My Little Duke

An "Insta-Class" with My Little Duke

Blogging, FaithSteph DukeComment

It took several requests and a gentle nudge from a friend for me to even consider doing something like this! I mean, who am I to give advice about Instagram?! I am nobody and I am certainly no expert. Tutor English? Yes, absolutely! Take a class on Instagram? Now that’s a whole other ball game!

As the date for the class drew closer, I had a major case of imposter-syndrome … but much to my surprise, the class ended up being over-subscribed and I needed to re-locate! Ok, I told myself. I can do this. I have something valid to say. I have my experience to share. And that is exactly what I did.

Flowers kindly gifted by  @gracehillflowers

Flowers kindly gifted by @gracehillflowers

My main aim was to offer the ladies a behind-the-lens insight into my experience of using Instagram over the last 4 years. It was important to me that they would come away from the class feeling both informed and equipped, and I do hope that this was so!

Here’s what they said:

IMG_0702.jpg

“Thanks so much for a lovely evening. It was so relaxed and you were refreshingly open and honest. I hope your other sessions go really well too - I’m sure they will love it as much as we did!”

~

“Thank you for last night, it was a fascinating evening. So much information to help me negotiate the Instagram world. I will be working on creating more content, experimenting with my pics and I may even create a story!”

~

“I have been trying to think of something to share so I could join with the hashtag #learnuaryni - turns out after a little insta class run by Steph from @mylittleduke, I did just that. I learnt some things about Instagram that I have been dying to know but most wouldn’t share. Steph was honest and forthright about her social media journey, and inspiring to say the least. The added bonus of course was the lovely ladies I got to meet there. We shared stories and ideas and this highlighted once again how these squares can bring likeminded people together to form friendships, business ideas, content creating and best of all, plenty of laughter (oh, and a love of cakes!) There are big things to come…”

IMG_0650.jpg

I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of women to join me for this first class. We giggled, bonded and shared our unique stories over copious cups of tea and cake. The discussion was honest and open and full of learning opportunities for everyone, myself included.

As many of you will know, I’ve been on quite a journey with Instagram over the last 4 years. What began as a small business selling items for mummies and littles has evolved into something I could never have imagined. Never could I have dreamed that I’d create content for brands, never mind getting paid to do so. Never would I have thought I’d be driving up to Ballymena to meet someone I’d become friends with online. Never could I imagine I’d listen to promptings from the Holy Spirit, then write and share what I believed to be something from the heart of God. The doors of opportunity are wide open and I’ve been learning to walk right through!

IMG_0654.jpg

So what sort of things did we cover in the class?

  • my personal experience of IG ( the positive & the negative)

  • content creation / working with brands

  • taking & editing photos

  • branding & blogging

  • growing a following

  • instagram for business

  • & much, much more!

IMG_0696.jpg

It was an honour to showcase some wonderful local ladies on the evening too. Rachel from @rachiebakesni made the delicious treats we enjoyed on the night … thank you Rachel!

mini marbled chocolate & clementine loaf cakes

mini marbled chocolate & clementine loaf cakes

can you spot Rachel’s homemade marshmallow?!

can you spot Rachel’s homemade marshmallow?!

The ladies were also treated to gorgeous place-name hoops by the lovely Louise of @taylorit_ and stunning prints by mixed media artist, Lynsey of @lynseyauldart.

IMG_0660.jpg

A special thanks must go to the 6 brave women who came along to listen, to learn and to share their instagram stories. I’ve linked their accounts here:

Jillian @hennathome

Claire @thats_me_lady_c

Arlene @arlsnyro

Victoria @thecraftystag

Andrea @life_hack_mum_

Jenny @jennycatlowphotography - Jenny very kindly offered to take some photos on the night - such a lovely reminder of our session!

IMG_0674.jpg

It is no co-incidence that I’m sharing this blog post on International Women’s Day. I keep being continually blown away by the women I am having opportunity to connect with through Instagram - some real God-appointments and friendships! Gosh I am so grateful!

