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    Category Archives: regular columns

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    My Advice: Staying on top of admin

    By Lizzie Stafford

    There aren’t many small creative business owners who would openly admit to loving their admin work. Tasks like bookkeeping, emails, invoices and social media build up and eventually seem to take over, so you feel like you have little time left for the actual creating. We asked three organised business owners how they stay on top of the books without going insane. In the wise words of potter Ilona Topolcsanyi: “Admin is like a leg wax: if you move quickly, the pain is minimal and the results are pretty damn sexy.”


    Check your emails twice daily. No more, no less.

    Bek Smith, photographer, Bek Smith Photography & Journal

    “Keeping on top of admin is so important when running a business and it’s sometimes easy to let the most important tasks slip past you if you don’t have a productive system in place. As a photographer running my own business, the best piece of advice I have been given is to check your emails twice daily. No more, no less. This way you can tackle your inbox in two chunks and focus your full attention on each gorgeous client.”


    Create a routine. Schedule manageable, bite-sized tasks into your weekly calendar. 

    Nat Carroll, creative director, designer & illustrator, the Seamstress

    “Instead of leaving things like marketing, taxes and blog writing to the last minute, which leads to unnecessary stress and tight deadlines, try creating a weekly routine that incorporates these tasks into more manageable, bite-sized items that you can follow through on every week.

    Try to stick with it, no matter how busy you might be. Block it out in your calendar. I find Monday mornings are a good, quiet time in the week to plan my goals, write posts for my blog or work on my next self-promotional piece. I also like to finish up on Friday afternoons by dealing with my finances; I’m creatively exhausted by then and need a different kind of task to carry me through until the start of the weekend.

    I’ve found that approaching my business in this way creates more structure to my week, which helps when you only have yourself to answer to. I’ve also found that I am closer to my goals because I’ve worked at them every week, in little baby steps, instead of feeling overwhelmed by my ‘to-do’ list and struggling to find the time to make those things happen.”


    Your time is important. Regularly measure and assess the value of it.

    Ilona Topolcsanyi, potter, Cone 11 Ceramics + Design Studio

    “In the first few years of our business we needed to do everything ourselves because we couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it for us. As the business grew, we assessed the value of our time. We asked ourselves: “Would we be better off paying someone to do that so we can concentrate on what we do best?”

    What are (my) roles and responsibilities? Can I afford to hand this task over to someone else? If not, then am I equipped with the skills and knowledge to complete this task within a reasonable time frame? Will it save me time and money to be trained?

    A few simple computer programs allow a lot of the boring tasks to be automated, reducing the amount of time I need to spend tied to my desk.

    I use Campaign Monitor (to manage the studio mailing list and e-newsletter). We have an ipad in the studio with a link to the subscriber page (on our website), which allows visitors to join the mailing list. Gone are the days of transcribing the long list of illegible email addresses.

    For the bookkeeping we use QuickBooks and take advantage of features such as automated recurring expenses, importing electronic bank statements and issuing quotes that I can easily turn into invoices. While we can’t afford a regular bookkeeper, we also can’t afford countless wasted hours trying to figure it out. So we invested in some basic training.

    For the rest of the tasks that I can’t teach my computer to do for me I allocate two mornings a month with a lovely cup of coffee, a raspberry danish from Dench Bakery and re-runs of Sex in the City.”

    Lizzie Stafford is a freelance writer and editor and owns and runs Künstler, an independent magazine and bookstore based in Winn Lane, Brisbane. She is the Brisbane events coordinator for CWC.

    Posted by: Lizzie Stafford
    Categories: business tips, my advice, organise me, regular columns | Comments Off
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    Podcast interview: Abbe Holmes, voiceover artist


    There’s a new podcast for Members to access up on the site today, and in this episode we chat with CWC Member Abbe Holmes.

    Abbe is the voice behind many well known commercial brands, advertisements, and television characters. In this audio interview we talk through her career, from ‘falling into’ voiceover work, to riding the wave of the industry, to training Australia’s up and coming voice actors as a voiceover coach. It’s an inspiring look into the career of a woman who has taken opportunities as they have arisen, and let her natural talent and zest for her industry guide her.

    Have a listen over here!

    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: regular columns | Comments Off
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    Interview – Anna Ross of Kester Black

    Interview Anna Ross Kester Black

    By Andrea McArthur

    Recently you may have noticed that there has been an unprecedented rise in the level of interest in nail art and nail polish. You’ll find that there’s even a strong nail art blogging community on the rise (take a look on Kester Blacks Pinterest to see a few Bloggers work). If you were asked to describe nail polish in just one word, I would use – fun. Nails are no longer just manicures, they can truly be coordinated to any look and have become the finishing accessory to an outfit.

