~ Learning to do nothing ~

There are plenty of big changes to get used to when you become a business owner. One of the changes I still ‘struggle’ with is learning to do nothing, and that I don’t have to use every minute of my day wisely.

Ever since I began my journey as an entrepreneur I have noticed that I find it very difficult to ‘stop’. It’s near impossible to quieten my mind, which I have adjusted to and have learned some techniques to help with. But to actually sit on the couch and do nothing is still an act that I (or my partner) have to consciously force.

When I do manage to make myself sit on the couch, you’ll usually find me either on Instagram (which is full of design inspiration and beautiful things to broaden my creativity) or reading a book/magazine that is somehow motivating me and increasing my knowledge ~ all benefits to my business.

As I write this post, I’m actually finally sitting on my couch for the day – it’s 7pm and I’ve been up and raring since 5am!! To be honest 7pm is ‘early’ for me to finally stop for the day, however I’m forcing myself as I have a raging headache. So despite being unwell, and there being absolutely nothing wrong with allowing myself to lay here and simply do nothing, I’ve still managed to convince myself otherwise and am instead writing this blog post.

My partner is a huge help with this ‘problem’ and very often ensures that I knock off from work at a reasonable hour and enjoy some time with him on the couch to wind down, which I am very grateful for! I still have a million things flying through my mind (did you send that invoice, crap dont forget to ring that lady back tomorrow, whoopsy you forgot to send that quote off, oooh yes better add all that to the To-Do list) and rarely pay attention to what’s on the ‘box’, but atleast I’m resting in some form.

Another thing that really helps is yoga! For the past few months I’ve replaced my heavy lifting workouts for calming, stress-free yoga sessions and I’ve never looked back! I aim to practice yoga atleast twice a week but usually make it 3 or 4 times, because it’s the only try space where I feel relaxed enough to completely let my thoughts go. It’s also fantastic for releasing tension from sitting at a computer all day, and has tremendously lowered my stress levels.

Another tool is to drown out that little voice in your head that is reminding you of how much work you SHOULD be doing and all the other bits and pieces that you COULD be doing with your time (like calling your mum cos it’s been ages again) with positive remarks, and reminding yourself that it is completely and utterly “ok” to relax for as much time as you need.

It still makes me laugh when people make comments about how easy working from home must be and how cool it is being my own boss. If only they knew the daily struggles and waves of personal manipulation that goes along with it ha ha. It IS really cool and yes, I CAN do whatever I like (such as going to yoga whenever it works for me). But just like it does when you are employed by someone, your responsibilities and conscience seem to take over and you do what you should be doing rather than what you’d necessarily prefer to be doing.

xx B xx

~ One Year on… ~

Today {20th October 2014} marks the very 1st birthday for Studio B. I’m so excited to be sharing this with so many amazing clients and such incredible support. So, I have been frantically delivering these babies across Darwin! I hope you all enjoyed them! I’ve certainly had my fair share ha ha! B is for the BEST Clients!!!

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As I celebrate, I feel the biggest question on my mind has been “What Next?”. Although my first year has been incredibly awesome and I have never been so proud of something, or myself, there are still so many amazing ideas and opportunities that continue to sneak into my brain (usually at night whilst trying to sleep).

For me, the beginning of business life truly smacked me in the face like a dead fish. I wasn’t expecting so much stress or the anxiety brought on by the pressure I put onto myself. I certainly didn’t expect the amount of tears that have been shed, or the amount of achievements and ‘OMG’ moments. I have so many stories that I now feel confident and comfortable to share, along with plenty of damn proud ‘holy shit I AM a business woman’ moments.

One of the first things to get used to was having work, clients, jobs and money constantly in the back of my mind 24/7; even in the shower! I dream about work, I talk about work and I find it very difficult to switch off or just stop; no wonder I am exhausted.

As I reflect on the last 12 months and get excited about what the next 12 months have inshore, I hope I can continue to do what I love and that my business continues to travel down the path that I want to go down. I often question what “success” means to ME and if I am working towards that with my decisions and progress. Year 1 has been extremely successful in my eyes, but what do I need to do to ensure that year 2 is just as successful? Do I need to make any changes to ensure I am still moving towards my life goals and personal developments?

One thing I certainly don’t want to be is ‘just another design studio’. I want Studio B to continue to grow in a unique way, offering a unique experience for my customers and to do things a little differently.