Alongside the group insta-class I have also been running 1-1 sessions. Like I mentioned earlier, these were also by request and I felt real imposter-syndrome all over again! However, after my first meeting I came away completely assured that I could actually offer something of value and I needn’t feel the fear.

My first meeting was with a woman who I greatly admire. Her God-story is pretty incredible and it was such an honour to have opportunity to chat 1-1 about using Instagram to grow her business. I now feel privileged to be able to call Charlene a friend and I can’t be more excited about being able to journey alongside her as she steps out in faith with @gracehillflowers! I really couldn’t have asked for a better person to *nervously* do my first session with!! Here’s what Charlene said:

“I had the priviledge of doing a 1-1 session with Steph. She has a wonderful knowlege of the world of instagram and was excellent at tailoring her knowledge to my specific needs in the direction I wanted our wee farm to take on the squares. I found her very open and honest in the information she shared. Through my 1-1 session with her, she has helped me gain more confidence through her encouragement and ongoing support. Thankful to call her more than a mentor now, but a friend.”

Charlene grows her own beautiful blooms at her Flower Farm in Loughgall

Charlene grows her own beautiful blooms at her Flower Farm in Loughgall

Here are some more amazing ladies who are availing of the 1-1 sessions. You girls are truly inspirational!

Sarah @iamsarahfletcher

Sharon @sharon_laura

Patricia @patricianewell1

Kerry @butterscotch315

Michelle @shelleyt_

140F6C0D-C0ED-4839-AE84-CE42EF8AFF3A.JPG

My most recent session was with Sara @saraallen_author. Sara has just launched her incredible book ‘Meraki’ and what a joy it was to spend time chatting together. This was indeed another God-appointment! I came away so blessed and encouraged, grateful to have spent time in Sara’s company.

Here’s what Sara said:

It’s #internationalwomensday and I thought Id mark the occasion by giving a shout out to this girl ... Steph Duke.

I’ve followed her on insta for a while and admired the authenticity she brings to a platform that can be very much all about my, myself and I.

Steph appeared real, not fake, not self promoting but someone who stood out as she bravely used her voice to encourage and inspire others by sharing her story.

When Steph mentioned that she was thinking of doing workshops on all things insta and sharing some of her experiences and lessons I couldn’t wait to jump in and sign up. But my ever complicated diary wouldn’t allow and so I thought I’d contact her and ask for a one to one coffee meeting instead.

Honestly I’ve never connected with anyone via insta before in person – I’ve DM’d, sent emails and commented but face to face was a whole new level of brave!! Especially because I still didn’t even really know what I really wanted to do with this platform.

I have loved Instagram for a few years, originally joining because I love nothing more than capturing a moment with a photo. I am a firm believer that a picture can sometimes paint a thousand words.

But if I am totally honest I had got a bit lost and disappointed with it all.

It has become a bit of an advertising, influencer platform with everyone vying for a little bit of attention and I’m not a fan.

I’ve lost my love for it but yet I am in a place on my personal journey where I know God is asking me to use my voice in whatever space and platform I find myself for good. I can’t just tap out.

I’ve spent the last few years writing a book which was published in December and as my lovely editor reminded me more than once the book is for others not me, my responsibility is to get the message out there. I can’t control what people will think of it but I do need to let them know it exists.

In steps Steph ...

As I tried to explain some of my ramblings as my love / hate relationship with Instragam and what I really wanted to use the platform for she listened, smiled and gave me so many key insights into what this platform can do & the functionality of how it all really works. Who knew there was a good and bad time to post? Of the importance of filters, stories and hashtags?

It is a minefield and one that I need to get brave enough to tackle with a bit more clarity of thought and planning but one that I now have a greater understanding of thanks to Steph. Who also helped me realise the importance of using platforms like Instagram for good!

I’ve shyed away as I don’t want to appear self- promoting. I haven’t wanted people to roll their eyes and think “here she goes again” but what I do want is for people to hear my heart in the words I share. Read the posts and understand that they flow from a heart that is surrendered to Jesus and that in sharing the things that flow from it I want others to connect with Him. To understand that He is the only reason I am something to share, He is the One who has transformed my life and I will gladly share His story for ever.

