The Law of the Few

Creative

  • Keep Imagining

    Keep Imagining

    Geoff Jaeger

    Founder, gkje.co

    www.gkje.co

    Geoff Jaeger is the founder behind creative agency gkje.co. With a collaborative team around Australia and a busy schedule that sees him regularly commuting between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, Geoff has come to understand his own rhythm. An advocate for determining your own schedule, while producing high quality work, Geoff breaks the mould of what a creative individual should do. Instead, he chooses to live the life he imagines...

    What's the story behind your business? | I left a corporate communications role in 2011 to explore freelance writing and photography. I wanted the freedom to choose the content and nature of the work I was doing, while working at my own pace on projects that inspired and stimulated me.

    After several successful photographic exhibitions - which weren’t going to keep paying the bills - I hunkered down to earn a living from my writing, discovering my clients were also in need of graphic and web design work. I approached a graphic and web designer I knew, who were already working as sole traders. It then just seemed sensible to become a team, with a collective business name.

    As the founder behind gkje.co and a regular commuter between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, how do you strike a balance between work and leisure? | That’s a really interesting question because when you love what you do, the line between work and leisure can blur. Each city offers different work and leisure opportunities, and I tend to plan down time activities around my immediate location.

    Right now, the majority of my clients are in Sydney, so it’s always more relaxing in Brisbane and Melbourne. By that, I mean less planned meetings and more flexibility during the day. I know if I don’t have enough time off, my efficiency and ability to think clearly reduces dramatically.

     

    Persistence. Just keep at it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but learn from them or make those mistakes again until you do.

    One of the joys of running your own business is determining your own schedule and keeping track of your own time. What challenges have you encountered in being your own boss and how have you overcome these challenges? | After years of standard work hours, it’s amazing how ingrained they become; just how much you’re left with a sense of how you ‘should’ still be working during those hours. This was challenging in the early days before I recognised my own work rhythm.

    Left to right, the supporting cast of gkje.co: Zac Hardake- Film Editor, Helen Thomas - Web Designer; Graphic Designer & Elke Ploetz - Graphic Designer

    Having the freedom to choose my work hours, I frequently use the early afternoon for exercise or a walk, regardless of where I am, my brain seems to naturally shut down at that time of day. Early morning and late afternoon, I’m naturally at my computer working, and can easily lose track of the time. What I notice now is how I find it difficult to stop work as my mind is always thinking about a business idea or next step. That makes the challenge to plan down time, but that’s a great sign that I’m doing the right thing, so I don’t really mind.

    As a creative individual and founder of a creative agency, what do you feel is the most important element in your daily work? | The most important element is being able to solve a client’s problem or provide an opportunity. The best solution is usually a collaboration where we each appreciate and recognise the other’s expertise.

    Being available, particularly for time-poor small businesses, and helping them achieve their goals are the most important elements for me. I like to think our clients can contact us anytime - and they do - as if they were just walking into the next room to chat about a brief. Given the ongoing changes in communications platforms, it’s also important to be able to share current thinking and creative trends.

    What do you believe is the most important attribute in building a successful and thriving business? | Persistence. Just keep at it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but learn from them or make those mistakes again until you do. As Henry David Thoreau said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” The confidence thing takes time, but increases as you keep going and keep imagining…

  • Of Passion and Glass

    Of Passion and Glass

    Soozie Hilker

    Founder, A Passion for Glass

    www.apassionforglass.com.au

    Passion isn't something that can be made, but it is carved in glass in each of the bespoke pieces created by Soozie Hilker. An eternal optimist, Soozie has launched her own business at the age of 59 and the only road ahead is forwards. Crafting completely bespoke pieces for her clients, A Passion for Glass is more than just her business name, it is her heart etched in each piece she creates.

    What's the story behind your business? | Due to a family illness, I recently returned to Australia after living in Europe and the United Kingdom for nearly 22 years. When the unexpected opportunity arose to start my own business I had, initially, intended to draw on my corporate background and experience to commence my enterprise. However, one sunny morning, whilst meditating, I had what could only be described as an 'Aha'  moment and, in the calm space between breathing in and breathing out, the realisation occurred that I wanted to choose a different path - and that was to work with glass.