    Launched in August 2012, Kester Black nail polish was borne out of a passion to run a creative business and create an ethical, all-Australian product. In this interview, Anna Ross – CWC member, founder and director of the fabulous Kester Black – tells us about her background and her personal passion for her product.

    Interview Anna Ross Kester Black Nails

    What led you to starting Kester Black?
    Kester Black began 4 years ago as a clothing label while I was studying a Bachelor of design, majoring in fashion in the South of New Zealand. When I graduated, my wise mother dearest suggested I broaden my horizons overseas which would bring more opportunities than staying at home and working on my label. I packed my bags and began searching for a job in Melbourne. The experience didn’t quite work out the way I was expecting it to.

    After landing myself a job in retail, I thought I’d better get something creative happening to keep my portfolio growing. I began making jewellery and selling it back to New Zealand where that seemed to be quite successful for a few years. After a year in retail, I finally landed my dream job: design assistant for a well known Australian fashion label. I worked in that role for just over a year until I was offered a production manager role for another large company in the industry. The pay they were offering was more than double what I was on, but the catch was that I would have to give up my own little business. I felt like I had worked so hard for the last two and a half years to just give it all up. So I turned down the job, and worked on building my business.

    In the mean time, I had decided I was bored of merely working with sterling silver and began researching enamel paints to use on the jewellery I was making. It led me to looking into nail polish, and I really saw a gap in the market. I decided to manufacture and sell my own nail polish line to complement my jewellery. It was a major turning point in my career when, as the jewellery market had become really saturated and my nail polish sales were going through the roof, that I decided to focus solely on the nail polish side of things and lay the jewellery to rest.

    How did you go from an idea, to tracking down a manufacturer, to launching your own range of nail polish?
    It was pretty challenging to begin with. It took me eight months just to do the research, and in the mean time I had to save my pennies to get enough money to invest in the business. It was also a massive risk. I didn’t know how my product would be received, and I’m just lucky people have really supported me and my business. I couldn’t have done it without the constant advice from my friends and family. When I finally found a manufacturer who took me seriously, it was such a relief and things just naturally began flowing. I had my website redesigned, and engaged an amazing photographer (Eve Wilson) whose photographs really brought the presentation of my brand to the next level. I still feel like I have a really long way to go but I am excited about what the next phase is going to bring to my ever growing little business.

    How have you managed the carcinogenic-free side of the production process? Did you come across any manufacturers who weren’t flexible enough to develop your ethical product with you?
    I have actually been working closely along side a chemist who helps me with that side of things. I wanted my product stand out and meet all of my ethical values while still maintaining a durable quality without sacrificing the fun colours. I researched the industry and manufacturing processes in depth and was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I wanted my final product to be. I wasn’t  impressed with what some of the bigger corporate companies manage to get away with these days.

    It’s just so silly that consumers should even have to think about it, so I did a lot of research on how to make my formula non toxic. Before choosing a manufacturer I asked every one to supply me with their core company values. It was really easy to narrow the field down when I asked to create a non toxic nail polish base. There were definitely some manufacturers who we not willing to change the way in which they do things.

    Interview Anna Ross Kester Black Book

    It appears that you surround yourself with like minded business women. Can you explain how the co-written and self-published book “The Hand Book, A guide to nail art” with Chelsea Bagan come about?
    When I received the first of my six colours of nail polish from the manufacturer, I was interested to see if my product was as high quality as other brands. So I sent out some sample packs to nail artists I found online. Chelsea happened to be one of them. We were in touch over email for a month or so before I decided I would like to create a book on nail art. I asked her on a bit of a ‘blind date’ to propose my book idea. After the classic ‘I’ll be wearing light blue jeans and I have dark hair’ line we met up and I pitched my idea to her. From that initial first meeting, it only took us 6 weeks to write, shoot and print the book. Chelsea and I have very similar aesthetics and that made working together on such a big project really easy. We have since become great friends and are in touch almost every day.

    Originally described as the “Hipster Mani”, how would you describe the new style of nail art seen in your book?
    After seeing so many awful manicures trending while I was researching, I was excited when I stumbled across Chelsea’s slick work online. I don’t know if I can give you an exact phrase, but the style of nail art that featured in our book seems to be a little more simple, refined and fun. I love the colour combinations we use. I like the cartoon-style nail art much better than the really realistic palm trees and sunsets you see elsewhere. I also believe the nail art in Melbourne is reflective of our creative and artistic culture.

