The Business Blues

 

As is usual in Melbourne, the weather this week has been all over the place and while the sunshine has been glorious, I’d be quite happy not to see anymore rain or hail. I’m not generally one to complain about the weather especially since I’m one of those crazy people who LOVE winter time and those freezing cold mornings when the sun is shining but the car is covered in frost, yep I’m strange. But I have found particularly lately, with so much on my plate, the days when the clouds have taken over and the rain is endless, the last thing I want to do is budgets, lists, invoicing or really anything business-y (yes, I know it’s not a real word!)  when I could be snuggled up on the couch with a toddler, two pups and a good book or movie.

Now with winter setting in, Melbourne winters are notorious for wind and rain, I’m left wondering if other entrepreneurs out there too have days like this, when the idea of working goes in one ear and out the other.

Here’s a few tips that might just help get you going:

Lamps

Let There Be Light
It still amazes me just how much good lighting can change everything! Your mood lifts and your productivity increases and if you’re a photographer or need to take photos, you’ll certainly know what I’m talking about when I say good lighting is the bees knees! Real daylight isn’t always an option, especially if if you’re living in Sweden and it’s darkness for 6 months of the year! But there are other types of lighting that can brighten your mood. For me personally, I’m a sucker for candles. This might be because of our time living in Sweden where everytime you go to the supermarket, you grad a bag of 100 tealight candles, and every shop, home and cafe have every window and doorway covered in candles during winter.(seriously the most beautiful way to spend winter) Everytime it gets dark and I light a few candles, suddenly everything seems more beautiful, which inspires me and I usually do my most brilliant creative work via candle light.

Sitting in a dark room with just the light of the computer screen isn’t ideal, and with lamps and light bulbs being more energy efficient than ever, finding a lamp to suit your room is easy. We’ve put together a few of our favourite for your to check out.

1. RANARP Work Lamp from Ikea. $49.99
A cross between modern and vintage, I love anything white but with the hints of brass and the black and white stripped fabric cord hit the spot for me.

2. CORDON Table Lamp from Freedom. $149.00
White, tick. Wood, tick. Brass, tick! more modern than the Ranarp from Ikea, but still showing some vintage lines.

3. HOLLYWOOD STUDIO from Fat Shack Vintage $120.00
Honoring the stunning simplicity of the of the large film studio lights, this beautiful desk lamp oozes character and charm.

If you do suffer during winter, there are a range of light therapy lights that replicate the UV light that the sun produces so that not only are you getting some bright light, you’re also getting a little vitamin D which is never a bad thing.

Getting Moving
Sounds corny but if you can get up and move around for a even a minute you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next thing on your list. I’m lucky that I have a toddler and two puppies that keep me on my toes all day, often in the afternoon we’ll crank up the music and have a good dance around the house. The little man loves it, its great exercise for me and those few minutes away from the screen make me feel instantly energised.

Have your treat and eat it too
Who can say no to a chino? Not our little man, he loves going out or staying in for a chino. As well as our afternoon boogie sessions, around morning tea or afternoon tea time (or more likely when I’m in the mood for a treat) we’ll stop and have chino time. Frothy milk with a sprinkling of chocolate or a couple of Cadburys Chocolate drops and little man is one happy camper. Whilst I love my milk, I prefer mine with a little shot of espresso. Just like our dance break, I think that just stepping away from the computer screen can make a world of difference. I believe I mentioned treat??? For me a treat can be anything from a few crackers with the best french brie I can find, to some freshly baked cookies. Then again some days I’m pretty happy with a banana milkshake or a smoothie or some sort, but the key point is to have a little something that you enjoy, something that brings a smile to your face because it’s bound to make you feel happier and when you’re happier you’re more likely to be productive.

Give yourself a big hand
If you can’t break your funk, if you’re still feeling miserable, do me a favour. Find your first receipt, your first product or your very first idea that someone paid you for. Now admire it and give yourself a big pat on the back. How awesome are you? Sometimes we don’t give ourselves the credit we’re due, so go and do it now, trust me you’re day will be so much better.

How do you beat the business blues in the gloomy weather? Got any secret tips that work for you? We’d love to hear about it, add a comment below.