If you are thinking of connecting with Steph – do it! She has a lot to share and you will come away inspired and informed. Inspired to join the army of like minded “influencers” who are sharing their story to set others free and informed about all the technical know how and insights to help you make it happen.

I couldn’t recommend a session with Steph more.

Wow. Thank you Sara!

I am so deeply humbled and never more certain that if we offer God our WHOLE selves, He will take whatever we give Him (even if we feel like our hands are empty) and will use it in the most beautiful way.

So be encouraged today that even if you feel like an imposter - but you feel God stirring in your heart - DO WHATEVER IT IS THAT GOD IS CALLING YOU TO DO! I cannot begin to comprehend God’s plans and purposes for my life in the next 10 years, the possibilities are LIMITLESS. I’m learning not to limit myself! Will you join me?!

IMG_0641.jpg

And there you have it! I hope this post gives you an insight into my heart behind these sessions and a bit more information too. I’m currently running 1-1 sessions throughout March and April and intend on hosting another group class over the coming weeks as well. Please, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is never any pressure to sign up, I’d be just so delighted to connect with you and share the details! You can message me through my Instagram @mylittleduke or drop me an email: steph@mylittleduke.com. Can’t wait to hear from you! Instagram can feel a bit intimidating at times, it’s time to take back control.

Teepees and Turning 4!

Steph DukeComment
291FBF1A-24FE-4BA6-B645-984A6DF43957.JPG

It was a weekend of birthday fun in our house as Phoebe celebrated her fourth birthday! I still can’t quite believe it, but here we are.

I was on the lookout for something a little different for Phoebe this year and when I came across local gal, Alanna on Instagram, I knew her Teepee’s were exactly what I’d been looking for!

7C6E0CAE-7946-4CB7-BE1B-0D06A8933FC5.JPG

Never heard of ‘The Teepee Tribe’? You can visit their website here.

But, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered too! I chatted recently with the owner about her new business venture … you can read our conversation below.

~

Q. Tell us a little about you and your family.

A. Hi my name is Alanna and I am a mum, wife and now the business owner of The Teepee Tribe!

Q. Why The Teepee Tribe?

A. After being a stay at home mum for three years I felt that I needed another focus in my life. I have always been a creative person and now I have found something that I am very passionate about. The Teepee Tribe has given me a new lease of life.

Q. What exactly is The Teepee Tribe?

A. The Teepee Tribe is a magical sleepover party! I come and set it up in your home and return the following day - it’s hassle free for parents.

Q. How long has your business been up and running?

A. I started the business the beginning of September and am so overwhelmed and thankful for how supportive everyone has been to help me get this little business off the ground.

Q. What has been your favourite part of the journey so far?

A. My favourite part has to be seeing the kids’ faces once they enter the room I have set up.

Q. What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

A. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and making more children happy. Oh, and I’m also excited about adding another new concept to the business for the summer … so watch this space!

~

Alanna very kindly gifted Phoebe her Unicorn Themed Teepee Party and I am incredibly grateful. Phoebe had the most magical afternoon with her 2 very best friends from school. She’s even already requested the Teepees back again for next year!! Hope you’re free Alanna?!

886D813E-6113-4A2E-9B01-5EE3A41AA127.JPG
59AD05CA-1427-462C-8F3C-F13CD94DCB8C.JPG
7B8A33E8-653B-4135-9E90-12B0C2374607.JPG

Currently The Teepee Tribe offer the following teepee packages (all of which can be viewed on their website):

Unicorn Tribe

Mermaid Tribe

Army Tribe

Sweet Dreams Tribe

Christmas Package ( I love this one!!)

~

I highly recommend Alanna for your next birthday party. She has made the whole experience completely hassle free for us as parents! Alanna will deliver and set up your teepees, then return to take them down and away the next day. Plus, the look on Phoebe’s face when she saw the room was just priceless.

