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    The Creative Business Traveller’s Toolkit

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    By Diana Scully

    Last year, I shared with you my tips for relocating yourself (and your creative business) overseas, based on my recent experience doing just that from Melbourne to Los Angeles, taking my interior design business with me.

    To be honest, setting up a new home and establishing a new work lifestyle has not been as glamorous as I had initially imagined. Let me be clear, spending time in LA and the US generally has been incredible, exciting and a total adventure, but when your business is set up in Australia, a relocation to a new city brought along some new challenges.

    But I’ve worked hard and want to share with you today my ‘business traveller’s toolkit’: a repertoire of essential services I needed to stay connected to my lifeline back at home AND remain flexible in the US. I hope these tools will offer the support you require to travel with simplicity, enjoyment and greater peace of mind – for short or long periods of time.

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    Your essential gear.

    These items may appear obvious, but if you aren’t accompanied with the right tools to travel, stay organised and be more flexible, it’s going to be a long unproductive day – every day – on the road. Seriously.

    1 / A light-weight, reliable laptop. The market has so many good options so its up to you to choose the right one for you. If international travel is on your agenda, consider an Apple product as their warranty covers you worldwide. Last year, when my computer completely shut down one morning (who knows why!), I was able to visit my local Apple store in Santa Monica and receive assistance on the spot. The issue was rectified immediately (including my streaming tears) and didn’t cost me a dime.

    2 / Another obvious one, but a reliable mobile phone that allows for international data roaming and sufficient storage for all the apps you’ll need (see below). Make sure you activate international roaming before your departure to avoid having to sort this out when you arrive in your new location.

    3 / A hard disk drive to back up everything! I set up reminder on my laptop to back up my work on a weekly basis. It has been a lifesaver, especially when my laptop shut down completely that one day. Also, a hard drive is a good place to store your ever growing travel photo collection (rather using up valuable storage space on your laptop). You’ll need as a minimum 1 TB of storage.

    4 / A good pair of headphones with premium noise reduction feature is a must. For the many occasions I found myself working in public places like cafes, co-work spaces and libraries I needed my headphones to block out any distractions. My headphones also came in handy listening to music and podcasts in long lines, on road trips and in airport lounges.

    5 / The final piece is the ultimate bag. Depending on your style, make sure its comfortable to wear for long periods of time and large enough to factor in cords, adaptors, drink bottle and lunch! For me, this was a back pack with padding for extra support.

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    Your essential online services.

    Now to the good stuff. Here’s the essential digital services I found most useful while away from home. You may already be using some of these, but hopefully you’ll discover a few good new ones to add to your own toolkit if travel is on your agenda this year.

    1 / Skype – No explanation needed here. This was my direct line back home either for telephone or video calls. A great option for my clients who called to show me the progress of their home.

    2 / WiFi Finder App – Prior to my departure to the US, I never envisaged having difficultly finding WiFi in the US, particularly LA and NYC. However, proven wrong in the first week, access to free WiFi was not as readily available as I had hoped (plus I didn’t find the interiors or the coffee at Starbucks the must conducive to a good day’s work!). Luckily this app helped me locate both free and paid WiFi services on the go.

    3 / Dropbox – A place to save and store all your work using their cloud storage system. Firstly, if you ever need more storage, you can simply buy it online (without having to buy another portable hard disc drive). Also, you can create public links to your files to share with clients and travel photos to share with family. The collaborative nature of this service is a winner.

    4 / Xero – This is a brilliant service to manage all your accounting and business finance needs online and via a mobile app. When I incur any business expenses as I traval, I simply take a photo using my phone and upload it immediately into my Xero account. Goodbye paper trail! Also, my accountant is able to log into my online account and manage any issues from her own office. This real time aspect allowed for issues to be dealt with in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary phone calls at unusual times of the day. While its not a free service, the various fee options available are very reasonable and certainly a worthwhile investment.

    5 / Desk Time App – There have been some times when I can’t fathom working another day in another cafe all alone. So I loved to search for co-work spaces nearby using the Desk Time app. If your budget allows it, a co-work space is a great opportunity not only to give you access to reliable internet and amenities that you’ll need for a great day’s work, but an opportunity to also interact, network and meet new people. While in Santa Monica, I had the opportunity to work at Google’s old headquarters (which is now called ROC). Whilst here, I met some wonderful people, including future clients and one of the celebrities from the US TV series, The Bachelor! I also heard that Jessica Alba had her own private office here, however, I unfortunately never ran into her.

    6 / Hoot Suite App – A popular online service to plan and prepare all your social media platforms in advance. While I’m the type of person who likes to prepare social media posts only a day or two ahead, when my husband and I decided to take a road trip along Route 66 for two weeks, I knew that access to WiFi was going to be limited, especially in the desert!

    7 / Trello – If you love lists and tools for keeping organised, then you’ll love Trello. This online service allows you to organise projects into boards and even access those boards via a mobile app (which I found perfect when I wanted to snap a photo of a cool armchair and upload it immediately to a client project board). Trello also allows you to invite team members, clients and family to your boards to add comments and upload images.

    8 / EventBrite – Prior to leaving for the US, I jumped onto this site to see what events, seminars and gatherings relating to design were on in LA. Fortunately for me, at the time, one of my favourite design bloggers was holding a seminar at her studio on social media and blogging – So I grabbed a ticket and a month later, I was in her studio in LA talking with her! So exciting! A great platform available in many countries around the world to connect you with events in a new city.

