Today on the blog we are back with our feature ‘Real Work: What I used to do’. Last time we spoke with the lovely Claire Kemp about her journey from Architecture to Cake designer. Today I am very happy to introduce you to Debbie Carlisle of DC Bouquets.
Debbie is a very good friend of mine, we both started our business at around the same time and it has been wonderful to watch how her business has grown over the past 5 years. I have featured Debbie over on Boho Weddings a number of times and am a big fan of her work! She really is at the top of her game in the wedding world and a hugely talented lady! I find her story of what she used to do to what she does now fascinating and I’m sure you will to!
I’ll pass you over to Debbie…………..
What I used to do
I worked for Sheffield’s main newspaper, The Star, as a journalist for 14 years before I decided to change careers for good just over three years ago. The job involved a lot of early starts and I would never know from one day to the next where I would be – I kept a toothbrush and a pair of hiking boots permanently in my car as you never knew where you might get sent and for how long!
I covered so many different stories, from tragic deaths to much happier events like Diamond wedding anniversaries – the huge variety was one of the main reasons I loved being a journalist.
The most interesting times were in the early years before the internet was the news-generator is today – in those days The Star was an evening newspaper and when a major news story broke after the national newspapers had gone to press in the morning we would be one of the first papers to break the news. This meant that I worked on breaking news stories including the 9/11 Twin Towers attack, The Gulf War, and the Jill Dando murder.
Thankfully life wasn’t all tragedy – in my time as a journalist I also got to fly a plane, spend the night in a ‘haunted’ pub (nothing spooky actually happened) and travel to lots of unusual places. My assignments included scuba diving with a Tiger Shark in the Red Sea, trekking through a jungle in Borneo, crawling around inside an abandoned spy station in Latvia and training with the US Army, which included a memorable, and rather frightening, Apocalypse Now style-helicopter flight! I reviewed hundreds of concerts (I had a special pass which gave me free access to one of Sheffield’s best music venues whenever I wanted) and I was lucky enough to see The Arctic Monkeys perform in a tiny Sheffield venue before they were famous!
What I do now
Today I design and make bridal accessories under my company name Debbie Carlisle. I make a variety of accessories but am probably best known for my intricate brooch bouquets and my wedding hair accessories which are stocked in boutiques all over the UK and sold to brides all over the world.
I started my company five years ago – it was then called Debbie Carlisle Bouquets. I worked in my spare time from a spare bedroom in my Sheffield flat after making a brooch bouquet for my own wedding. I also made bouquets for my bridesmaids and my own hand-beaded headpiece and when I got back from my honeymoon I still had lots of other designs buzzing around my head and so I just kept making more bouquets. I posted up a few pieces on Etsy.com and within days I had sold my first bouquets and within a month I had a big order for a bouquet, buttonholes and wedding hair accessory. Soon after that I set up my own website and my little hobby became a fully-fledged business!
Initially I was best-known for my brooch bouquets but as time has gone on I have become more established as a wedding hair accessory designer and so I took the decision at the start of this year to rebrand my company and drop the ‘bouquets’ element of my business name to become Debbie Carlisle.
Why the Change?
I quit my job as a journalist just over three years ago. I had been promoted to Deputy News Editor by this point and my job wasn’t as exciting as it used to be as I was essentially desk-bound all day, managing reporters and dealing with page design rather than doing much reporting myself. I had started to find the job more stressful and less enjoyable and at the same time my business was growing quickly to become a second full-time job and, more importantly, I was enjoying it so much it was all I wanted to do!
By the time I handed in my notice at The Star I had so many bridal orders that I was at the point where I either had to quit my day job to take on any more work or I would have to start saying ‘no’ to new bookings and keep the business as a side-project – and the idea of that was just unthinkable!
Making The Change
By the time I made the decision to leave journalism I was basically doing two full time jobs at once. I was so tired as a result of this that by the end I was crying in the car on the way to work from sheer exhaustion! When I handed in my notice the feeling of relief was absolutely incredible, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I just couldn’t wait to get on with running the business I loved full time.
The Most Difficult Bit
I suppose there were two things I found difficult. The first thing – and the one I anticipated – was getting used to not having a regular wage coming in, and worrying about whether I would be able to pay my half of the mortgage. It’s funny how quickly you adapt to not knowing how much money you’ll have from one week to the next – and, thankfully, five years on I’ve still made all my mortgage payments!
The other difficult thing was getting used to your time being your own. I really worried about managing my time and I had this weird little habit at first of telling my husband everything I’d done during the day because I wanted him to know that I hadn’t just been sitting around watching daytime TV! The thing was that he had never said or done anything to make me feel like I had to justify what I had been doing but I think the change from employee to full-time self-employed was such a big one for me that I found it quite difficult to adapt to not having a manager to report to, and so I made him my surrogate for the first few months!
I don’t have any regrets. I think I was extremely lucky to be able to work as a journalist for as long as I loved doing it and then to discover a new love and a new career in a completely different field and industry at precisely the point at which I had started to lose my passion for journalism.
Most of all I miss the people. Some of my best friends were colleagues at The Star and I do miss laughing hysterically over stupid things! There are also odd occasions when a news story breaks that I find really interesting and I feel a bit sad that I won’t get to report on it, but never enough to want to go back!
I love that I get to work with people who are planning one of the happiest days of their lives. I think it is such a special thing to be asked to make something for someone else’s wedding – that level of trust is something I never take for granted and am really appreciative of. I put my heart and soul into every piece I make, into my entire business, and the fact that what I do means so much to my clients too is the perfect pay-off for that.
I love receiving pictures from happy brides showing them on their wedding day wearing my accessory or holding one of my bouquets – and I also love that they keep in touch long after their weddings, either via social media, email updates and even adding new Debbie Carlisle designs to their jewellery collections long after their big day!
I also love that I get to make beautiful things every day, and the fact that the creative aspect of my business extends far beyond my accessory designs to how I run my business, how I brand it and how my shoots are styled.
I love that I get to work with other amazing creative people from photographers, stylists and make-up artists to my amazing stockists and suppliers.
Finally I love the fact that the rewards and the failures involved in my business are all my own and, best of all, that I get to do something I love every day for people who appreciate my work!
For more information on Debbie/DC Bouquets go to
Email [email protected]
So what about you? I’d love to hear your story. If you would like to share your career story then email me [email protected]