Hello. I’m Fiona. It’s very nice to meet you.

Growing-up I thought there was only one way to live your life. University. Job in a city. Climbing the career ladder. Morgage. Marriage. Kids. Retirement. I thought success looked like money and a big house, happiness a relationship, and satisfaction simply making it to the end of the week in one piece.

But after six years of trying to find a slither of joy or fulfillment in doing what I thought I was meant to, I gave up and decided to try again, this time on my own terms. 

I  believe that the paths to happiness we are all told about as kids aren’t the only ones available, and that while they are right for some people, they aren’t right for everyone.

I believe there are other ways. 

But it’s not easy. It’s never easy. Navigating an untrodden path is far harder than sticking to a well-built road. It’s far easier to get lost and confused, and even to look back fondly on the certainty you once felt beneath your feet. But I also believe it can lead to so much joy. 

For me, living life a little differently looks like living a simpler, slower life. Building a business that feels meaningful but not restrictive. Living outside of the city, in a small town in Somerset. Refusing to put my happiness or anything else on hold until, or if, I meet someone. Being open and honest about my mental health, and prioritising looking after it above almost anything else. Going for a long, muddy walk or to my allotment every day. But most importantly, questioning and thinking about everything I’m told. Refusing to accept that just because everyone does something, I should do it to. 

And it also looks like helping and suppporting other people who are living life a little differently. I know how lonely I felt when I took those first tentative steps off the main drag, and, to be honest, still sometimes feel. So I hope that my writing and my podcasts help you to feel less alone, and if you would like more support then please do have a look at my mentoring. I’d love to support you to make your own creative business really work, for you. 

If anything that I’ve said above or below resonates with you, then please do send me a message below, or say hi over on Instagram (@fbarrows). I’d love to meet you! 
 

Fiona x 

 

Me doing two of my favourite things – making a mess in my kitchen under the guise of baking a cake, and tending to my allotment – as illustrated by the exceptionally talented Donna Sarah.

These are the values I’ve built my business on:

Creativity

I believe in doing things differently, and never doing something just because it’s accepted practise. I also believe that all businesses rest on creativity, and we have to consistently nourish and take care of it.

Empathy

I know how hard going against the grain is, and how difficult, lonely and frustrating building your own business can be. Having to constantly push yourself can take its toll, and can bring up a lot of quite deeply rooted stuff. 

 

Honesty

It is only by sharing both the good and the bad that you can forge a real connection with someone. I strive to create content as authentic and true as it can be and to never gloss over the difficult parts. 

Simplicity

I want a simple life, and don’t like to make things more complicated than they need to be. I keep my messaging, packages, and pricing simple, and hope you always know where you stand with me. 

When it comes to creative businesses here are some things I don’t and do believe in:

Don’t believe in: 

Sleazy marketing tactics, playing on people’s insecurities and manipulative copy.
Chasing six-figures, or short-term “make money quick schemes”  
Hustle, and working all hours of the day and night, all the time. 
Doing what other people tell you you should do.
Waiting until everything is perfect, and trying to figure everything out in our heads without taking action.
Businesses built just to make money, that have a negative impact on the environment and those around them. 

Do believe in:

Honest, clear marketing and copy that creates connection and forges real relationships. 
Long term, financially sustainable businesses.
Protecting and nourishing our creativity.
Doing what works for you,  and how you want to do it. 
Taking action and trying things out. Learning from our mistakes, and not beating ourselves up about them.
Genuine, creative businesses built on real enthusiasm, real value and with environmental sustainability in mind. 

The whole story

(you might want to grab a cuppa, it’s rather long!)

I’ve always loved a good story. But up until three years ago I didn’t feel like I was writing my own, so much as reading lines someone else had written, and that I didn’t quite understand. I was living the life I should have been living: flat in London, respectable 9-5, an ever increasing knowledge of the city’s coolest restaurants. 

It wasn’t that I was unhappy as such, more that I just felt completely and utterly lost. I had no idea of who I was, or what I wanted, which made moving forward almost impossible. I felt totally stuck. 

