Ah, the C word, the one none of us what to speak of again. No, not that one! The one that, we will never forget but also don't want to remember. A time that shaped us all more than we care to admit. Some of us made career changes and life changes. This is how the Covid-19 pandemic shaped me and my career. So how did I end up starting a business after a pandemic?
I started Cliste Designs in 2021 at the age of 23. This was definitely not something that was on the cards or planned, as I had just graduated from Maynooth University in 2019 after completing a Business and Management degree. Still unsure about what to do, in a fluster about what I SHOULD do in order to meet societal expectations and what I wanted to do, which at the time was still unclear.
When Covid hit in March 2020, I was working in Advertising Sales at a regional newspaper. At the time nobody was advertising and with fewer and fewer people leaving their homes, newspapers were becoming obsolete. So, I was of course laid off and had to sign onto the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). Which is not really something any 22-year-old aspires for after completing university, signing onto essentially the dole. But, with the rarity of times and everyone else having to do the same, it softened the psychological blow slightly.
For the first few weeks, I did like most people, drank alcohol, ate easter eggs and slept 90% of the time. But that quickly became unsustainable for both the body and mind. So after taking a job that I thought was a wise option and later getting laid off, I decided to start thinking about what I wanted to do. And the beauty of this period of my life was, I had time.
First up, was an existential identity crisis. The second was taking a deep breath, thinking bout what I'm good at, and what I enjoy and building on that. Obviously, working in advertising and having real estate experience, I had created advertisements and marketing material and I LOVED it. I had mainly used Canva, and always wanted to learn how to use Adobe software, so with all the time in the world, I set off to learn. I came across a website called SkillShare which is a subscription-based service where you can complete hands-on training with some of the leading professionals in each field. Immediately, I got stuck in, which can be difficult for me, if I'm not passionate about something I lose interest quickly. So, it was clear that this was something I enjoyed. When the learning bug was back in me, I did a Level 6 in Digital Marketing and a Level 6 in Web Development.
Whilst completing this training, I began applying for jobs. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I applied for about 100 jobs. No response, unsuccessful emails, no response, unsuccessful email, and the cycle continued. My mental health was starting to deteriorate in the lead-up to Christmas 2020. Then, BINGO, I bought my mam a print for Christmas as a gift, I inspected it when I received it and thought, I could create this, I would love to create this! Obviously not the same one, but design and create my own range of prints. I could use my degree, and new knowledge in Adobe software and digital marketing to create this vision. Sometimes starting a business can begin with one tiny idea, if you allow yourself the room to breathe, this idea can grow.
So, I set about creating my business, which you all know now as Cliste Designs.