I am so excited to share this interview with y'all! Kyla is an amazing blogger, podcaster, e-course leader, and owner of a boutique web design studio. I've been reading her blog for almost a year now, and absolutely love her style, her voice, and how she looks at the world. It was a real treat to get to interview her this month!
Hello Kyla! Would you mind introducing yourself and what you do? My business card says that I'm "a creative type", but to be more specific, I own a boutique web design studio, Freckled Nest Design, with my best friend Leigh-Ann Keffer. I've been blogging for 16 years (since 2008 at my current site), I teach online courses, mentor and collaborate with bloggers and business owners. Most of what I work on is focused in some way on helping other creative people share their work, or better serve their audiences.
You recently attended a dinner for 1200 people (& made a table runner for it!) What was that experience like?It was pretty incredible! It was dinner at one long table for 1200 people, everyone dressed all in white, and there was a design competition for the table decoration. The idea was to start conversations about architecture and design, and it was energizing and inspiring to be around so many passionate people who care about how our city grows, and in building community.
I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is a Canadian city that's neither Toronto or Vancouver and so many people who live here are creative and proud of where we're from. It felt like a party to celebrate the prairie attitude that we can make anything we want happen, and we're going to have fun while doing it.
I love listening to your podcast and wanted to find out how it came to exist — what was that journey and how has having a podcast impacted your life?I'm glad you like it! I love having big conversations with friends, and the podcast seemed like a fun way to have that kind of connection with people who read my site and are curious some of the same things as I am. I talk about life hacks, ways I'm experimenting with making my life feel better, how to get lots done in a focused way so you can have more fun in your free time.
I started an online course last year called Create Freedom In Your Online Work that was delivered by private audio. I fell in love with the process, and didn't want to give it up! I'm not podcasting as much as I want to be, but I'm going to move toward more blogging and podcasting this fall. But so far it's really taught me to get out of my own way and start doing things! Planning can be a form of procrastination if you're not careful, and I created the first podcast just a few days after I came up with the idea. Running with that momentum was a lot of fun!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I'm generalizing, but this is usually what my days look like:
7:00 am - Wake up, grab coffee & walk the dogs
8:00 am - Clean up, get breakfast
- Watch some silly reality TV while pinning to Pinterest
- Decide what 3 things I want to accomplish today, based on what will make it easier to hit my goals later on
- Process my email into To Do items & schedule them into my calendar (I use OmniFocus for this)
10:00 am - Work on the most important thing for that day, usually a client's web design
1:00 pm - Grab lunch & take a break
3:00 pm - Put on my business owner hat and work on training, contracts, administration, accounting & scheduling
- Quiet my dogs down when my husband gets home from work, as they lose their sweet puppy minds
- Have more coffee, or I'll crash and take a nap (Just being real! lol)
6:30 pm - Start saying to my husband, "I'm going to be done in 5 minutes!" while he makes dinner for us
7:00 pm - Actually finish work for the day
I've tried to draw a very strong line for myself so I don't work in the evenings or on the weekends. I'm not perfect at this, and I have productive days that make me feel like everything is possible, and others where everything feels like it's uphill. But I try not to judge any day as the be all and end all.
Balancing our work and lives is about building the muscles that bring you back to centre, not executing everything perfectly every time. And thank goodness for that, it's a lot more interesting and attainable.
You’ve created two e-courses and I was wondering if they came to be because of problems you were constantly solving while working with clients or if they were inspired by something else?Absolutely! The idea for Planner Camp came from designing my own day planners every year and having so many people comment on those blog posts asking for tips and guidance, or for me to sell them. Selling day planners isn't something I felt was a natural next step for me, but I started imagining a way I could help other people make a day planner that fit their life, instead of using my system.
My other course, Create Freedom In Your Online Work, came from years of trying to run my blog, etsy shop, and having a personal life and feeling like I was always running from one place to another. I was wishing for a place where people who have a passion project or a small business could talk about ways to make that feel good and be more sustainable. I was working with a life coach at the time, and she challenged me to just make it and to create the course content live during the course. It was scary and exhilarating and I can't wait for the next session!
What are three things you would tell someone who is just starting out working for themselves? Or, what would you tell yourself when you started working for yourself?I would encourage people who are starting out, with all my heart, to stop charging less than what they can live on happily. I charged next to nothing for years, and it made scaling up the business into something sustainable that I enjoyed incredibly difficult. I wasted a lot of time "earning my dues", only to realize that no one cares about dues. People care about what you create for them, and how you make them feel.
I'd also recommend working with a business coach or a mentor who's more experienced in online business than you are as soon as you can afford it. Those conversations can pull you forward in exponentially beneficial ways that will earn you more money, much faster than re-inventing the wheel on your own. And they remind you that you're not alone, which is incredibly helpful.
In your about page you mention being a recovering over achiever. What exactly does that mean and how has it impacted how you live your life and how you run your business?I don't think of myself as a perfectionist, but I have a huge desire to make things better in anything I'm doing. I'm always thinking about how I could make things run more smoothly or how I could make things more fun for everyone involved in a project. I call it "fiddling with the dials", and that means that I'm constantly making suggestions.
That being said, being in a business partnership has taught me a lot about compromise and honouring other people's approaches. I love trying new systems and exploring, but I know that having new processes for the same things can really throw Leigh-Ann when I get carried away. I know that tendency in me is both amusing and tiresome to her, so I've learned to pick and choose when I feel strongly about how we can make things better.
Collaborating with Leigh-Ann has made me a much more considerate person, and a stronger communicator than I was before I met her. Watching how skilled she is as a designer has made me want to be better at my job, and she's helped me see that when I get tunnel vision or become too serious and intense about what I'm working on it can become a disadvantage.
Without realizing it, we've worn off the sharp edges of our personalties on the other person. Having a business partner is a lot like being in a marriage, only the other person isn't starry eyed and in love with you, so they'll push you much harder and really call you on your stuff! But they'll also cheer for you with everything they've got, because they're invested in your success and understand the details of your work in a way that's hard to match. It's been transformative, and so much fun!
Who are some of your heroes? Life inspirations, style mavens, people who make your soul shake.My parents, because they're so open and supportive, and have shown me that it's okay to change careers and take risks.
Moorea Seal is a constant reminder to me that being yourself, and looking for opportunities can completely transform your life.
You can only read one book, watch one movie, one television show, and listen to one album for a year. What do you choose and why?Goodness, I take my pop culture seriously so this is very high stakes...
Book: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie. It's about the last Tsar of Russia, and that time fascinates me beyond end. It's a very interesting story about power, naïveté, and a completely different world that wasn't so long ago.
Movie: The Royal Tenenbaums. It's tender, quirky and entertaining and has been my favourite for years.
TV Show: Law & Order, because I love mysteries and there's a lot of it!
Album: This is so hard, because you'd almost certainly hate the album after! I can't choose!
You can find Kyla at her