• Sara Marsden-Shreeve

Sticks And Stones Built My Business



Photography by Beverley Perkins Photography

Beverley Perkins Photography

This blog originally started off as an article, which I wrote for a women's networking group many years ago, but realised that it was an important part of The Image Tree story that I think would help get my message out.

You see, I am not just an Image Consultant with a kit bag full of Colour Magic, Styling Tricks and Outfit Inspirations but a whole lot more....Why? because I've felt ugly, I've felt fat and I've felt let down by my body and confused by who I was and how I wanted to be seen by the world.

Though, with a little perseverance, learning new ways to think and a whole load of training, personal development and holistic experiences, my kit bag has now become a mahoosive suitcase full of tools, skills and more to get other women, YOU, to the place that I am now.

As a coach and body positive advocate, I believe image is more than just clothes and shiny baubles, it 's also about digging deep to find out needs, inspirations and getting results in an holistic approach and working with you as a WHOLE human being.

So... here's my story.

There I am aged 12, stood in the gym at our schools’ annual Christmas country dancing seasonal treat in darkest deepest Winter...yes you heard right bizarre eh? When I think about it now, I still feel a little gip in my stomach.

It was the usual scenario of girls one side and boys the other in which the popular "lotharios" got to strut their confidence and choose their bottle green clad damsel in a pencil skirt. How romantic?!

I was usually one of the stragglers at the end, awkwardly looking at her scuffed shoes whilst the remaining boys chose with equal embarrassment and shame. You know... the usual demeaning stuff on the mean road to adulthood.

Everyone got to dance with everyone else as you’re passed from pillar to post and got to swing around and do the ‘dosey- doh’ and so on.. it beat sitting in lessons on a Friday afternoon I guess!

Well, towards the end of the afternoon I moved up the rows and eventually got to partner with one of THE top lads in the year, Mr Popularity himself. I literally gulped in my very soul. At this point, he quite loudly scoffed to his surrounding mates and groupies on my approach, whilst the teacher was pratting around with the stereo system, that it would be best that he not get too close ( to me) in case he caught and I quote “ugly disease”.

I remember feeling an inner burn; something had fizzled inside me.. the remnants of my self-confidence died and as you well know, there isn’t much to go around anyway in teenage-dom.

The rest of the remaining hour felt like an eternity and I wanted to go home and shrivel up into a ball of nothingness and as fast as possible. Fingers were being pointed and whispers were rife in that gym hall that day.

Needless to say, after that I felt the same sad void for some good ooh 18 years and the 'uglyness' tag continued to hang, plus, what with the acne, the scarcity of boyfriends and the body changes it was all an even slower burn. I think it would be fair to say that I “fell out with myself”, didn’t like me as it were, felt pretty well “flawed” somehow. One stupid comment from one moron took my spark! My arch nemesis ‘the negative belief’ was born. Boom!

As with most of us, life deals you a few shitty hands that seem to scar, but yet we are also delivered great stuff with the other but, we just don’t seem to relish them as much, you know like your first love, trying new things and feeling accomplished at something. Instead, we hang onto the negative, the poisonous things that bury themselves into our very core and stop us becoming truly happy or doing/being…you know ‘that thing’ we’re supposed to do or be. We all have it we just sometimes choose to ignore it because of fear of failure and getting sucked into believing it's all true and we can't or we're not worth it.

So you know what, out of nowhere, at the age of 35, I decided one morning that I was not going to return to Civil Engineering (my current job at the time, which I loved actually) and I was going to do something about me for me, but what?! Whether an angel had whispered these thoughts in my sleep or the universe had taken me by the hand in my dreams the night before, I do not know, but I was about to experience a shift!

I was still on maternity leave with my second child at this time and I felt I was drowning in nappies, housework and monotony. A time that I now see gave me unconditional love partnered with true reflection and the time to see what life can actually bring... family. To be honest, our journey to having a family was straught with miscarriage and loss so you can see how making the decision to do something in life was so inherent. No more victim, I needed to start listening to those crappy inside voices and tell them to shut the hell up and sit down, I'd brought lives into the world for god sake.

So to cut a long story short I realised that my future had always been there, sitting right under my nose, but had not really seen it or even looked for it.

I loved colour, loved fashion, loved people and how they ticked (I have a BA Hons in Applied Social Science) so I was going to learn how to build confidence through learning how to like me and my body again and give it the blummin respect it so deserved! Well-fitting clothes, my own style, flattering colours and love for just being me were my agenda. That way I could pass it on to others whom I know shared the same feelings about themselves and they too would be able to do something about it. Plant those positive seeds as it were...

I qualified via First Impressions in Warwick, first just as a Colour Consultant and then later on as a fully- fledged Image Consultant, I then went onto set up The Image Tree back in 2013. I built my own website, went on fab courses and learned to Blog, use Social Media and get myself out there and join networking groups full of inspiring women.

Through listening, acting on and meeting fabulous people and clients, I now sit on the Style Guru team at Henpicked, frequently speak on BBC radio , work with many local businesses/ larger corporates, collaborate with confidence building brands, present at seminars and even won some awards. Heck I'm even one part of a trio of women entrepreneurs who set up a local networking group with a twist WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) to help support and teach other women in business.

A few years ago I also added NLP to my skillset so that I can provide a Coaching string to aid Positive Mind-set further and provide the whole top to toe, inside and out services to any woman who wants to start their Style and Confidence journey. I'm also a massive lover and user of Positive Psychology and have truly niched myself by supplying an holistic approach to Image, because of it's proven powerful effects on myself and other women. Most of my closest colleagues are all practitioners and specialists within the Health, Wellness and Self Care Industry so we all bounce and support off each other. Cool eh?

So if you thought the whole Image Consultancy thing was a shallow, materialistic based service, which those not in the know think, then you'd be hugely mistaken. For me, being an Image Coach educates and delivers you and your confidence back to you on a plate, with a side order of ‘Love’. That’s just the catalyst that starts the ball rolling and hopefully sparks other things.

My personal experience combined with my learnings, new friends and my message throughout social media in general has become ingrained in me for the positive and continues to do so.

So the moral of this story,... remember to take the time to stop sometimes and enjoy your lot, listen to your inner voice and don't be afraid to question her . Once you start practising saying kinder things to yourself and appreciating what you do have, the crappy stuff eventually quietens down. ...learn to love the shit out of yourself.

Did that last phrase make you feel uneasy? If it did, then you've probably developed a block and feel you don't deserve to do it or may feel it's a tad "vain"? You know, it's ok to feel like that because we're not used to doing it, heck we cant even received compliments half the time, so you see it isn’t narcissistic at all and no one even needs to know you give yourself a hug at night or look in the mirror and give a cheeky wink. “Small tweaks tailor transformations”. Cherish the positive stuff about you and try to brush the self-sabotaging stuff aside, a bit at a time. Your beliefs are just beliefs and aren’t even based on fact, heck they've probably been planted there by some moron at a country dancing lesson in bleak winter, so don’t let them rule you they mean nothing.

By the way before you cast your mind back to that fateful afternoon, I've since seen Mr Popular and I can hand on heart say that he is still a moron only much much bigger and yes I do believe in Karma. The aging process has not been kind.

Righto....Think I've spouted long enough now, so thanks for reading and feel free to share your comments or experiences below as it may help someone else too.

Cheers m'dears

Sara xxx

#MindSet #Imageconsultant #PositiveBodyImage

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