I'm Jessica, thanks for stopping by. This is my blog, I post about all kinds of things really. Mainly things that I like and that I want to share with you! I have some regular happenings here too including Weekend Tunes, Jessica's Style and occasionally a Noms food post or product review.
Crystals feature greatly around my home, I love that they are so beautiful and made from the smallest of particles and naturally turned into something so vibrant and unique under the ground. It’s pretty amazing! All the different colours and the way that they play with the light. This shoot was inspired by four of my favourites; Amethyst, Citrine, Smokey Quartz and Rose Quartz.
Ashley & Co Soother Tube $24.99 and Mini Soap Bar $9.50 in ‘Once Upon a Time’ from Shut The Front Door | All You Need is Love mug $9.95 from Freedom Furniture | Amethyst $320 from Crystal Waters | Amethyst pendant earrings $35 and Ring $95 from Elemental Jewellery | Anine Bing lace bralette $139 from Superette | Tiger Tree pompom earrings $34.99 and Ethique solid deodorant bar $24.99 from Shut The Front Door | By Charlotte lotus flower necklace $189 from Superette | Amethyst pendant $155 from Elemental Jewellery.
Smoke white wine glass $32.50 each, Troll vases in smoke in small $127 and large $162, WOUD racket oak tray in small $149 and WOUD Haak hook in grey $79 all from Capricho | Smokey Quartz $175 from Crystal Waters | Fluffy Fox keyring in noir $39 from Superette | Cloud Nine Creative tassel earrings $44 from Texan Art Schools | Ruby + Jet druzy earrings $29.99 and Gruff slab soap $14.99 from Shut The Front Door.
Salt by Hendrix bath salts in Ylang Ylang & French Clay $29 and Slip silk sleep mask $65 from Superette | Rose Quartz point $65 and larger piece POA from Crystal Waters | Rose Quartz pendant $145 and ring $95 from Elemental Jewellery | Fox & Fallow notebook $17.99 from Shut The Front Door | The Horse watch $169 from Superette | Ban.Do pencils (set of 10) $22.99 from Shut The Front Door | Ring Bowl $39 from Superette | Matariki necklace $80.50 from Texan Art Schools.
Menu water bottle (small) $99 from Capricho | Citrine crystal $160 from Crystal Waters | Troll vases in amber in small $127 and large $162 | JS Ceramics gold splatter plate $29.90 from Texan Art Schools | Brass Morjim candle $12.95 from Freedom Furniture | Brass bottle opener $29.99 from Shut The Front Door | Agate Coasters $35 each from Superette | Marble bowl and wooden spoon $57 from Capricho | Tiger Tree gold 3 plate earrings $29.99 from Shut The Front Door | Cloud Nine Creative tassel earrings $44 from Texan Art Schools.
Oh hey it’s a weekend tunes post! I’m on a roll with the blogging thing, may as well keep it cranking and I know how much you guys love my Weekend Tunes posts, there are now 120 of them! I love an accidental find, Ari Lennox glided into my Soundcloud earlier this year, she’s been signed to J Cole’s new label Dreamville Records so you just know it’s going to be amazing with that kind of backing. She has a great sound, a little vintage R’n’B, with her own vibe and a velvet, soulful voice over the most satisfying instrumentals.
This tune, Night Drive is from her PHO EP, there are a few stand out tracks on there, including Backseat and Backwood. Maybe not one to listen to with the kids in the car, but definitely worth a listen and adding to your rotation. Enjoy!
“Why would you follow them, you don’t know them, that’s just weird”
This statement was said to me a few weeks ago, and at the time, I thought… actually, I won’t say exactly what I thought but it was sweary.
It totally baffled me; it was said in response of someone who set up a new business, their profile came up on Instagram in my suggestions of people to follow (love those big brother algorithms!). I mentioned I’d seen it and thought I should follow them to show them some support, especially seeing as this was something they were new to and passionate about and I am in the same industry, which was greeted with the above statement. Ridic.
This got me thinking, why would that ever be weird? Why, is showing your support to a stranger, out there, doing their thing, weird? *spoiler* it’s not. If everyone felt that way, nobody would ever get anywhere. Passionate people trying to get good stuff off the ground would have a hard time if everyone felt like that.
One of the things that I love most about social media is that is it S O C I A L. Funny that.
I work for myself (you can check out more about my freelance tips in this nifty post) and social media has meant a lot to me in getting what I do out there. It’s meant a lot with my blog, and helps me feel connected to other people doing similar things to me. I’ve made some amazing, friends through social media just because we are into and doing similar things. I’m not saying you should expect to be friends with everyone you support, but surely it’s way better to say “hey, I love what you are doing!” than just lurk about and not say anything at all.
When you work for yourself you are often working on your own, you don’t always have people to bounce ideas off and when you do get an idea out there; be it a new product or a whole new business, it’s flipping nerve wracking! I can think of several accounts I follow that I totally love and really admire what they are doing, and I know that they in turn support what I am doing too. I appreciate the comments and messages from people that I get, saying I inspire them, or they just like seeing what I’m up to. All the warm fuzzies. After all, social media is about creating a community, and a community is always better when it’s got rad people in it.
So, here are some of my favourite accounts doing cool things you should know about! Some of them I know in person, some of them I don’t but I like what they are about and you might too. Click the pics to check out their accounts.
Imparting her sewing wisdom in her insta stories and doing cool stuff in Dunedin.
The most ‘mazing nail artist and has just set up her new label Dangly Bits with choice earrings.
I post about my girl Janine all the time, she’s amazing. Go buy her album.
Illustrator, story ranter, general awesome chick doing cool things on the socials with cute pets.
Ladies sneaker store in Australia, owned/operated by Murata, awesome chick working her ASS off.
AMAZING surprise t-shirt subscription with a portion of each sale going to womens refuge.
Let’s just glide over the fact that I’ve not blogged since last year, and only blogged 7 times last year…. but hey, here’s a goodie! So recently Instagram updated their app to allow features like asking questions (if you didn’t know, open a new tab and google, I’ll see you back here in a minute). And I jumped on that bandwagon to see what my followers wanted to know, surprisingly, there were a lot of questions around working for yourself, or working from home and I had some really lovely exchanges with people. I also had some interesting Facebook memories pop up that got me thinking about freelance life and how I’ve made it work (and when I say work, I mean I haven’t starved quite yet and the power is still on, so that’s good). It got me thinking that it might be good to share some of the things I’ve come to learn, while a lot of this is design-led, the advice is quite transferable.
It’s been almost four years of doing Oh Gosh completely full time, and before that, on and off for about eight years. It’s been T E N years since I had my first photography work published in Trends Magazine too, so I have of course learnt some things… lean in
Policies, Systems, Processes and T&C’s!
Let’s get the boring one out of the way first. Having started my professional life in administration, I know the backbone to any business is all this boring guff. When you have to do everything yourself, your processes allow you to not miss anything (and potentially annoy or lose a client). It helps speed things up and accurate record keeping allows you to invoice properly and not lose out. My processes aren’t just for when I have an active job, but every part of my company such as my business development; the flow from first contact, to quote, to turning that into a job — there are steps I follow each time to ensure nothing gets missed. I’m often juggling more than one project at a time; multiple branding, website builds, plus the magazine and managing all my contributors, and it’s important to not get flustered.
I’m old fashioned and still use written job sheets to track my hours, I need to write things down to remember them (I’m a creative! It’s all about the visual) and this ensures I bill clients accurately, not just what I remember, there are heaps of apps that you can use but this way works for me. I have physical pockets for each client too, there lives their job sheet and any notes from our meetings I rip from my notebook and tuck in there — everything in the one place for when I’m working on their job. My client folders are organised on my computer too and I archive folders I haven’t needed to use for 6 months or more, keeping the clutter down. I allocate one afternoon a week or so to admin; all my invoicing, filing of quotes, email inbox tidy up and just keeping on top of stuff.
