I’ve been fortunate enough to run my own business as a freelance Designer since 2013. Never in a million years did I think that this is what I would be doing, but I’m so glad that I am! I didn’t expect to be working for myself so quickly when I first moved to Toronto, but I instantly learned that being a freelancer is the new normal here. In just 3 short years I’ve been able to work for several talented Designers within the GTA.

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Photo by Thomas Zitnansky

I’ve created this list of my best tips on how to succeed, flourish as a small business owner and gain a slew of new clients!

  1. Create your business identity – I know it’s such a cliche thing to say, but understanding your identity before you venture off is crucial for your business. Who are you? What is your business? What do you stand for? What types of services can you provide? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself as a business owner. Once you’ve established your identity, make your presence known through the use of social media & networking to get your name out there.
  2. Charge what you’re worth – Freelancers either charge what they’re worth or they don’t. Most often, they don’t. When you’re first starting out, it’s difficult to gauge your worth. This knowledge comes with experience, talent and exposure. Once you establish yourself and are confident in your talent, re-evaluate your rates & charge accordingly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with increasing your rates every year or so, as long as you have the talent & knowledge to back it up.
  3. The Power of ‘No’ – If you are far too busy for another client at the moment, it is completely ok to tell people ‘No’. This was very hard for me to do the first couple of years. Naturally, I’m a people-pleaser. And when your name is on the line, you don’t want to disappoint your clients. However, it’s not healthy to burn yourself out. So if you have too much on your plate, take a step back and prioritize your clients & take on the jobs you feel best reflect you and your brand.
  4. Social Media Social Media Social Media! – Using social media can connect you to potential clients and partners within your community. I cannot tell you the amount of Designers who have personally messaged me on Instagram looking for assistance with miscellaneous design work. Post photos of your work, use tons of hashtags and tag your clients. Businesses, especially Interior Designers use social media every day to showcase their work, so use all platforms to get your name out there!
  5. Plan your days ahead – I spend my Monday mornings planning for the week ahead. I check all emails from the weekend, look at projects that require immediate attention and schedule any meetings throughout the week. Carving that time out every week keeps me sane, and allows me to take control of my schedule. While planning, I make sure I balance my time evenly between all of my clients so everyone is happy.

 

Why I Will Never Plan Another Wedding Ever Again

Our wedding day was simply amazing. I’m sure many brides would say their wedding day was one of the happiest days of their lives, and I am no different. Everything came together so beautifully, and looking back we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Well, maybe a few things 😉

Kamil and I chose to have our wedding at Mastronardi Estate Winery in Kingsville, Ontario. As soon as we got engaged we knew we did not want to have a conventional wedding. Conventional to the people in our community usually consists of an overly stuffy banquette hall, mediocre food and a bad DJ. This may work for others, but we wanted something a bit more special.

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We chose Mastronardi Estates not only because of their gorgeous property, but for their all-in-one wedding planning services. Given that we live in Toronto, we didn’t want to keep driving home every other weekend, scouting out vendors. The team at Mastronardi made it a completely effortless process. From the flowers to the alcohol, they handled every single detail. When the day finally arrived, all we had to do was show up!

Although the day went by seamlessly, we had a few hiccups and challenges along the way in the year that we were engaged. Actually ‘a few’ is a major understatement.

Here are a 5 lessons I learned throughout this process, and why I wouldn’t do it all over again.