Anyway, I’m sure I will figure the answers to these questions out in the coming weeks, and they’re certainly always in the back of my mind. So, I would love to take this time to reflect on ‘B’ and just how far things have come since launching my business on this day {20th October 2014} one year ago. Here is a little overview and a few highlights:

Studio B was launched on a Sunday, 20th October 2013. With no background in business, I was extremely nervous and to be completely honest I had no idea what the difference was between income Tax and GST!! I went from a full time position with a generous salary to a part time sales job, and was running the business part time. In March 2014, I went full time with the business as I was so busy and it was time to give 100% to Studio B. It was very difficult to let go of that part time income security, but it didn’t take long for me to begin making a small profit from the business. Thank goodness for my amazing partner Ryan for supporting me every single step of the way emotionally and financially ~ I absolutely could not have done it without him.

Within the first 4 months of going full time I successfully picked up 2 of the largest clients in the Northern Territory (TIO and Power and Water), as well as some work for the Northern Territory Government. I had also been awarded my first Annual Report for Department of Community Services; the design concept was approved with the first proof. Looking back on my business plan, most of the clients that I set the intention to work with are now regular clients. I have even done a logo for a Cafe´ in South Australia, and have sent 2 printed jobs to QLD.

Studio B Designs has been credited in 2 publications ~ ‘NT Style Wedding Magazine’ (for assistance with the layout) and the book
‘The Cosmopolitan Hippy’ (for the cover illustration and design, and assistance with the typesetting). I have done a fantastic range of jobs from an sirpot sign for a helicopter company, shed signage, vehicle graphics, Darwin Cup Carnival wristbands, corporate documents and tools, information wheels, bumper stickers, business cards, event stationery, booklets, wedding
stationery, product brochures, posters, stubby coolers, banners, fishing shirts, baby shower invites, the list goes on…

Although there is a large list of achievements, my favourite highlights would be successfully gaining 46 clients ~ creating 17 x Logo Designs for new businesses ~ completing 2 x Government Annual Reports within only a couple of weeks.

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To my beautiful clients, my partner, my friends, my family and most of all the people who have continually referred my business ~ words cannot THANK YOU enough! I feel like the proudest mum today, not only of my own business and growth in the last 12 months, but that of my clients also. It feels a little surreal, and I’m not entirely sure exactly how I have gotten through the last year, but I did it! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! I hope you all enjoyed your delicious cupcakes!! xxxxx

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I can’t wait to show you all what Year 2 has in store!!! Thank you all again.

xx B xx

~ B travels Europe ~

{ Something from the very beginning of B ~ running around Europe in 2013 with a ‘B’ }

Last month marked the 12 month anniversary since my first trip to Europe. Prior to this trip I had only been overseas a handful of times, mostly Bali and once to New Zealand. Prior to my departure my gorgeous Aunty found me a white, wooden letter ‘B’ to take with me. At that stage the ‘seed’ of Studio B and starting my own business had only just been planted, and everything was ‘on hold’ until I returned from my overseas experience. It was so incredible travelling with this intention in my mind, and I know that I saw the other side of the world in completely different eyes than what I would have if that seed had not yet been planted.

 

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My trip began flying over to London and having a few days there on my own ~ travelling alone is something I highly recommend to everyone. It is such an eye-opening experience and I really surprised myself at how well I accomplished and enjoyed it!! Anyway, a couple of days later I was on my flight to Belgium to meet up with some friends, and head to the most insane music festival in the world ~ Tomorrowland!

 

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Words cannot describe the next 5 days. That festival is completely out of this world, has had a significant impact on my life and I will absolutely be going back one day (hopefully 2015). I listen to music differently now, and any sound of dance music throws goosebumps across my entire body and brings tears to my eyes. I know it sounds strange, but until you’ve experience something to that level (250,000 people from different nationalities jumping to the same beat) you can’t really compare or begin to comprehend.

 

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Leaving Belgium was sad, as I had been so relaxed and comfortable spending time with the familiar faces of my friends. I headed back to London, and met up with my gorgeous friend Christie who was exploring the next exciting part of my trip with me.

 

 

 

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We had a couple of days in London exploring and then jumped aboard our Topdeck Tour Bus for a 22 day experience of a lifetime! We possibly would have been slightly more excited at this point if we hadn’t found that incredibly fun cocktail bar the night before and weren’t so god damn hungover. Yep, a churning stomach on a bus for hours = bad idea!! We quickly decided that that would not be happening again ha ha!

Our 22 day tour saw us exploring Paris, Nice, Switzerland, Florence, Rome, Venice, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Amsterdam! Beautiful wine, delicious food, incredible new friends, uncountable laughs, plenty of dancing, too many selfies, and a pretty stylish ‘stack’ on a bike tour later – we had absolutely had the time of our lives!!