I never delete an email. Ever. Even the ones that just say ‘thanks’, that’s confirmation someone read and acknowledged your email. Each client has a folder and they go in there; you never know when you might need to refer back to something. I use my inbox as a to-do list of sorts, or at least a reminder so nothing gets filed until it’s been dealt to. I love Airmail, it has an awesome function that let’s you schedule your emails to send later on, perfect for when you are working over the weekend to get ahead, but you don’t actually want people to know you’re working and then think it’s ok to call you on a Sunday morning….
Last boring one, promise! Your terms and conditions are important. So important. Yes, they are like an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff but there have been at least two occasions where they have saved my butt. Your T&C’s will evolve over time, you’ll experience something that will make you think ‘wish I’d had that in there before’. You can write these yourself and have a lawyer look over them (recommended) rather than asking a lawyer to draft them for you. You know your business and your clients best. As a starting point, include points around:
How you expect to be paid; 20th of the month? In advance? Progress payments? Whatever, but it needs to be in there
Will you expect a deposit (yes, yes, yes)
What happens if you or your client want to cancel or stop a job
Who has copyright of the work?
Will you charge for mileage?
Confidentiality clause, your clients need to know you won’t go talking about their business to a competitor
What happens if the scope of work you quoted for changes?
What will you supply at the end of the project? File types etc.
There’s more to it, but that will get you thinking anyway. Keep these up to date and send them with every quote you do for a client; even if they’ve used you before.
Marketing & Advertising
You can’t sell a secret. Seems like a no brainer, right? You’d think so. You can set up social pages, you can build a website, but those are destinations for people to land on more than actually generating business, you have to get people there first. You need to advertise your services without putting all your eggs in one basket. Put together a marketing plan for yourself, this might be as basic as a five line, bulleted list, or as complicated as a full on strategy with month to month action points, but either way you have to have something.
Invest in your advertising and spread it across multiple platforms, use both AdWords and traditional print media with social, not just the one channel. I get a lot of business from both those things; people see my ads for brand awareness so when they google me and I show up, they know me already. I have my car branded and I always make sure I have business cards on me at all times (even to nip to the Four Square). I keep my social feeds current and I advertise in local magazines and newspapers. There is no silver bullet or one thing that works all the time but sit down and work out what options are available to you, and how much you can afford. ‘Can you afford not to’ is a question I often ask my own marketing clients!
When you do get someone get in touch with you wanting a quote, ask how they heard about you as the answer will often surprise you. While it’s often a combination of things this is a great way to see what is working.
I know for me, people often see my print ads or my car driving past and they are reminded to call me. Sometimes they have seen me before and google for a designer so when I pop up they recognise me, or of course they know about my other work — all are great!
Do stuff you love!
It’s easy to get bogged down in boring work sometimes, so create or do something that makes you feel invigorated. If I have ten minutes, I’ll go through my Pinterest and pin a bunch of design inspo. I’ll go for a walk on the beach, or call a friend. I’ll see what’s happening on Instagram with the other design people I follow (or check out cute puppies, whatever), I’ll catch up with some of my other freelance buddies just to see how they’re going and sometimes I’ll take on a project just because it seems like fun. My blog is a creative project and I started Gather as a creative outlet, I tend to turn my passions into my job which defeats the purpose but you get the idea.
How to say no…
Sometimes, you just have to say ‘no, thank you’. You’ll be asked to do things for free or for a reduced rate by friends or family, you might be contacted by a charity or start up that has little to no budget. It’s ok to say yes, if you want, but you don’t have to.
When you are starting out, it can often be a fine balance between wanting to do work so you can build a portfolio of real client work and wanting to get paid. You may want to give those people a discount so that you can use the work to promote yourself, and that is fine, but explain that is why you are giving the discount (and that they might not get it again next time). Ask for your expenses to be covered such as mileage or printing costs, and perhaps a set fee that covers the work even if it’s a nominal value, the transaction creates an expectation and keeps it professional.
