Clio Wood left recruitment to start Clio the Muse, and supplemented her Escape through starting a successful B&B using her flat. You can see her site here.

I interviewed her on Skype this morning (you can watch other clips here and here):

Clio shares more of her story here… 

I recently attended my school 10-year reunion. Wowser. When did I get that old?

Oddly, I wasn’t nervous. I was proud and excited about telling my former classmates what I do. That would not have happened last year, or even six months ago.

That’s because I took the plunge. I left my office job and started to do what I really love.

It is an experiment, but one that I’m glad I’m trying. There are mistakes, but I’m happy to make them.

Because I know that otherwise I’d be stuck at my desk, staring at dull documents on a computer screen, walking into meetings pretending I cared, and talking to people about things that just don’t make my heart sing.

In the beginning:

There was school. I was a bit of an all-rounder: academic, arty and sporty, and it was always a struggle to pin down exactly what I wanted to do in life.

The most compelling thread for me, although I ended up ignoring it for a good ten years, was creativity.

After school I went to art college, but because I already had a place at Cambridge, I didn’t follow through with art, treating it more as a great learning experience and a good gap year activity.

In the middle:

Four years later, my parents gently told me they’d had enough of paying school and university fees to carry on supporting me any longer. Fair enough.

A friend mentioned search/recruitment which sounded like a good idea. So I became a headhunter for a Mayfair executive search firm and rose quickly to Consultant level, then moved to a large international firm’s Board Practice.

Ultimately I found that the search industry needs a lot of self-interest to succeed, as it’s so greatly relationship-founded. I just didn’t care enough to have that drive.

The decision to escape

My moment of clarity came when I got into the lift one Monday morning with a colleague. She gave a wry grin, raised her eyebrows and said, ‘Here we go again, eh?’

I looked ahead to the rest of the week and knew I was dreading it. My boss had kindly let me move to a four-day week, but how much longer could I feign an interest? Could I see myself here for the next ten years?

When the opportunity came for redundancy, I grabbed it.

I used the redundancy money to renovate our flat so that I could start running what has become a successful little B&B with 75% occupancy rates and 5* reviews. It also paid for me to start setting up Clio the Muse.

And now…

Clio the Muse upcycles vintage pieces of furniture and homeware, re-purposing them and finding them a new beauty where they otherwise might have been thrown away.

I have a small studio in New Cross and an online shop at www.cliothemuse.etsy.com, and I recently got accepted for my first craft stall at Spitalfields Market.

I’m also investigating ways of reaching my audience – online is not always ideal for unique furniture and delivery costs can be an issue. It’s also not an impulse buy, so getting in front of a primed audience is key.

The challenge for me has been marketing myself purposefully and learning to use social media properly. I’m building my Twitter following (@cliowood), have a Tumblr blog that I post to every week, and a soon-to-be weekly newsletter on Mailchimp (sign up here) and of course my boards on Pinterest.

It’s hard with so much information and tools to know where to start, but I’m trying and learning along the way.

The key is connecting

I’ve learned that the key is to connect with everyone who might be of use – they will be happy to have a coffee and give you advice or bounce ideas around.

Connect with your audience, learn how to talk about yourself and whether your product is going to sell.

Connect your online presences, there’s a lot out there and linking everything will reach a bigger audience and make sure that audience knows you better.

Most importantly, connect with yourself to make sure this is the thing that makes you happy, because if it is, then it’s a damn site better than sitting in the office like you used to.

Any questions or advice for Clio? Post in the comments section below…