper patterns.
This means that at any one time I have two or three things ready to sew, so when I have a chunk of time I can whizz along and have a garment finished relatively quickly.
How would you describe your style?
A little bit eclectic to be honest. I adore vintage clothes (I have a wardrobe dedicated to this) and so I make a fair few things that are vintage inspired. I’m on the look-out for a pattern for flared trousers right now!
At the moment I’m also enjoying Japanese styled clothes, which tend to be loose fitting, floaty and a bit quirky. I choose patterns where there’s room for personalisation. I may change the style of the sleeves or make something shorter for instance.
The big appeal about sewing is that I’m unlikely to meet anyone wearing the same thing. And it’s such a great feeling when people compliment me on what I’m wearing and ask where I got it from. Sewing is also a great distraction as it’s difficult to think about much else when you’re creating.
when did you learn TO SEW?
I didn’t do sewing at school although I was keen to – it just wasn’t offered. When I left I enrolled in night classes to learn, which I did for four years.
I continued to sew for a while and then stopped (family stuff, work etc.) until 2010, when I was working with a graphic designer who enjoyed sewing and was a talented seamstress.
Through our chats, and her bringing in her recent makes, I caught the bug again and off I went. I bought a 1964 Bernina sewing machine from Ebay and started with an elasticated waist skirt. The joy of sewing soon came flooding back and I now have a much fancier machine!
I have a tendency to take things to the extreme! While I was working full time as a publisher, I opened a sewing shop in the cute market town we lived in at the time.
I stayed in my job and employed two people to run the shop Monday to Friday. I worked there on Saturdays and also ran workshops to share my passion for creating with others. Sadly, I had to sell my lovely shop a couple of years ago when we needed to relocate. I’ll never forget my little vintage styled shop.
I still attend sewing classes to develop my skills and keep up to date. I have learnt to draft my own patterns, use fabrics in unusual ways, learn tailoring techniques and recently turned my hand to making a pair of trainers too.
MAKE UP DOESN’T HAVE TO BE BEIGE!
I am very excited about this. I’ve noticed as I’ve aged that people’s expectations of how I should look has changed. I’ve always dressed individually and I adore make-up, but apparently at my age I should be more beige, with conventional make-up and old lady hair (whatever that is). Well, I’m not having it and I’ll continue to wear what I want and experiment with make-up till I can no longer do it (and even then I’ll probably ask someone else to do it for me!) My mission is to get other women feeling the same confidence to do this – to stay sassy until the end.
I’ve created a blog and YouTube channel to share my experiences and also review make-up and skincare to inspire women to try different things. I can help them make informed choices. Yellow eyeliner? Beach tousled hair? Bring it on! I also write about fashion, vintage and what I call ‘interesting stuff,’ which could be anything I think the more mature women might want to hear about.
A PASSION FOR FREEDOM
The two things that make my heart race are riding motorbikes and snowboarding.
I’ve been riding for around 25 years, owning a whole range of bikes in that time. I’ve ridden Route 66 (Chicago to Los Angeles), the West Coast of America twice, in France, Spain and Ireland. And done many, many laps of Britain too.
I know it’s a cliché, but the freedom you feel on a bike is overwhelming. When you get an empty road and you can open the throttle and let it go, it’s like nothing else.
Yes, I’ve been scared a few times and fell off twice in America, but the pleasure of riding outweighs the fear tenfold. When you ride you’re so much more involved with your surroundings.
You can hear, see and smell things you never would in a car. And of course, you can carve through the traffic with no bother at all. I always think that owning a fast car would be fab, but even the fastest get stuck in traffic. Not so with a bike.
LET’S NOT FORGET SNOWBOARDING!
Snowboarding is a relatively new thing – I’ve been at it for about 11 years now. I started when I was between horses and had too much time on my hands.
My son could ski and I joined him for a lesson. I was terrible at it but loved being on the snow (or false snow given we were at an indoor snow centre) and liked the idea of snowboarding more – it looked so cool. So, I gave it a go. I can’t say it was easy to learn – I walked away from every lesson with bruises, but I kept going back and once it all came together it’s been one of the best things I’ve done.
Now I enjoy a snowy holiday at least once a year and it’s something me and my (now grown up) son can do together, which is fab. We leave hubby behind (he turned out not to be a natural on the snow) and blast around the mountains, laughing like loons the whole way. The mountains are an awe-inspiring place to spend some time. I highly recommend it. If you don’t fancy snowboarding, there are plenty of walking tracks to keep you busy.
To contact Julie
Julie’s transformational writing and coaching business can be found at Write Little Madam
Would you like to share your story?
We’re all remarkable inspiring women whether we think we are or not! Our journeys are fascinating to others and let’s face it we all love cheering each other on! If you would like to share your story and inspire others then I’d love to hear from you! Please click on the box below to contact me!