Well, life sure is different right now!
A month ago we were talking about meeting each other for coffees and drinks at the pub, or having date nights in our favourite restaurants. And now it's isolation this, and quarantine that. So I wanted to put a piece together that reminds us all that we're here and in the trenches together! We're each others' best allies and life support through this.
The incredible women interviewed over this series are from all over the country. They're artisans, business owners and freelancers I've walked my creative journey with. As such, they've all be hit in various ways by the crisis and have generously shared their journey over the past few weeks and months. I hope you'll be inspired by their stories, encouraged to connect and gleam little rays of wisdom from the way they've pivoted & adapted during this time!
Thinking back a few weeks, what was the last normal day of work for you like? (Before COVID-19 hit and self isolation was a thing). What did you do in it? What were your plans for the next few months?
No two days are ever really the same for me but, in a typical week (pre-Covid-19), I’d be spending some time in the studio, welcoming and meeting clients in my creative space and running to and from different suppliers, sourcing stones and checking-in with our engravers and jewellers. On other days, lovely Beck, who has been working with me for the past few months, would be in the studio with me and we’d be planning new photoshoot ideas and preparing for the months ahead. It’s strange to think how much our plans have changed, both personally and professionally. A month ago I was looking at larger workspaces, in preparation to move once Nick and I returned from our honeymoon in late April (our wedding was meant to be on March 28th but we had to postpone this due to the current global setting). I was also getting ready to move Beck to full-time hours and the future for RUUSK was looking bright and big.
It’s odd to think that, in another world, Nick and I would have been married, on our tropical adventure and soon coming home to big and exciting growth for the RUUSK studio and team.
How has the space you're working in changed/ work flow changed?
Luckily, my creative space has always been at home (so in a strange way I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise that I hadn’t already committed to a larger studio and commercial space). For the most part my work space remains the same, although it definitely feels very different. Beck is no longer able to come into work and all my face-to-face client meetings have also had to be moved to a digital space. I’m also no longer able to pop in to visit suppliers which was such a regular part of my previous work life. I was always running around! Luckily we have a beautifully little sunroom which has been my studio for the past couple of years. Having a separate and designated workspace in my home has been a blessing, and although Nick and our Cat Clooney are also around, it’s nice to be able to somewhat separate home from work life.
What is the greatest challenge you've faced in the last few weeks?
Fear. There was one particular week where I was hit the hardest, it was the week leading up to what would have been our wedding weekend and it was also the week when more serious restrictions were being introduced daily. It felt so hard to process all the changes and the feeling of the unknown was overwhelming. I was glued to the news and remember feeling almost paralysed by fear and anxiety. All my plans were dissolving, everything that was previously ‘known’ was just slipping through my fingers. I was scared of my business being forced into hibernation, I was scared of potentially being unable to complete current projects, I was scared of losing Beck, I was scared for my family in Italy, I was scared of our lease ending soon and having to move at a time with so much uncertainty, I was scared of losing everything that I had worked so hard for. Fear was paralysing. However, once I realised this, I slowly worked towards overcoming it. I decided to take the pressure off myself for a week, to just focus on doing what I could and taking each day as it came. I knew I needed to give myself time and space to just breathe and process what was happening. I needed to get out of my head, spend some time in the sun and recalibrate so I had the mental and emotional energy to embrace this time of challenge and come out stronger.
What have you implemented into your daily schedule to keep yourself sane? Stay creatively motivated? Or are you embracing this time to take space for yourself?
We’re very lucky to live next to Centennial Park so daily walks have now become part of my routine. I’ve never appreciated the park as much as I do now! I often use the time during my walk to listen to podcasts, ‘The Mindbodygeen Podcast’ and ‘How I Built This’ are my typical go tos. Or sometimes I just walk and focus on the shapes of the trees, the sounds of the birds and the colour of the sky. There is something so comforting in looking at nature. No matter what is happening in the world, the tree is still the tree, the sky is still the sky. They are constant and grounding. I have also started a daily in-home yoga practice which I’m loving. It took me a little while to find the right app but I ‘m now using Down Dog and don’t think I’ll ever look back. I’ve also been using Calm to help develop a daily mindfulness practice. On the more creative side I’ve been trying to learn how to play the ukulele haha I bought one several months ago thinking it would be a fun skill to have yet haven’t really made the time to practice until now. I have a long way to go but Nick is a great inspiration. He plays the guitar daily and I love listening to him play. I also bought some clay so have decided I’ll be making us some new mugs soon. Ceramics is a long time passion of mine so it’s great to get my hands in some clay again.
How do you stay connected with your family, friends, and business friends?
We’re so lucky to have so many different ways to stay connected with family both locally and abroad. Along with the typical digital methods, I’ve always been a big fan of old school snail-mail. Two of my closest friends are also due to have their first babies any day now so I’ve been sending some handmade goodies to them in the post and dropping off surprise deliveries. I’m definitely planning on increasing my note sending in the coming weeks :)
What are some things you'd like to do / you are doing during self-isolation that you maybe wouldn't have considered if you weren't confined to your house?
Haha I think because I’m used to spending so much time at home, and because I’m still working, I wouldn’t say that I’m doing anything new that surprises me. If anything I’m doing more of all the things that I’ve always said I was going to do but never dedicated enough time too. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day so I could do more!
Many of us work in isolation or away from people a lot of the time. Any tips for staying sane and creative in self isolation?
Make a list of the top three things that you want or need to achieve that day (this is also a great anti-procrastination tip). Focus on getting those three things done and then consider anything else you do as a bonus. Some days you’ll be on a role and want to do more - great go for it! But on the days that your mind and body are feeling flat - listen to yourself. Get those three things done and then take some time to look after YOU. Whether that be by going for a walk, calling a friend, having a warm shower or bath. We need to realise that we are not robots and if you manage to tune in and respect what you need, you’re going to be so much more productive.
Is there anything we can do to support you & your business through this time?
Absolutely, luckily RUUSK is still up and running and our online store is open. We’re still able to create your special pieces and now also offer virtual studio appointments. There are also many other ways to support businesses during this time, for example leaving reviews or encouraging comments on our socials. No kind word goes unnoticed.
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