WE'RE CELEBRATING OUR TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY!
A HUGE thank you to all my clients, my family, and my friends for all your support these past ten years.
As the person who wears all the hats and is responsible for every aspect of this business - I still want to say "we're" celebrating, because it's not just me; it's everyone that's let me bounce ideas off them, everyone that's given me a second opinion on a design or a strategy, all my colleagues I've collaborated with over the years, other business owners I've celebrated wins with, and also commiserated with about just how hard it is to keep a small business running - and of course my clients, without whom none of this would be possible. Thank you so much for trusting me to be part of your business.
THEN TO NOW:
After working with a small company for several years after graduating, I wasn't sure if I wanted to dive right into working for myself solo, but I'd already built up a decent client list working part time on evenings and weekends. It taught me a lot about what some of the challenges were working for yourself (but I still had a lot to discover!). I'd helped my parents with their business over the previous years as well, so that also helped give me some perspective. My Dad had a psychology business, so having his and mine both be service-based was a great opportunity for learning some of the more basic lessons in business, such as organizing invoices, billing, taxes, dealing with clients and scheduling the week. My Mom was the admin side, and my extreme organization and dedication to spreadsheets was definitely influenced by her templates!
As I built up my client base, I had the opportunity to participate in the Ontario Self Employment Benefit; a course that spanned almost a year, with in-class group education about how to run a business and the various aspects of putting together a business plan, as well as follow ups with a mentor for several months afterwards. Aside from the educational aspect, I met some really wonderful people and continue to keep in touch with them. I was even asked back the following year to come and speak to that year's group about my experience being self-employed.
In the years following, I continued to refine my services to the ones that interested me most, since technology changes so rapidly (about every 6 months) - I realized I needed to focus in on what I wanted to keep up with, and what I would hire out for. Logos are a favourite, making something that's totally unique for that client, and having it really resonate with them is such a great feeling. I also really enjoy the balance between the design part of web design and the coding/development part. The design part is creative and open ended. You could continue to tweak a design forever, so you have to determine when you've really made the goal of the message clear and stop tweaking. The development side is like math - once it works, you're done! There's one right answer... it either works or it doesn't. I like ending the process of the project on the part that has a clear end point!
My need to organize everything and continuing to evolve my lists and spreadsheets has taken me through a bunch of iterations of what ended up becoming my Productivity Planners in 2017. I've got so many tips and tricks that I've figured out over the years, and I'm excited to share them. I know they won't necessarily work for everyone, but maybe one thing will work and that can make a huge difference for relieving someone from feeling overwhelmed! I've been using the Planners for a few years now, and finally decided to refine them and make them available for purchase last year. I've got lots of new ideas and I can't wait to continue to create more ways to help people get organized!
Another project I started last year was designing tote bags and t-shirts. I've given my sample tote a serious test over the past several months and have been really impressed with the quality! Best of all, it's designed (by me, love my Apple Pencil and iPad!), and made in Canada - even the fabric! I'm looking forward to designing more products in the future, and have a whole list of designs that are almost ready to go... I just need to carve out a bit more time to add to my already pretty full plate! It's been a great creative outlet though, and I feel like that's something everyone needs - whether or not they consider themselves "creative" or not!
The overarching theme in my work and my life continues to be: gratitude. My family has had a lot of medical issues come up over the past decade, and in all that, the most important thing I've learned is to recognize all the positive things happening in life, and be grateful for who's in it, for what I have, and just how incredibly fortunate I am.
- I ran business on the side for 4 years part time (2005-2009)
- April 9, 2009: went full time with kbarlow design
- My parents ran a business too, and taught me so much (and continue to!)
- Completed OSEB course (2011), was invited back to speak (2012)
- I'm a pretty compulsive organizer, which is how Productivity Planners came about (2017)
- Designed and launched "shop local" themed totes (2018)
- I have all sorts of logo ideas I hold onto for years until the right project comes up - for example Woodland Trail Studio's heart shaped deer antlers
- I haven’t touched Flash since ...?
- I've been to FITC (design and technology conference) annually for the past ten years (ironically it used to be called "Flash in the Can")
- I have 5 clients that I work regularly with, who have been with me 8+ years
- My family is the most important thing to me, cheesy but true
- My favourite hobby is beachcombing for tumbled beach/seaglass, and my collection is insane (I've been doing it since I was a kid)
- Brunch is the best meal ever, but only if there's eggs benedict
- I make a mocha every morning with my espresso machine, can do it in various levels of consciousness
- Other than beachcombing, my hobbies including baking, any kind of craft (crochet, needle felting, knitting, calligraphy/lettering) and hiking
- I've been collecting Strawberry Hill Pottery for years (the only other thing I collect... other than beachglass... and hobbies!)
- I get way too distracted in coffee shops, I don't understand how people can work there! I definitely work best alone in my office where I can't be distracted by wanting to chat with people!
- My favourite music is late 90s/early 2000s hip hop
- I love thrift store hunting, garage sales, and antiquing
- My favourite place to have visited was New Zealand for the scenery, next place to visit on the list is Newfoundland to see Gros Morne