 

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I've got a blog - by Quirk Design

I’ve got a blog and I’m not afraid to use it

 

Back in when we first started blogging, way back when they first began, before every man and his dog had one, well before Facebook, Instagram, Blogger and even MySpace (remember that one) our blog was a simple way to share all our photos and updates with our families while we travelled. Blogging has come a very very long way and with good reason. Each and everyone of us has an idea, an opinion and story to tell and blogging has certainly become the way to get it out. I absolutely love blogging. I love finding interesting pieces, unique designs and sharing all this including our knowledge with the world.

I was recently asked when speaking to a prospective client, ‘Why do I need a blog on my website?’ This person was convinced that blogging was a waste of time for their business and all they needed to do on their website was have some contact details.

Sometimes it’s hard to change peoples opinion but here’s why I believe having a blog is an essential business tool.

Websites are a living, breathing part of business these days. If you’re not online, chances are you’re missing out on a lot of business. If you think you don’t need the extra business, then congratulations to you, I’m guessing you’re running an amazing business, but if you’re like the rest of us who could always use a little more, then keep reading.

You’re standard three pages on a website are the home page, about us page and contact us page, but there’s one more that should be essential for EVERY website. The Blog. This humble little page is your voice in the world. It lets your customers and potential customers hear from you. They get to understand how you think, how you work, what you’re skills are and gives them a glimpse into what it would be like to work with you.

Let’s face it anyone can create and amazing homepage, about us page and contact page, but it’s only you that can make you’re blog special.

You might be thinking ‘I’m a plumber, what on earth will a blog do for my business?’, here’s the thing, blogs are incredibly personal, even corporate blogs have a personal element to them because you’re writing from your own words. To all you plumbers out there that aren’t sure what to blog about, let me show you the world of DIY!! DIY is big business these days especially in the blogging world so if you can create content that is knowledge based, even throw in a few new products posts every now and then, you’ll be amazed at the feedback you’ll get.

I’m not saying that you need to give away all your trade secrets but sharing your knowledge gives people confidence in your skills and can lead to more business for you.

Have I convinced you to get a blog? What’s your experience in blogging been like? Have you found it’s helped your business? We’d love to hear from you, so use the comments below.

Original photo from Unsplashed, reworked by us.

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You Win Some You Lose Some

You Win Some You Lose Some

 

Apparently you guys love hearing about business related stuff so after the success of last weeks post all about Working In or On Your Business, I’m back again with another business balance post. Taking the step to branch out on your own is both exciting and daunting, you’ve got so much to look forward to and of course, so much to do! The highs and lows will throw you off balance more times than you care to count but the rewards are well worth it.

Let me tell you a story of a little company I like to call Quirk Design. Last year we thought we’d start getting our own products out into the market instead of just doing work for everyone else; We took the plunge and went to our very first creative market (Kensington Market). We put together a great looking stall, had all our products ready to go, big smiles on our faces and by the end of the day we had made a big fat $0. Yep, that’s right we made no money at all. Admittedly we did get some custom work as well as a few extra branding clients, but for prints sold that day we made ziltch!

I’m a glass half full person so instead of closing up shop, and never doing another market, I saw it as an excellent day. I might sound a little crazy but hear me out. Anyone who starts their own business is going to realise, usually very quickly that there are some major ups and some major downs, but those of us who can get through the downs with smiles and perseverance, are in for a much more rewarding time. Yes I know I sound super-peachy-keen and you might just want to slap the happy out of me!

This post came about because after Sunday’s market, I was questioned by some other stall holders and ones who had previously attended the market; and although I was lucky enough to have had a good day, some others barely made anything. Now this does happen; as I mentioned our first was a bust, but what I was surprised about was how quickly these businesses were ready to give up. Maybe it’s just me but I found this really odd. I know it can be incredibly demoralising, especially for those that have travelled so far, but as a small business, this is when we thrive. When there’s something not going to plan we can choose to be miserable or after a day or two (I’m usually a little kranky the first day), take stock of what’s happened and work out where the improvements can be made and carry on.

Unsurprising to all of you, I’m back with another list for getting yourself out of the business market blues.