It’s just the little things that you see and take in that will hopefully remain embedded in your mind for the rest of your days – the smell of ‘perfect’ in the air at the swiss alps, the feeling of a snow ball hitting you in the face for the first time, the richness of the French Riviera, the staleness of that weird dingy little pub in Prague, the feeling of a pebble ‘beach’ on your feet in Nice, the salty ocean you jumped into in Croatia, the sound of horse shoes on the cobble-stone streets in Ljubljana, the taste of your first beer in Berlin, the reflections of beautiful flowers on the canals in Amsterdam, and the peacefulness, balance and harmony on that incredibly perfect lake in Slovenia (Lake Bled).

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One aspect of my trip that I will never ever forget is carrying that timber white ‘B’ with me everywhere. Even my new friends were helping me setup fun photos with it, and pointing out “B’s” everywhere on signs, logos, flyers, graffiti, menus, trains and boats. It was during that trip when I would introduce myself as a ‘graphic designer about to start my own business’ that my dream developed further and further into a reality that I couldn’t wait to get home to!

 

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The design inspiration over there was absolutely incredible. The shop fronts and displays in the major stores in London, Paris, Rome and Verona were mind blowing! The contrast of such old beautiful buildings displaying modern crisp funky designs made me smile every single time.

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Surprisingly graphic design-wise, Amsterdam was by far the best inspiration ~ even the laundromats had beautifully crafted logos. I even discovered a gorgeous store that had been owned for many years by a lovely (and a little quirky) man who used antique letterpress machines to create prints and greeting cards! I was like a kid in a candy shop! Needless to say, I purchased a print of a beautiful ‘B’ from this inspirational man, and it proudly sits in my studio along with the timber white letter that was very much the Beginning of B!

 

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I can easily say that I reminisce on my adventure every single day, and without a doubt it is by far the best thing I have ever ever done ~ not only personally but also for my business and my creativity. I can’t wait to explore more of this amazing world, to open up my imagination even further, spark new creativity and remind me that anything is possible. Thank You Europe!

xx B xx

~ Understanding B ~

{How understanding my personality profile has changed my life, and the way I think about my business}

Within the first couple of months of starting my business I actually thought there was something ‘wrong’ with me. Starting a business is a HUGE deal, and a decision that certainly can’t be made lightly.

When ever I reflect on my life, particularly the last 5 years, I notice that things have changed quite dramatically numerous times (without a lot of notice). It’s not to say that I was unhappy in the situations I had changed, infact my life has always been pretty amazing. They just weren’t working for me anymore, and I seem to forever strive for more. Although I don’t make decisions lightly, I am very strong-willed, so once I make a decision my mind is set and no one can change it.

My decision to start my own business was a little while coming (that’s a whole other blog post). But when it actually happened it seemed my whole life had abruptly changed yet again. I have always been one for setting goals and achieving them, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I just couldn’t help but wonder whether I would ever be happy with what I had, seeing as every time I accomplished something I’d move straight onto the next grand idea.

Two months into being a business owner I really felt I had lost the plot. Not only with the confusion around WHY I had to continuously strive for goals, but also due to the stress, anxiety, and adapting to such an enormous change in my life. I had also moved in with my partner around the same time as launching my business, so i’d put almost every ‘stress’ possible onto him which was really upsetting me. Learning how to work from home and find any sort of work/life balance proved to be extremely difficult (and to be completely honest sometimes still is). I felt guilty when I was working in the office as I wasn’t spending quality time in my fresh relationship, yet I would also feel guilty whilst spending time outside the office as I had so much work to do. Feeling quite desperate and honestly feeling like my business, relationship and mindset was soon going to go down the drain I sought help from a business/life coach.

This decision has greatly benefited all aspects of my life, however, one of the best things I got out of it was learning more about my personality profile, and finally understanding WHY I make the decisions I make, think the things I think and take the actions I take. This amazing insight has profoundly helped my business and has changed the way I think, as I now understand ME so much clearer.

Here’s a little summary of the most interesting things I learned from my behavioural report:

• Predominantly a ‘D’ Personality which is: ‘Dominance – competitive, aggressive decisive and results-orientated, but can also be impatient, overbearing even rude. Related job roles to a ‘D’ personality could be: Supervisor, change facilitator, manager, managing director, company developer’ ~ LIGHTBULB ha ha!

• With a little ‘I’ which is: ‘Influence – talkative, sociable, optimistic and friendly, but can also be inattentive to detail, overly talkative and emotional. The ‘I’ personality can best be represented by a ‘peacock’ who loves attention and often is looking for the next shiny thing ~ that’s where instantaneously moving onto the next goal/idea comes into play. Related job roles to a mixture of ‘D’ and ‘I’ are: Sales, general manager, marketing manager, entrepreneur’. ~ Pretty interesting huh!