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    While this list of services is not exhaustive (I am yet to find the ultimate app that locates for you the best coffee in the US), they’ve all been super helpful in keeping me connected, organised and productive with work commitments and my nomadic lifestyle. With just about everything now being available online, it meant I could travel more lightly and freely, which is the ideal way to travel (trust me, I learnt this the hard way).

    If you have any other great online services to recommend then please share them with us via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I’m back in Melbourne at the moment, but off to the US again this year and this time I’m feeling a little more prepared and ready! I hope that these tools empower you to feel in control and secure with your travel/work adventures too.

    Spaces by Diana is all about designing beautiful, personalised homes that reflect the owners. Principal Designer, Diana Scully, is passionate about creating homes that offer good design without the price tag. Diana also has her own lifestyle blog, Spaces + Places, where she regularly writes about inspiring spaces, places to visit and recent travel adventures. This year she has plans to spend time abroad in the US. Follow Diana on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest

    {Images via Death to the Stock Photo}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, organise me | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Interview: Louise Mulhall of Floralovely

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    By Keely Malady

    Louise Mulhall is a Brisbane based Calligrapher and holder of possibly the most delightful business name I’ve yet encountered – Floralovely. With a background in floristry, it’s not surprising the find that Louise’s whimsical and fresh designs have attracted a strong Instagram and Facebook following, with demand growing for her pointed pen style.

    Returning to an art practice that you had once been disappointed by is a courageous move – especially with a young family in tow. But Louise’s late night explorations in modern calligraphy have paid off handsomely, as her delightful creations are in demand for weddings, events and corporate clients. Louise also runs workshops across the east coast, to share her skills and passion with aspiring calligraphers.

    Calligraphy is an ancient and evocative art practice, what initially attracted you to it?
    I initially became interested in calligraphy when I was in high school – I was always the girl at school with the highly decorated “title page” for assignments! For a short while I learnt broad nib calligraphy, but became disheartened when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I put my tools away and didn’t give them another glance until many years later, where I discovered pointed pen calligraphy. This discovery of the tools which complimented my style unleashed my creativity and I fell completely in love.

    Having worked in the wedding industry for many years, I could see there was a market for my own style of handwritten place cards and wedding invitations. I researched modern calligraphy online; bought all the recommended books I could find, did online courses and completed a modern calligraphy workshop in Sydney. I spent many, many hours at night once my daughter and subsequent son, were asleep refining my style and working my way through reams of practice paper and ink.

    The name ‘Floralovely’ was intended to capture my love of both flowers and calligraphy, allowing flexibility between these two aspects of my business. Ultimately though, I decided to focus exclusively on my calligraphy business and put my Floristry career into hiatus.

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    What are the biggest misconceptions about your work?

    If you were to look at my Instagram you might be lead to believe that my days are filled with playing with pretty papers and shiny inks when in actual fact my days are usually filled with taking my kids to swimming lessons or playing with play dough! Social media can be quite deceptive in that way.

    As my children are still so young, I limit the amount of orders I take for calligraphy as my main job at the moment is Mum. I spend most days with my son and daughter and then work at night while they are asleep.

    There’s a lot more involved with my business that just sitting down and writing for a couple of hours. I liaise with clients, order supplies, organise workshop venues and ticketing, create calligraphy drafts in pencil and I spend a lot of time practicing my lettering.

    I definitely couldn’t keep working this hard if I didn’t love my job. I feel a great, personal fulfilment being able to write calligraphy for work and still be there for my kids when they need me.

    My favourite quote at the moment is from Will Rogers (1879-1935) – “If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”

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    What have been your greatest challenges in starting your own business?
    I’ve found my greatest challenge is managing my time between work and family, which I’m sure is an experience shared with any working mother! Making the most of my child-free days is imperative, as well as a having a tolerance to late nights in the office. I try to stay out of my office on the days that my kids are home with me as I want to make sure my attention is on them and not on my work.

    I have also found it challenging to keep on top of the administration work while still allowing myself plenty of writing and creative time. It’s easy to get caught up in emails and admin when you’re doing everything yourself but I need to make sure I have dedicated writing times where I don’t look at the computer.

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    What part of your day gives you the best ‘flow’ in your work?
    I really enjoy when I have a long list of names for a place card order or envelope addressing and I sit down with a cup of tea and just work my way through the list. It is so satisfying to see all the cards or envelopes lined up with the ink drying after I have finished them.

    Talk us through a day in the life of Floralovely.

    On the two days my children are in daycare/kindy, after the morning chaos and drop offs, I come home and settle into the stream of emails and admin work with a cup of tea.

    Once I’m up to date, I’ll review the client brief and start warming up for writing. I’ve found I just can’t sit down and expect to start calligraphy work straight away. I I need to do a few pages of swirls, drills and practice alphabets to get going.

    I’ll spend the rest of the day working through the order, whether it’s envelope addressing, place cards or a seating chart and before I know it, it’s time to pick up my littlies!

    I mostly practice my calligraphy at night-time in the home office I share with my husband. In these quieter hours I have found the perfect environment that allows me to get my ink ‘flow’ happening. Everything is fairly still, my children are sleeping and I can really concentrate on what I’m doing.

     

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    Keely Malady is a twenty-something year old graduate architect living in Melbourne. Keely’s blog, Small Talk & Co. aims to hold a space open for a new conversation on the wonders of the small things that make up a life well lived.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: interview | Comments Off