TheDay

The Day
First place to start is to look at the day itself. Where there a lot of people compared to normal, how was the weather, was the demographic right for your product? They might seem like simple questions but they an make a huge difference to your day. Sunday morning was wet and dreary, so it’s not surprising that it was a slow start to the day. There were also a couple other nearby markets on the same day which also doesn’t help since most people, when the weather is bad will choose to go to one only. This is not something that you can control, and it’s a risk you take doing a market.

TheMarket

The Market
Did you fill in your market review form honestly? You’d be amazed at how many people don’t and then like to complain about what a terrible day they had. The market itself has a big role to play in the success of your day, and whilst you can’t preplan what it will be like, you can take the time to accurately and honestly provide feedback to the market organisers so they can take on board your questions, complaints and ideas. Ask yourself, did you have enough space, did the layout have a good flow, did you feel like you were stuck in a dead zone? By answering all these questions, and probably a tonne more, not only will you help your own stall but you will certainly start feeling better about the day and realise that there are many factors involved and you don’t suck!

TheStall

The Stall
Your stall can make a huge difference to your market day. Our very first stall, although we thought it looked great, it was clear after the first hour that people just didn’t understand it, didn’t know what we were selling and were either walking straight past or too scared to find out what we were selling. While our idea of making it look like a little design consultancy was great, it wasn’t very clear to customers. We made a big improvement on our second stall and it sure paid off. People could easily see what we were selling, how much they were and would buy them.

Taking stock of your own stall is something you should be doing after each and every market. Pay attention to the way customers are walking past, stopping, what they’re looking at and the most common questions they’re asking you. Once you work out the way your customers are shopping, you can set up a clearly defined and designed stall.

You

You
Remember this! You are you’re biggest selling point! If you don’t like what you’re selling, if you look bored and uninterested, guess what? You’re customers won’t be interested either. I have actually seen stallholders fall asleep at their stalls and then wonder why they didn’t make any sales. Eye contact, smiles, friendly, positive attitude, all these things can make a massive difference on the day. Let’s face it if you have a choice to buy from someone who is friendly or someone who doesn’t care, who would you rather buy from?

Keep in mind though, that while you should make eye contact and talk to potential customers, don’t hassle them. Most market goers, like to browse, take their time, not be interrupted and if they are interested you’ll soon know. They hover a little longer, search through your racks in detail and will likely talk to you first. I’m not saying you should be a mute, but maybe back off from launching into a full sales spiel, instead say “hello, how are you? We have a special offer today for …” It lets people know you’re there to help without being overbearing.

At the end of the day, going to market or not is your choice and you will know what’s best for you and your business. But before you give up completely, take a minute to review your day and see where improvements can be made.

We’d love to hear about your market experiences, did you fall down and get back up? Lets us know in the comments section below.

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Are You In Or On? - By Quirk Design

Are You In or On?

 

Let me get this off my chest…This whole stay-at-home-mummy-business-woman thing is HARD! It’s not that I was expecting it to be easy and yes compared to some I have it a little easier since our toddler still has two two hour sleeps a day (bliss!!) but it’s still hard especially when you are trying your best to make the business side of things work but more importantly you’re trying to make sure that you’re giving your child what they need and deserve.

This week I was having a conversation with a friend about business, babies and everything in between and it dawned on me just how little I was working ON my business, instead spending a lot of time working IN my business. While business is doing well I’m certainly no Martha or Oprah and it all comes down to the fact that I’m not spending enough time working on this business.

I certainly spend a bit of time on social media, I make sure invoices are up to date, projects are all being managed well but there hasn’t been much else going on in the business promotion area.

While there isn’t one foolproof system for managing and promoting your business, there are some things that I could be doing a lot better.

Goals&Plans

1. Goals & Plans
This one is important! You might be starting your first blog, or taking the step into the freelance world and you’re thinking ‘What on earth do I need a business plan for?’ you know what I used to think that too. I always thought business plans are for medium to large corporate businesses but I got to tell you, it is essential for ALL businesses. Here’s the trick, you don’t need a huge stuffy document overflowing with details that will change and just aren’t you. Our business plan is a bullet point list on a single A4 sheet. This works perfectly for us because it keeps us focused on where we are, and where we want to be. It means that we can quickly see the goals we’re trying to get to and actually get there without having to worry about pages and pages of information that we’ll never want to read once we’ve written the first draft. Keep  it clear and concise, it will lead to kicking goals.