• Very much a ‘people’ person, however works best when ‘alone’ (music to my ears confirming my decision to work from home).

• Doesn’t like being told what to do (I possibly already knew that one).

• The strengths that come easily and naturally to me with little energy are: keeping up a working spirit, motivated with independence and challenge, inspiring, setting goals, taking risks, generating new ideas, accepting change, persistence to keep up pressure, setting goals high enough, always ready to move forward.

• My attributes are: extroverted, active, inspiring, restless, independent, impatient, results-orientated, decisive, busy, goal orientated, competitive, social, appealing.

• I prefer to avoid: “Brooke is not much of a team worker, and does not easily let people get close. Very strict rules and limitations depress her. She gets bored easily if others considered her too one-dimensional or when things do not proceed fast enough”. ~ I think this one was possibly the biggest ‘wow’ as I had always considered myself as a big team worker, however, the more times I read over this paragraph the more it really did make sense (if I was completely honest with myself).

• Largest causes of stress for me are: inability to make decisions, losing control, losing freedom, losing position in the limelight! ~ interesting and again very accurate.

• Largest signs I am stressed: Becomes impatient, irritated, inflexible, blunt and demanding.

• The best ways I alleviate stress: Agree on an important goal and how to achieve it, solve the problem independently, provide an opportunity to operate independently.

 

There is a lot more, it’s a 17 page document! Mostly I was just so happy to discover I was on the right track with my recent decisions, and it all makes so much sense now.

Learning this information has been absolute magic for me. Not only has it assisted me to understand myself and be happy and content with the decisions I make, it has also offered insight into other people’s personalities and how to work with them. My partner hated this in the beginning – I think he thought I was reading his mind or something ha ha! So I now know how to work with clients better as well, by being able to analyse their personality and knowing whether to be direct and straight to the point or to let them hear information (and costings) slowly with loads of information to back it up.

So now when my mind continuously wanders and starts to construct the next great plan (I think i’m up to stage 4 of Studio B), and I am forever coming up with bigger and better ideas, I know it’s just who I am and not to worry that I am unhappy or ungrateful for what I already have accomplished. It’s just who I am and what I do.

xx B xx

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I cannot recommend learning more about YOU enough ~ especially for fresh entrepreneurs. There are several places and organisations out there that can test you and work out what profile you are (plenty online). Do some research though, the more in-depth the report is the better.

 

 

~ Grandad’s Shed ~

I visited my grandparents the other day as I needed a hand to build a timber box that will be used to lengthen my calf muscles as I am suffering from extreme shin splints at Crossfit. Try explaining THAT to a couple of very ‘old school’ grandparents. My Grandma suggested it was ‘growing pains’ ~ bless!

Anyway, it’s always a very beautiful thing – visiting them. I’m so very lucky that I still have both sets of grandparents. My mum’s parents are interstate which is sad, but they’re only a phone call or a four hour flight away. My dad’s parents, however, live five minutes around the corner ~ but unfortunately I don’t see them as much as I should.

Whenever I visit them it is relaxing and always clears my head. We sit and talk about what has been happening, and they are always very proud to hear how well Studio B is going. If you’re not careful though, the next thing you know three hours have passed and you’ve finished three cups of coffee and a tin of biscuits! YUM!

After chatting to Grandma for a while, watching her feed the wild birds in her beautifully manicured garden (which is like an oasis in the middle of the industrial area that they live in), Grandad took me out to his shed. They’ve owned a property up here since after Cyclone Tracy (1974), and it’s been the same since I can remember. Grandad’s shed is FULL… mostly full of shit, old ‘junk’, rust piles and dust piles. I’ve spent far less time in the shed than my older brother has – he sees Granddad’s shed as a gold mine because you can almost always guarantee that it has got whatever you need! Nuts, bolts, tools, car parts (mostly Valiant ones), light bulbs, signs, materials, anything you can think of really…

 

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I used to just see it as piles upon piles of shit. But these days it’s different and I just think it’s amazing that he knows pretty well where every little thing is! I love that he is still so active and capable, he’s currently painting a big bus and has built his own little spray room and everything for it. He is always doing something.

As we were looking for some timber and bits and pieces for the box, I wondered whether he had an old typewriter laying around. “What do you want one of those for, haven’t you got all this ‘dot com’ technology stuff now-a-days?” < ha ha ha ha ha! God I Love him! “Just ‘cos it’s trendy to have those retro things these days Grandad” I replied. “Well I dunno… I did have one here but I think I got rid of it!”… “Dohhhh really Grandad?”!! Noooo….

