Shirley Razbully’s story of how she came to set up her business, Muse Retreats, is an incredibly inspiring one. When we spoke to Shirley we were overwhelmed by her positivity and it was surprising to learn that things hadn’t always been so easy for her, as Shirley decided to set up her business as a result of a breakdown that she suffered a couple of years ago. We think the Shirley’s journey of overcoming adversity and setting up a business that can help people is a fantastic one and we wanted to share it…
Muse Retreats is a monthly subscription box service for ‘the creative soul’. Instead of delivering beauty products or food products like other subscription services, Shirley delivers a creative retreat for people to explore at home at a time to suit them. It includes sweet treats, organic herbal teas, step by step retreat guidelines and art/craft gifts as well as other surprises based on the month’s theme. Shirley says; ‘It’s a great way for us to reclaim a bit of ‘me time’ by taking time out, just for ourselves, to get creative and reflect on what we think and feel.’
Each month Shirley chooses a different theme and creates the box around that and although it is a subscription box service there are one-off boxes available which make great gifts! ‘The main purpose of these creative retreats is for women to reconnect with themselves and their joy.’
|An Alice in Wonderland Box - Photo from Lola De Vil|
It’s incredible to think that something as positive as Muse Retreats was borne out of such a dark period of Shirley’s life. She told us; ‘I decided to set up my business as a result of a breakdown. After working in an extremely pressured environment for so many years, I burnt out. I was also dealing with multiple family bereavements. The combination of burnout, bereavement and breakdown let to me being off work desperately ill for six months. During that period I had a lot of time to reflect, and I realised I wasn’t really living; I was just about surviving my life.’
It was during this time that an Occupational Therapist suggested that Shirley visit an art gallery, and although she wasn’t initially well enough to do this, she did begin to make an effort to ‘reclaim a sense of joy’, devising creative activities that she could do at home. Shirley, a naturally creative individual, did things like made aromatherapy bath salts, gift hampers, and collages and painting. ‘When I was feeling a little better I created a few little retreat boxes for friends of mine. They were intended as ‘thank-you’ gifts for the support they had given me but the feedback was glowing and they commented on how so many other people they knew would benefit from these little retreat boxes.’ And so, Muse Retreats was born!
Shirley is the type of business woman who wants to cover every single eventuality and be entirely prepared before launching a business, so it was no surprise to us to hear that even before contacting ourselves she spoke to three different women who work for themselves and got advice on the pros and cons of running a business because; ‘I wanted to move forward with my eyes wide open.’
One of the women that Shirley talked to mentioned The Women’s Organisation so Shirley gave us a ring and booked an appointment with our Business Adviser; Yan Miao and began to attend our courses. In fact, Shirley has completed nearly all of our training courses! ‘I found the experience of attending courses very valuable, the content was excellent and they gave me a sense that this business goal was achievable. Although I love learning anyway, it was the practical approach to the courses which I found most helpful. After each course, I left with a little more confidence, that yes I could do this!’
And as Shirley’s confidence grew, so did her business too! Although it wasn’t without its difficulties, as well as finding bookkeeping and tax and national insurance requirements daunting, Shirley was also managing her mental health issues including anxiety and symptoms of PTSD. She told us; ‘Ironically it was from within my deepest vulnerability that my business was born. In an effort to heal myself I’ve ended up spreading a little healing magic to women across the UK.’
|A Creative Space Muse Retreats Box|
Shirley launched Muse Retreats in September and received her first subscriber within one minute of launching! So far she has had subscribers from across the UK and received fantastic feedback. ‘To date, I’ve received a review from a clinical psychologist who is a columnist for Psychologies magazine; she reviewed my first box and actively advocates my retreats as an integral part of her own self-care. I’ve also had three video reviews on YouTube and a business spotlight on a blog too!’
‘People seem to resonate with my story because it’s the story of so many women. Although having a breakdown might be a bit extreme, feeling out of touch with yourself or frustrated and sad as a result of spending time caring for others and not enough time for yourself seems to be quite a common theme among women, so my creative retreats have addressed that.’
Now the benefits of being in business are beginning to show in Shirley’s life! ‘I get to make the rules and change the rules and break the rules too. I love having free reign to be creative and create the life I want. I feel really proud of what I have achieved so far. One of the last things my Mum said to me was ‘Shirley, life’s so short. You’ve got to live every moment.’ I intend to follow her advice and make each moment count, changing the world with my little boxes, one creative soul at a time.’
If you would like to find out more about Muse Retreats you can do so by using the contact details below!
And Shirley has kindly given our WO readers a special offer for Muse Retreats! Please use the promo code: worg1
This is exclusive to The Women's Organisation and gives you £2.50 off any one-off retreat box, reducing them from £15 to £12.50 each including free UK P&P. If anyone would like to purchase more than one box they will receive a £2.50 discount on every one-off box in their basket. Valid from now until 17th December while stocks last!
And if you’ve been inspired by Shirley’s story and would like to find out how we can help you start or grow your business, then get in touch with us! Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on 0151 706 811