Along with the bullet list business plan, I also keep a list for myself of how to reach those goals. For instance, one of our goals is to have our prints stocked in actual stores, providing a wholesale program to our business. For months I either was too busy to do anything about it or didn’t really know where to start (doesn’t help that I’m incredibly shy), this is where my secondary list comes in. I sat one afternoon and put together a small plan of how to achieve this particular goal. Now I know where to start and how to get there. Sure it might not be an overnight success (any interested stockists feel free to contact me) but at least I have a plan now.

BlockIt

2. Block It
Time blocking is a bit of a saviour for me at times. I can often get so completely taken with a project that it can consume my every waking hour; pre-baby I would even forget to get up and eat or move my eyes away from the screen. Thanks to the little man I’m certainly better at moving away from the screen but this now becomes a huge distraction, albeit a cute one, but a distraction nonetheless that means once I’m back in front of the screen I can lose focus on what it was I was trying to achieve.

Time blocking, may not specifically help me work ON the business, but it does allow me to set certain tasks for certain times of the day including those business and promotion related tasks that always seem to get put on the backburner. For instance, I’m a morning person and find it much easier to write a post, reply to emails, balance the books and do all the admin types jobs in the morning. Once they’re out of the way, I get on with a bit of social media and our weekly newsletter on Thursdays, leaving the rest of the day for the fun creative work that I can’t get enough of. I also now schedule in time each day to work on Quirk Design. Sometimes this means contacting potential stockists, other times its spending the afternoon taking product images.

Sure some days aren’t as clear cut, like when you’re little man stacks it and you’re off to spend the day in hospital with him, but most days follow this rough plan.

GetSocial

3. Get Social
It’s the easiest yet often the most time consuming way to work on your own business and get it out into the world. My problem though is that I was brought up in the pre-social media world, so I’m still adjusting to the social inconveniences. Yes I know I sound really old and very fuddy-duddy! Don’t get me wrong, I love that social media allows me to connect with people I never would have had the chance to connect to if things were still the old fashion pre-social media way. Plus, I love the inspiration, especially from Instagram that I get on a daily basis. But I still find it difficult having a conversation with someone or sitting down for a meal with someone and spending time on my phone when I know I should be conversing and giving them my full attention.

To keep my sanity and not spend hours and hours on social media (Instragam I’m looking at you!!) I set aside time in the morning and the afternoon to update our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds, then after the little Mr has gone to sleep at night, I do my social media surfing to like, follow, tweet and converse with others.

NewInTown

4. New In Town
Have you been in business for a while? Do you remember what it was like to start a business? Do you remember what you needed to get you started? These are all the questions I’ve been asking myself to see if there is something I can offer others who are starting out. By doing this, I could work out how my own business could grow and move into other areas. To be honest, I kept sticking to the same path and not pushing my own boundaries even though I would encourage my clients to do so.

[pullquote-left]Stay tuned for more on this one, especially if you’re a new blogger or business starting up, we’ve got some fantastic things in the pipeline for you. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up to our weekly email.
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This was definitely a big one for me, so each month I’ve set aside a time to explore new ideas to not only keep myself inspired but also to hopefully build this business of ours and provide something that’s unique to people.

This list I’m sure will evolve and some days will be harder than others but I think sometimes even if all you do is start the list, at least you’re giving it a start which at the end of the day is always the first step, as they say ‘You have to start somewhere’.

I think it’s really easy to get stuck in a rut especially when you’re working for yourself and trying to keep the household in order and often we forget to take a step back and see how we can improve or make things more efficient.

We’d love to hear from you, do you have any tips or hints for working on your business?

Original photos from Death To The Stock Photo, reworked by us.

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Poppy Talk

 

Every now and then we come across a company that makes the everyday make sense.

