I start today’s post by saying:  I’m thrilled to feature the delightful graphic designer, entrepreneur and web designer Andrea Barras of Bird & Design.

I think there must be something in the KwaZulu-Natal air that we don’t seem to have enough of here in the Eastern Cape.  To explain and give a bit of context:  I spend a considerable amount of time on Instagram, and through people I already follow (for example Lauren Setterberg, who I interviewed a few months ago – find that interview here), I discover more and more awesome girlbosses.  When I do a bit more snooping research, I find that they mostly live in KZN.  In my mind, all these ladies that I admire know each other, meet for coffee, get on really well and spend Saturday afternoons chatting about the fun they’re having running their own businesses and living a life of their own design.  Yeah, I’m a bit idealistic.

I found the Instagram account of Bird & Design a little while ago, and admittedly I scrolled through and left without following (shameful), then came across Andrea’s work again (and again and again) through Facebook, liked her page and scrolled through.  I found that she, along with Nicola Tweed, started a Facebook group for creative entrepreneurs.  I joined and immediately asked if I could feature both Andrea and Nicola on my blog – I’m classy like that.  Andrea agreed so here she is – I leave you with the down-to-earth and magnificent Andrea Barras.

Q:  Briefly tell us about your business journey.  (What helped you decide to start your own business?  What did you do before working for yourself?)

After university, I headed to London where I officially began my design career working in various in-house positions before taking the plunge and becoming a freelancer in 2010.  The biggest deciding factor for me to leave the comfort of a full-time job was the flexibility it would allow me time-wise and the fact that I would be my own boss – having the choice to work WITH people instead of FOR them!  I always knew I wanted to be a mom (I have 3 beautiful daughters) and being able to work for myself has given me the flexibility to be at home with my kids and to have a career (neither of which I could do without).

Q:  What was the process you followed when starting to set up your brand?

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, given the fact that I help others with this sort of thing all the time, but my own journey in terms of building my brand has been totally haphazard and confusing and I really wish I’d had someone to help guide me a bit better from the start.  However, it’s all a learning curve and through building my brand on my own, I have gained the skills to help my clients even better than before.  I would say that it’s only really within the past few years that I have built a brand that I am proud of, something that is most “me”.  My recent rebrand, with the aim to combine my established creative blog and freelance design website/service under the same name, has been the best decision and I’m super proud of where I’m at now with Bird & Design.

Q:  How do you manage your branding and make sure everything you do (from business cards, to packaging, to branding collateral) keeps in line with your brand?

Fortunately, given that I am a graphic designer, this part is easy and most enjoyable for me.  I think the most important thing for any business when it comes to trying to maintain consistency with visual branding is to have strong foundations – having everything set out from the start (colours, fonts, graphics etc.) helps to make maintaining consistent visuals so easy, even for the less creative among us.  When working on visual identity projects, I always supply clients with a style sheet in order to do exactly this.

Q:  How do you manage your social media commitments?

This is something I am constantly working on – admittedly my consistency could be better but I also value quality over quantity and I would rather post less posts (or more inconsistently) on my blog and social platforms, than post something that is not in line with my brand and vibe.  Sticking with one or two main social media platforms (my preferred ones are FB and Insties) has helped me to focus – I often suggest to clients that they should pick a select few platforms to do really well, rather than trying to do them all averagely!  I hope to create a more naturally consistent schedule in the new year and because I’m generally a sucker for routine anyway, I’m hoping it will help with content generation and getting myself organised too 🙂

Q:  How do you motivate yourself to keep going when your inner critic’s voice gets a bit too loud?

When that inner critic rears its ugly head I often know it’s time to take a break and actually step away for a while, coming back to my work when I have a clear mind and feel more rested.  Often a good mental break is all it takes for me to reset, and failing that – coffee and a chat with like-minded creative/entrepreneurial friends often does the trick too!

Q:  What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned since you started your business?

I could probably write an essay on this topic but in short, valuing my time and skills has probably been the most important thing I have learned.  In the past I did so much work for next to nothing/for free even(!) and all that I got out of it was less time with my family, unpaid bills, and oddly, more self-doubt!  It was only when I started valuing myself more that others started to see and value me too.

Andrea, you have no idea how much your answers resonated with me.  I have also worked for next to nothing, undervaluing my work and the quality of what I produce.  Through a few months of not being able to contribute to household expenses, I learned that undervaluing myself will not grow a business and is no good for self-esteem.

You can find Andrea on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on her website.

melissa de klerk

Melissa De Klerk

Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi

Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.

You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.

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