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!
Starting your own business is…an adventure! It’s scary, it’s challenging, it consumes every aspect of your life, but it’s rewarding as hell!
Here’s a brief history of how I got there. I studied Fine Art at University and as is usually the case my first job had nothing to do with art. But I was lucky enough to be working for a small family run business, so I moulded my job and day by day showed them my artistic side until a new job was created and I was in charge of design and advertising. In my second job I did the same. I worked long hours creating design for businesses constantly thinking “why am I doing this for such little pay and no appreciation, I could be doing this for myself”. So I did.
In 2014 I got my break. I got pregnant. It was the only way I was going to get the courage to leave my job. I knew I would have a few months off for maternity leave, so what better time to test the waters and see if I could make it. Absolute madness! Who decides to start a business when they have a brand new time consuming baby about to arrive?
I sat on the sofa, unable to move due to the increased vastness of my ever growing tummy. But it was perfect. People say to relax, but I worked hard instead. I set up a website, contacted some local business and off I went. Three years later and here we are.
It’s not been easy. Yes it gives me the opportunity to stay at home with my little one instead of going out to work, which, for me, is fantastic. But it’s bloody exhausting. She naps, I work. She sleeps, I work. You don’t get the luxury of coming home from work and winding down. Home is your work and the two never leave each other’s side.
I am very lucky that I had the opportunity to do this, but it took a lot of determination and hard work. Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do, but if you really want it you can do it. I am only a fraction of the way three years down the line. But one day…one day I’ll have the success that I strive for, and all the effort will have paid off.