PROJECT #BEYOUROWN WOMAN: JEN EASTWOOD
Born in January 2018 and based in the beautiful market town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, West Midlands. Rock Rose Digital is solely founded and ran by Jen Eastwood a freelance social media marketer & copywriter.
Jen’s #BEYOUROWN WOMAN Story
I’m Jen Eastwood, freelance social media marketer under my brand name Rock Rose Digital. I’m also in the very early stages of developing a mental health app, aimed at improving the wellbeing of young adults through habit-forming, daily routine and positive validation in a gamified format.
Reflecting on my journey, I’m going to throw it back to January 2018. Bank balance subzero. Mental health is even worse. I’d been made redundant the week before Christmas, no warning or apology. Living on my own, 40 minutes from my nearest family and friends. In an icy cold flat with a top-up meter, often having to decide between food or electricity. Friends sneakily drip-feeding money into my account so the cat didn’t starve. My 30th looming – skint, unemployed, single, feeling utterly worthless, regularly contemplating the idea of not being here to see in my birthday. Safe to say, I was rock bottom.
Aside from questioning my existence, the idea of working for someone else again made me want to hurl. The potential commitment and pressure of a full-time role on my mental health sent me into a spiral of anxiety. A part-time job wouldn’t have brought in enough money to keep my lonely flat, and also wouldn’t have been free of the pressure to be ‘OK’ and functional for the rota.
“Doing my own thing and working for myself would be crazy, right? Running my own brand would be too much pressure. I wasn’t experienced enough in my industry and I definitely wasn’t business minded. I’d never considered working for myself before; attempting it now with my brain in the biggest funk of my life would tip me over the edge.”
At least, that’s what my inner critics kept telling me. But I didn’t listen. Well, I blocked them out enough to do bits of work and keep my furry friend from going hungry. I just needed to do odd bits, get some money in to keep me afloat until I could work out what I actually wanted to do next. I never anticipated doing it for the long-term.
Until I landed my first client.
I did the work, got my invoice paid; things felt good. So I got another client, and the same again and life started to not seem so bad. Now, it’s May 2019, I’m 18 months into running my own business and have worked with over 40 businesses, ranging from local sole traders to a national leisure franchise and a Sunday Times Best Selling author. I’ve collaborated on a national campaign with the Royal Society for Public Health drawing awareness to our social media usage, I’ve won Jacqueline Gold CBE’s coveted #WOW award and been interviewed by industry publishers for my thoughts and experiences.
Sure, it’s not gone completely smoothly. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve had things go wrong. I’ve had someone threaten me with legal action for them not paying my invoice. (yes, really!). There’s been tears and thoughts of quitting and getting a “normal” job. It has not been easy, and I know I’ll come across other hurdles and challenges in the future. But honestly, it’s actually not been as completely disastrous as I expected and now I wouldn’t change it for the world!
By about the 6-month mark, after a run of particularly challenging months, I actually started considering myself as a proper businesswoman. It’s through the adversity early on I’ve learned so much about my business; what it stands for, how I want it to operate, what kind of clients I want to work with and how I am as a business owner – all knowledge I’m extremely grateful for! I’m lucky that I’m now able to pick and choose who I work with, unlike the early days of saying yes to anything just to keep the money coming in. I’ve learned the beauty of setting boundaries and the power of ‘no’. These are strengths I have never had in my life!
What about before digital? I left a 12-year career within hospitality in 2015, after working my way up to managing a Michelin star restaurant – my dream role. On my first day of this ‘dream job,’ I was raped by a colleague in my hotel room. The worst way to leave an industry I’d given most of my life to. I genuinely grieved after deciding to walk away. For years I lacked any real purpose or drive, genuinely not knowing what to do with my life or skills. A lot of recruiters not looking past my job titles towards the experience and transferable skills I’d worked so hard for. My only options for work being crappy filler jobs only furthering my assurance of what I didn’t want to do be doing with my life.
Up until this point, my working career has always been customer-facing, service orientated. Hospitality particularly giving me a sixth sense for consumer needs and an intuitive, but the approachable tone of voice – all skills that are crucial elements of my marketing arsenal. I’d dabbled in the digital side of the boutique hotels & restaurants I’d worked in and found it came naturally, so when an opportunity appeared for a role within a small digital agency I jumped to it!
I could be sorry how it ended, but I don’t think I would have ever considered being self-employed if I hadn’t been left with no other option. I now have complete control and autonomy over my working days, my mental health has never been more stable, I’m in the most loving relationship and I have genuinely never been happier.
Outside of my business, I’ve set up a local women’s networking and co-working community, I’m helping on various social impact projects and currently have a big investment on the table for a mental health app I’m developing. All things I never would have dreamed of doing, but running my own business has given me the confidence to pursue.
I could not be further from the Jen that cold lonely January, and I am so proud! I truly feel like all of the adversity that’s been on my path so far has driven me to BE MY OWN Woman today.
Looking to the future, I’ve not got huge grand aspirations of having the staff or running an agency. For me, after the last few years, my focus is on stability and creating opportunities for me to enjoy and experience the good things life has to offer. I have visions of developing the consultancy side to my business and doing more writing, something I really love and would give me more fulfilment than scheduling content for clients. I have financial goals in mind I’d love to earn, with dangling carrots in the shape of travel and getaways. I’d love to also develop my passion for mental health and turn that into a ‘Digital Self Care’ program to deliver in schools and colleges, helping to safeguard the next wave the of young workforce; my own little way of having a positive impact on the world.
I’ve worked so hard to become my own woman, now I’m here I don’t want to risk anything jeopardising it. I’m laser focused on my own personal goals, not being swayed by what anyone else is doing. I am my own woman and I bloody love it!