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AofA People: Gillian Haqqani – Jeweller

1 Minute Read

What is your name?

Gillian Haqqani

Briefly sum up who you are and what motivates you

Who am I? That’s a hard one. Factually I’m a twice-married once divorced and now happily separated mum, granny, and former teacher, now a small business owner. What motivates me? I’ve always been very self-motivated, and I’ve always wanted to do things to the best of my ability. My immediate family also motivate me and nothing is better than getting a “Wow! That’s Awesome Granny ”. In tough times my family keeps me going.

If you have a job, what you do for a living?

I’m a former primary school assistant head and the most of my career my responsibilities were for children with special need or disability (SEND) as well as for Child Protection and Children in Care. I’m now retired and so have more time to focus on my jewellery business.

How long have you been doing this?

Just over two years.

What you find most satisfying about your job?

I love the feedback I get from customers whether that’s in real life or online and I particularly love it when I have returning customers. I also enjoy the whole creative process especially when I’m working on a new design and there is some problem solving involved to get the reality to match what I’ve got in my mind. Learning new skills whether that be in the making of my jewellery – which is something rather different as I use paper and origami to create my pieces, or in developing my business IT skills.

Is your work primarily a means to an end i.e. money, or the motivating force of your life?

I’m lucky enough to have my teachers pension as my main source of income but the money I make from my jewellery really helps in terms of getting some of the wants. I really love making my jewellery and tried to be the best I can be and it is also very much a form of emotional therapy for me. Building up my business and all the positives that come from that have really helped me to rebuild my confidence and self-belief.

If you don’t work for a living, can you say why?

Unfortunately, about five years ago I developed severe arthritis in my neck and after some other chronic diseases decided to come along and join the party, last year (2017) I had to reluctantly admit that it was becoming too difficult for me to carry on working. The plus side is that I can now focus more on my jewellery business.

When you are eight, what did you want to be when you grow up?

Very boring, but the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be was a teacher.

Did you get there – and if not, are you happy/sad that you didn’t?

Yes and I’m so glad I did.

What is your dream job?

My last job. I loved the job, the school, and the pupils. It made having to give up even more heart-breaking.

If UK – based, are you glad, indifferent or disappointed that the official pension age is rising

Disappointed, I’m lucky in that I do have a decent teachers pension and I also receive some disability benefits. However, as I still have a mortgage to pay until I’m 64 money is tight and as I’m 57 at the moments having to wait another 10 years to receive my state pension seems an awfully long time.

AofA People: Clare-Louise Battersby – Photographer, Graphic Designer and Web Designer

4 Minute Read

What is your name?
Clare-Louise Battersby 

Briefly sum up who you are and what motivates you 

I am a once divorced, now happily married, bipolar, 40 something, creative type with a soupçon of tech geek thrown in for good measure. 
If you have a job, what do you do for a living? 

Freelance Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Web Designer. I also do two days a week, as and when I can, in a small independent wine and spirit shop as I have a lot of wine knowledge and I like being involved in the local community in Hampton Village. I do a few hours a week as a PA for a Business Psychologist as she helps keep me sane and I also volunteer in a small locally run charity bookshop for a few hours every other week. 

How long have you been doing this? 

I’ve been a creative type for as long as I can remember, to the point where back in my day, in a school in Dorset they didn’t really know what to do with me. Photography started out as a hobby and is now an all-consuming passion for both work and play. I had a strong Marketing & PR Career – Corporate side – until my 30s then swapped to Creative Agencies and finally I realised I wanted to ‘create’ myself rather than guiding someone else to do it. 

What do you find most satisfying about your job? 

Creative autonomy and making people feel something. There is no better natural high than someone explaining to you how one of your photographs made them feel. 

Is your work primarily a means to an end ie money or the motivating force of your life? 

It used to be a means to an end and also a bit of an identity crisis. I did the ‘business side’ because I was impressionable and led to believe that was how you measured success. Now I know doing what you love is far more important than a job title, car or salary. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful husband who supports me in all my endeavours and believes in my photography. 

If you don’t work for a living, can you say why? 

I have only once in my life not worked and that was when in the space of three months I had to give up my own Marketing & PR Agency, was getting divorced and my Uncle sadly jumped in front of a train at Clapham Junction. I was diagnosed with Non-epileptic fits (trauma based) and was unable to easily and confidently walk up / down stairs or do simple things without the potential of a frightening dissociative episode. It took me more than two and a half years, a lot of demon facing, soul-searching and ‘sitting’ with myself to move past it. Fortunately, while I remember that person sadly but fondly, I no longer recognise her in my current version of me!! 
When you were 8, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

An Archaeologist / Geologist. Although, according to my Mum, when I was 12 I asked her what you needed to ‘solicit’. She replied “A good body and a pair of French knickers”. Obviously, I meant ’solicitor’.  

Did you get there  – and if not, are you happy/sad that you didn’t? 

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. Bipolar is a constant battle and can often creep up on you, even when you are doing everything right. But I have the management techniques, support and family support to, in the main, deal with it as best as I can.
(I’m very happy to say I have never had to solicit) 

What is your dream job

Full-time Photographer working on my own projects rather than the gigs you have to do to pay the way. I really do love it all though, to be honest.  

If UK-based, are you glad, indifferent or disappointed that the official pension age is rising?
I recently read an article about Joel Meyerowitz who is in his 80s. Most famous for his NY street photography and being the only photojournalist allowed access to Ground Zero after 9/11. He said he is doing his best work now! He also said when he started photographing he was working at an Ad Agency in NY and it became a ‘hunger unlike any he had ever known’. I’ve sort of paraphrased this above but I relate hard and hope I am still doing photography to the end of my days!!
I was also brought up to believe in finding work no matter what. If I need money I go and see the old fashioned way if people need anything doing. I’m not proud and I’ll sweep floors if I have to earn a bit extra. Fortunately, I’m not really in that position anymore.
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