As a child I grew up with the notion of not being good enough. My 9/10 spelling test result was always met with a ‘which one did you get wrong?’ kind of response. I perceived my brother to be the favourite and when glasses were introduced at aged eight my confidence crisis escalated even further.
As a swotty, gangly teenager I was given the nickname of ‘Little weed’ as I was uber skinny and head and shoulders above my peers. (An attribute that was to serve me well in my early twenties when being tall and slim was an asset. Gone were the glasses as contact lenses were introduced! Fast cars and fast men ensued!)
Having graduated with a degree in Special Education I began teaching children with ‘mental handicap’ – as it was then called – but I soon left the world of special education due to my insurmountable disillusionment with the postcode inequity of provision for children with very special and diverse needs. I hated the fact that their care and resources were determined not by need but by politics.
Retaining a commitment to special needs, I entered the world of professional fundraising and later commercial PR. I enjoyed both for different reasons. A client poached me to work for him client side. Little did I know he was a male chauvinist pig and when I ‘foolishly’ became pregnant in my established seven-year relationship I found myself redundant. Lawyers advised a tribunal would not reap much reward, so I walked away not wanting stress to scupper my much yearned for pregnancy.
My partner and I married, and our eldest son was born. An eagerly anticipated son for my husband of three daughters from his two previous marriages! Later we were to lose a baby at 22 weeks, an experience that haunts me even now twenty years later. We went on to have our second son some two years later. The sons that were, are and always will be my world!
The marriage deteriorated badly, and alcoholism and serial infidelity became the norm, coupled with huge emotional abuse until I was brave enough to walk away from the marriage, when the boys were 11 and 8.
With a shattered confidence I sought solace in my profession having returned to teaching shortly after our second son was born. I always believed and was often told that I was an excellent teacher. Sadly, a dreadful Ofsted resulted in the school being put under a lot of pressure, my confidence was drained, and my professional world shattered. Massively.
I met a new partner. Polar opposite of my ex-husband. He had lost his wife to cancer in her early 50s and he instilled in me a belief that life is short and for living. I reached a crossroads working in a toxic, high stress environment, had a huge health scare through misdiagnosis and felt the time was right for me to start my own business. Something I’d always wanted to do.
I was introduced to Park Lane Jewellery and instantly felt an affinity with a company that was well established – over 60 years – and was founded by a lady who wanted some financial independence and began selling jewellery back in 1955. What a visionary she was! Her friends began selling the jewellery too and the company was born! Shirley and her husband Arthur went on to have eight children and it is their sons, a daughter and grandsons that still run the business now. I like the family nature of the business.
As someone who has always struggled with my personal self-confidence and low self-esteem issues I am passionate about empowering women to give it a go, just as our founder did 60 years ago. I believe jewellery can be used to enhance confidence and help rebuild low self-esteem. I love nothing better than sharing the jewellery through girly get togethers – at home, in a coffee shop or bar – and seeing ladies trying on and experimenting with huge enthusiasm like children in a sweet shop! They intrinsically build self-esteem by complimenting each other – its such a fun and positive experience.
Jewellery Sparkles is the UK franchise name for Park Lane Jewellery and is my passion. My business partner and I launched the business earlier this year. We are building awareness, growing a team, networking madly and sharing the jewellery at every opportunity through parties at home, at events and online.
Every woman has a story and we help them embrace that story and take control of their own happiness, whether that’s through personal styling to enhance self-confidence or through our truly flexible, empowering recruitment options. To strive to be happy doing something they love. So that they feel enough.
Want to find out more about these lovely ladies and their amazing business? You can find them below: