Career Q&A: Cut your chops in your 1st industry
The purpose of the Career Q&As is to share the journey of other people’s career journey with Think Bespoke’s community. If you are considering a Career Change, or enjoy learning about the insights behind the success of others, then reading their stories is an enjoyable way to help you then reflect on your own career journey.
A special Career Q&A
This Career Q&A is with Bree Cleal, Visual Designer and Founder of Imageffect, a boutique design studio established in 2005.
While Bree has been a client of mine, and I have been a client of hers, our connection has also blossomed through the playful approach we both take to social media. I have enjoyed watching her presence on LinkedIn increase as she has continued to find her voice as a creative specialist in visual design and branding.
I hope you enjoy hearing about Bree’s career journey.
Please tell us a little about a day in the working life of Bree
I’m not a morning person. I really don’t like to get up early and I struggle on those mornings when I have to. 5am starts to Sydney are a killer! So usually I get up around 7-8am, play Mum to two school aged children and, if I’m working from my home office. I check email, post to Social Media and start work around 9am. If I’m heading into Depo8, a co-working office space in Prahran, I’m on the train by 8am using that time to blog and work Social Media.
My days are quite varied, sometimes I’m in client meetings, sometimes I’m developing client designs, on the phone, blogging, emailing or… sometimes I dedicate a whole day to developing Whimsie & Bliss my hand lettered stationery brand. I work 5 days a week and am ‘trying’ to quit screen time by 8pm.
I do like to talk and I’m always chatting to someone. I love learning about new businesses and new ideas. I adore the design presentation process and I love inspirational stories and being around people I can really learn from.
How does this differ to your career ambitions as a young adolescent?
Actually, my career ambitions were exactly as they have turned out to be. I spent many afternoons designing my own business cards for my very own design business. I knew what I wanted to do from a young age and I’ve continued working on that path.
What was the defining moment that set you on the career path you are on today?
I picked up a crayon? No, seriously. The idea of working for myself has always appealed to me. I think the defining moment that inspired me to take the leap and work for myself was the realisation that I didn’t want to work the extensive hours required in many design studios. Sitting there at 11pm at night having scoffed a packet of Tim Tams because your stressed and you’ve missed out on dinner is no fun.
Who inspires you both in life and in business?
I’m inspired by people who give things a go, no matter what their circumstances are. People who don’t admit defeat when they hear a ‘no’ but dust themselves off and try again. I could say I’m inspired by Richard Branson or by Oprah Winfrey and I do read their posts and books, but I’d have to say my Dad is one of the people to have had a massive influence on me. As a child I watched him work and hustle. He used the skills he had, which was an almost enviable quality for connecting with people and telling stories. He also had a belief in himself that went beyond the shackles of his working class childhood and a bravado I still find entertaining. That man could sell ice to the eskimos!
I was also around a lot of ‘commercially creative’ people growing up. People who made money having a creative career. My Grandma worked as a Ticket Writer in the fashion industry during 50’s and 60’s Melbourne. Her stunning hand lettering was used predominantly by Sportsgirl and I’m lucky to have some of those pieces, now framed. Her brother was also a very successful Commercial Artist and Mum and Dad were friends with a fairly arty mix of people.
What is one of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make in your journey to success and career happiness?
When I started Imageffect in 2005, I started it with my husband’s help. He’s much more money minded than me and some of the processes he instigated have helped me grow Imageffect and I will be forever appreciative. But . . . I realised about 12 months in that I wasn’t designed to work with a hubbie. I’m designed to work by myself. I like to be ‘an everything’ and ‘over everything’. That’s good for my clients but not so good for the people around me.
With age and wisdom I know this. Our dreams of working together and breakfasting at local cafes to discuss the days plans just didn’t work out. I have great admiration for couples who can work together but we are not one of them and even though it was hard for us to get through this realisation we still have a happy relationship accepting both the good and bad personality traits we both have as individuals, and the good things we can do together outside of work.
What is one of the best decisions you’ve had to make in your journey to success and career happiness?
I decided towards the end of last year to begin work on my hand lettered stationery brand Whimsie & Bliss and it was launched in February this year. I am a passionate hand letterer and love the creative opportunities this brand will bring me. When you work as a designer you change design hats according to the type of project you’re working on. There are serious hats, funky urban hats and classic hats which need to be worn metaphorically to complete a design style suited to that client. Whimsie & Bliss is SO ME and that makes me happy. I can’t wait to keep creating!
How have these decisions reflected on your personal happiness?
I’m still married! We will celebrate out 11th wedding anniversary this year. That’s a good thing.
Working for myself has provided an exceptional amount of freedom and opportunity. What I love most is the fact that there is no ceiling. No boss telling me I can’t do this or that. I believe if you put your noggin’ to it you can achieve anything! That’s a worthwhile work ethic to have don’t you think? Great happiness can be derived from freedom, creativity and following your passion.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career/business in your industry?
Cut your chops in the industry first. Work for a number of different studios so you understand how a design ‘business’ can (or can’t) work. You’ll also get a great feel for the designer/client relationship and the creative process. If you’re starting a design business and want to create a Social Media presence look at what makes you YOU. Don’t try to be anyone else. Stop comparing yourself to other designer’s and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. This is probably something you may have read before but it’s because it’s true.
Thank you, Bree, for sharing your career story with Think Bespoke’s community.
To connect with Bree please visit her on LinkedIn here.
Bio: Karen Hollenbach is a Business Coach, Workshop Trainer and LinkedIn Strategist and partners Australian men and women to discover how to be more effective in their professional lives. As the Founder of Think Bespoke, Karen regularly runs private and public workshops about LinkedIn, Communication and Networking with Style.