Thinking of booking? Well boy, have I got good news for you!

Alanna is being ridiculously generous and giving someone a pretty awesome Christmas present. One of our followers will WIN a Teepee Package of their choice (for up to 4 people) - our gift to you this Christmas!! All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is enter the giveaway on Instagram.

Thank you once again to Alanna for helping me make Phoebe’s 4th Birthday such a special one! The three girls were spoiled rotten and had the best time together. It was unicorn-everything: unicorn cake, unicorn face paint, unicorn gifts, unicorn party treats, unicorn doormat (see first picture) and unicorn pjs for everyone!

64199C56-E33A-46EE-A280-EB898B1CE8CF.JPG
9C47EA9E-B9DF-4F37-A4EA-CDCCFC4264FB.JPG
54140FAB-631E-4E1D-92E3-CF0540E22D3C.JPG

Some of the finer details are listed below:

Pjs - Dunnes

Rainbow Unicorn Cake - M&S

Print - @sarahcameronart

Doormat - The Range

Chocolate unicorns - Tesco

~

Now I best go and deal with the fact that I now have a four year old!!

S xo

923FCB42-9F2C-43C7-BBBD-25AD5951C433.JPG

Let go and let God

Steph DukeComment

“Let go and let God”

 

Someone lovely said this to me recently and I just cannot get it out of my head. You know as well as I do that this kind of statement is one that resonates deeply with me as I continue to walk through a season of doing exactly that.

 

For me, ‘letting go’ must go hand in hand with ‘letting God’. This is exactly where God longs for us, as His children, to be. His plans are better than ours, His purposes higher, His ways are such a wonderful mystery to us. So, why would we … why do I always revert back to trying to do it all myself? Time and time again I find myself on my knees, at the foot of the cross, begging God to save me from myself.

 

I just find it so damn hard to let go.

 

The total irony is, is that I know that living life this way isn’t actually benefiting me! In fact, it keeps me distracted and going round in circles. I’m pretty sure God is fed up with my antics by now! Yet He is always good, always faithful, always giving me new mercies. I’d have given up a long time ago on me. But God never gives up. He never stops fighting for us. He will never stop chasing us down because He loves us too much to leave us to our own devices. Praise Jesus! I’m a hot mess when I’m left to figure life out by myself!

 

Lots of you know my story though. And you know that I am really trying to practice what I preach. I’ve ‘let go’ of a heck of a lot of stuff in this last year. But the pruning process is very much on-going. Great. Just great. I feel like a bit of an onion - God strips off one layer only to uncover another … and another, and another and another. I never knew I had so many flipping layers! Yet I’m learning an awful lot about myself during this, often painful, peeling process. I’m learning that I don’t have to have all the answers. I’m learning the importance of letting go of ‘perfect’ and embracing the ‘present’. And I’m learning to trust that even when I show up empty-handed and feeling like I can’t help and I’ve nothing to give … GOD STILL USES ME.

 

Sometimes we just need to show up.

In spite of ourselves.

God will do the rest.

 

I started learning this when my friend Zoe had to walk through something that no mother should ever have to walk through.

 

Miscarriage.

 

When I first heard the news I instinctively went into ‘control mode’. I wanted to help. I needed to help. But I didn’t know how. I didn’t have ‘first-hand experience’ of what Zoe was going through. I’d never journeyed beside anyone who’d gone through a miscarriage. And suddenly I was acutely aware of my lack. What could I offer my friend? My hands felt empty. I felt I had nothing of value to give to her. So I wept. I wept for the baby my friend had lost and I wept because I felt totally and completely helpless.

 

There is a lot to be said about being able to empathise with someone going through something really difficult. Shared experience simply cannot be replicated with words, gifts or actions. I was at a total loss about how to help my friend and after some time trying and failing to come up with a solution myself (as I usually do) … I turned my attention to God (where my attention should have gone in the first place.) I begged Him to show me what to do, asked Him how could I help. I let go of ‘self’ and let God take my empty hands. Then I watched Him make something really beautiful.

