Interview with Cool Wow Collective
After experiencing some shitty bosses in the corporate world, alongside some early entrepreneurial inklings, it was almost inevitable for Brodi to do her own thing. With naive fearlessness, she launched her own graphic design business and hasn’t looked back.
Tell us how you ended up here as a freelancer? Where did it all begin?
Well, it’s funny because retrospectively I was always on the path to being a business owner. As a kid, I used to ‘employ’ my younger siblings to do a job and pay them a wage. I’ll be honest, I paid them to search the house and cars for coins. It makes me laugh now, but I guess the business side of it started early.
Same with the artistic and creative side. My Grandma is an incredible artist which was a huge influence as a child. It was peaceful and calm in a world of chaos. We would sit together and paint, and she used to enter my paintings into galleries and art competitions. I kept painting all through my teenage years, and my creative side was always at the foremost of my abilities. When I was 16, I started Uni (Bachelor of Arts; Creative Writing). I was average in my classes except for art. I excelled in all of my art classes, to the point that after handing in a sketch, my teacher called me out in front of the entire class. In hindsight, it was such a compliment. As the youngest in the class with plenty of mature-aged students around me, I was mortified. It wasn’t long after that happened that I deferred and decided that I needed to work out what I wanted to do with my life because I didn’t want to spend 4 years doing a degree to become a writer if that’s not what I wanted (or was any good at).
Fast forward and in 2017 I completed my studies as a Graphic Designer at Shillington School of Design. I did a night-class, which as a self-proclaimed early bird, absolutely killed me. 2017 was the hardest, but the most worthwhile experience of my life. From there, I’ve spent the last 3 years building my experience, portfolio and connections to be a freelance Graphic Designer, specialising in brand design.
What was your last ‘real’ job?
For over 5 years I’ve been employed (and still am) by an AH-MAZING Event Management company. Since finishing my Graphic Design course, I’ve been doing freelancing before work, during my lunch break, after work and on the weekends. Man, the first couple of years of freelancing are H.A.R.D. The hustle is real, and passion is what keeps you motivated. My current role is an Event Coordinator and Graphic Designer. In January 2020, I decided to go part-time which my employer supported, and I’ve been slowly increasing the time I’ve been able to dedicate to my own business.
What inspired you to start freelancing? Was there a ‘moment’ that made you realise it was time?
I’ve been lucky enough to work for some crappy companies and a**hole bosses. I worked for a large telco for a bit over 3 years, which really shaped my conflict resolution and communication skills. But it was a HARD slog because it was a toxic work environment and I didn’t like the company. I’ve also had terrible bosses, like the one who used to refer to me as “His Bi*ch”. I say that I was lucky enough to work for them because each crappy employer has pushed me into the path of being a freelancer. I’ve learnt so much about myself and other people, that I’m now ready to be my own boss. With every experience comes knowledge, lessons and perspective. Without those experiences, I don’t think I’d be the motivated and passionate business owner that I am today!
The final push to become a freelancer was from the buzz I got from helping someone set up their business. My first few clients were just starting out and had no idea where to start to brand their business, set up a website or even register an ABN. So I helped, and I loved it! Most of my design work was pro-bono when I started out, so it was just seeing someone that needed help and jumping straight in. When I started getting better, figuring out a process, working out what kind of design really got my blood pumping that’s when I niched down and got to really encompass who I am now as a freelancer. We all start somewhere, and it just happens that I was lucky enough to start off with a passion for design and helping people.
What was your biggest fear before you started freelancing? Any tips to overcome these fears?
I was naively fearless. I didn’t realise how much work and time would go into being a freelancer, but on the other end of the scale, I also didn’t know how much I could love working and how motivational it would be to work for myself. I’m lucky enough that I had the financial freedom of working for an employer on the side while growing my business. Because I wasn’t stressed with earning an income, it really allowed me to focus on doing what I loved to do, which has come down to designing for women in business.
In three emojis, describe your life as a freelancer… 💃🤓☕
Walk us through a typical workday?
AM: 5am - wake up, make a coffee and jump online in my PJ’s. I use this time for self-development like doing an ecourse or working on a personal project. 6am - I start my day working on client work that’s exciting; it really gets my blood pumping for the entire day when I start off with something that I’m really dedicated to. 7am - take my doggo Lola for a walk, get a coffee. I shower and get ready like I’m going into the office. Showing up as your best self reallllly makes a difference when I jump back online. 8am - back online, building brands and doing what I love. 10am - 12pm - dedicate time to my part-time employer (reduced hours due to COVID-19). PM: 12pm - eat lunch. 12:20pm-3pm - get the last of my work out of the way. 3pm-4pm - spend some time on my business doing accounts, invoicing and writing my to-do list for the next day. Evening: 6pm dinner and some TV. 7:30pm bedtime - some people laugh at this, but I really love my sleep!
How as COVID-19 impacted your everyday life?
Yikes, how has it not? It definitely impacted my part-time job in the events industry, with all of our conferences for the year cancelling. But luckily I had freelance work to fall back onto as a safety net and also to keep me busy! No Netflix binge sesh’s for me. Not being able to leave the house and have the freedom of doing things I love like going to a cafe or the markets definitely took a toll on me in the first month. But, I started working on my mindset with things like affirmations, reading self-help books and exercise. I’ve never really been one for regular exercise, I was always too busy. Now I take my dog Lola for a walk errrryday (I’m such an adult) and it’s actually become a highlight of my day. A positive is that I get to spend more time envisioning the life I want to live, and I've started to take steps in that direction instead of filling my days with things that need to be done with no real direction.
Name three qualities you need to succeed as a freelancer?
I know we’re not supposed to have favourites, but can you share a favourite client project of yours?
I absolutely adored working with Rachel from Harley Reid—a boutique kids and baby store. We did a rebrand from a DIY logo to a new brand. I also helped her refresh the branding on their website. I just love the final product because it’s appealing, minimalist and the client really loves it which comes through in her business. Click here to check it out. Best thing about freelancing? Being my own boss; if I wanna crank the tunes, no one will tell me to turn it down.
Suckiest thing about freelancing?
It does get a bit lonely (especially due to COVID) so I’m super grateful to Cool Wow Collective for having co-working sessions where I get to have a yarn and virtually see other humans! They’re all badass babes who are freelancers, so it’s great to connect with like-minded women. What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their freelancer journey? Don’t spend your time; invest your time. Focus on ways that you can invest your time to make passive income and open up more earning revenue streams. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by only having one main client etc. COVID has taught us that we should have a few eggs in a couple of baskets.
“Don’t spend your time; invest your time. ”
What’s next for you in business?
In the last month, I’ve focused on reducing the number of clients that I’m taking on in order to work on diversifying my business revenue. I’m investing time into learning how to create digital products to bring in passive revenue. As a designer, I’m lucky because there’s a market out there for premade graphics, templates, fonts and more. My passion is still working with clients, I just want to establish some passive revenue streams and build that side of my biz.
This or that
Tea or coffee? COFFEEEEEEE
Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert Fo Shizzle
Earlybird or night owl? Earlybird….it’s currently 5:28am as I type this LOL
Home office or coworking space? Hmmm….coworking space
Emails or calls? Love a good chat
Paper or digital to-do list? Digital to-do’s
Books or podcasts? I LOVE THEM ALL DON’T MAKE ME PICK! I’m really digging audiobooks for when I’m in the car or going for walks...but I also love a good poddy.
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Cool Wow Collective. They're an AWESOME group of freelancers that I meet with weekly, and have truly changed my business in the last year. Head on over to their website, and if you decide to join, make sure you let them know I sent you 🤓✨
Thanks for reading,