    I had what can only be described as an 'Aha moment and, in the calm space between breathing in and breathing out, the realisation occurred that I wanted to choose a different path [for my business] - and that was to work with glass.

    Why did you choose the name 'A Passion for Glass'? | I was having a phone conversation with my sister describing my vision of the business, it's future and the pieces I was creating, and she remarked on the passion she heard in my voice. I realised then that 'A Passion for Glass' was the perfect name, as it completely reflects how I feel when working with this medium.


    Why did you choose to work with glass over other materials? | My love for working with glass commenced in the late 1980's as a hobby working with stained glass. I have always loved the illuminating effects light and shadow casts on the different glasses, and I find this medium extremely emotive and rewarding when creating different designs. I was recently given the experience of working with 'warm' or fused glass and, from that moment, I was hooked. When kiln-heated glass is incredibly hot, it becomes this beautiful, living, fluid form and the 'natural' elements within the glass take over to create minute changes; creating a unique piece and leading to exciting discoveries each time the kiln is 'cracked'.


    How do you feel taking the risk of launching your own business? What advantages and challenges are the result of launching at 59 years of age? | Good question! I guess I am slightly older than the average age a person commences a new business endeavour, however, I have an extremely diverse business background - including flight attendant, area manager for a prestigious car brand, manager for an international company and international on-site conference coordinator - from which to draw experiences from. 

    On my personal journey,  I have travelled extensively since 18 years of age. I've lived in many foreign countries and studied a number of natural therapies, and these experiences combine and are drawn from on a daily basis, either consciously or sub-consciously. As a sole trader, with all the areas of business this entails, naturally there are the very rare nano-seconds when I question my decisions. However, in these moments, a quote comes to mind:

    Fear is past experiences and challenges,

    Strangling the present,

    And suffocating the future!

    And that is definitely not for me...

    What is your favourite piece that you've created, and why? | Definitely the 'Tree of Life'. The commissions for this piece are so personal and varied - a Mother wanting her children's initials 'carved' into the tree trunk, a newly married couple with a 'carved' heart containing their initials and a young woman who recently lost a sibling wanting his initials carved as a personal memorial - each one a touching commission and I feel honoured that I have been allowed to share in these moments.

    How do you represent the customer and yourself in all of your bespoke pieces? | Listening and hearing the client's 'story' surrounding the bespoke piece is the most important factor. This gives me the vision of how to best create the memories or events they wish to remember. It's their story told in glass.

    What are you working on now and what's next for A Passion for Glass? | At present, a commission of the Arthurian legend 'The Green Man', the Wierwood Tree from the popular Game of Thrones television series, and a set of glass 'etis' coasters, part of a series based on the story 'The Starfish Thrower'.

    What's next? Christmas is just around the corner! Creating delicate Christmas decorations, experimenting with 'lacing' glass, working towards my own studio and kiln and, on a personal level, preparing myself for the 870km Camino De Santiago trek across France and Spain next year to celebrate my 60th birthday.

  • Heart of Horses

    Heart of Horses

    Sophie Barrington

    Founder, Archer Creative

    www.archercreative.net.au

    A rider without a horse may be just a man, but that's a sentiment that certainly hasn't stopped Sophie Barrington. At the age of 23, Sophie has launched Archer Creative, a boutique media consultancy that works exclusively with equestrian and rural businesses - despite having never owned a horse of her own.

    What's the story behind your business? | At the tender age of 22, I became closely acquainted with the heart-rendering, humiliating shock of losing the job that I thought was the start of my impressive corporate career. In early 2013, I was feeling proud to be working in the dream role I had been aiming for. And then, the dream died. Reality gradually seeped in as I carried out the infamous task I'd only seen in sitcoms. I gingerly packed up my belongings and stepped out into a rainy day. What a cliché.

