Carol asked me to write a post for Indie June on my role as a Virtual Assistant (VA) and for someone who writes and talks as much as I do, I really shouldn’t have trouble summing up my role in words and yet I found it difficult to pin it down. It wasn’t until I realised that the role itself is constantly evolving that I was able to write this post.
The role of a VA is about supporting the designer as best as you can on a daily basis. That can be anything from emails to graphics to social media or anything that can be done remotely that can help reduce the workload for the designer. Sometimes even just getting a plan down and in place can be enough to help make things work more efficiently.
I love to write and I’m not going to lie, writing those first couple of posts for Carol was frightening for me. It’s one thing to grow a personal blog but quite another to help out on an established one like this. Looking back on my first couple of months I’m not quite sure if I supported Carol or if she supported me!
Over the last nine months, I have gotten to experience a completely different side to the yarn industry. I love this industry right down to the days where I have to drag myself to the laptop after 2 hours of sleep. Working as a VA allows me to also work as a freelancer which means on top of supporting Carol, I can write for other blogs and publications and also keep my eye on upcoming trends. You have no idea the number of times interesting collaborations have happened over a coffee or a random tweet! It means that I can balance my workload between VA work and freelancing. Some months are busier than others and I can make that work for me. I have never had that control in my life before. The hardest thing is battling the burnout because it is constant. I find myself thinking about photos or ideas constantly because I find myself getting lost in it.
The best thing about working as a VA is that I can work around my kids who are very small and it does allow a measure of a work/life balance that I previously craved for. I needed something for myself that allows me to use my brain and offer fulfilment that only an occupation can. I have always been a very independent person so having to adapt to being the stay at home parent wasn’t easy for me and I struggled. Now, I work because I love my job and I’m a mum who loves the time I spend with my kids. Is it all rainbows and puppies? Eh, no, I have to be incredibly creative about working hours and there are many plates spinning in the air but this is as close to perfect as it is ever going to get. My kids will grow and I can slot in more working hours as they do. It’s all about constantly adapting and having a Filofax and using it religiously.
This is why the independent community is amazing. Every person I have talked to, have made their roles as designers and independent dyers work for them. Many have struggled from a hobby business to that two job insanity to a full-time dream job. All have made sacrifices but none have said they regretted it. I like being the person that gets to drop in and help someone out but I often learn something myself at the same time. This is the reason I am an advocate for independents. When you support them you also support people like me and I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to be able to do this every day.
A quick little note from me, Carol, at the end of Indie June. I hope you all enjoyed this month getting insights into all of the moving parts when it comes to life as an independent designer. I’ve really enjoyed all of the different perspectives and views; just goes to show that we all do it differently!
Next month I’m doing an Irish/cable focus, I’ll even take you along ‘virtually’ with me as I tour the west coast at the end of the month and hopefully even get to the Aran Islands.