Biz Mama: Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design

Crystal Reynolds

Biz Mama Crystal Reynolds, her workspace, and her family

Biz Mama columnMy first featured Biz Mama is graphic designer and mama of two Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design in Calgary, Canada. Crystal and I met “virtually” at the 2011 HOW Design Conference when she was seeking participants for a collaborative post-conference project. I loved her approach of making connections and we have kept in touch ever since. Speaking of connections, Crystal has a blog called Creatives’ Cupboard in which she connects with other creatives in-person and online. She recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Creatives’ Lunch, her local gathering for Calgary creative professionals.

Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am currently running a print design solo design firm with goals of focusing on the niche market of publication design. As a solo firm my roles and responsibilities pretty much cover the full spectrum including from bookkeeping, client relations, sales, production, creative direction, art direction and business development. Oh don’t forget office cleaning and management. Yes, I am living the life.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

I have two girls ages 8 and 6.5. My first was conceived with purpose. I wasn’t happy with my job at the time and felt that I wanted instead to work for myself instead of for someone else’s bottom line. That way I would benefit from my efforts instead of a corporation.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I had been running a freelance business on the side of my salary jobs for about 5 years before we had kids. Once my year maternity leave was up I made the decision to focus on freelancing and not return to my position as manager of membership services at a high end fitness club. Having children gave me perspective that one of the challenges of my position worrying about whether guests had towels for example, was not worth the stress. The driving factor to go it on my own was having the authority over my day. Flexibility required when one has children and the opportunities to be available for those moments that count.

How did your business life change after having children?

Since I was working part-time freelance in design before kids, after kids it was still part-time. As I found head space free from motherhood demands the business was my escape. Design was where I found my happy place when parenting made me insane. As kids grew I needed space for my creative work. For me I couldn’t do that with kids around so found part time care for them. One of the key things I learned was to communicate my working office hours so earn I could be reached by my clients they could have my full attention and focus without kid distractions, as well this has helped to organize and balance my day and the variety of roles I have (designer, mother, wife and friend). Now that my children are in school full time I have a much more regular work schedule, being house bound I have craved more interaction so started connecting with other creative professionals by hosting a creatives’s lunch where we simply meet up at a restaurant, buy our own lunch and let the conversation flow. On the work front, seeing a change in my client needs I applied for an in house position at a creative studio and landed a part time freelance gig. It is the best of both worlds. Some regular work as well as an opportunity to work collaboratively. It has been an amazing experience to learn from others as well as flex my design skills on projects I haven’t landed myself. So as far as how children have impacted my business you could say I have more focus and drive to be efficient and focused. I am a lover of print and I keep in my office a saying my printer has shared, “in the end, it is only ink on paper, you won’t be fretting about these projects when you are on your death bed.” Perhaps a little morbid, but it helps to give me perspective when clients or project deadlines are intense.

 Describe a typical workday.

Wake up an hour or more before the family. Coffee… Breakfast if a good day. Get kids and husband lunches made, their breakfast as well then drag kidlets out of bed, fed, dressed and out the door. Watch them get on the bus from my office window. Depending on the day I am either out the door to freelance at a studio while kids in school or they don’t need me and I have the day to focus on my clients and the variety of projects I have on the go. (Creatives’ Cupboard, role as president for U of C Kinesiology Alumni Chapter, partnership in cookbook creation and design). Around all of this I still have the business to manage, tidy the house, I cook all the meals and work to have a social life with friends and colleagues. Then…. The kids get home around 3:30pm and I step away from the computer to focus on them while they cry about being hungry, homework is hard and just overall sisters at each other’s throats… And it isn’t even supper yet. So if I was out freelancing during the day, my evening is filled with catching up on my client work and maybe catching a TV show to chill out then on a good day be in an appropriate mood to be social with my husband. Lately I have been making the effort to get to bed at a decent hour. I would like to make one comment here about my day. I mentioned my husband a little but the fact is he is half of how I survive in a day. We divide up our responsibilities for the house evenly and I never hear him complain. If anything he complains about, is the limited time I have for us as a couple which as most married peeps know, a marriage is in constant flux and always needs work and TLC when you can.

 What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Sleep. The fact is you can kill yourself to try and catch up, but the fact is your job is NEVER done. So get your 7-9 hours of sleep at night (for those who don’t have young babies) or at least make sure to balance your day with anything that will re-energize you. And NEVER feel like you need to explain or defend this sanity time. If you are waiting for someone to tell you to take a break… You will be waiting a LONG time.

Thank you, Crystal!

Crystal Ink Design

Calgary, AB Canada & Twitter: crystalinkdesig Facebook: CrystalInkDesign