OK. What’s new?

OK. What’s new?

Hi there,

Thanks for popping in. Leading on from yesterday’s blog, we’re in Jackanory-story mode this week. It occurs to me that the Orla Kiely Card I made years ago popped into my top 2 favourite cards ever, because it is particularly pertinent again. Not the card – not even Orla – but the business predicament.

When a piece of artwork is created out of a situation or event, there is a story behind it, it had significance, meaning at the time of making. So there is an association with a memory. I blogged the OK story years ago, and have added it below, to accompany the artwork, which really isn’t that special, but it holds a place in my heart. Now why is that? Read on…

Once again, I used the wonderful and original artwork by our Mel, because Orla started out life as – yep you guessed it – a hat designer.


Hats 2

I love these stamps. All I need is a piece of inky scrap copy paper. You can see that this is just a brayer scrap.

So whilst we stamp …

….and mask;

…build our picture

and add appropriate words…

just 2 – Beauty and Strength.

then inject a little colour with brushes

and pencils, let me tell you what is going through my head.

I remember many years ago, sitting in an accountant’s office. I remember it as if it were yesterday, because he said to me, “The best thing you can do is go into voluntary liquidation”. Gulp.

I remember my response too: “What kind of a bloody solution is that? That does NOT work for me.”

And he shrugged his shoulders. I remember that so well. He didn’t give a shit.

So I got rid of that accountant, told nobody – and started pedalling harder than ever. With the help of a few good people, I worked through that nightmare, one day at a time. But WORK was the operative word. I didn’t have as much to lose as Orla, of course. But our home was on the line, and our livelihood.

I guess that situation, even though we worked our way through it and out of it, it stays with you, like a little pebble in your shoe. I don’t talk about it, but it defines me as a businesswoman, it really does. Keeps me on my toes, makes me work hard. Never want to get in that arena again.

And whilst there are no guarantees, hard work, a good team, calculated risks combined with a prudent reserve and a comparatively modest lifestyle all contribute to staying away from that cliff edge.

When I read that the staff couldn’t be paid at Orla Kiely’s company, that’s the one. That’s the death knell. When it went wrong in my world, there were only 3 of us. But even that was excruciating.

I have added OK here. Ironically, those are Orla Kiely’s initials. She doesn’t know me. We have never met and I cannot assume that things will be OK for her. My God! Look what happened to Kate Spade!

But one thing I do know for sure: it is not the event, but how you react to it which will ultimately affect you.

And I speak from experience.

Three years on….How ironic this is. Covid threw hundreds of thousands of little businesses just like ours straight back into that awful arena. We had – correction, HAVE, a real fight on, to keep going. But Clarity is still here, one day at a time, and we’re still operational. That’s quite something actually. Thousands of little businesses – and huge businesses – are going under.

Anyway, my point is that art, when attached to a story, a narrative, packs a much more memorable and powerful punch.

I shall dig deeper and see what else I can find this week. Why don’t you too? Have a look in your library of artwork, and look at the stories behind the work. You will get me. It isn’t necessarily the brilliant execution that will highlight the work to you, but an emotional link. Tell us about it.

Love & Hugs,



15 thoughts on “OK. What’s new?

  1. A very insightful blog today Barbara. I will spend the afternoon looking back at some of my art work , reconnect and think of the emotional links they have.

    Loved the SHAC this morning and SOOOOOO super excited at the forthcoming pyjama party! Can’t wait.

    Take care, keep safe everyone, enjoy the sunshine.

  2. What a thought provoking blog. Can’t even express how pleased we are here that Clarity survives. Not here though. Consultancy not recovering from covid and not a lot we can do at our age except be thankful for what we do have.

