Looking back at 2007 – No Grey Creative turns 10
2017 marks 10 years for No Grey Creative. As part of the celebration I’ll be bringing you a series of blog posts with the purpose of sharing my unique business story and also with the hope that you can relate to, learn from and have a laugh at (along with me) my experiences.
Please enjoy this first post which is all about 2007. My first year of working for myself!
Living situation: I had recently purchased a small home unit in Mentone and was staying with my family whilst I was renovating it DIY and with the help of friends and family.
What did I do to get started?
Designed up some flyers advertising my services. Printed about 500 out at my current employment (sneaky sneaky) and spent weekends and evenings delivering around Braeside business park, hoping for a response.
Made my first website with the (then) revolutionary new software iWeb
Designed and printed my first business cards.
Put sign writing on my car (I was very enthusiastic!)
On leaving current employment: It’s the scariest thing to quit your job and commit to going it alone. Where I was working was soul destroying to say the least. Employees were undervalued, underpaid and the pressure was so stressful I nearly had a breakdown. Add in the fear of how you’re going to start and manage a business alone – I still can’t believe I made it through. I left my job with hope and optimism and I kept my eye on my goal.
I’ve been sorting through some files for this post and found this beautiful card from a co-worker <3
How long did it take to get my first enquiry? I remember it very clearly. It had been 4 weeks since I did my first mail drop. I was sitting at my desk of my current employment and my mobile rang. I rushed to the bathroom to answer it (in my business name of course) and to my surprise it was someone enquiring if I could design and photograph their next handbag catalogue. I of course said yes and arranged a meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I FAXED them the quote – how times have changed.
An example of my first quote template!
First job: Wholesale catalogue for a Italian leather goods distributor. 60 pages in length and a 10,000 quantity print production.
What I learned from that first job: So many things so I will try to keep it short.
- I seriously underquoted and ended up spending about 5x the amount of hours on it.
- Dealing with your own clients is very different from dealing with in house colleagues.
- A special mention to my photographer friend Mackenzie for helping me get through this job. Photographing the products, being paid almost nothing for it and making sure I delivered a quality product to the client. We learned a lot!
Best thing about going out on my own: The feeling of satisfaction and pride that the work you are doing is for you and not somebody else. I was seeing my design work come to fruition (like holding the leather catalogue once it was printed) and knowing that I made that. It was all me.
Worst thing about going out on my own: I don’t think I had a decent nights sleep for about 6 months. I was exhausted, highly anxious and had a lot of self doubt. Not a nice way to be.
For me, I worked on fixing the worst and believed the best would prevail. And it did.
How I came up with the business name: This is such a popular question still to this day! I thought of the name a few years earlier when I was studying BA Arts in Graphic Design at University. I had an assignment due and the truth was that I had not done a very good job on it. When I handed it in, I disclosed this information to my teacher. He looked at me, smiled, and said ‘You know what Jacqui? One if the things I like about you is your honesty. I always know what I’m getting because you are so black and white – there’s no grey about you’
I put that in my pocket for the day I was going to start my business.
Making ends meet in the first year: I don’t believe in overnight success. There is a time when every person who as ever gone out on their own has had to find some way to financially make ends meet. You find yourself in the situation of having enough of your own clients to realise it is worth pursuing but you need another source of income to get you over the line. To combat this I signed up to multiple creative placement agencies and took whatever they offered me. It turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I could have had in my business infancy. It taught me how to properly talk and meet new people, how to bounce from one creative project to a completely different one in the same week and how to organise and prioritise my time between clients – the bonus was I did very well financially from it.
Something new I tried in 2007: I joined a BNI networking group and from that I gave my first business presentation. It was a substantial financial investment for me at the time but I knew I needed to invest in something to help get more clients.
Special thanks: You cannot do this without the support of others.
A huge thank you to my Dad for always believing I could and encouraging me to work for myself and for looking after the accounting side of things for me then and in fact still does.
To (my now) husband Paul for staying with me through some very challenging periods of insanity I subjected him to during those first few months.
Some favourite design work from 2007:
Logo design for Dilga Organics
Wrappings Gifts Christmas Catalogue Design
Branding for my Dad’s Home Loan business ‘I’ll Show You The Money!‘
Logo for construction reporting company VisiBuild
I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences from 2007, click below to find out what happens next in 2008…