So, this happened this week. First week at school (wow!). And whilst I’m over the moon for my little one, and so proud to see her wandering in on her own all confident and excited, my goodness is it a shocker to the system!!
Suddenly my life has been shaken about and everything has changed. I now have to fit my working day into 5 hours, and it’s short, so short! I get back from the school run, kettle on and then sit at my desk. Before I know it, boom, it’s time to head back to school.
I have always been a fan of routine, and now, suddenly, I have it. But after over 4 years of chaos and a (slight) lack of organisation, it’s a real shock to the system. With a five hour work day, I actually have less time to fit everything in than I used to, but now I have 5 days a week. 5 days a week when I know I’ll get to work. No more having to postpone jobs for days (or more often than not working in the evenings to get them done in time).
It’s a lifestyle change, it’s a new chapter and fingers and toes crossed it will mean more stability and less panic (plus the added bonus of topping my 10,000 steps every day with the walk there and back – bonus!).
Change can be tiring, change can be hard work, but we must embrace it and enjoy it. Without change I suppose life would be pretty boring. I need to get ready now for the homework, the school meetings, the endless parties and everything else that comes with this fantastic new adventure. A huge well done to all those working parents out there!!
Do you have a business that goes through peaks and troughs? I do! One month you are so busy you’re not even sure how you manage to function, working until the early hours of the morning every day and weekend. And then you have a month when… nothing. There is the odd job here and there, but all of a sudden you find yourself with time to spare. This sounds like a luxury right? Time to replenish that lost sleep, sit and relax in front of a boxset. True, this is what should happen. But panic hits!!
I go through this stage every few months, and every time I go into a crazy panic that my business is failing and it’s time to pack it in.
The reality is that shortly it will be chaos again and I’ll be mega busy and I’ll wonder why I didn’t stop and take a break whilst I had the chance.
So, what to do when your business has a quiet moment?
Buff up your marketing – you are your own marketing tool. Update your website, social media accounts, blog.
Get noticed – improve your online presence. Are there any free advertising sites that you can enlist on?
Network – visit local or online groups of like-minded people. Take out your contact book and reach out to potential clients.
Work on new products – Have you had an idea for a new item but just not had the time to work on it? Do it now!
Pricing – look at your pricing structure – is it still relevant. Do you need to increase your prices?
Organise – organise your office. Get all that admin sorted that you have been putting off for months and months.
Relax – embrace this time and look after your mental health. Chances are you’re going to be super busy again soon. Take the time to relax in preparation, and remember DON’T FEEL GUILTY! You’ve earned this. Catch up with friends you may have neglected, enjoy family life, go for a massage. You may feel like you’re being lazy when all those around you are working, but chances are that when you’re busy you work twice as hard as everyone else, you deserve this!
It’s been an exciting week here at Mrs K Designs. I had my first official interview! Eeek! You may remember earlier this year I designed a logo for the new blog The Mama Journal. Well, the lovely Rupa decided I was a good candidate to feature on her blog. So exciting and very nerve racking. I tend to hide behind my logo and get really embarrassed about putting myself out there, so this was a big deal for me; especially as the interview was so personal.
Helen Killip, 36, lives with husband Andy, daughter Libby, 4, and Laurie the cat, in Burbage, Leicestershire. She set up Mrs K Designs, a design company, while on maternity leave in 2014.
I wake up…
At 7am to Libby, our personal alarm clock, shouting, “it’s 7 o’clock, time to get up!”. After sleepy morning hugs, (one of my favourite things), it’s straight to the kettle for a cup of tea. This usually goes cold as I’m ushered to play with trucks or put on my best doctor’s impersonation. I’ll have a bowl of fruit for breakfast in an effort to be a little healthier.
I usually wear…
Jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes to be honest. If I do splash out, I’m a sucker for Joe Browns because their clothes are so quirky and beautiful. I do love shoes though – owning every pair of Ruby Shoos is the dream!
My working week…
is Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and I spend the rest of the week with Libby. Realistically, like many self-employed people, I work every day. Three days just isn’t enough time, so I’ve spent many evenings working until the wee hours of the morning trying to fit everything in. When Libby starts school in September (gasp!) I’ll be working five days a week, and I’m hoping this makes things a little easier and a little bit more consistent.
I am very lucky to be able to work from my office at home. My working day begins at 8.45am after the frantic pre-school run! I need tea to function, so this is my first priority, followed by checking and responding to emails (although I’ve probably checked these on my phone in bed before I even got up). Then I organise my projects and start work. Every day is different as each project is unique. One day I can be designing a logo and the next I’m creating wedding stationery. I love the variation.