Poppy! What could be more simple than feeding your dogs, making a pour-over coffee or giving your baby a bottle of formula? Three quite simple acts that usually (in our household anyway) ends with at least one or all of us covered in food, burning our arms testing the formula temperature, or with dry dog food being thrown all over the place thanks to a toddler who just wants to help out at dog feeding time.

PoppyFormula

POPPY FORMULA
Whilst we may no longer be suckers for the burnt-arm syndrome, we will hopefully head down the newborn path again someday and knowing that this little, simple and very stylish product is out there just makes me feel like all our troubles will melt away and we won’t even care if  we’re waking every two hours to feed the little milk machine. If the Poppy formula can do everything for me at the touch of a button, or a swipe of an iPhone app, I’m one happy mumma!

PoppyPet

POPPY DOG
Love our dogs dearly, as does our Mr H who thinks it’s the best thing ever playing in the food bowls, scooping extra food out of the container for them and just generally making a whopping great mess. Whilst the Poppy Dog won’t stop him from attempting to empty the entire contents while he hand feeds each tiny piece, equally mind you, to both dogs, it will tell me when the food has been tipped over (very likely!) or is empty. Since it holds a standard 9kg bag of dry food, under a locked lid, we can at least know that for a week or so well have only a tiny amount of dry food spillage all over the floor.

PoppyPourOver

POPPY POUR-OVER
A coffee machine that looks great! Need I say more!! I may not need too but I come from a long line of talkers and I’m married to another of a long line of talkers, so I’m going to say more.

Back before our world became about poohy nappies, endless amounts of washing and the general craziness that is children, we enjoyed the simple pleasure that was waking up on a lazy Sunday afternoon (that’s right little man, mummy and daddy used to sleep!) and brewing a perfect cup of coffee in our own espresso machine. It never got tiresome, dull, or “normal” it always felt so special using your own two hands and what small amount of knowledge the sales woman and youtube vieos provided on making an espresso that made you smile everytime. Then along came the spawn! Don’t get me wrong, I love him, he’s brilliant, makes me laugh and smile everyday at how extraordinary he is but for the LOVE OF GOD(!!!) I want a perfect coffee from home again that is delicious and simple (insert foolproof) so that when you’re trying to wrestle a baby and two puppies from destroying things and make a coffee at the same time, you only need one button.

Let me introduce you to the Poppy Pour-Over. She’s stunning! She knows what I like, knows how I like it and will even shop it for me. For starters how can you possible go wrong with copper and glass, I know perfect isn’t she. But wait, she’ll order your beans for you, know how to grind them perfectly and have your coffee ready for the time of your choosing. Now if only she’d do the washing, ironing and everything in between, I’d have the perfect maid.

As yet these products aren’t ready for purchase, but don’t you worry as soon as I know, you’ll know or better yet head to their website and join their mailing list to be kept in the loop.

We have not been paid or perked to write this, we just loved it and thought you should know about it.

All images from Poppy

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It’s On Like Donkey Kong

 

On Like Donkey Kong

That’s right people we’ll be back at the Kensington Arts and Craft Market this Sunday. Come on down, say hello and enjoy all that the market has to offer. It’s the first birthday of the market too so there will be plenty of entertainment, food and of course wonderful stalls, including one from yours truly, for you to check out.

Look forward to seeing you there xx

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One Stall, Eight Days, Zero Budget

Eight DaysYou may have read in this post that we are taking Quirk to the next level by branching out and finally bringing our own products to the market. So quite literally, in July we took our prints to market, the Kensington Arts and Craft market to be exact.

It’s a great little local market that is fast becoming a hub for showcasing the areas talented artists, crafters, musicians and foodies (seriously you need to try the coffee and hotdogs). It’s a relatively new market turning one this month but things are run so smoothly and effortlessly that you would think they’ve been running the show for years.

The market is a nice an easy walk up the road for us, and since we’ve been a few times and enjoyed it, we thought it was time to take a gamble, put ourselves out there and what better way then at a local market.

