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how she did it

Case Studies // Job By Day, Entrepreneur By Ni...

Job By Day, Entrepreneur By Night

Female entrepreneur: Natalie Walstein

Location: USA

Company: Half Asleep Studio

Industry: Home decor & accessories/ Freelance graphic design & illustration

Age range: 20s

Tell us about your business…

I have been placing the groundwork for my business by brainstorming and researching ideas for the past year and am just about ready to make my debut. I will start with making and selling dreamy home decor and accessories on Etsy (www.halfasleepstudio.etsy.com) to raise some money for start-up costs for my own freelance graphic design & illustration company, all under the name of Half Asleep Studio. I named it Half Asleep Studio because I’m very much in touch with my dreams and spirituality and want to infuse everyday things with the beautiful essence of dreamland, and also because starting my own business while working at another job 30 hours a week means that I am quite often half asleep in my studio at 3 am working on product development, web design, and other projects to get this thing going.

What is a day in the life of you like?

I wake up around 9 am and get ready for my job at the screen printing shop where I work during the week from 11 am to 5 pm. I spend my time at the shop answering phones and e-mails from customers and then working on blog posts, research, and web stuff for my business during down time. Sometimes I will even bring something that I am making for my online shop and work on that – I’m all alone in the office so I have a ton of independence to do whatever I want. It’s wonderful! After work, I go home and eat dinner with my boyfriend, play with my kitties, clean up the house a bit, and promptly lock myself in my in-home studio. I just released an issue of an art magazine so lately studio time has been spent trimming pages, binding them, promoting the issue, and getting them ready to ship out. Once that is done, however, I will be spending all night in the studio working on product development for my online shop and creating pieces for my graphic design & illustration portfolio.

What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?

Time management, definitely. It’s been really hard for me to create and enforce a routine that efficiently lends my time to all of the important things in my life: my day job, my boyfriend, my family & friends, housework, my own health, and then this business, but I am slowly getting closer to being more disciplined and getting super organized with lots and lots of to do lists and realistic goal-setting. Besides that, I’m starting this business out of a very small budget – I probably only have $50/month to lend towards product materials, web stuff, and so on, which is partly why I haven’t been able to launch it yet and probably won’t be ready to go until sometime this summer.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I noticed that I tend to get way too far ahead of myself in terms of all of the projects I want to get done and I become upset when things aren’t getting done as quickly as I wanted, so I’m trying to be more accepting of where I am at at this very moment in time and take things one step at a time. I’ve gotten better about finishing old projects before moving on to new ones, too. As for my tiny budget, I’ve absolutely had to become a lot better at managing my money. I made a spreadsheet template and tried to make it really nice to look at so that when I have to total up a depressing amount of debt and expenses each month, I don’t get overwhelmed, but instead, inspired to make progress and get those debt numbers down and my income up. I also try to be as resourceful as possible when purchasing materials that I want to make into something to sell. I raid thrift stores and up-cycle and re-beautify old things a lot and spend a lot of time thinking about how to add value to inexpensive materials.

What advice would you give to other business owners?

I’m just starting out, really, so I wouldn’t know what to say! So far the most important things I’ve figured out are the need to manage time and money effectively and to stay totally organized with lists, but not lists with an unrealistic amount of tasks on them because otherwise I will just get overwhelmed and stressed and may occasionally decide to blow them all off. Trust me, it happens. Being realistic with your time is really important… especially when you barely have any like me.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I keep a daily blog at www.thefloodzine.com that showcases artists, designers, and other types of creative inspiration. This allows me to constantly see and share the awesome things people around the world are creating and reminds me that there are unlimited possibilities for me as well. I also get to interview some of my favorite artists once in a while and it’s been extremely rewarding and encouraging to be able to ask them questions about how they got to where they are today. It also helps to have an incredibly supportive boyfriend who also wants to help me succeed.

What’s your favourite quote?

One I just read from a blog called ‘Note to Self’ (www.notetoself.typepad.com) today: “You can do anything, but not everything.” – David Allen

Who inspires you?

All of the people who create the blogs I read on a daily basis and just about anyone who is throwing down the status quo and making what they love work for them as a full-time mode of income.

Do you have a business philosophy?

Going into this, I know that I want to not only meet but exceed the expectations of my customers and clients in as many ways as possible as well as create experiences that inspire others. This could be something as simple as saying that an item will ship out in 3 days, but then going out and shipping it the very next day instead or putting a lot of effort to make the packaging of a product or deliverable fun and exciting. I want to build a reputation of being as personable, fair, and friendly as possible in all of my dealings, even if it means I have to lose profit by doing right by a customer or client who isn’t happy with what I have created for them once in a while. On the flipside of that, I refuse to let others walk all over me or treat me in a disrespectful way.

Get in touch…

Website: halfasleepstudio.com

Twitter Name: halfasleepshop

Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/pages/Half-Asleep-Studio

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