Lily's Story: from corporate sales to social entrepreneurship
1. What did you escape and why?
I had a corporate sales job in a multinational events and publishing company serving the renewable sector. The company went through a restructure, and I decided on the voluntary redundancy. It was probably the right time for me to explore my options, I wanted to do something that had more meaning, and that would excite me as well as challenge me to grow professionally.
2. How did you escape?
I allowed myself three months off work with the voluntary redundancy money I received. I traveled, attended different meetings and events, and volunteered at an NGO. I had an interest in Eco designs and found a contract sales role working three days a week; this allowed me to extend my escape time while perusing the subject of social enterprise.
3. What was the best advice/most helpful thing you did?
My best advice is to follow your curiosity, in other words, your “tennis balls,” and secondly get comfortable of being uncomfortable. My interest was in social enterprise, so I started a social enterprise meet up in London, this has now grown to a community of almost a thousand members. Shortly after hosting the first meet up, I had the idea to start The Fourth Sector, where I’d been hosting social enterprise conferences, meetups, workshops and 1-2-1 sales and business coaching for social entrepreneurs for the past two years.
4. What was the hardest part and how to did you overcome it?
The hardest part was the not knowing and all the self-doubt that comes with it. Is it the right thing? You’ll stress about the money. Why have I made life more difficult etc.?
To overcome it, you have to change your mindset and challenging your self-belief. It’s helpful to surround yourself with the right people, and more importantly to be kind to your yourself.
A question that I will often ask myself is, what will I rather be doing?
5. What are you doing now and how does it feel?
I have now co-founded a social business called Y.O.U underwear, an ethical underwear and lifestyle brand for men and women, where every purchase provides underwear to people in need. Hence, the name, Y.O.U is Your Own Underwear.
It combines a lot what I’m passionate about; I can look back and see how the dots have connected. We are only at the start of the Y.O.U underwear journey, there is a long road ahead, and I am excited about the future.
6. What key advice would you want to share with someone feeling stuck and wanting to start their own thing and/or make a career change?
Know and challenge your level of risk taking/comfort zone; this will help you make a plan and take the initial step in your transition.
7. How can we help you?
Y.O.U underwear is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, which is a funding platform where we are offering rewards in return for money to help turn our brand mission into reality. We are aiming to raise £20,000 in the next 16 days, it is an all or nothing campaign, which means if we don’t hit the target you don’t pay a penny. But that is not the plan, and we will need your help to do it. Please click the link below, find out more, support and please make a pledge. Our underwear will be the most meaningful pair of underwear that you buy yourself and for others. We invite to change the world with Your Own Underwear.
Lily completed Escape’s career change course in March 2015. If you need to get unstuck and start making steps towards new areas of work, find out more about The Career Change Accelerator here.