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The End Of ‘Jemma Illustrates’ - Why I Rebranded

Wow... that sounds dramatic. It sounds like I've died!

Apologies if you've already heard (read?) this before, but just to recap...

Just over a year ago, during the first lockdown, I bought myself an iPad, an Apple Pencil and Procreate. I started an Instagram account to document my digital drawing journey. I struggled to come up with an Instagram handle name (I didn't want my full name because, hello, teacher using social media!), before settling on Jemma Illustrates. Simple, straight to the point, easy - right?

I then started an Etsy shop and a YouTube channel, creating products and vlogging the process behind the scenes. I loved it! I'd wanted to start a YouTube channel and/or a blog for years - growing up with people like Zoella, Elle & Blair Fowler and Jenna Marbles just to name a few. I loved hauls, moving vlogs, beauty videos, reviews, cleaning and chatty videos. But I was terrified of people I knew in real life finding it and making fun of me (which honestly fills me with dread even now), I didn't know if I had anything interesting to say/share (I still don't) and I just generally lacked confidence in myself/my ability/my creativity.

So vlogging behind the scenes of my small business seemed like the perfect way into that! I'd have something to share and something to talk about rather than my mundane day-to-day life, which consists of teaching from 7am-5pm Monday to Friday, stuffing as much chocolate in my face as humanly possible and complaining to Ben that I never win the lottery, even though I never buy a ticket. THAT'S the thrilling, exciting content everyone wants, right?

For the first six months, everything was going well (ish). I was designing and creating new products, I was enjoying posting on my Instagram, I was trying to build my audience and I was still practising illustrating. I started to sell more products on my Etsy shop and created my own website.

But something was missing.

I had (and have) SO many other passions and things I wanted to say/share. I wanted to share the clothes I'd bought recently, my favourite beauty products, how I felt about being 'midsize', tips, advice, things I'd learnt, my anxiety journey, how you can still love fashion even if you're 'a bit fat'.

I tried to share some of these things, but felt they had no place on my Instagram or YouTube channel. I'd built it up as an illustration page - a place where I shared illustrations and quotes. What place did posts about things like my top 5 beauty products have there?

I felt trapped in illustration. I know I'm not the best at illustrating characters (some of my characters look like my class of 6/7 year olds have drawn them) and to be honest, I felt like a fraud. My passion wasn't in drawing people and characters - although I'd love to be able to, I didn't feel like I could and felt demotivated every time I tried because it didn't end up looking like it did in my head. I still enjoyed drawing and creating products, but felt like I wanted to branch out and try other things. I'm really passionate about writing, sharing my thoughts, feelings, passions and interests, being creative, taking photographs... and I wanted a place to do that.

A few months back (ironically, just as the pandemic started), I started seeing a therapist for my anxiety and panic attacks. She told me that I needed a creative outlet - somewhere I could let out all of the thoughts in my head and a way for me to take my mind off thinking, overthinking, panicking and catastrophising.

I thought my 'art' account was the place for me to do that, but it didn't seem to be working and my anxiety slowly started building again. In fact, looking back I'd go as far as to say that sometimes it was the root of some of my anxiety. Cue 'Her art is amazing! I wish I could draw like that. I can't. What am I doing? I'm calling myself an illustrator on the internet? Am I insane? Why do people follow me or buy from me? Am I a fraud? I haven't posted today, what if everyone unfollows me? I want to share XYZ but I can't, because this is an art account. I want to talk about my anxiety and help others. I want to share my favourite things to watch on Disney+. Will anyone care? Or do they just want to see my terrible drawings?' on repeat 24 hours a day.

I could have started a new Instagram page and a new YouTube channel, but I knew I would never be able to keep up with multiple social media accounts! (I actually used to have a home Instagram account where I shared photos of my home, but I couldn't keep up with it when I started my illustration one! So I know from experience that I can't keep up.)

So, long story short, I've decided to rebrand as something more open ended. Ohh Jemma is going to be 'my little corner of the internet', where I can share everything and anything that makes me happy. Posts about life, beauty, fashion, teaching, home, travel, small business... anything and everything! Ohh Jemma is also probably what my followers will say when they hear I've rebranded!

For now, I'm concentrating on blogging, as this is something I've wanted to do FOREVER but never dared to. I'm also going to be relaunching my YouTube channel - still posting behind the scenes vlogs, but also posting other kinds of videos too!

Eventually, I am going to have a shop on here, as I still love designing, creating and designing products and still want this to be part of what I do in my spare time! I also *sob* had to create a new Etsy shop as I changed my name a few times on my initial shop before settling on Jemma Illustrates, so I couldn't change the name of my current shop. It's if you'd like to give it a favourite to be notified when I add listings!

I hope this explains what's been going on in my head for the past few months and why I've decided to rebrand! I'm sorry for the radio silence and if you're disappointed - and if you don't want to see all the other passions and interests I want to share, I totally understand! The reason I didn't rebrand when I first realised I wanted to branch out was because I was afraid of what my audience would think. What if everyone unfollows me? What if everyone hates the other things I want to talk about? But then I realised - if I'm not doing it for me, then why am I doing it?

Thank you SO much for reading my little ramble, and I hope you're excited about seeing more of my personality and the other things I care about! If there's anything you'd like to see or that you'd like me to talk about, then please let me know in the comments below

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