People tend to value what they have to pay for when it comes to work and a client paying for a service shows a value in your time and expertise. I’ve done a few contra arrangements in the past or I have donated my time when I feel that it’s appropriate, or I know it will be better in the long run, but I’ve also had to say no. If you do say no, be polite, explain why if you want, but ultimately don’t feel as though you have to do anything for ‘exposure’.
Know your worth
Pricing yourself is always a challenge. You will be way too cheap to some and too expensive for others, and that’s ok as it’s subjective. The way I look at it, is that if I market myself properly (see, this is when it all works together) then I will attract the right kinds of clients that like my work, like my style and just want me to work on their project with them which is exactly what happens most of the time. I do of course get a few people that haven’t used a designer before and weren’t sure what to expect, but I make sure my quotes are detailed and we can usually work out what they can afford and go from there. Let’s clear up some pricing myths you might be asking yourself!
‘I work from home, so that should make me cheaper?’ Um, no. People are hiring your skills, not your office. It’s about the quality of work created, not where you create it. I still have expenses (Adobe, you’re killing me, my computer, cloud back ups, hard drives, tablets, Pantone books, fonts to buy, a lot of coffee…) and even though I work from home, there are still associated expenses with a home office. The level of work I produce is on an equal level as that of an Auckland studio so there is no reason why that should be any cheaper.
‘I’m starting out, should I charge less?’ Yes, essentially. But don’t start at rock bottom. Price increases are hard to implement once you have an established client base. For me, I am at a senior designer/art director level, so I quote myself accordingly but I also recognise that I am working with mainly small to medium businesses and start-ups that recognise they want to start on the right foot, but it’s about charging what you feel comfortable with and what works for your own unique situation. But, if your potential clients are all saying no because you’re too expensive, you do need to look at your pricing.
Pricing is always hard. Look at your expenses, your costs, your skillset and if in doubt, ask some people you trust that have maybe hired someone like you before what they think.
Quick fire tips!
When you are really snowed under (or have your head down in a complicated project) put on an out of office reply, letting people know you’ll get back to them later. This stops your valuable clients from getting miffed, or if it’s urgent, they’ll call.
Be aware of your industry, but don’t compare yourself constantly. The grass is greenest where you water it and all that.
Write stuff down when you remember it; on paper or use the notes in your phone.
Have a professional voicemail message.
Use your calendar to remind yourself of when you need to do something, like call someone, or follow up a quote.
Freelance can be hard work, I often work all the hours in the day with a lot of late nights and weekends, but I do love what I do and I appreciate the flexibility, as well as working for myself. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.
Well, 2017. What a year. It’s been an interesting one, loads of good things, but there’s definitely been an equal low for every high. And that is saying something.
Starting at the beginning…
January 2017 saw me move into my second year of relying on Oh Gosh to support myself. And I hadn’t starved yet so I must be doing something right?
In February, business is great and I met someone lovely (aww).
March saw my business continue to grow, with loads of regular clients and some brilliant projects. I was featured in local community paper, Junction.
April, one year anniversary for Oh Gosh! Officially, one year of active trading anyway.
In May I was featured on TVOne’s show, Seven Sharp, my face and business ethos was beamed into homes across the country. Lovely emails poured in and it was amazing to have been so inspiring to so many people. You can watch it here if you fancy.
May was also the time that I first experienced hurting myself through way too much work, and had to have my arm strapped up for weeks… Not great, but it reminded me about work-life balance, and that I need to look after myself.
June was the very last Auckland Fair. My baby, that I had grown from the ground up way back in 2010 was coming to a close, it was bitter-sweet. June was also my birthday month, with my local restaurant, Sandbar, closing for me and putting on a custom menu for me and my friends, it was amazing!
In the depths of Winter, July rolls around, loads of work is pouring in. Things don’t work out with the lovely person I’d met earlier in the year and I finish some client relationships that are in no way healthy, being the main cause of my arm issues.