  3. As Anne said a very thought provoking blog and brought to mind my mother’s words never give up,make sure you always have a roof over your head and keep a little money aside for a rainy day. Think I’ve done that and passed it on to my daughter. Now to look back at my art and am so happy I didn’t give up.xx

  4. Great blog, and how you’ve kept going, kept all us happy and motivated, I don’t know. Wish i could help more but I’m having to be a bit more picky now, space as much as finance! I sometimes feel guilty about what I’ve got and haven’t used (stamps, groovi and stencils – not forgetting dies) a set of 4 arrive every month but it doesn’t stop me buying more ….. It is sad reading about small businesses, let alone the bigger ones being eaten up and spat out. Thanks for your care x x

  5. It’s not good is it. My son is in the music business and I guess today’s announcement is not going to be good for him. But being pragmatic i hope a small delay will mean no more one step forward two steps back. Thank you and everyone at Clarity for keeping going and keeping us going this past year

  6. Hi Barbara I am so pleased that you have kept Clarity going. Life is tough and it does throw curve balls at us. I remember an estate agent telling us we couldn’t afford to buy a house. I was in pieces. Needless to say we did buy a house and all is now history. I love your artwork. Take care. Hugs xxx

  7. I don’t really have a story associated with artwork except that it is beginning to open doors I could never have imagined when we were together at the SEC last March. Your struggle, and how you dealt with it by trying new things during lockdown, has shone a light on a path I very much appreciate being on, wherever it leads. Lots of love. Hxxx

  8. Thought provoking words today. I am so glad that Clarity has been able to keep going in these troubled times. I know it took a lot of hard work and heart ache to cope with it all. Despite being short staffed, hence your warning of shipping delays, parcels have been arriving only a day or so longer than they used to. A compliment to Clarity service. Thank you.
    A delay in opening things up for another four weeks will hit many companies hard and they have my sincere sympathy but if it means more people are protected before that event perhaps it is for the best as long as this is the last delay. We will see what Borishas to say later today.
    I spent a sweltering morning waiting for the OH to be seen at the hospital. He was warned they were behind when he went in and 2 hours later was told there was no end in sight and he could be re-booked in a month if he wanted. Fortunately this was just for a check up following treatment to make sure he was OK and he is but I feel for those who are still waiting there. Heaven only knows what the NHS will do if there is another Covid upsurge.
    The Princes plates have just arrived today so I am going to start my practice samples later when it cools down.
    Look after yourself in this heat, stay hydrated, and stay safe.

  9. I’ve been taking photos of my cards for some time now and really enjoy looking back through them – not least because I can see how I’ve developed over the years, and how far I’ve come! I’m loving working back through my new design club stamps and updating my projects as well. I found this great quote from Maya Angelou:
    ‘History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again’ Onwards, onwards xx

  10. Hi Barbara
    I for one are glad you have managed to keep you head above water, having read your blogs over this difficult time I can tell it has cost you sleepless night especially when you had to let staff go. But hopefully when we reach a plateau you will be able to give opportunities to others again. I remember my first one day course with you I think 🤔 it was in West Dean 2012. You taught me how to mask some sheep having never stamped before it was a miracle they looked like sheep. But I still have the card and remember how far I have come . All thanks to you and your company. Thank you.
    Love Ruth & Jackie xx

  11. Hello Barb, you have done an amazing job with your team at Clarity, to keep going, to keep us inspired and creating and give us hope that things will get better. I remember watching you at Stamperama in Stevenage years ago, where the first 2 stamps I bought were the motorbike and a verse stamp, which without going to check, I cannot remember which one, but I know you don’t do it now. I have used the bike many times over the years, and one of the first things I remember watching you doing at that show was masking. How the years have flown, and I know I have improved vastly. Thank you for all you do to keep us going. Take care and stay safe. Bx

  12. It seems the business to get into at the moment is landscape gardening – we have really struggled to get anyone to give us a quote, and the chap who came on Saturday was doing 10 other quotes that day and can’t do the work for us until next Spring as he’s fully booked up!!! I know small businesses have had to make heart-wrenching decisions due to Covid, and feel lucky that we managed to sell when we did. Think of all the skills we have learned during the lockdown though, and the changes we have made, some of which we will keep going with. I have learnt a lot – most importantly that it’s the little things that I treasure the most, and that having time just to be still and more mindful of my environment and experiences is a treasure!

  13. Thank you Barbara and team for keeping going since last march. We hav laughed and cried with you, and we understand how it is a hard to keep going, when so many are closing down. I look back at my 2 full folders of work in the Shac Shack and how far we have come. Yes, I was one of those that said no way, I cannot draw. I share my work on facebook and friends and family cannot believe the work I now produce. Thank you again for you’re time. and for keeping us sane. I am one of those that stopped working due to the virus. my choice. See you in the morning.

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