Hello and welcome to a new Creative Boss Interview series! I'm so excited to be talking to other creative business owners again - and this topic is super special! It's something I know a lot of you are interested in, but where I can't really speak from experience so I decided to ask people who are doing a damn good job at it: How to run a creative business while having a day job.
I have a series of really cool interviews lined up for you with amazing people from the fibre world - from knitwear designer and online shop owner to indie dyers, we're going to be glimpsing behind the scenes and learning a lot about how to juggle a day job and a creative business.
For the fourth interview in this blog series on how to run a creative business while working a day job, I had the pleasure of talking to Danielle from the indie yarn company Raxor Yarns!
Here's how Danielle describes herself: "Hi, I'm Danielle from Raxor Yarns & Fibres. I'm based in Melbourne, Australia, and love everything fluffy and yarn-related. And sparkles. And unicorns!" You can find Danielle as @raxoryarns on Instagram and Facebook and via her website.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What is your creative business and what is your day job?
My creative business is anything fibre-art. My main interests in the fibre world are dyeing, spinning, and amigurumi, so naturally that's what I'm drawn to from a business perspective.
In my store I keep a stock of hand-dyed and hand-spun yarns and combed tops, complemented by a diverse range of luxury and hard-to-find fibres like white camel and red eri silk. I've recently started publishing my amigurumi patterns, have designed a range of totes for like-minded fibre fanatics who love a good pun, and have a small range of notions, dyes, crochet hooks and knitting needles. I sell my wares online, at local markets, and festivals.
I am passionate about our local fibre industry here in Australia. While the majority of the world's superfine merino is grown here, you might be surprised to know that 95% of it is sent overseas - it can take some work to track down Aussie wool that hasn't been processed offshore. That being said, it's not impossible, and I'm proud to support our local fibre industry by promoting the beautiful fibre from our farmers that is grown, scoured and combed right here in Australia.
My day job is completely different. I'm a CRM Analyst for a large customer contact centre in a big organisation. My role is quite diverse, I'm part business/systems analyst, part software tester, part project manager, and also do a bit of tech writing and communications. It can be very stressful at times with a huge workload, I like to get home and play with all the fluffy things to de-stress. Sometimes I find myself winding yarn to unwind :P
What is your main reason for keeping a day job? Do you foresee that changing any time soon? Would you even want it to change?
At the moment, it's not financially viable for me to stop working. It's kind of a chicken and egg thing; if I had the capital to stop working and invest more in my creative business, I could do it. But I don't, so I have to keep working. I'm at a turning point in both my day job and creative careers too; there are some great development opportunities headed my way in both worlds which I'm really excited about.
I'm not someone who plans ahead too far into the future, so I will just wait and see what comes my way. I don't know too many creatives who are planners! The dream is, of course, to earn a full-time income from my creative business. We will see what comes, exciting times are ahead.
I’d love to dive a little bit deeper into the nitty-gritty. How does a typical week look like for you? How much time to you spend working your day job and how much time do you spend working on your own business?
I work a normal (for Australia) 38 hour week, and make use of my daily 1.5 hours travelling time to get some crocheting or designing done, pop up an insta post, and check in on social media. I spend my lunch time at work updating my website, researching (Pinterest, anyone?), developing upcoming challenges for the Fibre Feast Facebook group, and working on a couple of events I'm managing this year.
I fill orders when I get home from work, usually every second or third day; I'll also use a bit of this time to package and label up my goodies. And a lot of the time the dye-pot is going steady in the kitchen while this is all happening. Usually this is OK, but this year we've had some family members move in, and I'm not sure they appreciate me hogging the kitchen sink and stove when they want to cook dinner. In short - it seems like I am always working!
When I get told to relax and not do anything I find it really difficult. I'm always fiddling with my website or dyeing or crocheting or spinning, I have to be doing something creative with my hands or I feel lost. These days I do a bit of cross-stitch when I need a break from the fibre biz :)
Do you have any systems in place - organizational (like a planner / bullet journal / etc.) and supportive (friends, family) - that help you juggle both?
Although my day job requires a lot of structure and planning, for my own business, I'm not a planner by any means. I know what I need to do in my head, and just keep it there most of the time. I love Google Keep, it's my go-to for designing at home and on the road, storing dye recipes, jotting down ideas, and I use OneNote for keeping to-do lists.
As far as family goes, having my sister living with me temporarily has been amazing. She's such a great help getting orders together, and is my retail superstar at the markets, she's a natural! I'll miss her when she leaves in a few weeks on her next adventure. I wish I could keep her.
My partner doesn't get involved from a creative perspective, but he is supportive. He helps me out at events, and puts up with FLUFF EVERYWHERE. At this time of year when I'm preparing for the Australian winter season, I'd describe our house as somewhat "warehouse-chic" so am grateful he works around it! He's also a massive word-nerd which is useful when something needs copy-editing.
Does your day job inform and influence your creative work - and vice versa? If yes, would you like to share how?
Sometimes! I'm running a my first ever market event this year, and it's a big one! I've put my project manager hat on to help me through it. I'm hosting this year's Etsy Made Local market in Melbourne which is set to attract over 100 stallholders and we are expecting 10,000 visitors, so it's a doozy for my first market. Although it is a huge event with loads to organise, I'm not stressed out about it at all (not sure if this is good or bad?!). Basically I just break items down into a list - no matter how big or small the task is - with dates and $$ and delegations. I've got the most fabulous and talented committee who are doing amazing things to get the market up and running. Having support behind you is really important!
I do take bits and pieces from work and apply them to my business. Having spent 10 years and counting in a customer contact centre, I know how important customer service is, and apply a lot of the theory we use here to my own business.
What are the main advantages that come from running your own business while working a day job?
Working for someone else means I don't have to stress out about cash-flow. It also means I am able to build my business by reinvesting heavily, which has allowed me to expand my business faster than I could have otherwise.
What are the main challenges?
TIME! I could get so much more done if I wasn't at work :P I would say this helps me manage my time better than I would otherwise though - I have a lot on at the moment, but it means I can just buckle down and get things done, rather than thinking about it too much.
If you were to give advice to someone who’s starting out their own creative business while working a day job, what would your number 1 tip be?
Don't over-commit yourself, and make sure to take time out for yourself, and your family - you should enjoy your creative business, and not feel stressed out by it.
I loved getting to read your wonderful answers, Danielle, and I wish I could hop over to Australia to attend your market! Make sure you check out the Raxor Yarns website for some seriously gorgeous scrumptious fiber.