August, my baby girl turns 12 (!!) and my home was featured in Your Home & Garden Magazine. My house across 10 pages and it looks great. I get so many amazing emails and messages from people, inspired by my story of moving out of Auckland and creating my own space on a budget.
September is filled with heaps of client work, hustling, voting in the general election (of course). It was also the time when my 94 year old Nan got really, really sick and we thought that we were about to say goodbye. She’s pretty stubborn though and pulled through. Go Nana.
During October, I introduced Gather Magazine! Launching in January 2018 officially, but October saw me share my fresh new concept with everyone. I also did what feels like a million photoshoots and some great client work.
November, we had a visit from my little brother, Oli, who lives in the UK. I sold my car, bought a new one. I had grief from my wisdom teeth (due to come out in Feb 2018, suckers). I discovered that I have asthma, and had a few scary nights there. Not a great month in all honesty.
Actually, during October and November, I got sucked into the vortex that was someone else’s personal drama. It stole a huge amount of my energy and took my focus away from what I should have been working on, but come December…
December, I’m thinking about my year and everyone in it that has made it positive, I’m trying not to dwell on the mistakes or the people I should have just walked away from, because after all, it’s all learning. I’m planning for 2018, working out what I need to do for my projects, my business and my family.
I’m feeling like myself again — a positive, glass is full, girl boss hustler and I’m pretty excited about next year. Just in the nick of time.
I’m beyond thrilled to announce that I am launching my very own, printed magazine coming in the new year!! Gather Magazine… I think it’s every bloggers dream to have their very own, tactile magazine. It’s been such an amazing project to plan, and so close to my heart that actually putting it out there has been slightly terrifying. This project has essentially been ten years in the making…. Probably longer if I really sit down and think about it (since I could hold a pencil?).
When I grew up I wanted nothing more than to be a designer, I didn’t know what a graphic designer was way back then, but I would constantly design book cover pages, posters and invitations for my toys, often pinching my dads super expensive, paintbrush like pens he used as a Draughtsman for his concept drawings. I was obsessed with fashion, creating pieces for my dolls from scraps of fabric from my mothers sewing, held together with ribbons and paperclips. One of my first (and most treasured toys) was a ‘flip and fold’ wooden doll, it had two plates that you would sandwich together and create designs from bits of fabric. In primary school and I was selling my bubble writing to friends for their pocket money, or a ‘Juicie’ ice-block if it was a Friday.
I knew design was in my future, it had to be. Now, as I sit in my own office, with a successful design studio under my wing with Oh Gosh, I’m ready to finally realise that dream with something as complimentary as Gather Magazine.
I’ve met so many amazing people since I moved out of Auckland, they’re really the ones that have inspired me to start (that, and about 50 people who said “you know, you should start your own magazine”). I’ve always been about helping others showcase their business, after all, that is what design is. With the Auckland Fair, this was especially true, and now I am excited to create this new platform.
While this has been a dream of mine forever, it’s long been an aspiration for my editorial team and they are equally as pumped as I am. Kirsty Millar of Dot Wordsmith who is a Mangawhai local, she will be joining me as Lead Editor, she actually did a ‘woo-hoo!’ when I asked her to be involved, she was beyond excited to have that Editor role in her cap. We are joined by Chantelle Campbell of Food by Chantelle as Food Editor, my Mangawhai bestie who creates the most incredible food, she is so passionate about what she does and takes so much joy from her job. I just couldn’t imagine this magazine without their passion and trust.
Gather Magazine is all about gathering, collecting and curating the special places you wish you knew, the people and businesses to inspire, and the very best spots to eat, shop and do between Silverdale + Whangarei. Gather is about proving that you don’t have to be living in a large city, like Auckland, to still feel connected to an entrepreneurial spirit, there is innovation and creativity everywhere, it’s just a bit more spread out — so we Gather, we bring together, and we lift!
