Interview: Starting a business during Covid

Last week I was so thrilled to be invited by entrepreneur Vivian Belle to take part in a series of interviews that she’s conducting with fellow business owners who started their businesses during covid-19.

There are so many amazing women featured, and it’s both fascinating and encouraging to read about their successes and also the problems that they have faced and how they are dealing with them. Read my interview below, or see Vivian’s blog (linked below) for the full feature, along with all the other amazing interviewees!

WHAT JOB ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES DID YOU HAVE BEFORE COVID-19?

I’ve been working as a graphic designer for 10 years now, 7 since graduating. Initially, I worked at a wonderful boutique design studio in London who specialized in packaging for the gifting sector. Originally, I started as a junior designer and over 3.5 years worked my way up to mid-weight designer. Aside from design, my role ended up including meeting with clients directly and working in partnership with their suppliers to get the packaging artwork ready for production. I then took 6 months off and travelled, and was then lucky enough to get a job at another amazing design studio in Cheltenham, UK where I worked as a senior designer up until January this year. My specialties there were much more branding and web focused, and for a period was the creative lead on all design projects that the studio took on.

DID COVID-19 AFFECT YOUR PREVIOUS JOB?

I was lucky in that I’d actually already left and had begun freelancing by the time covid-19 hit, so nothing much actually changed work wise, although I know for some the pandemic did have a huge impact.

WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO START AND LAUNCH YOUR SERVICE-BASED BUSINESS DURING COVID-19?

From about February I had been freelancing but the term freelancer has never sat quite right with me as it doesn’t feel that permanent and you can’t take full ownership of your work as usually it is for another agency’s client. I realized if I wanted to give myself the best chance at making a success of my business, I needed to make myself more professional and actually start my business properly. It’s certainly nerve-racking, but I think there are definitely positives in starting a business during a difficult period, as you’re already handling a tough situation so things can only look up from there! There is also the potential to help new businesses, and those who might not have felt it necessary to invest in a new brand or website prior to the pandemic.

WHAT BUSINESS DID YOU LAUNCH AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE #1 THING THAT YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

My new business is Rare Studio, a teeny tiny design studio specializing in branding, web design and packaging (and a few other services such as social media and photography too!). I think my favorite thing about running my own business is the creative freedom that I get – I can choose which clients to work with and which projects to work on, which means that every project I take on I absolutely love and am so excited to work on! Not only is this inspiring for me, but I think it’s also exciting for clients as they know that I will give every project my absolute all.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO DO NOW THAT YOU COULDN’T DO BEFORE WHILE YOU WERE WORKING IN YOUR 9-5?

I think the main thing is managing my own time and working according to the time and schedule that suits me – sometimes I work really early in the morning because I’m awake and feeling inspired, and other times I work really late because I’m focused on what I’m doing. Being able to do that, and also finish when I want and spend quality time with my boyfriend is lovely. I also love being able to really plan out and dedicate time to each project as I determine my own schedule. For example, with photography I can plan out a whole day or two to allow me to use different locations if required, or at least change backdrops, props etc and try new things, and really focus on creating a great end result without having to worry about returning to the office at a certain time.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF AS YOU WERE BUILDING YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS?

Obviously, my business is still very new so I’m learning new things every day and with every new situation, but I think I have become more confident knowing that I’m capable of doing (and actually enjoying) the drier admin bits in addition to the design side. I’m also more disciplined than I actually thought, and even with all the distractions of being at home I’m quite happy to sit down and focus on doing a full day of work. That being said, I have also learned that I’m a massive over-thinker and when I get a thought in my head sometimes my brain ends up going at a million miles per hour, so I could probably also learn to stop, breathe and organize my thoughts sometimes!!

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