Me and My Work Space- Rachel Simpson
Posted on April 27 2020
- Give us a short description of your business
We design and create beautiful shoes and bags for weddings and special occasions. We’re a team of seven based in Birmingham, with a family run factory in Spain and a network of stockists all over the world.
- How long have you worked for yourself?
I’ve pretty much worked for myself ever since I left uni, so about twenty years now and this business (Rachel Simpson) turned twelve this year. Usually I work from home about two days a week, but obviously that’s full time at the moment.
- Tell us about your work space
I have an office upstairs in my house and I love it! It has a bit of a botanical vibe and there are lots of hanging plants, plus a few sitting on my bookshelves. One of the first things I treated myself to when I first moved in was a gorgeous emerald green velvet cocktail chair, and after much searching I even managed to find a matching office chair!
On any given day I have about a million things whizzing around my brain, so I recently invested in a nice big noticeboard and it’s my new pride and joy! I use different coloured cards for different aspects of the business- design, sales, marketing and people- and I pin them up in different spaces- priority, three months, six months and long term. It’s a great way to get stuff out of your head and be able to move it all around and see how it looks.
- Describe your typical working day
I like to be at my desk by 8am, but this has been as early as 6am and as late as 9.30pm depending. Since the lockdown I’ve been trying to take ten minutes in the garden before I start my working day as I find it really gets you into the right headspace.
Typically I’ll start the day with emails and messages, but I have to put a stop time on that and come back to it later, otherwise I’d just chat all day! So at the moment I’m trying to work on re-active stuff in the morning and pro-active, strategic stuff in the afternoons.
I always stop for lunch with my husband and I’ll usually make a massive ‘bowl of joy’ salad full of salad, fruit, cheese, maybe some toasted nuts and/or seeds- generally whatever I feel like chucking in that day! We’ll eat in the garden whenever the weather allows- it’s nice to take a proper break and get some vitamin D and fresh air!
- What are the top three things you need to make your space your own?
- Great coffee in a nice mug. I treated myself to a new Emma Bridgwater mug at the start of the lockdown as I felt like a busy bee with all the team on furlough!
- Organised stationery. I love I love organising stationery almost as much, and I get an embarrassing-to-admit amount of joy from my perspex drawers organised into pencils, fineliners, sharpies, mechanical pencils. Sigh…
- Sleeping cats- we have two cats called Louis & Ella and they like to keep us company when we work from home so generally one will be in my office and one in Ben’s at any given time.
- Top tip/s for working from home?
Create a positive working space- whether it’s a room, a corner or just a desk, try and create a separate area so you can define worktime, and ‘leave work’ at the end of the day.
Surround yourself with things which bring you joy- this could be a pot plant, a photo of friends or family, a nice notebook, an inspirational quote on a post it- it really doesn’t matter what it is but it’s important to have things which make you smile
Walk away if it’s not happening- you can’t dictate how you feel and there are good days and bad days. If you’re struggling to focus on the thing you planned to do, allow youself to walk away and do something different, even non-work like putting a wash on or reading for a bit. That sense of achivign something will help you feel more positive and give you a better chance of success when you go back to the original task.
Be gentle with yourself- my dad always uses this phrase and it’s an important one. We’re all very hard on ourselves, and often we’d never speak to others the way we speak to ourselves, so just be nice to yourself okay?
Talk to people- It can be very isolating working from home (and that was before self-isolation!), and you can easily go days without talking to anyone. Even if you don’t feel like it (especially if you don’t feel like it), make an effort to book conversations in with other people either on the phone or Zoom. You never regret reaching out.
- Any positive changes which have come about since the lock down?
Learning to have a proper lunch break- in the garden where possible. Really enjoying cooking again and taking time for new recipes. Actually seeing my husband- we both travel a lot for work and have never spent this much time together! Oh, and great coffee on tap, my coffee machine makes me happy.
- What would you do with an extra free day?
At the moment just catch up! Weirdly time seems to go really quickly at the moment and I never seem to get through my list. But I’d also use it to have a bit of a self-care day- go on a nice long bike ride, do some more yoga (I used to do loads but it’s kinda slipped), catch up on about four weeks of Joe Wicks classes…
- Tea or coffee? Coffee in the morning, tea ongoing
- Cake or biscuits? Cake, always cake.
- Music or quiet? Generally music, unless I’m doing number stuff
- Mac or PC? Mac. I’m embarrasingly dreadful on a PC
- Early bird or night owl? Both, but I’m trying to learn to like sleep
- Book or podcast? Book, ideally a fiction and a non-fiction at the same time
So that's me! Hope you've enjoyed a little nosey around my home office- don't forget to tune in all this week as we take a look inside the work spaces of some of the incredible small businesses we work with.
Before I go just wanted to explain the below pic- the sign is actually an original old bus sign, which my super creative brother framed (you can check out his other work with The Letter Arty here), and the dress is a Jenny Packham I wore the day after our wedding for brunch with family and friends, and again on honeymoon. Just seeing it there makes me smile :)