We applied in July to have a stall in August thinking that July is too close from the day we applied and it would be fully booked. Lo and behold, the day I applied someone had cancelled so there was a spot open for July. Uh Oh! this is when we suddenly realised that we had only 8 days to print and pack all our stock, design and put together a full display and generally try to make it look like we had more than eight days. To make things a little more fun, I managed to get sick, with my face so puffed up that I couldn’t open my eyes for two days, and we were also super busy with other custom graphic design work. So clearly, perfectly timed!!

On the friday morning we had confirmation about the stall, we set to work designing a stall. We could have gone down the simple route and hired a treacle table, got some boxes and made a display from that but no; the designer in us decided that we needed something different, something unique, something a little “Quirk”!

We had all sorts of grand plans but in the end we decided that whichever solution we came up with it needed to cater to the following:

  • Storage! Storage! Storage! – Since we would have plenty of stock, some snacks, money box, cameras, etc we needed some decent storage. Something that would also be able to be stored at home easily not just at the market.
  • Quick Set Up – This was essential, neither of us wanted something that would take us hours to set up and pack up. Half an hour at the most is what we were aiming for, that way, since we were allocated 2 hours for set up, if something went wrong we’d have time to sort it, once set up we’d have time to step back, check it out, make sure it’s perfect, then have a chance to talk to the other stall holders, get a coffee, a seriously awesome egg and bacon roll, then by the time customers arrive, you’re ready to roll.
  • Light & Space Efficient – Another essential. We didn’t want to have to hire vans, do more than one trip and more importantly we don’t have a huge amount of space at home, so it needed to be practical enough to store at home.
  • Cheap – When I say we had zero budget, we really did have zero budget. We weren’t crazy, we knew that there would be some things that we would have to buy to stock and display but we needed to keep the costs relatively low. Plus there was a little negative nellie in the back of my head thinking that spending a huge amount of money only to have it turn out to be a failure would make it feel even worse.

With these four major points in mind, we talked, planned, talked more, looked through Pinterest, books, magazines, everywhere to find a solution. In the end it was staring us in the face.

Whilst sitting in the lounge room, enjoying the 100th rendition of the alphabet as played by Harrison on his car toy (currently his favourite song, followed closely by Rainbow Connection sung by either Kermit the Frog or Mum), we looked over at our hallway table and display shelf above it and Ding Ding Ding, we had a winner!  Essentially we needed to build a wall, put shelves on it, use our actual hall table and then get some boxes to put under it to store our goods. Perfect!

Since I knew I already wanted to get some IKEA frames, the ones with the plastic fronts (no glass incase with packing and unpacking any get broken) I checked out their website and put together a list of any other items we would need so we could do a quick run in, buy stuff, have meatballs and be back home to carry on building, printing, etc.

We started with a plan, but soon ended up stopping at every single item and saying “Oh, that could work” “Why don’t we use this?” “Have you got the measuring tape”, etc, etc. Three hours into the shop and it was time for a break, regroup and some food while one little man fell fast asleep in his pram. After all this, in the end we decided that our original idea was still the best so we shopped our original list and were out of there in no time.

The next big challenge was the wall. How do you create a wall that’s strong enough to stand up, hold frames but is light enough to carry and small enough to fit in the car? Thank goodness I’m married to an engineer! We knew we wanted the wall in a nice plywood that would show off its grain but not take over the display. Since the frames we bought are super light and the picture shelves aren’t too weighty either, the wall itself didn’t have to be super strong. As for it’s size, we decided it would be in two parts that would attach together in the middle.

Frames, prints and few decorative pieces later, we had a “replica” of our hallway wall.

Since it would look a little weird both of us sitting in front of a wall of frames with nothing in front, we also grabbed our trusty Expedit storage cabinet, removed one of the boards, making a great spot to house the packaged prints and two additional boxes for all the extra things we brought on the day, snacks, extra business cards, money, etc. This also gave us a good spot to set up the iPad showing off some of our other work, a mailing list  sign up sheet and a couple of other bits and pieces.

The end result…

Quirk Design Market Stall

Overall, we were pretty happy with how it all turned out, it looked like a little design studio which is just what we wanted.

Was it successful? Did we do enough to engage people? Stay tuned we’ll have a follow up post shortly with the good, the bad and the so-so of the market.