 

Looking back, I wish I could have done more to help Zoe and there are things I would/should have done differently. I’ll not give the details but I will share that it’s ok to not know what to say. It’s ok to cry tears for and with your friend. It’s ok to sometimes sit in silence. The dictionary defines empathy in this way:

 

E M P A T H Y: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

 

Praise God that I have never had to endure the trauma and horror of miscarriage. But I shouldn’t let this be an excuse to stop me from trying to learn and understand how to help those who have. Yes, it might be a hard conversation to have … all the more reason to have it then. We need more tough conversations. We need more people willing to show up even when they feel vulnerable and scared. Miscarriage is only ‘taboo’ if we continue to make it be so.

 

Even though I was completely clueless as to how to help my friend … I knew that God knew exactly what Zoe needed. At the time, I second-guessed every move I made, always unsure if what I said or did was ok. But now, in hindsight, I can see how God was so intricately and beautifully interwoven into every step of her journey. Yesterday would have been Zoe’s due date. She has written a beautifully brave and incredibly inspiring blog post about her daughter - you can read it here. Watching Zoe ‘let go and let God’ has been heartbreakingly wonderful. He truly does bring beauty out of ashes. I’ve seen it.

 

So, however this post finds you right now … whether your hands/heart are empty or full, know that God can/will use whatever you bring to the table. Just please, I pray that you show up. For whoever and whatever needs you most. Our emptiness isn’t always a negative thing. God is drawn to it. Remember, an empty pot has more room for Him to fill … and I firmly believe that’s a good thing! Less of us surely equates to more of Him.

 

It is incredible to be able to say this but there truly have been so many positives to take from a seemingly hopeless situation. Our God is the God of the hopeless. He is our hope, He is light and He is life. I have witnessed this to be true as I’ve watched Zoe over these last few months. For my friend to show up yesterday, to lift high her Saviour and declare that God is “still good” … completely blows me away. Zoe has often said how I’ve helped her through her valley … little does she know how much she has saved me from my own.

 

I didn’t feel knowledgeable, justified or able to offer help during those darkest of hours for my dear friend, but I felt the fear, got uncomfortable and did it anyway. I want to encourage you to do the same.

 

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

John 15 v 13

 

Neal's Yard Remedies - November edit

Beauty, BloggingSteph DukeComment

It’s been a whirlwind few months with Neal’s Yard Remedies so I thought I’d give you a little update on my journey so far.

IMG_9622.jpg

I joined Neal’s Yard in June with a view to enjoy the 25% consultant discount and perhaps do a small amount of sales. I planned to do a ‘launch event’ as early as possible to make back the money I’d invested in the kit, that way I wasn’t out of pocket and had a lovely range of products to enjoy. I hadn’t even heard of NYRO until recently and was immediately intrigued by their brilliant incentives, career opportunities and flexible working hours … not to mention their company values, ethics and commitment to source and produce organic products.  You can read more about how/why I joined here.

Many of you know that I resigned from my teaching post this time last year and have been enjoying this season of spending time at home with Phoebe, alongside other social media-related business. So when the opportunity to join NYRO presented itself and it seemed to fit in nicely with what I was already doing, it felt like a no brainer. The low start up cost was obviously appealing - I joined for less than £50! Immediately I received my own replicated website that I could start selling from right away and gained access to the most incredible bank of NYRO resources.

IMG_9191.jpg

Neal’s Yard provide their consultants with everything they could ever need to help them run a successful business: social media graphics, business tools and stationery, a supportive online community, training (both free and paid, online and in-person) and more. The earning potential is more than I think I even realised when I joined, but is obviously hugely dependent on how much or how little we choose to do as an independent consultant. But the choice is ultimately ours … there is no Neal’s Yard police officer going to come and knock down your door, no menacing manager pushing for sales, no constant competing against colleagues - just total flexibility, a wonderfully supportive community and zero pressure.

