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“I now have my own business in online and direct sales of jewellery.”

There was no meaning to what I do at the bank. Virtually anybody could do it. I work in projects. I don’t believe I’m particularly brilliant and I fell into it by accident. It’s well-paid but I do my work and they pay me: I see it as a transaction. I love the people I work with, I love going to the office and working with my pals, but the bank doesn’t need me.

I wasn’t very happy and I had always wanted my own business. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go.

I had taken a journalism course with Joanna. It was an absolute ball; I learned loads and she brought out the best in people. She knows little tools, gets you thinking differently and seeing things differently and questioning how things are and where you think you want to go. She’s a real catalyst.

Joanna’s story was great. She had this portfolio career and was a really positive role model. I found her story aspirational: she had a law background, hadn’t enjoyed it and had gone on to greater things. It was a “wow” for me. She made me think I don’t have to stay with the bank forever; she showed me something I wasn’t aware was possible. It was the key thing for me—she’d done it herself, she’d been through the process and she’d come out the other side. It’s a trust thing: I can trust her, she’s done it herself; maybe she can help me do this? There wasn’t really anybody else that I would have considered. I wanted somebody to take me through the process and have a lot of fun too.

I was very interested in her Escape Hatch as I thought it was a brilliant idea. People like me are looking for an escape hatch.

She had a smorgasbord of different skills that she applied. I felt secure that I wasn’t wasting my money because there was process there—I’m an analyst and process is important—so I knew I was getting good value, and I could feel I was making progress. She’s still there helping me, coming up with brilliant ideas in her blogs and being supportive.

I credit her for helping me get to this place, which I’m not sure I would have managed to work out myself. I now have my own business in online- and direct-sales of jewellery which I design and make myself, in the main. It’s doing very well: I aspire to having a warehouse! Through the process Joanna didn’t prescribe: we used different tools to try things and eventually I came to my own realisation that whatever I end up doing has to be simple and easy.

I had had it set in my mind that I wanted to be a writer. Joanna had these tools to help me understand myself better and question what I thought I was going to do, because I was very fixed in my head. She’s really taken me from focused, narrow and doing what I always do, to this. I had been getting to the point of total desperation. I’d tried catering, children’s parties, so many different businesses. After trying to fix things myself I realised it was not working. I’d given it a good go and I knew I needed somebody who had experience and could help me fix it; and that’s eventually what happened.

What I chose to do was not obvious. I wouldn’t have got to that point without Joanna taking me on a journey. She came up with brilliant ideas and we laughed. It was just great fun.

With Joanna, I acknowledged that I love making jewellery, the history of it. I love it! I love gemstones. So I gave jewellery a go and I realised, “Oh this seems to be going quite well. It is easy, actually.” There are parts where I still need to build my skills, but that’s OK. I would never have thought I could get on a plane and fly to Bangkok and go to the Thai jewellery show with all the gemstone and piles of emeralds. It’s amazing!

I’m still working at the bank to support myself, but I’m confident I’ll get there—which is a bit of a shock!

Joanna has touched lots of areas in my life, including being able to talk to my husband about stuff which I wouldn’t have talked to him about before. I would have assumed he wouldn’t be interested but Joanna suggested “Well, have you asked him?” She’s suggested simple, helpful things.

I felt in control of the process: it was not scary because she was there in the background and I was not on my own. She didn’t lead me, she was there with me—it was collaborative and supportive, but not directive. I found my own way, but I don’t think I would have found it without her—or I might still be looking.

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Joanna Maxwell

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