Let’s Talk Money

For the past couple years I have been repeatedly told that I undercharge for my services. I even wrote a post about it 4 years ago, acknowledging and admitting such. Friends and colleagues have been showing me the actual figures, and the math is finally staring at me, and I am now glaringly obvious of how I have allowed my empathy to overrule my business.

This year marks 10 years since I graduated with honours from one of the top 10 design schools in the US. This year marks 10 years of working experience both at agencies and as a freelancer. This year marks 4 years of successfully running my own business. This year marks 3 years of teaching design to students. To say I am not qualified would be a gross inaccuracy.

I just read a post by Chris Do on why I might be unwilling to charge my worth and worth is such a funny word to me. He discusses how it’s a matter of confidence and most creatives lack the self confidence needed to charge more. And while I agree with this statement to an extent, I consider myself extremely confident in my abilities as a brand identity designer. The challenge is linking that confidence and ability to a price. I’ve taught people how to work out their fees, and I’ve done the work with them and then I return to charging what I have been since 2012. Empathy. I work with a lot of small business owners, as a branding designer, I am there at the beginning. I listen to all of their stories and pain points and internalize it in order to tap into their needs and pull out a design that would solve all of their problems (or at least this is what I tell myself). Through this process I begin to care… too much. This is where I should say, I charge customers based on what they say they can afford, rather than charging them for the service being provided. I get too personal.

I’ve been learning about boundaries this past year in particular, turns out, I’ve had none all my life! And in realising this, I need to put up some emotional boundaries with my clients. I have gotten really great at boundaries for how to communicate with me, to respect my time, but not so great at charging a fee that accurately reflects the value of the service provided. To paint a picture of how badly I undercharge, my fees are 1/4 and 1/5 the amount that my counterparts charge! I actually charge less than the junior designers I’ve hired to work on projects. I might be insane. And you might be wondering, why this oversharing, and why now? Well, I’ve learnt that there’s a freedom that comes with transparency that gives you the permission to do the thing you were supposed to do all along. I also believe in giving others the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and not have to make them too. And maybe most of all, the maths not mathsin’ anymore, which is a Trini way of saying that it’s not making any sense to continue doing what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years.

So, was this a random blog post about me still undercharging or was this an announcement that yesterday’s price is not today’s price? I’ve done the research, I’ve done the math, I’ve set the goals, and it is time for me to apply that same empathy I give my clients, to myself. Design is a billion dollar industry, for a really good reason, it is visual communication. It allows us as human beings to interact with all of the products and services we want and need on a daily basis.

Want to work with me on your next project? Let’s talk!

Are you undercharging for your services? Tell me in the comments because misery likes company.

Mental Health Awareness Month

In 2020, I started creating posts on Instagram for Mental Health Awareness Month. I missed last year, but here we are, new year, new chances, new things. I decided to compile all 4 posts here as they were helpful to some and can maybe help a couple more.

This has been on my to do list for 2 months now but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to share this month until now. The truth. We have endless motivational quotes and positive words to inspire and share everywhere, but sometimes, most times, you just want to say how you’re really feeling and not be told some version of motivation. As someone who battles mental health illness on a daily basis, I don’t want to be told it will get better, because the reality is “it” actually won’t, I’ll just get better at dealing with the problem.

You know that feeling when things are going too good and you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Welcome to me everyday. I have a really hard time accepting congratulations, or celebrating wins. Birthdays, and special anniversaries, no problem. Personal or professional achievement, things going right, “happy moments” terrify me. I don’t know what to do with them, I don’t feel comfortable. I’ve learn this is not a normal reaction to when things go well, and I’ve been trying to actively force myself to celebrate wins however small they may be. But it is truly an uncomfortable experience.

When people ask me “what’s wrong?” sometimes, it’s really hard to explain in the moment and I wish I had something like this to point to which would explain it without my having to try to admit it out loud. 👆🏾 Depression makes no sense. None whatsoever. And there’s nothing I can say to a loved one to help them understand, in the moment, what I am going through. Now throw in running your own business and having to interact with clients and suppliers and then getting hit by one of these classics. Here’s to communicating more openly and honestly! And here’s to the people with patience, thank you!

So here I am, in the last minutes of the last day in May, telling you that I am trying my best. We assume a lot about each other because we’re not there every second of everyday. So we see an Instagram post and we fill in the blanks. We see someone out and we let our brains assume. The reality is that we really just don’t know what people go through. Every time there’s a celebrity suicide, there’s so much shock, and the cliché “they were rich, what did they have to be unhappy about?” There we go again, filling in the blanks, assuming. So I am here, reminding you that we are all really trying. Be patient with each other and more importantly, be patient with yourself.