    What does a typical day at work involve for you?
    Well I’m usually awoken at the first sign of light by my little brown Burmese cat George Von Whiskers, nudging me to let him get under the blankets for a morning cuddle. This is the point in which I grab my laptop from beside my bed and set up shop for the morning. I check my emails, do my accounting and try to clear my inbox before it gets swamped again later in the day. I’m always surprised at how many emails I get overnight. After breakfast and a shower I pop into my home office and pack up all the orders I need to send out for the day. Then depending on what time of year it is, I could be mixing up colours for a new collection, researching photo shoot ideas, updating the website and all the while trying not to move too much as to upset the cat sleeping in my lap.

    Interview Anna Ross Kester Black Trophy Wife

    Being a creative I find that my personal and professional life seems to blur. Do you find that Kester Black is a reflection of who you are as a person?
    Absolutely. Kester Black’s aesthetic is just a combination of all the things I love. My Pinterest and Instagram accounts are a bit of a reflection of that. I am also a very efficient and fast-working person and I think that reflects in my work. I can often be too hasty in evolving my business and I think that shows sometimes. I’m working on improving that!

    The people I surround myself with are often other creatives or professionals. I find myself going out for a glass of wine with friends and instead of talking about holiday plans or what has been happening at home, we are devising ideas for an upcoming photo shoot or a list of people who I can approach for collaborations. I’m constantly picking the brains of my ‘not so creative’ friends about investments, accounting software or website coding, all things which I would love to know more about to better my business. In my experience as a business owner, there is no ‘off switch’ at the end of the day, although I do think it’s important to have balance and I have been working on that a lot over the past year.

    What was the best piece of business advice given to you over your journey that you can share?
    I was once told to begin your business the way you intend to run it. I was lucky enough to get it right the third time round. While my business was in it’s clothing and jewellery stages, I was doing everything myself. When I made the switch to nail polish I really made the effort to refine my procedures. For starters, I upgraded to Xero for accounting which has actually made accounting pretty enjoyable. I created a marketing plan and began thinking long term. Kester Black was officially an after school job no more.


    Interview Anna Ross Kester Black Lilac NewWhat is your personal favourite Kester Black nail colour?

    I’d love to quote my mother and give the democratic answer “I love all of my children equally” but I won’t. Lilac is my current fave, the new winter colour just released this week.

    Thank you Anna! Fall in love with Kester Black at www.kesterblack.com and keep up to date with what Anna is up to by following her adventures on Instagram.

    Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and works as a Senior Graphic Designer at a branding agency in Dubai. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. You’ll find her sharing design related musings via Twitter and Instagram

    Tags: business, Creative, Interview, nail polish
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: interview, regular columns | Comments Off
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    How to Take a Break from Social Media (Without Your Business Suffering!)

    How to take a break from social media without your business suffering

    Do you ever feel stressed about taking a break from your social media and losing all your traction with your followers/clients/customers? It can be hard to switch it off, especially when it’s such a great marketing and customer service tool for your creative business. But every once in a while you will need to step away.

    Here are some great ways to do it without losing your following:

    • Let your readers/clients/customers know before you go, and if possible, how long you’ll be away. Keeping them in the loop is better than just disappearing without a word.
    • Ask them to sign up for your blog’s RSS feed and schedule content for the time you are away. Consider organising guest posts where it’s appropriate or re-publish a series of your most read posts.
    • Have someone take over your social media accounts for that time. If you’re taking significant time off, like maternity leave, and have a business that mostly works without you there (passive income or a shop with ready made goods), consider taking someone on for that time to post to your social media accounts and pack orders.
    • Use a service like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your Twitter posts in advance, so you don’t lose your reach. Facebook has recently improved their scheduling service too. Let your readers know that you’re doing this and that you might not be there to answer questions a couple of times before you take the break.
    • Decide if Instagram will be included in your social media break – it might seem weird to take a break but still use one social network, but if you’re taking a holiday to a great destination, you can keep your followers in the loop with a holiday happy-snap here and there.
    • If you’re still working but taking a ‘digital sabbatical’, let your clients know that you’ll still be available by email or your regular channels. But if you’re closing up shop as well as taking a social media break, consider preparing some great “we’re back” social media content that’s ready to go when you are back and working again.

    Taking a break from social media, or even from your business, doesn’t have to mean that you’ll be back at the beginning once you log back in. Most people understand that everyone needs a break to recharge their batteries. Having a clear strategy for your social media while you’re away – frequency, content – can help you truly relax while you’re on that break.

    Dannielle is a blogger, serial organiser and passionate traveller. She has a secret love of 90s teen movies and can often be found hanging out on Pinterest. She is on a mission to help people bring happiness (and fun) back into their homes with a dash of organisation and a sprinkle of their own awesome style over at her blog Style for a Happy Home.

    Image from © Lime Lane Photography

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    Posted by: Dannielle Cresp
    Categories: business tips, organise me, regular columns, technical tips | Comments Off