In the meantime, don’t forget we are giving back this September. Head on over to the shop, buy a unique print and $5.00 from every sale goes to The Heart Foundation.

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Matters of the Heart

Heart

If you follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that for the month of September we’re giving back. For the whole of this month, $5.00 from each print sold in our shop will go the the Heart Foundation.

A lot of you have been asking why this, why now, and why the Heart Foundation. It all started with this little guy.

Rugged up and ready for a sunny winters day

Even before we became parents we always knew that we wanted our little one to grow up knowing and understanding that it’s always better to give than to receive. ther’s so many birthdays, christmas’, etc where presents are too often the number one concern and were certainly not going to let Harrison miss out on gifts but we want him to also know that there are others out there that need his love, care, generosity and help.

Back in August, with Father’s day looming, we made a decision to give back every Mothers and Fathers day to someone else you needs it.

This year, our first year of this tradition, instead of buying socks, ties, and the usual “fathers day” attire, we’ll be donating that money to the Heart Foundation. As I mentioned at the start of this post, Quirk Design will be getting on the giving act too by donation $5.00 from every print sold in the month of September to the Heart Foundation too.

Why the Heart Foundation? If it hadn’t had been for the heart transplant he received, Matthew’s dad would not have had 12 wonderful more years with his family and friends. It’s thanks to the amazing work of this and of course other medical organsations that people like Matthew’s father have the gift of time.

 

 

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Life, Babies, Business & Design

Before you start reading, let me warn you this post is long, so to keep you entertained we’ll be adding some fun  pictures.

DIRECTIONS

Here’s the thing. It occurred to me  a few weeks ago that we do not practise what we preach, which is quite unfair to you all. You see, we’ve been telling you that we’re all about design and how great design is what we’re all about whether in our work, our home, or anywhere in fact, great design is something we love. Yet it dawned on me that our  blog, the site where we showcase all the wonderful designs we find and make, looks a little …ho-hum!

It’s not that it’s terrible, it’s just that it doesn’t feel like us. Which is one thing we always tell our clients is that you’re brand needs to be an extension of you. If it’s not your never going to embrace it with the passion and enthusiasm that you should; your brand should give you the same feeling as when you step out in a perfectly fitting outfit that makes you feel like nothing can stop  you  because you are fabulous. If you’re branding does not give you a WOW moment, then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Since recently changing the direction of Quirk, more on that a little later, we’ve also been updating our own brand image to tie in with some of these changes. As this also meant some of our company stationary would need updating, which also got me looking at our Quirk website along with the Blog and I can safely say that they weren’t saying ‘hello we’re quirk’ in fact we felt they weren’t saying much at all.

With this in mind we’ve started the enjoyable-frustrating-challenging and of course rewarding task of updating our websites (Quirk, Shop & Blog) along with everything else with our name on it including business cards, letterheads, invoices, etc. You may need to bear with us while things are changing, especially since this also involves finally changing over our domain to .net instead of .co.uk since we are no longer based in the UK.

The New Direction

Quirk Design has changed a lot in it’s 15 years (Yikes! 15 years when did that happen). It’s first seven years were spent being used as a way to invoice for contracting work. That’s the way things were done in the day, european companies preferred to pay their contractors as a company rather than an individual. In 2006, we got married, moved to Sweden and decided that since we have so many product ideas of our own, why don’t we start using this company and actually make a go of it. With Matthew still working for other companies at the time, I took my strengths and love of graphic design and was asked by a few friends to design some things for them and so Quirk Design became more than just a monthly invoice. At this time we never really thought about expanding things or really pushing for design work, we were just happy doing bits and pieces especially when you’re moving from country to country, this makes establishing a business quite tricky.

Given all the moving, we changed direction and decided that things on the blog were going well, we loved writing posts, finding new design and just generally being bloggers, so our focus became more on our blog than the  graphic/product design side of the business. For quite a while we focused on the blog and it’s been very rewarding but we’ve always known that we wanted to get back to the designing aspect of the business.

In 2011 when we moved back to Melbourne and we were back in a thriving city with design at its heart, we knew this was the time to get things back on track. We continued to blog whilst both working full-time for other companies while spending any free time working on our own products.

