21 Things We Loved in 2021!

2021 was another rollercoaster of a year; undeniably hard for small businesses and, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, tricky to navigate for all of us on a personal level, too.  

Still, as the year draws to a close, it would be far too easy to write it off as just another difficult twelve months.  Instead, we’ve dug deep and come up with 21 things we loved about 2021 – and surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as we thought it might be!

Since the love and support of our families is kind of a given, we’ve stuck to the smaller things that have helped us through the last year, and of course we’ve added some work-related highlights!

So, just what did we love about 2021?  Read on and find out…

Emma and Lesley from Little Bird Creative

1. Working with Cultivator and Unlocking Potential's Breakthrough Programme

Starting your own business is never simple.  But starting one in a pandemic?  Were we mad?!

Thankfully, one of the best things we discovered in Little Bird Creative’s early days was just how much help there is out there.  From online training courses to one-on-one mentorship programmes, we’ve been given incredible support.  Working with Cultivator and Breakthrough – especially with our mentors, Chloe and Karen – has helped point us in the right direction and has inspired us to really spread our wings!

If you would like support from Breakthrough, we can’t recommend them enough.  You can find out more here: https://www.unlocking-potential.co.uk/breakthrough.

The Little Bird Creative team dressed as witches

2. Escape rooms!

Some people might find the idea of being trapped in a room full of puzzles, with only an hour to solve them all and make your way to freedom utterly horrifying, but to us, that’s pretty much the epitomy of a great trip out…

We love visiting local escape rooms – and we’re pretty proud of our winning track record!  Supporting these businesses has also been really important to us during the pandemic and we can’t wait to escape from many more rooms in 2022!

3. Stationery (especially bullet journals!)

Back in pre-pandemic days, many hours of our time were spent in stationery shops, gazing lovingly at brightly coloured notebooks, pens and novelty paperclips.  Yes, we’re those people: stationery nerds.

In the last couple of years, our love has been increasingly useful, too.  Lesley in particular has found that bullet journalling really keeps her organised and on schedule.  Plus, doodling pretty patterns on the pages is a great way to wind down after a busy day in the office!

4. Helping museums to tell their stories

One of the biggest reasons behind Little Bird Creative’s focus on Arts & Culture is our passion for museums.  From creating beautiful, bespoke display panels for Bodmin Keep, to a newly designed website for Tavistock Museum, as well a hugely exciting new project with Cornwall Museums Partnership to be revealed early next year, we’ve absolutely loved helping museums to tell their stories and engage with their visitors – both online and in person – throughout 2021.  Here’s to doing more of the same in 2022!

Museum exhibit panel designed by Little Bird Creative
Little Bird Creative's Emma and Lesley singing with More Harmony Women's Barbershop Chorus

5. Rehearsing & performing with More Harmony

When we’re not working hard for our clients (or indulging our love of escape rooms…), we’re most often found singing – and directing –  with More Harmony Women’s Barbershop Chorus.  It’s been another tricky year for choirs and music groups, so to have been back in rehearsals, albeit with many Covid safety precautions in place, has been an absolute joy.  This Christmas has been one of our busiest for performances, too!  Music is a great love of ours and getting to share it with this incredible group of women is an utter privilege.  

6. Business meetings at Hilltop Farm Shop

Have we mentioned cake on this list, yet?!  

Our part of Cornwall is blessed with some incredible places to eat or to grab a drink and we are particularly partial to a trip up the road to Hilltop Farm Shop, where the cake is especially scrumptious – not to mention generous in size!  the staff are friendly and there’s always something interesting to find in the shop, too.

As much as we love Little Bird HQ, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the office and have a change of scenery.  It’s amazing how just a short trip out can recharge your batteries and get those creative ideas flowing.

Cake at Hilltop Farm shop during a Little Bird Creative meeting

7. Nugs!

Yes, this is another mention of food… Don’t judge us.

Whilst we love few things more than exploring new restaurants and cafes, there are times when you simply crave something quick and a little bit naughty.  And on those occasions, only a McDonalds chicken nugget (or five…) will do.  Many’s the time we’ve looked at one another across the desk and simply suggested: “Nugs?”

We have no regrets.

Path leading into Cardinham Woods

8. Walks in the Cornish countryside

Just in case you were wondering… Yes, our enjoyment of food is balanced out by our love of the beautiful Cornish countryside.

Getting out for a walk midway through the working day is an established part of our routine and helps to clear our heads when we’ve been working on something particularly taxing.  Sometimes at the weekend, we like to head further afield, exploring coastal paths and forests.  We live in a gorgeous part of the world and we love making the most of it!

9. Learning new skills and improving existing ones

Challenging ourselves is a key part of what we do at Little Bird Creative.  We’re always looking for a new skill to learn or an opportunity to polish the ones we already have.  This year, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed pushing ourselves to learn more, from improving key frame animation skills, to spending a glorious morning brushing up our photography with the lovely Scott and Di Talling.

Photography by Little Bird Creative
Pop up book illustration by Little Bird Creative

10. Creating social media graphics & building a portfolio

We try to keep an active social media presence, using our various online platforms to really show off what we can do!  We regularly share short videos, graphics and illustrations on our social media pages – and of course, our fortnightly blogs – in order to show potential clients what we’re capable of.  Having a portfolio of existing work to delve into is really useful and it gives us a boost when we look back and see all that we’ve created in a short space of time!