    "At the very moment that one opportunity closes, an entire world of new possibilities arise before you."

    You see, my friends at high school told me that I was destined for the United Nations. An academic achiever, I quickly became the journalism student who was more known for her passion for human rights, than by her own name. I hadn't set parameters for failure at the beginning. I didn't think it was even possible. I had finally got to the place where I wanted to be. Or, at least the place I thought I wanted to be. But, what if success doesn't look like what you first imagined? What if the one thing you'd been dreaming about, wasn't the thing that you wanted after all? 

    It is a bittersweet blessing to lose your grip on the job you thought you wanted. A busy weekly schedule is quickly replaced with days that don't have quite the same meaning between 9-5. A once almost hectic purpose is replaced with feelings of disappointment, embarrassment and loss. And your pair of neat black wedges, which were worn almost daily, are put back in their box and placed on the shelf.

    But there is also something profoundly unique in losing the job you thought you wanted. At the very moment that one opportunity closes, an entire world of new possibilities arise before you. It is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. In a single moment, a once-defined path becomes blurred. But, what is truly terrifying is that you have been given something rare. An opportunity to re-define, re-evaluate, re-adjust. To achieve dreams which may have otherwise been left behind for another version of yourself. Archer Creative was born out of my very own silver lining.

    How did you develop the brand Archer Creative? | For those who don't yet know me, the image of the archer closely resembles my approach to the world - both to my life and to my work. Drawn from ancient Roman mythology, the archer is embodied by the centaur, half person, half horse. She is renowned for her intellect, clarity of thought and boldness of approach. These are the characteristics that I hope lay the foundation for Archer Creative, both now and into the future. Put simply, the client is the arrow and Archer Creative is their bow. Archer Creative is the first of its kind in Australia. Dedicated to working exclusively with equestrian and rural businesses, Archer Creative exists to help them reach their full potential - to help them strive, expand and perform - through its creative marketing and PR solutions.

    What trait do you think is most important in starting your own business? | Tenacity. 

    An unshakeable belief in yourself that your idea might just work. An enduring sense of purpose that it has to work, because you simply know that it will. Because this is what you choose to do every day. 

    To this day, I have never had the pleasure of owning my own horse. It is still a dream that feels somewhat distant. There is always either too little time or too little money to get in the way. I think the very nature of that word, 'dream', ensures it remains in the realm of improbability, rather than certainty. And that can be applied to your own business. I think it is time to change that. It is time to turn my love affair with horses into my life with them. To chase my dream until it cannot run anymore and it is no longer just a dream. An old boss once told me that my tenacity, at times, works against me. I disagree. Have tenacity.

    What has been your biggest learning curve? | We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it is up to you to choose how you spend it. Managing every aspect of your own business can be difficult - sometimes, it can feel insurmountable. I find the more I look for work to do, the more I find it. But being dedicated to consistently building your business, your brand and your key strategies will serve you well over time. 

    My business is still in its early days, but I can look back and say that, in less than six months of operation, I have achieved more than I ever did in that same amount of time in previous jobs. Running your own business should not take over every moment of your time, but it should be engaged as not just a job that you do, but something you choose to do every day. My next move is working towards more collaborative projects, like this one, developing a network of like-minded creatives for larger projects that come across my desk, and eventually establishing a full service agency. You cannot do it all alone, but you can pick a point and just start.

    What's one thing about yourself that you'd like to share | I was the first and only equestrian captain at my high school who didn't have her own horse. I was perhaps also the only senior student who applied for the position with no competition that year. But what I did was create something unique with that gifted opportunity. I started the riding club. A club for girls, like me, who loved horses but didn't have the pleasure of owning one. My lunch times were often spent with notebooks in hand, at meetings with staff organising trail rides and other equestrian activities. Since those early days of managing a schedule in addition to my schoolwork, I haven't looked back. I enjoy diversity and working with different businesses on different projects. The riding club is still going strong, even today, seven years on... The smiling 17-year-old in me likes to think it's her very own legacy.