Filled with feature profiles, design, architecture, fashion, shopping, food, art, culture, interiors, weddings, DIY and events through intelligently written, interesting articles. Produced by a team of professionals, Gather Magazine delivers an image rich publication, with stunning, contemporary photography and styling.
Our first issue will be published in late January, Gather Magazine will be a beautiful, perfect bound, tactile magazine that will be produced Bi-monthly and free. It will be available from hand selected pick up points across our region, as well as in Auckland Central and the North Shore, you can read our mag online or have a paid subscription for direct to your door delivery.
Be sure to check out our website for a taste of our articles, and if you’d like to advertise or support us in some way, get in touch!
How have I not heard about Rayana Jay until THIS WEEK?! Sometimes, you stumble across some real gems while looking for something totally different, then discover something amazing instead.
Rayana Jay is 23 (!!!) she manages her own twitter account, and there’s something I quite like about that. Authentic.
This tune, Nothing to Talk About, is from her EP Sorry About Last Night. She describes the EP “These songs are supposed to be listened to like a story. It’s about lust and sex and drinking and love and heartbreak and bouncing back.” So. Damn. Good.
Yes! It’s time to do a little happy dance, because New Balance have recently released a new take on their 574, the 574S, a Mark II if you will… with geometric details and some comfy as heck features, it sure is nice.
What I love about this shoe, is that you can style it so easily. Here I’ve mixed them with a pair of the New Balance Essential Sweats, teamed with a black button shirt and added a colour pop with a matte finish coral lippie. Perfect for a sports luxe look finished off with a leather jacket and my Sass & Bide shades….
STEAL MY STYLE
From top: 1. YSL Rogue Pur Couture Lipstick in Le Orange. 2. Sheer Black shirt from Witchery (Winter 2015). 3. 574S Sneakers from New Balance. 4. The Horse watch. 5. Well Sugar Lift, texturising spray. 6. Essentials Sweatpants by New Balance in grey.
With building my home, every room is a bank canvas, which may seem like a total dream to most people but sometimes it can be pretty overwhelming! So many options for most things, it all gets a bit too hard. My bedroom has been bumped to the end of the list frequently when it comes to the interior creativity, with working for myself, I don’t exactly spend much time in there.
I like simplicity in a bedroom; tones and textures, muted colours, soft lighting, minimal clutter with everything having a home and only things you love.
A great starting point is your linen, with fabric you can curl up into and feel comfortable, I recently got this beautiful 100% linen duvet set from Harvey Norman which is absolutely gorgeous. The quality is great, I was really pleasantly surprised at how soft it feels. The dark charcoal is the perfect palette for my bedroom, where I have paired with silk pillows and added texture with my wall hanging. I loved it so much I bought another set in the light grey!
If you’d like to re-create this look, head along to their online store. Shop here.
Hellooooo gorgeous! New Balance have finally released their women’s version of the highly popular, brand new mens silhouette, the 247, because they appreciate the ladies who love sneakers! I think it’s awesome that New Balance have recognised that women want their sneakers as much as the guys. More often than not, the best releases don’t do a full size range (which the smallest size is a men’s US4, which is about a women’s US6) and unless they release them in kids sizes, we don’t get a look in.
“The New Balance 247 Women’s is done in synthetic mesh with a bootie construction in tonal colourways for every-day, all-day wear. The welded N logo and women tongue label round out the classic details of a core, must-have silhouette”
You know what, they live up to it. These babies are comfy as, I popped them on to check the sizing and literally didn’t take them off for the rest of the day. You could do a full days work on your feet in these and not even notice. I love white sneaks (NB clearly new this) and there is nothing better than a white on white on white colourway, they come in two others as well if you fancy a bit of monochrome action. They are a small fit, I’m usually a US6.5 and these are a US7 and fit perfectly, so I’d recommend you go up half a size if you’re wanting to snap up a pair for yourself.
Pair perfectly with black jeans, a crisp white tee and a tailored jacket and you have an awesome work look that you can totally get away with in absolute comfort.