I Failed My A-Levels And 10 Years Later I Am Running My Own Biz

I failed my a-levels and 10 years later I am running my own business

Four years ago I wrote this post about A-Level results and I share it every year on A-Level results day to try and give you a flip-side to getting bad or unexpected results. Today I decided it was about time for an update.

If you haven’t read the post above, I didn’t get the A-Levels that I wanted, I failed pretty badly in art. It’s laughable really. I know right now you feel like today will carve out your future forever… and it will, but not because of those results – because of the decisions you make based on today.

So I messed up my A-Levels, I messed up my college diploma (OK, I scraped a pass) and I royally messed up getting into university. I have no qualifications, you guys!

I worked my way to where I am, running my own business full time at 29. I don’t mean I worked great jobs for huge companies, no way! I worked in retail for the first 4 years, but instead of just putting in my hours for minimum wage I pushed as far as I could. I asked what I could get involved in and my manager trained me to work on Visual Merchandising (setting out the store and displays). I didn’t get a pay rise for any extra responsibility, but the value of learning is priceless. I worked some night shifts, I grappled mannequins in shop windows on busy high streets, I worked away in other cities setting out new stores. It wasn’t easy, working in a supermarket chain they had very old-fashioned ideas and I pushed so hard to get us to wear the clothes we sold instead of polyester uniforms, only to inevitably fail.

I failed my a-levels and 10 years later I am running my own business

When I moved on I worked in admin for a clothing manufacturing company. It was a bad move, so I went back to retail, getting my next job as a Christmas temp in a high fashion store. When the Christmas period wrapped up I got a permanent position working in the stockroom as an assistant and I was so reliable and hardworking that when my manager got fired I instantly took his job as stockroom manager. I became very passionate about that stockroom so I pushed hard to get my pay increased. I won employee of the month for dressing so well in the clothes we sold, despite not working on the shop floor.

My next move was a big one – I started a business with my family and it was literally the worst 5 years of my life, BUT the value was still in learning and while I learned some business skills, mostly I learned how not to run a business!

During these years I started making jewellery and selling it on Etsy for a bit of a creative outlet. It was hard at first and the amount of times I almost gave up… well again, it’s laughable. Now it’s 5 years since I started making jewellery as a hobby and I run my business full time at 29 years old. I make a full time wage, I offer a whole package of freelance work and I have just bought a house. You guys… I failed my a-levels and 10 years later I am running my own business and have just bought a house. And that, my friends, is where I drop the mic.

Let’s face it, your parents are going to be mad – mine were! Your friends are going to move away to university and you might feel pretty alone, but my advice to you is: Work hard, then work harder. Learn as much as you can. Fill a book with what you’re learning. Blog about it. Stay with your friends at university, see different cities, find out where you belong. Make coffee for fat cats in huge offices, make a video CV of how awesome and passionate you are, find another way in. Come and hang out on social media when you’re feeling lonely – it’s a ball.

But whatever you do, never, ever give up on your dreams. They’re still out there. A-levels mean shit, just keep learning.

Loves x xx

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