Miranda Cousins understands being adrift yet I was immediately struck by her upbeat and positive personality as we chatted. She didn’t always feel that way and candidly shared her story about having lost her confidence and being set adrift, then finding her path, passion, and courage again.
Miranda arrived in the UK in 2000 with her job. She took on a European sales and marketing role with a medical devices company. As with such a role, there was lots of traveling, which suited her well since she inherited her mother’s passion for traveling. She met her husband, married and started a family.
With the arrival of children, she was faced with the age-old question. Could she keep her job, continue traveling and raise a family? She decided to try being a full-time mom. Miranda was honest that it became transparent it was not enough for her and spoke of the guilt that accompanied that realization. She tried finding a position that would allow her to spend more time at home and yet meet her needs but it wasn’t working. Then among the personal upheaval, her mother became ill. And through it all, she admitted she just lost herself and set adrift.
When Adrift, Set Sail
Then one day she heard about this great organization starting when she took her girls to ballet. Called TechPixies and started by Joy Foster this group helps women who have taken a career break up skill with technology and return to work. She joined the course, meeting many like-minded women with similar stories and through them, her own confidence and courage were bolstered.
When her mother passed away, it struck her that maybe she should start a business. Her mother was born in Indonesian, traveled around the world and collected items and people’s stories. Miranda’s mother always wanted her own shop with her love for Asian antique, home décor, and people. Sadly, she never had the opportunity. Always having a passion for interior design Miranda now had a house full of her mother’s treasures and the pieces start falling into place and everything seemed to fit together. Feeling empowered by the TechPixies group and armed with new tech skills, she set out to make her mother’s dream a reality and began building HARTA, which means “treasure” in Indonesian.
In hindsight, it is a shame that one has to go through the whole painful process to find what gives you joy, something right in from of you. She is reading a book, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams. It speaks to the fact one must embrace the pain and suffering, as they form you and your personality.
As with any business, all the answers don’t come at once. You have to try things outs. Her first try was in a little antique center. It wasn’t the right venue, as her design philosophy is to mix some antiques and some modern pieces, old and new, east and west. It works well if you find the right pieces. She wanted not just antique but vintage and super modern.
Taking the learning from TechPixies and putting it into practice, Miranda started on a website. Then she bumped into an old friend who liked up-cycling and bringing items back to life.
Their mutual interest and enthusiasm resulted in starting a pop-up shop and within 3 weeks they had found a location in the picturesque village of Wallingford, UK. For 6 weeks they successfully ran the shop, receiving great feedback from customers. Having gained a wealth of retail experience, she turned her focus back to designing the website once again.
Her website launched, but she soon found getting traffic to her site and being on that first page of Google to be very challenging and a full-time job on its own. As a sole proprietor, you have to wear many hats – admin, sourcing, pricing, marketing, sales etc. She needed another pair of hands, especially since another pop-up opportunity became available.
Unfortunately, only a very small budget was available. Luckily TechPixies was looking for internship opportunities and she jumped at the opportunity, hiring two TechPixies. The timing was perfect. She focussed on the second pop-up shop and the TechPixies focussed on social media.
The second pop-up shop, also in Wallingford U.K. has now closed, the two ladies have successfully completed their internship and Miranda is now focussing on expanding the online business. She will be starting a master class with a popular UK designer Kelly Hoppen to learn more about interior design and pick up styling tips. This will require time and investment on her part and as a result, she will be continuing supporting the TechPixies internship program by hiring another two ladies.
Miranda is happy to share some tips that helped her anchor and set a new direction:
Make “Me Time” Each Day
Miranda credits this as the best advice she ever received. Twenty to thirty minutes of doing something for yourself refreshes your spirit and helps one function much better.
Find Your Tribe
Family, in her opinion, is not just your kids and partner, but also your close friends. They are your “tribe”.
Make Your Actions Count
Miranda gets joy from the fact that actions she takes assists others and makes them feel good.
Continue to Learn
Miranda has a long list of learning objectives: speak Spanish, re-upholstery, woodwork. However, she would give her right arm for a penultimate course telling you how to be the perfect parent at all stages of your child’s life to ensure they are set up for life. Such a book would interest many women.
Read, Read, Read
Reading can change the way you think about life. Miranda counts The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield, as an important one. It is a novel discussing various psychological and spiritual ideas. The one idea that resonated strongly with her is that all encounters (short or brief) in your life have meaning and you can learn from them IF you are open to them and listen.
Never Give Up
Miranda’s credits her ability to persevere in helping her find her way.
On that note, as we came to the end of our chat, I asked Miranda if she could meet anyone for lunch who would it be? Her answer kept her tribe in mind. “It would be the Dalai Lama and my close friends. Now that would make a very interesting conversation.”
We wrapped up our conversation with her summarizing her encouragement for women contemplating a renewed self after finding themselves adrift.
Don’t procrastinate, just do it. Life is too short. Focus on top 2-3 things. Surround yourself with a tribe. Take one step at a time. And above all remember to take your me-time.
Find Miranda’s beautiful pieces and ideas at Harta Living