CHANGING CAREERS:
Skills and change 

FEENA MC BRIDE

I have been a teacher for 15 years. I loved it. I always wanted to be a teacher and it was not a disappointment to me. 

This year I am on career break. I have a new job with no security. I don’t get paid, and I love it.

So many times in the past I wondered, “I’d love to do something else, but I don’t really have any skills”. I grew up in a family business, sold school uniforms in the summers from age 12-30. I loved the hustle and bustle of it but was always happy to go back to my day job in September. 

In recent years, I wasn’t unhappy in my job; I loved my students and my staff were fantastic. I just started to feel a bit “stuck”. I felt like there was no real progression in my career; you’re a teacher, you don’t want to be a principal..so what’s in between?? Anyway, I went through my, “I’d love to do something else, but what? I have no skills” phase.

Then came Covid and I went on maternity leave with my fourth child. My husband was also at home a lot - he’s a teacher too. And, with that time, came ideas. With those ideas I created a business. 

I began The Arty Fox in November 2020, selling arts and crafts boxes for kids. My goal is to get kids creating, without step-by-step instructions. I want them to be independent and imaginative creators, all the while giving parents a little break.

My initial thoughts were that I’d sell them to friends and others in Donegal but within weeks I was selling nationwide and learning all about social media, keeping stock up to date, and shipping orders. I discovered a skill: I realised I was very good at problem solving!  When there was a delay in stock arrival or it was unavailable, I would keep my head, park it until the morning and then find a solution. 

After a busy Christmas I began a course with the Education and Training Board on Digital Marketing. I loved it! I love learning, taking part in group discussion and asking questions. So it turns out I also have good communication skills!

I also began designing new products and testing them in the market. I found that I can be innovative and creative. Children and parents alike loved my boxes and were coming back to purchase multiple times.

Since then I have been on a whirlwind of learning, networking, creating and planning. I discovered I have many skills, a lot of them are communication driven, but that’s fine. I’m a teacher, I’m used to talking, making people feel at ease and explaining things. 

What I’m not so good at is the strategic planning involved in business and the finance is making my head spin. But that will come. I am learning. I have skills for business and I got them from my teaching career. I am nervous about being ambitious as I am still transitioning from my “permanent, pensionable” job! 

I would encourage anyone who has an idea or wish to start a business to go for it! it’s so exciting and scary at the same time. There are also lots of supports out there to help you on your way.  I am still a teacher, but now I have added ‘entrepreneur’ to that title. It involves long hours, successes and disappointments. I love every minute of it.

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Feena Mc Bride is the owner of The Arty Fox, an arts and crafts company based in Donegal, selling craft boxes for children aged 3-12. Their boxes foster creativity in children, encouraging them to be independent and use their imagination when creating art. Connect with Feena via her Instagram page: @the.artyfox and website

www.theartyfox.ie

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