 

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He kept giggling about it and couldn’t really comprehend why I wanted one. Then he looked in his office, under the desk and says “You wouldn’t believe it!”…

OMG OMG OMG I think I just wee’d my pants in excitement ha ha ha! Like an excited little kid, I watched eagerly over his should as he pulled out the old box and dusted it off.

He opened it up and there it was! A beautiful old (probably from the 70’s) typewriter – exactly what I’ve been wanting – instructions and all!! I tried to hide my excitement before he realised how valuable it was ‘these days’ and decided to keep it for himself ha ha ha… The old Lifton ROYAL is now proudly on display in Studio B. Every button still works and it still ‘dings’ when it reaches the end of the line. I know it’s not THAT old but I was quite surprised at how ‘good-a-nic’ it is in.

 

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Wow, maybe Studio B CAN be as trendy as all of the studios and stationery shops I follow on Instagram!

 

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It was such a beautiful day, and I certainly went home one very happy girl. Ryan (my partner) couldn’t really understand my excitement either when I shoved my new treasure in his face the second he walked in the door. I tried to explain that it would be like finding an old part for a rare old car ha ha ha!!

Later that night it got me thinking… I wonder if Grandad has any old cameras?! Or phones!! Ha ha ha

Best. Day. Ever… Thanks Grandad!

xx B xx

 

 

~ First sick day ~

{From Tuesday, 8th July 2014 }

My partner has been feeling unwell the past few days and smashing the vitamins, veggies and cold & flu tablets feeling like he was getting a flu that’s going around at his work site. Annnnnd yep – now he is fine but I have got it!!

I had a sleep-in until 7am, which probably made me feel worse than if I had have gone to Crossfit at my usual 5:30am. The day started ok, I got a fair bit done, but I was no-where near as productive as normal. Ugh, I HATE being sick!!

At about lunchtime I started to feel really sick in the stomach, I was working on a very detailed information wheel design, and it was make me dizzy! I tried eating some soup thinking this would help but only got worse… Gosh! I have far too much work to do to be sick!!! I had to lay down as I was really unwell… At first I couldn’t even relax as I was so anxious about the work load but yet I physically couldn’t get up either.

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Eeeeeeek!!! I’d fallen asleep and it was 5pm!! Uh Oh!…. That was my phone beeping with a text message. OMG. This is officially the first time I’ve had a nana-nap during work hours (which everyone often assumes that I do ha ha). I’m trying not to overwhelm myself again, my body obviously needed the rest. I just really hope I’m feeling better tomorrow so I can catch up. It’s such a weird feeling – not having to call in sick, or notify anyone – except for my valued clients of course.

xx B xx

~ Beginning with B ~

So yesterday 9 months ago I launched my very first ‘business’… at the age of 24.….on a Sunday! What was I THINKING?!

I cannot believe it has been 9 months already!! I’ve been wanting to share my journey with you all for so long, it’s amazing to finally get it ‘out there’ – which is what this little blog will predominantly be about. I hope you enjoy reading about my experience so far – the ups & downs, excitement & anxiety, success & stress. I will be sharing some milestone moments with you, and I’m sure there are plenty more stories yet to come!

~ So here is a little  snippet from the very Beginning of B ~

Nerves, anxiety and fear aside, I am actually TOO excited about launching my business that I can’t wait for tomorrow (hence doing it on a Sunday). I’ve been holding onto this secret for MONTHS which is HUGE for me! Like really huge!

I am a graphic designer, with 5 years experience in the industry in a remote ‘town’ in Northern Australia. I have grown up here, and my family have been up here for many years – so I am lucky to know a lot of people and how the industry works. I have named my graphic design business Studio B Designs (the B is of course for Brooke – thats me!).

Friday was my last day in my full-time position with my previous employer – which is sad (because they were great to work for), and exciting as I leap into my new venture. Over the past week I have been sending out ‘teaser’ posts to my 621 personal Facebook friends… I’ve told them I’m “working on something very exciting… what could it B?” There has been plenty of ‘bride’, and ‘baby’ guesses but only a couple of people guessed correctly – “business”.

So with a “eeeek here we go” I finally hit ‘post’, and the readily prepared Studio B Facebook page was revealed. It got 100 Likes in the first hour! Holy Cow! I was expecting some feedback but this is just amazing, what a feeling!!

It’s been such a long time in the making, so it’s incredible to finally share my new life with my friends. My incredible partner, family and close friends have been so supportive and forever encouraging – I just hope I can create the picture that I can see in my mind.

So here we go! Welcome to Studio B… {yep it’s going to take a while to get used to saying that – along with “I’m self employed”}…

xx B xx