I realised that I was never going to get anywhere by staying where I was, so I took a huge leap of faith, and quit everything to travel solo around Asia for a year. It was, hands-down, the best decision I’ve ever made. I celebrated my 30th birthday in Hong Kong, single and umemployed, but I couldn’t stop smiling all day. 

Not ready or willing to return to “normal” life,  I  settled in Ubud, Bali for a while. I spent my days practising yoga, sinking green juices, and trying every weird, esoteric, spiritual class and treatment I could find. I threw myself into creating just for the sake of creating – writing a novel in a month, becoming totally absorbed in Vedic Art, and making wonky pot after wonky pot – and trying not to feel hard done by that, unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, I didn’t meet a handsome Brazilian man. I also discovered a whole community of people who prioritised freedom and adventure over stability, and became intoxicated by the idea of a digital nomad lifestyle. The only thing I knew for certain at that point was that I didn’t want to go back into a 9-5, so I took the first tentative steps towards setting up my own freelance business. 

Later in 2016, after returning to Europe, I spent a month at Tribewanted Monestevole, a sustainable farm and community up a mountain in Umbria. I fell in love with the lifestyle – days spent mainly outside, eating food you had grown and nurtured yourself, long hikes, and a real sense of community – and decided to return the next year as a volunteer. 

I spent nine months there, learning and teaching sustainability and permaculture, leading hikes around the nearby mountains, and eating pasta every single day. 

(You can read more about my time in Italy in these articles I wrote for Refinery29 and Marie Claire. )

As the year progressed I found myself yearning more and more to return to the UK,  and to have a home again after three years without one. Yet the thought of returning to London filled me with dread. I began researching other places, and one kept cropping up again and again: Frome. It’s a small town in Somerset, surrounded by beautiful countryside, yet with a thriving local economy that draws lots of young, creative people. It’s rural but lively, which is exactly what I wanted. So I booked an Airbnb there for a month to try it out. I fell in love, and moved here permanently two years ago. 

Frome is now my home, and while moving somewhere without knowing a single person is tough, I’ve settled in and can’t imagine living anywhere else now.  Setting up a home also prompted me to go all-in on my business, and to finally make it work. While it hasn’t been easy, and the road has been a bumpy one, it’s been worth it.

I love the freedom of working for myself. Getting to decide on a sunny winter morning to shut my laptop and head out for a long walk. Choosing whether to work from a coffee shop or my little desk in my sun-filled living room. Being able to take time-off when my parents visit to fully enjoy their company. And ending hot summer days with a cool swim in a nearby river!

Over the last two years my business has adapted and changed. I started off offering copywriting for creatives, yet quickly realised that the part I enjoyed the most was the brand strategy – thinking through how they could tell a story with their brand, position themselves in the market, and really connect with people. I also became frustrated with only being involved in one part of their business, and wanted to help so much more! So last year I transitioned into offering creative business mentoring:  offering support, practical know-how and strategic thinking to help creatives make their businesses work

I genuinely love what I do. I love working one-on-one with creatives, and really getting in the trench with them. I know how lonely and confusing running your own business can be, and I hope that I alleviate that somewhat. I love exploring different businesses, and the creative challenge of figuring out how to make them work. I love coming up with ideas, and talking things through, and I love knowing that I am helping to make someone’s creative business dream come true. I love that their wins become my wins (sort of!)! 

My business is constantly evolving as I learn and become more confident in what I can do, and I continue to be motivated by a desire to never go back to a 9-5! 

 

A few more facts about me:

 

  1. My number one reason for working for myself is this: so I can go for a long, muddy walk every damn day.

2. I’m an INFJ, and a 4w5 on the Ennegram.

3. I like taking personality tests.

4. I don’t function past 10pm. No, I don’t want one more drink “for the road”, I want to be at home in bed.

5. I got an allotment last year and it’s quickly become a bit of an obsession. I love growing things.

6. I don’t own a single pair of heels anymore. My soles (and soul, see what I did there?) are so much the happier for it.

7. My favourite books of all time are the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. I wrote my university dissertation on them. To me, they exemplify the power of storytelling. 

8. I’m happiest when eating carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Wearing dungarees. Under an apple tree. With a book.

 

Get in Touch

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