Some of the best communities began as a personal passion project, and that’s exactly what Purple Roan is for founder Vaneeta Kaur. Drawing from Vaneeta’s own novel writing and desire to give something back to the creative community, Purple Roan’s content is all original, including quotes, stories and drawings, and aims to show how creativity can shine a light on social issues. With an event in the pipeline for this year, we chatted to Vaneeta about starting her platform and how she plans to develop it going forward.
Hi Vaneeta! What’s your business called, and what is it all about?
Purple Roan is a not-for-profit creative influencing platform that aims to highlight how creativity can be used to bring light to social issues. I have been writing stories since a young age. I have written three novels but at the same time I have been very passionate about wanting to give something back, which made me realise I can use my words and creativity to make a difference. So, I have started up small.
I began by putting my brand out there with the use of Instagram (@purpleroan4) and Purple Roan will be hosting their very first event in 2019. It will bring together creatives and raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, Mind and Creative Works. Here I will show how they used their creativity to inspire, raise awareness of social issues, and help mental wellbeing.
Tell us about your background before you began the business. What motivated you to change direction?
I have been writing stories since my discovery of pencils. In 2014 I came out of university with a 2:1 in Film with Media Studies. I left thinking that this degree will get me my dream job in film production. Unfortunately, as much as I loved university it does not give people the reality of working life. During my time at university I self-published my first novel (unsuccessfully), this knocked my self confidence in my career quite drastically but I continued writing. It took me a full year to gain a job and even then it was not a job that I liked. As a teacher’s assistant, though I love children and truly believe they are the next generation of creativity, it was not something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. So, whilst working at the prep school part time, I managed to gain a job as an industries administrator in an accountancy firm (very overwhelming). I learnt so much here, it equipped me so well and boosted my confidence.
However, I did feel like I was being boxed up as creativity is my drive in everything I do. Not being able to express your creativity can be very claustrophobic. Then a silver lining appeared in the form of redundancy. Five years looking for a job I am passionate about included three years of working in a job that paid very little and one year of working in a corporate company that made me feel very boxed up and chained down. I was 27 years old when I learnt that I do not want to work for anyone but myself.
I took a very big leap of faith and stopped looking for jobs altogether. So, I decided to set up Purple Roan so I could explore my creativity, and I knew Purple Roan would be so much more rewarding than any other job that anyone could ever give me. Though currently I am not-for-profit, I have never been happier in my career.
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What has been your proudest moment so far?
It has taken me a very long time to learn to never compare your creation to another’s. Everyone’s creation is unique, expresses individuality and can speak to so many people. Everyone empathises with someone’s creation in some way. When self-publishing my first novel at the age of 19 and having it turn into a disastrous time knocked my self confidence further. So, though this may be a small step for others, it was a very big step for me to begin posting my quotes, thoughts and mini stories on Instagram. I was extremely proud of myself when making this first step in my startup company.
Another moment I am delightfully proud of is having the courage to hold my creative networking fundraising event in 2019! Colourful Minds will bring creative people together whilst aiding charities to keep doing what they are doing. During this event I will have individuals show how they use their creativity to make a positive impact on society.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned since starting?
There are many lessons I have learnt since starting Purple Roan but one of the main things I have learnt is we have to have a mixture of naivety and realism in all the steps we take. Naivety, because if we don’t take risks then we will never do anything that we truly want to do. People are always asking ‘but, what if…?’ however, the question should be, ‘what steps can I take to make this naive dream of mine my reality?’
When choosing to stop looking for jobs, that in itself was one of the scariest choices I ever made because I am not earning at all. However, I have chosen to be naive and just believe in myself to make my aim of success a reality. My naivety of not looking for jobs has helped me give more of my attention to my three unrecognised novels that I will be self-publishing next year!
How do you stay organised? Any tips or tools?
Organisation is completely different for everyone. Everyone has their own way of remembering things and carrying out tasks. For me, I am very traditional in the way I do things. I have to have everything written down! I keep a diary and I write everything in it, however my phone calendar does help when it comes to prompting me. In this day and age we have apps as well that help people stay organised. It’s just all about finding what works for you.
One tip I will recommend is knowing when to step back when things become too much. Your task is not going to go anywhere if you leave it for an hour or an evening and come back to it the next morning. If anything, your refreshed mind will help it to get better rather than rushing it and not giving it your best eye.
Would you say you have a healthy work life balance? If yes, what do you do to maintain this, and if no, what would you change?
I am glad to say that I love what I do. I love writing, so once I get started I don’t stop. I only stop when I feel like it is not going right. I don’t know if that type of working lifestyle is good or not, but I do know I enjoy it and that is more than I can say for any other job I have had.
What I would say is in terms of working, never work through the night. Never do this. No matter the task or however much you have on your plate, never work through the night. You’re not helping yourself or the people around you. A habit like that can lead to very unhealthy repercussions, not just for the outcome of your work but your mind and body.
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What do you have planned next and what are the next steps toward your goal?
Purple Roan’s main mission is to positively influence minds creatively, highlight social issues and make people understand that we can all help each other one way or another. Creativity is a great tool and I plan to use mine to make a positive impact.
It is small but hopefully great steps for me at the moment. I have always been interested in helping those in need, so I completely pulled out my comfort zone and decided to carry out a creative networking fundraising event called Colourful Minds. After this, I am hoping my novels will be ready for publishing. Every step Purple Roan will take will be to make a positive impact in society.