The Bump

Finally in July 2013 I went on maternity (I know it’s cliche, so many businesses get their boost while on maternity leave), Matt and I both knew that this was the time to get things moving.

After sitting down and writing a bullet point “business plan”  here’s what we’ve decided:

  • More focus on designing and showing our own products and getting them out into the marketplace.
  • Continue to grow the customer designs side of the business by continuing to provide an all round branding solution, our slogan “We design brands not logos”.
  • Blog, blog and more blog : We’ve been a little slack on the blog over the last year, it’s time to pick up our game and get back to showing off and finding designs we love and want to share.
  • Networking : Time for me in particular to get out of my comfort shell and meet new people, designers, bloggers, etc
  • As always, spend more time with the family.

What are we doing to make these things happen?

  • We’ve just recently launched out online store, where you can purchase our unique art prints. We aim to have one new print added every two weeks, so make sure you keep coming back. We’re busy working on a few top secret projects at the moment which we can’t release until all the legal stuff (IP, copyright, trademarks, etc) have been completed but these will also be available for purchase online once released.

quirk shop

  • If you follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you’ll know that we’ve been working with a new cafe (#EspressoCollingwood) on their branding including logo, business cards, window signage, etc and with a few more clients lined up and working on, things are going well in this are too but still plenty of room to grow.

facebook

  • We’re aiming to get back to two posts a day but at the moment our back end and front for that matter need a bit of work so for now we’re focused on getting the site working and running smoothly before we start amping up the posting. More information below about the changes to the blog.
  • Networking is something I can either be really good at or absolutely terrible. Matt, seems to have a natural ability to talk to anyone, stranger or not and tell them what he does, and more importantly what he can do for them, this is something I am envious of. It is not a skill I have however, I do find that once I have the guts to start talking to people about what I do I generally “make the sale”. I guess for me it’s just working on the first bit, having the guts to step up and be proud of what I do. I have been very busy working on this, talking to other designers and bloggers recently and I’ve even got a couple of events lined up that are specifically for me to work on my networking skills and stop being the wallflower in the room.
  • One of the hardest parts about having a blog and your own business, especially when you are still working a full time job, is breaking the work 24/7 curse. For a while before the little man was born, both Matthew and I were on our computers constantly, even in the car one would be driving and the other would be on the iPhone or iPad typing, designing, etc. A new policy, if you will, that we are trying to implement, is that we have the weekend as a family, no work and in the evenings, we both (if we’re both working from home) switch off our computers at 5. this way we can have playtime, dinner, bath time (best time ever) and put the little man to sleep, leaving some time for Matt and I to be together. Sure some nights things are crazy or we’ve got a deadline but we’re trying not to make it a habit to be constantly working.
More time with this little guy xx

More time with this little guy xx

How is the blog changing?

We will still be posting about all things design, but there are some little things that will change.

As you can see is the design and layout. It was starting to feel like the sidebar was taking over the whole blog rather than the main content which is not a good thing. So we’ve scaled back the sidebar to something that’s user-friendly, has the relevant information but doesn’t intrude on the main content which is what you’ve come to see.

Unlike a lot of blogs who have added advertising, we’ve actually removed ours completely. No google ads, no sponsors, nothing. We have no problem with advertising, in fact we think it’s a wonderful thing and we’ll most likely put adverts back on the site at some stage, but for now while were making changes to the site, and focusing more on the Quirk side of things, we feel that we aren’t going to be providing a constant enough service to ask people to pay good money to advertise on. So for the meantime, we’ll be keeping the site ad free.

That’s the two main changes of the blog, others will be small, like larger better quality images, more content, going back to having some of our regular features such as Friday Happy Hour, Seasonal Delights and Inspired By series. These are the posts we loved putting together and you guys loved reading (from our stats).

Over 1600 words later, I think I’ve keep you long enough. Can’t wait to see what the future brings us and to see what you think of it all. We’d also love to hear what you think of the new sites and layouts, are you a fan of the smaller sidebar, do you think the larger header is better, we’d love to hear what you think, so post a comment below.

 

 

 

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