  1. A Wedding is just a Big Party, and it’s Expensive as Hell – No matter what your budget, whether big or small, weddings are pricey. The wedding industry is a fickle one, and I didn’t quite understand it until I became a bride. We quickly learned that even the basic elements of a standard wedding can blow your budget out of the water. The dress, the suit, the photographer, the videographer, the cake, the venue, the invitations, the transportation…IT. ALL. ADDS. UP. About six months before the wedding, Kamil approached me and asked how I felt about eloping. He was completely serious, and thought we’d get way more bang for our buck by hopping on a plane to Mexico and saying our I Do’s in the sunset. Had we not been so close to the date, I would have been up for it. But we were simply in too deep with the commitments and deposits (ooh the deposits!). So, my advice to young couples who plan on paying for the wedding themselves, I’d say start saving from the first date!
  2. You Can’t Please Everyone – You won’t please everyone. You want to, you’ll try, but you won’t. There will always be something about your wedding that makes that certain family member unhappy. And that’s ok. I made the rookie mistake of letting other peoples’ grievances get to me, which led to much stress and weight gain (Yes, I gained mad weight before the big day. Many people lose weight when they’re stressed, I binge on poutine and milkshakes). If I could do it all over again, I’d pay far less attention to the haters, and focus on this exciting milestone my fiancé and I were about to celebrate. I lost focus along the way, and by June 19th, I was a shell of a woman. I had cried so many tears that by the time the wedding day arrived, all I could do was smile from ear-to-ear in pure joy that we had finally made it. I saw my groom at the end of that aisle and forgot about the people who tried to kick me down along the way.
  3. The Ugly Comes Out – I’m sure many brides would agree that many peoples’ true colours shine when they’re asked to be part of your wedding day. And whether they play a role in your day or not, peoples’ inner “ugly” comes out in full force. Friends and family members who you thought loved & supported you lash out. Feelings are hurt. Tears (again) are shed. Am I the only one who felt they had a Real-Housewives-Inspired wedding experience? That being said, for every person who wasn’t supportive, I had a handful of girlfriends who were. And those were the ones who kept me sane throughout it all. Keep an amazing support team around you, and you’ll be able to see the beauty in the midst of all the ugly.
  4. Be Present – This was one thing that I regret not doing. While the photographs and videos help me remember certain aspects of the big day, I certainly don’t remember being present and taking in all of the excitement of the festivities. Kamil would say the same thing. I remember being so overwhelmed the morning of the wedding that I forgot to pack my overnight bag completely (I forgot all of my makeup and had to wear my wedding Spanx as underwear the next day…TMI?). During the reception, I was so caught up with making sure everyone was having a good time, I forgot to enjoy a piece of cake. They say the night goes by in a flash. They’re not lying. What they don’t tell you is that everyone wants a selfie with the happy couple, someone pulls you aside for something, the wedding planners are rushing you to come back from photos, and before you know it, its 2am, the lights are on and there’s a kid sweeping up confetti. Be present. Take it all in.
  5. Do You, Boo! – At the end of the day, it’s your day. The wedding should be a reflection of the two of you, and your guests should celebrate that. If you want to come in on segways during your first introduction (something we highly considered), go for it! If you want to serve fried chicken and waffles, do it up! If it brings you joy, just do it. It’s one night to have fun, so bring in whatever elements that you and your partner truly enjoy. When else can you do it?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, where I share all of the pretty details of our special day. 

xo.

L.

Welcome to Blog Post Numero Uno! By this point, I hope you checked out my About page and read a little bit about who I am and what I’m doing here. If you didn’t, well let me introduce myself!

I’m Elizabeth. Liz. Lizzo. Lizard, if you will. I’m a 30 year old Designer based out of Toronto, Ontario. I’m originally from Windsor, I am married, and live a pretty unassuming life in this big, awesome city.

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Zitnansky Photography

I work as a Freelance designer, offering my services to multiple talented designers around the GTA. I absolutely love my job. I live to work. I’m what you call, a workaholic. Some of the Designers I’ve had the pleasure of working with on a regular basis are, Laura Hay Décor & Design, Jessica Kelly Design, Rebecca Hay Design and Amanda Forrest Design. Just to name a few! There’s something about working with powerful, driven women that is so inspiring to me. I love collaborating with other design professionals, bouncing ideas off of each other, working towards that end goal.

I’m still pretty fresh to this blogging world, but I’m excited to see what new & exciting adventures I can get myself into! I hope this becomes a place where I can share my life, as well as feature some of the hottest design trends in the coming years. Follow me as I feature new vendors, showcase the latest in Home Décor & Lifestyle, and cover several events throughout the city!

xo.

L.