In the infamous words of the one and only Prince: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…” 💜

Those Ramblings

I live in my brain. There’s running commentary 24/7, visuals both realistic and magical, thoughts, questions, images, memories constantly on loop always. This exhausts me, which is one of the reasons why I started writing. It was (is?) a place for me to take everything happening in there and put it somewhere else so I could stop thinking about it. It’s kind of like when you have an ear worm, that song that you can’t get out of your head and as soon as you listen to it, you’re good, and it’s gone. That’s what writing does for me. And yet, I hardly write. It’s always a battle for me to actually go from thoughts to words on a page. I hate to use psychology jargon as a scape goat but it feels a bit like self sabotage. I’ve identified the “problem”, I’ve found a healthy way to deal with the “problem” but I refuse to do it.

I’ve noticed this trend in other areas of my life.

I’m really great at identifying and acknowledging the thing, whatever it is. I’m also really great at finding solutions. But somehow my brain stops there. The next step, one might say the most important aspect, putting it all into action, I can’t seem to do. Full freeze. It’s like my brain goes, “Okay I’ve done enough work figuring out what the problem was and finding a solution, someone else needs to implement this, not me!” Is it laziness? Is it exhaustion? Is it fear of failure? Is it learnt behaviour? Is it entitlement? Is it all and none of the above?

I’m curious if anyone else has noticed this in themselves and how you’ve dealt with it. Or maybe as an outsider you may have a different viewpoint. Share your thoughts in the comments please. (And thanks for reading my ramblings 🙂)

Fat

As a girl who grew up in the 90s and 2000s, self esteem has always been a struggle especially when it comes to my physical appearance. In my 20s, I had a mini rebirth, fixed my outlook and started to love me for me, all that positive, self appreciation ish. I came into my own. Fast forward to that global pandemic we all love to hate. My mental health tanked, my self discipline became nonexistent and I ATE EVERYTHING.

High cholesterol, fibroids and a belly so big I can’t see my own vagine anymore, I am right back to the start, that girl struggling with self esteem and her physical appearance. I did not see this coming. I know they say life is just cycles, history repeats itself blah blah blah. But me, feeling like my teenage self at 32 years was not in the books. It now takes me an average of 2 hours to get to the shower and figure out something to wear that will be comfortable, look good, and hopefully make me feel better about this new body I’ve grown into. (I’ve never not been able to see my down there before, this is some scary shit!)

And for the people like me, reading this and thinking, well just fucking stop eating everything and exercise, yes, I agree! 100%. How though? I enjoy walking, so I thought I’d try walking my dog more often. Happens once every other week if I’m lucky. Free yoga on YouTube? Once! I started going to the market and only cooking local healthy foods. Fizzled out after 3 weeks. I’ve written all about my struggles with consistency before but I’m learning now that my bigger issue is that I no longer enjoy my own company. I’m relying (heavily) on others to do all of these things. I have run out of the energy or desire to continue being my own cheerleader. It feels like I’ve used up everything to get at this point in life and now I’m ready to hand the baton over to someone else. I am tired of doing it alone. But here I am, fat and very much alone. How did my life become this?

And this is not meant to be a fat-phobic post, this is a why am I Failing All Things post. This is personal. I am uncomfortable. I do not like this version of myself and I guess I’m writing it down to put words to the thoughts and feelings to help move beyond them and put action and energy towards what’s next. Right? Right?

Three

I’ve been thinking a lot about what three years mean, and also why I make such a big deal about birthdays and anniversaries. It’s like Carnival, it is permission to mash up the place, or more realistically, permission from the universe to be extra on this one day. I like the uniformity of it, the predictability, the ability to plan and prepare and celebrate in an orderly manner. It’s weird. But back to 3.

Ever since I first worked with 3canal in 2016, I’ve had an intimate relationship with the number 3 and all the meanings in numerology. (Roger made sure of it!)

My Bali trip solidified the divinity of threes, with their way of life centred around a different trilogy.

Tri Hita Karana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tri Hita Karana is a traditional philosophy for life on the island of BaliIndonesia. The literal translation is roughly the “three causes of well-being” or “three reasons for prosperity.”[1]

The three causes referred to in the principle are:

Harmony with God
Harmony among people
Harmony with nature or environment

So here I am 3 years as a business. 9 years as a college graduate. Turning 33 in 9 months. And in a state of major growth, change, new experiences and an openness that is newer than anything I’ve ever experienced. What does it all mean? Does it need to mean anything? I pride myself on being this controlling yet free spirit that plans a lot but also goes with the wind and this year just seems like such a jumping board where what’s next is completely up in the air. I have no clue what the future holds. I have plans but I also am open to whatever else comes my way and I’m really looking forward to living, for the first time in a really long time. 

Photo by Luigi Creese

Random personal fact: I hate flowers. But I picked each of these because they spoke to me in a different way. 

Symbolising growth in a portrait is a fun excuse to avoid the reality of actually growing. Lol. I kid. I’ve somehow managed to achieve goals and things that weren’t goals but definitely should’ve maybe been on the list. This year has been full of so much change and adapt, adapt, adapt. 

Photo by Luigi Creese

Looking forward to talking more, teaching more, learning more and growing more. I am open to all new opportunities that may come my way, and I am continuously taking care of my mental health so that I can handle all of the abundance that is to come. 

Talk to me nice though. Keep in mind I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my ish. 

Photo by Luigi Creese