Sometimes I still cringe when I post something Neal’s Yard-related on my Instagram. I never want to be that person who bombards followers with ads or pushes product down people’s throats! You know that just isn’t me. But I do have to remind myself every so often that My Little Duke began as an online shop. My entire journey with MLD started with sales! It has been quite a journey for MLD over the last few years and I’m still a bit overwhelmed by the encouragement, support and opportunities that have come my way. I’m grateful for it all - even if I do moan about IG sometimes!!

I still pinch myself some days when I’m picking Phoebe up from school or when we’re sitting at the table in the afternoon doing scissor work or writing skills. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … I never thought this would be me, I never imagined my life take this turn, I never thought I ever even wanted to be in this position. Yet here I am. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve mentioned this before … so any extra income I can create … be it through an ‘ad’ on Instagram, or the odd paid collaboration or through NYRO … it all helps. I’m currently testing out a few other avenues too - there’s a lot of trial and error going on these days!

5A2F7C44-E318-4AEF-916E-E0A915844A22.JPG

But I’m four months into my blue bottle journey now and starting to realise that I could make a good go at earning with Neal’s Yard Remedies. Last month saw me recruit over 10 new consultants to my team and receive a promotion to Senior Consultant! Crazy! I was even on the Top 10 Recruits list for October - this covers the whole of the UK!! What?! I’m absolutely not telling you this to boast … once again, you know that’s not my jam! I’m telling you this because there might be some of you reading along thinking, “I’d like this” or “I could give NYRO a go too”. It really is a wonderful opportunity and you know I’d never promote something that isn’t genuine. My wee team is growing and you would be warmly welcomed if you fancied joining us. Northern Ireland is making herself known in the world of NYRO these days and it’s an exciting time to be part of such a successful and growing company!

recognition-tile-5-recruits.jpg

The current joining offer (and the last chance to join before Christmas) finishes tomorrow (Nov 5th), so if you are thinking about grabbing it or giving NYRO a wee go, don’t delay! The mini-kit is an absolute steal at £45 – a full size pot of Wild Rose Beauty Balm is £40 alone! Some of my newest recruits have joined to earn a little extra money during the Christmas season, some are using products from the kit as Christmas gifts and some are just keen to enjoy 25% discount for themselves! However, one common thread is the craving to be a part of a community, to step out of comfort zones and be a little bit brave. I never ever thought four months ago that I’d be heading towards becoming a Team Leader with a team of almost 20! I never thought I’d get to enjoy so many vouchers, discounts and freebies! And I never thought I’d sit in a training session bubbling with passion and enthusiasm to be part of a company I hasn’t even heard of less than a year ago. You can read about becoming a consultant and/or join here.

reason-season-lifetime-recruitment-offer-social-tile.jpg

I’m always here to answer any questions you have, don’t ever feel like you are bothering me! I’ll never ever pressure you into joining, hosting or buying! But if you do want to know more about NYRO then you’ve three ways to do that:

1.     Join – like I’ve already mentioned … become a consultant!

2.     Share – be a host and get some friends & family over. This next season is the perfect time to be a host! Why not host a ‘shop & sip’ party – friends/family can get some Christmas shopping done and you get to enjoy some free shopping of your own!? As a host you’ll get a free full-size product, free and half price shopping and the opportunity to enjoy a free treatment. Get in touch to nab a slot before Christmas!

3.     Shop – if you haven’t already, become a customer. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to anyone reading who has ordered from me during these last four months. I earn 25% commission on my sales and like I said previously … every little bit extra helps me to be able to work from home. I really appreciate your custom. And if you haven’t yet shopped with NYRO, why not start today? You can view my online shop here or contact me and I’ll pop a brochure in the post to you! You can order directly from my website or I can add your order in with my own weekly deliveries – that way, you just might get a wee freebie or two!!

So there you have it! Four months in and I’m a little overwhelmed but very much enjoying my NYRO journey. I’m hopeful for a busy Christmas season and excited to see what next year has in store. As always, thank you for reading my blog, I just love having you around.

4C6E29FF-ADD5-46D1-BB4A-ECD6E235DBC1.JPG