Sara Vickery is the founder of gift box subscription business, Seventeen Minutes. Sara knows that we all need a little encouragement to take some time out for ourselves, and she loves helping customers to send thoughtful gifts which put a smile on their loved one’s faces.
“The business came about because of my own experience of needing some self-care when I first had my son. I’m a mum of two and I live in London with my husband. I’m trying to get to grips with how I’m learning to run a business for the first time and become more of a confident person through my business really, so it’s all very early days, but I hope we’re moving in the right direction.
I would never position myself as a confident person. Like so many women, I struggle with self-doubt and I have a bit of anxiety about certain things and I hate big groups. I really just generally hate being in the spotlight.
One thing I’ve really learned from starting my business is that I’ve had to really push myself to be the face of my business. I’m learning that in telling people honestly about my own experience, they connect with me over it and it all becomes one way to really share a kind of group experience and I think that is slowly building my confidence day after day and it’s making me feel just generally better about myself and improving my outlook on everything, I think.
I’ve just always known I’ve been a shy person really. I’m an only child, so I was always used to my own company and I’m still really happy in my own company. But I think sometimes I can almost be too comfortable, if you know what I mean. And it just, it makes group situations sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable in a way.
As a child, certainly through school, and definitely at university I felt that I had that feeling that I was the shy one and I was the quiet one and I’d always be at the back of the class. I always hated being in the middle of anything really. It’s always been there.
There are quite a few situations. I would definitely say I’m afraid of. I’m a believer that it’s really part of your makeup and you can definitely take steps to improve your confidence and build yourself up. But, I think ultimately you always have the element of shyness within you and I don’t know if you can have a 100% not feel any of it. I think it’s just finding tactics to overcome it. With me, I get through and learn to live with it ready and embrace it.
There are definitely upsides to being shy.
For me, it really makes me think things through. I would say that I’m quite a reserved person and I would really analyse things. I think before I go to say something or go to an event and make sure it’s right for me. It gives me that moment to sit back and pause and really think about what it is I want to achieve. It gives me the opportunity to really take stock and listen to other people.
I do often dread social situations.
When I became a mom, I joined the NCT and we went to the classes and I really tried to bond with a group of mums. I did find that difficult because we were a group of strangers and the only thing that connected us was that we had had babies at the same time. I found that element quite difficult.
Then, at baby classes, I always felt like that outsider who wasn’t really part of the gang. But in the end, I just took it for what it was that I was there for the class with my son and I just focused on that.
Certainly, with business it’s a whole other ball game really. I still tried to treat it the same in the same way and I just focus on what I’m there for. But, I do often feel like I’m not as brave as the other people, and I worry I’m not able to make the most of the opportunities that they would. It’s that kind of mindset I’m trying to deal with in business and really trying to overcome, but it’s certainly challenging.
The interesting thing is that often people that we perceive to be confident or not, and they’re actually just pretending. Sometimes I do think people know they just talk and talk because they’re unsure of themselves. So that’s definitely true, I think.
Recently I’ve started trying to set myself sort of mini goals before each networking event I attend. Like maybe I’ll try and chat to three different people. They’re just little hurdles, which when I achieve them, I feel good! I’ve been doing it for a few months now, and I do still find it difficult. But I do think it gets easier the more you’d go to these things.
For me, the first time was just “Oh, I was just like sweaty and nervous”. It had that feeling that I was going to an exam. You just have to get through it. And as I said, I just focused on the fact that I have to do this, this is now part of my job and it’s essential really. It’s so important for small businesses to network and meet other people and just collaborate as much as possible.
By changing my mindset and thinking, well, this is something I have to do. If I want to achieve my goals, my business goals, it does sort of force me to just get on with it and suck it up and try and find some confidence from somewhere.
I definitely think baby steps is the way to go. I did when I started having to go to these kinds of events, I did try to book quite a few in one period. And it all became a bit overwhelming because I just felt it was a little too much. So I think breaking it down into sessions that I felt I’d get the most value from and then working out each time what it was that I was there for just made me focus and just try to tackle each one on its own rather than going for lots and lots of events just kind of make you feel worse
I’m such a believer in taking a time out and giving ourselves a break and really just trying to be kind to ourselves and not pile too much pressure on and for me it all sort of boils down to the same thing.
You know that we all should be trying to put ourselves first.
I think there’s so much to do. Everyone is always so busy. We say we’re busy. I sort of have a badge of honour. If you’re struggling or you’re overwhelmed or you’re anxious, or if you’ve got an event coming up and you’re really showing, you’re terrified.
Taking that time to yourself just to do something that calms you, makes you feel relaxed is so important. It just sorts of refocuses you and everything and I think makes you feel centred again.
It is important to take stock and to give yourself that time. It does seem hard for so many of us women to find the time.
One thing I’ve definitely realised is that you can make time and there’s always time in the day.
There are 24 hours in the day. You can definitely find 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, however long you can find ready just to do something that’s entirely for you and makes you feel like you. So that’s really the essence behind my business really. And I think something that’s definitely become more important to me since I’ve become a mum.
People often feel self-care can be selfish, but I genuinely think it’s wrong to do self-care like that because if you give yourself the opportunity to be good to yourself, you’re more valuable to your family and your friends around you because you’ve had that time out and you feel re-energized and you just feel better and happier.
I’ve become a fan of yoga. I am a believer in doing things in my house for self-care as opposed to always going out and spending lots of money. So, I generally try to incorporate it into my routine just at home in the evenings when the kids are asleep or early in the mornings if the kids are settled on an activity in a different room and I’m here able to do something for me. I use a couple of apps, even YouTube to be honest. You say watch some videos and follow someone doing a couple of yoga moves. So maybe 20 minutes just to really feel super re-energized and really focused. And I’ve actually started using the nourish app, which has been really calming. And there’s some really fantastic just 10-minute sessions on that, which are really good.
I started to feel much happier when I was giving myself dedicated time each week rather than feeling frustrated and stressed and irritable. I personally found such a huge improvement in my mood and I can’t imagine feeling that that would be a selfish thing for others who benefit from it as well. I mean, I’m sure my husband feels that he’s benefited from a happier me.
As a shy person I do end up taking on other people’s worries and stress because you are so busy listening and you want to be that friend who’s there for everyone and the one telling everyone your problems. So I think self care is extra important for us.”