11. Seeing our work in situ!

There is nothing like seeing something you’ve created come to life!  This year, we’ve been lucky enough to see lots of our work out there in the big, wide world, from music group banners to freshly printed, bespoke Christmas cards.  And of course, our Seige of Lucknow exhibit panels, which we were thrilled to visit on display at Bodmin Keep!

Museum exhibition designed by Little Bird Creative

12. Getting used to Zoom meetings...

This may seem like an odd choice for this list, but as we mentioned earlier, we like to challenge ourselves and one such challenge throughout the last two years has been getting to grips with Zoom meetings – and indeed, Zoom choir rehearsals!  Seeing as one of us is a total technophobe (cough, Emma, cough), just being able to join a meeting and mute the mic when necessary was something of an achievement…

13. Filming on Widemouth Bay

We’ve been lucky enough to make several music videos for some amazing groups, but it’s always special to make something for your own chorus.  We spent a fabulous, fun – if rather windy – evening on Widemouth Bay, making a video that More Harmony could show off at the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers’ online convention – and we were thrilled by the positive feedback we got!

14. Working from home (and staying safe!)

Whilst we love nothing more than being together, we’ve kept our mutual office days to two per week all year, mainly to comply with Covid safety measures.  As our office is in Lesley’s house, she works from home all the time – and Emma does so for the majority of the week.  We keep each other company by messaging throughout the day, but honestly… who doesn’t love doing work in their pyjamas?!

15. Repeat customers & relationship building

Repeat custom is something most businesses strive for and we are no exception!  When a client comes back to you, it’s a fantastic compliment to your previous work and it enables you to build a stronger relationship with them, meaning that future projects flow with increasing ease.  

This year, we’ve been thrilled to have repeat custom from the likes of Main Street Sound and Bodmin Keep, to name just two, and we’re excited to keep building these important relationships!

Main Street Sound Logo

16. Seeing the Arts & Culture sector come together to support one another

The events of the last two years have struck an enormous blow to the sector we love so much, with museums and theatres having to temporarily close and many music groups folding altogether during the course of the pandemic.  It would be easy to get sad – and indeed mad – about everything that has happened, but instead, the Arts & Culture world has come together to support one another in beautiful fashion.  From theatre costume makers creating masks to help protect people against Covid, to the many amazing fundraising projects undertaken to keep our theatres and museums alive, the response has been one that makes us proud to be a part of this community.

James Dean Bradfield photographed by Emma Tofi of Little Bird Creative

17. The return of live music

After a year of empty theatres and virtual performances, 2021 saw the triumphant return of live music, giving Little Bird Emma the chance to see her favourite band in the world – the Manic Street Preachers – for the umpteenth time (she’s lost count…).  Wearing a mask at a hot gig was a strange experience, but absolutely worth it for the sheer joy of hearing music ringing out again.

Chart-topping bands weren’t the only ones back in action, either.  Choirs, brass bands and all kinds of music groups have been joyously reunited and it has been fabulous.

18. Our caravan sleepover at Harlyn Sands!

We’ve always said that being in a choir brings all kinds of unexpected opportunities – and we were proved right in early December, when we performed with More Harmony at Harlyn Sands Holiday Park and ended up staying the night in a caravan!  Mulled wine was drunk, board games were played and a rather lovely mini holiday was had!

19. Our Pets (and other furry friends!)

We are the kind of people who will always stop to say hello to a passing dog, or a cat lazing on a nearby wall.  We make no apologies…

Emma’s dog Rusty and her sister’s cat Dragon have, as always, been a huge source of comfort throughout this year, although Dragon really needs to be a little friendlier to Lesley…  She should take some tips from Rusty, who loves nothing more than leaning against Lesley for extra fuss!

Animals are capable of bringing companionship and even adventure into our lives.  Have we ever told the story of the escaped Shetland pony we found in the lane near Lesley’s house, this year?!  Let’s just say, it turns out we’re many things, but we’re definitely not horse wranglers…

Pet photography by Emma at Little Bird Creative

20. Self-care

“Self-care” takes many forms.  For some, it could mean switching off your mobile phone and going “off-grid” for an hour or two.  For others, it could be a full-on spa visit!

We take our mental well-being seriously here at Little Bird Creative, taking steps to ensure we do what’s needed to keep ourselves on an even keel.  For Lesley, that means spending quiet time on craft activities, or chilling out with some video games.  For Emma, it’s sleep meditations before bed, or indulging in some true crime documentaries.  Hey, whatever works…

Little Bird Creative at Christmas

21. Working together!

No matter what we’re working on or where we are, we are happiest when we’re together.  Knowing your business partner will always have your back and will never fail to put a smile on your face when you really need it is the most precious thing of all, this year and every year!  Working with your best friend is an absolute pleasure.

We hope you’ve managed to find some little moments of joy in 2021.  We’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy new year; we’re looking forward to creating lots more to look back on in twelve months time.

If you need graphic design, videography, illustration, copywriting, podcast editing or event publicity in 2022, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help!

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