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Self Employed Stories - Janet the Glitterwitch
by Startacus Admin
If you’ve been kind enough to pay us a little visit in the past few weeks you will undoubtedly know that we’ve embarked on a brand spanking new series called “Self Employed Stories”- which is actually quite a bit more exciting than the name would suggest.
Basically, in an extra special effort to give all you self starters a spot of entrepreneurial inspiration, we have been featuring some lovely folks who have started their own business in the face of considerable adversity. So far, we have had some really cracking stories, such as Carol Drake with her charming cupcake delivery service that was inspired by her battle with cancer and Bob Pembroke who started his massage therapy business late in life and whilst coping with total blindness.
Today it’s the turn of inspirational self starter Janet Morgan to share the startup tale of her business Glitterwitch - which she took over from its previous owners after having to give up work due to a chronic autoimmune disorder. We caught up with Janet to hear all about her business and her journey towards becoming self -employed.
“Having a chronic illness does not stop you doing things, it just means that you have to do them differently or more slowly than you would sometimes like.”
Janet, let’s set the scene, could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I left school at 16, not really knowing what I wanted to do. Over the following years I had various jobs from Bank Cashier to Shop Manager to Keep Fit Instructor, none of which held my attention for very long. Then in 1993 I joined British Rail (which then became Railtrack & eventually Network Rail) and I found a career where I could change roles often to stop me getting bored. In the years that followed I had 17 different roles ending up with a senior role in Health & Safety at the London HQ. I took early retirement at the age of 50 as I was fed up with commuting to London and planned to get a local part time job which would leave me time to indulge my love of crafts.
The name Glitterwitch was concocted after lots of discussions and bottles of wine with friends. They say it describes me very well!
The business I bought was essentially a mail order one selling small beads and beading supplies to a long established customer base. My plan was to bring the business up to date, with maybe a website, and to advertise by attending craft fairs.
What have been the greatest challenges you have faced? Specifically has your illness created any specific challenges to setting up your own business?
Two months after setting up Glitterwitch I suffered a blood clot in my thigh. It continued to spread over the following 12 months and I ended up having major surgery in St Thomas' hospital in London. Eventually I was diagnosed with Hughes Syndrome (Sticky Blood) which is a chronic illness with no cure and means that I take Warfarin to thin my blood on a daily basis.
During those first 12 months I was in a lot of pain and could not walk, making me housebound. However my brain was ok and I was getting bored! So I learnt all about websites and set up the Glitterwitch site.
Sadly, there has been permanent damage to the blood supply in my leg and so regular Craft Fairs are no longer an option for me as I cannot drive or stand for long periods of time.