I’d always thought about having my own business, but it was Andy that really made it happen. He was so supportive of me and my work, if it wasn’t for his encouragement I wouldn’t be where I am today – I have a lot to thank him for. In 2014 I went on maternity leave and that was the push (no pun intended) I needed. I had a few weeks before Libby was due so decided to set up my website and contact a few local businesses looking for work. People said I was crazy, I should be resting in preparation for motherhood, but in my mind it was now or never.
The best part of my job is…
The ability to fit work around life is a big bonus. And obviously designing, I love it – there is nothing more satisfying than a client coming to you with a vague idea and then being able to produce something completely beyond their expectations. It was, and still is, hard work, but it has given me the freedom and the time that I wanted to raise my daughter.
I honestly couldn’t get through every day without the support and love of my friends and family (a bit cliché I know). But they are amazing and somehow manage to keep me sane.
My biggest inspiration is definitely my mum. She is an amazing, strong, beautiful woman. I often hear people moaning that they are turning into their Mum – I hope I DO. If I’m half the woman she is then I’ve done myself proud. I hope that one day Libby feels the same about me!
The worst part of my job is…
Working really long days. After a jam-packed day of playing with a four year old, all you want to do is sit down and put your feet up, but deadlines are looming. I can’t let a project ‘sit’ and I pride myself on getting everything completed as soon as possible, which means I push myself to the very limit. This has definitely had a huge impact on my life and wellbeing. I recently went through a rough patch where I was working constantly and also trying to fit in family and social life. I was exhausted. It’s no good having a successful business if you can’t enjoy life. I’m now learning to manage my time a little better, put myself and my family first, and make sure I don’t burn myself out.
When I remember, some toast and some fruit. I get so involved in my work that I sometimes forget. Most projects span over a couple of days, so I’ll pick up where I left off in the morning. At the end of the day, I like to cover my computer screen with post-its of jobs to do tomorrow.
In the evenings…
We all have tea together between 5 and 6pm, and then it’s bed time for Libby at 7pm. Libby loves a roast dinner so we quite often have a mid-week roast – we take it in turns to cook! If I’m not working, I’ll sit in front of a box-set or read a book. I usually go to bed at about 11pm, but I have been known to get in at 7.30pm with a Horlicks and a good book!
Wow, what a morning I have had. Sorting out pricing is by far one of the most difficult, tedious aspects of running your own business. Throw in Etsy and it’s change in pricing system and my brain is on the verge of exploding!
I’ve spent my last week increasing my prices to adapt to the raise of fees to 5%. But then, due to my own stupidity (and probably because I’ve only just starting selling lots on Etsy and before was left unaware), realised that not only is there a transaction fee that is taken off before you receive the money in your bank, but there is also a payment processing fee. I did not know this (I know, an error on my part, but seriously, it’s not black and white and this processing fee doesn’t appear until your monthly bill shows up in your inbox – there must be others out there who did the same? No? Just me?!).
So, here, to try and help anyone else struggling, I’m going to do my best to show you how it works (please note these are based on UK fees):
Price you charge for Item you are selling + Postage and Package: £180
Original listing fee ($0.20): £0.16 (based on today’s conversion rate)
Transaction fee (5% of total sale price): £9
Payment Processing fee (4% of total sale price) + £0.20: £7.40
Total fees: £0.16 + £9 + £7.40 = £16.56
Well, at least I think that’s right. It’s near enough right, maybe a few pence here and there. Please feel free to correct me, but I am NOT changing my prices again!
Now, I don’t have a problem with businesses charging to use their services, obviously; if it wasn’t for Etsy I wouldn’t have got the orders in the first place. But it’s my customers that I feel for. This adds a lot of money on to the total price. And I’d like to be able to just suck up the cost myself, but I’m already charging the very minimum in order to gain the business in the first place. It’s a catch 22!
But, in good news, items are cheaper on my website www.mrskdesigns.co.uk, because I don’t have fees! So head on over there people!
New logo for the lovely Josh at Signature Fabrications Ltd.
This was a difficult but rewording project. Being naturally inclined to produce designs that are swirly (some might say feminine) and with colour, this was a complete contrast. Signature Fabrications deals with restorations for motorbikes and other vehicles. I know NOTHING about this area, absolutely nothing, ha ha.
Working closely with Josh I must have produced about 10 logo ideas before we decided on this one. Designing a logo is a long process, but you get to find out about all different walks of life, which definitely makes your work days varied and different.
I’m happy with the final design and I can now say I know a little bit more about welding and fabrications…it’s a win win situation!
I have just designed this little motivational postcard for one of my clients and I can’t stop thinking about it. It is so true. And on reflection seems so obvious and simple.
We have all been there, our lives are so busy, we spend all our time worried about everyone else and tackling their issues on a daily basis, but who is there to look after you? Who is going to help you get to where you want to be? Who is going to pull you out of that hole you sometimes retire to? The answer….YOU!
Be strong, look after yourself, CHANGE YOUR STORY xx