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2023 Recap: The Surprising Truth I Learned About Creativity

Yesterday, my six-year-old was engrossed in drawing when he made a mistake, and with that one misplaced stroke his world ended. The heartwrenching sobbing went on for about 20 minutes and nothing we could say could console him. Just like my son - and every artist or maker I have ever known - it’s all too easy to find myself wanting when it comes to creative endeavour. And when it’s your business and livelihood the internalised pressure is intense. 

Debbie Carlisle - looking back on 2023

I don’t know any artist or maker who is ever truly satisfied with what they create. I know this leads to perfectionism and is what has allowed me to make a business out of my creativity, but it also means that I am too often focused on where things haven’t gone as well as I planned or hoped, instead of feeling proud of the successes I have had. And so it was only when I spent the last few days putting together an Instagram recap of my 2023 in business that I realised there even were successes to celebrate. On reflection it turns out 2023 was a really big year of change, growth and development both personally and in terms of my business - I was just too busy working to see it! 

Coralie floral tiara crowns worn by two models in two shades of gold

How Big Changes Gave Me a New Determination

The year began with a bang with an early January photoshoot for my Goddess collection of bridal hair accessories, focussed on crowns, tiaras and hairpins. It was a real labour of love to design these pieces and I have been so pleased with their reception as well as with the results of the shoot. In fact the shoot was so good, and so representative of me and my work that I decided to rebrand, using the images as my inspiration!

I also started January by putting down a deposit on a beautiful new studio space in a former steelworks in Sheffield’s historic Little Mesters metalwork district. The new space was more suited to my needs and more welcoming for clients too. I moved into Harland Works in February and have been incredibly happy in my new home this year. This new start gave me an increased focus and determination and in March I signed up for business coaching which has really helped me deal with the overwhelm that comes with running a business!

Debbie Carlisle Studio at Harland Works Sheffield

A New Focus For 2024

2023 also saw me work with some extremely talented creatives on a series of collaborative photo shoots with gorgeous results - this is something I want to continue to focus on in 2024. On top of this I’m planning on making photography a bigger part of my creative and work life next year. I have invested in a ‘proper’ camera and some excellent tuition and I hope you’ll be seeing the results of this soon. Photography is such a huge part of showcasing my bridal hair accessories and it feels like a natural next step to learn more about it and hopefully be able to take better images for social media and, I hope, my website! I’ve really been feeling the urge to indulge in new creative hobbies and this will hopefully scratch that itch!

Model wears Prue pearl headband and holds peach and white toned bouquet above her head

How My Brides Fuel My Creativity

Spring and summer is always my busy sales and making period and I’ve been lucky enough to create some really special bespoke headpieces over the last year. I’ll be sharing some of the processes involved in bespoke work for my 2023 brides on the blog over the next few months. Bespoke designs are such an honour as it takes a little more faith on the part of my clients when they book me to create something they’ve never actually seen! It is also a chance to flex my creative muscles a little more and challenge myself and find new ways of creating so I really love these orders.

bride wears birdcage veil with headband

My Best-Selling Designs Of 2023

In terms of sales, 2023 was definitely the year of the birdcage veil - and judging by recent orders this seems set to continue into 2024. I was also delighted to see that have declared ‘sumptuous tiaras’ to be big news for 2024 brides. It’s always nice to discover that your creative impulses are hitting the right notes with the bridal fashion world! I also had another unexpected moment of validation when the Princess of Wales wore a stunning floral tiara to the King’s Coronation in May which had a very similar design to the Mabel design I launched as part of my Goddess Collection in February.  

Princess of Wales coronation tiara with similar Debbie Carlisle designs

Making It Easier To Choose The Perfect Bridal Hair Accessory

As things started to quieten down in the Autumn I turned my attention to improving my website and was very lucky to work with the brilliant 93ft design company who created a new bespoke website for me. As well as looking incredible and being beautifully easy to navigate it also has some great features to help brides narrow down their bridal hair accessory choices by style, size, colour and budget and it really embodies me and my brand.

I also launched my Style Quiz feature that allows you to take a short online quiz and in return I send you my personalised wedding accessory recommendations for your specific style. I’ve been delighted with the success of this and if you’re struggling to decide on a headpiece I really recommend having a go or simply dropping me an email for some advice.

sustainable gold botanical earrings by Debbie Carlisle


How Focusing On Sustainability Fuelled My Creativity

One of my key business aims is to do everything I can to make my work as sustainable as possible. I’ve long wanted to find a way of using offcuts of jewellery wire and I finally found the perfect way of doing this by designing earrings created from small hand-formed leaves crafted from the smallest pieces of gold or silver plated wire which would usually be thrown away. I love how my focus on sustainability led me to design some completely new accessories and resulted in a new and un-planned product launch in December 2023 - the perfect way to round off 2023!

Paris Bride in birdcage veil and headband - Esme by Debbie Carlisle

A Special Thank You

Of course no round up of the year would be complete without special mention of my brilliant brides who put their faith in me and invite me to be a part of their wedding day. It’s incredible to think how many weddings I have been a small part of over the last 14 years and I never take my incredible clients for granted. So here’s to another year of creating accessories for design-loving brides, developing my business and improving my creative skills - I hope you’ll join me on the ride!real bride wears Debbie Carlisle Coraline crown

What 2023 Has Taught Me

So the lesson I've learned? Plan in regular reviews of your life/work so you can objectively see your achievements and put your progress into perspective. I'm planning to do this on a monthly basis and I think it will really help my creative mindset and avoid the temptation to focus only on areas that I want to improve. Obviously I want to work on these areas but it's so important to remember and celebrate the successes as it is these moments that drive me forward and inspire me to keep designing.

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