Hello hello! I’m Rachel, and I’m a freelance illustrator/designer/engagement officer/artist/blogger/.
The freelance lifestyle is a pretty weird one, it has its ups and downs to say the least
Last year I taught a short seven week workshop on creative self employment and as part of the prep I created my own ‘Freelance Timeline’ to recall all the various jobs I’d had over the last few years.
I bought my first computer with money I saved from my 18th birthday, which enabled my to start my first business, Rachel’s Fantasy Island, selling handmade textile accessories and home wares.
Aug 2016 - I had a part time job in a cafe - which I stayed at for only three months before I decided it wasn’t for me. In that time though, I made friends with an independent gift shop across the street, and that was where I would rent my first ever shelf space to sell my handmade items in a real life high street shop.
Sept 2016 - I started my degree in Textiles at Hull School of Art and Design. Having already done a year at Hull Uni that I dropped out of, I decided to limit my loans and only applied for tuition fee loans, no maintenance.
March 2017 - I closed Rachel’s Fantasy Island to pursue a new venture, founded on my love for drawing that was equal parts colourful and cute. I spent a couple of months with no income, just refining the product range I wanted to release.
May 2017 - Peach Panda Studio was officially launched and on the first day I had four whole orders, which seemed like a lot at the time! I was buzzing with the hype I had been able to build up with my audience on social media.
June 2018 - Now for some real talk; I had been solely self employed for around eighteen months and being at uni without a maintenance loan meant that my finances were tight. At the end of my second year, I took a job as a cleaner. It was a pretty flexible way to work and I left in the September when I started my final year at uni but it really helped top up my bank balance for that summer - especially as summer is often a quiet time for online businesses.
Aug 2018 - A friend that I had worked with at the small local cafe in 2016 messaged and asked me if I’d like a one day a week job in her own coffee shop, a cosy creative space called The Artisan, that had been stocking my Peach Panda products since I launched it. I of course said yes and still do my one day a week now. It was the perfect side income whilst I was at uni and beyond.
June 2019 - I finished uni and presented a final range of work that was really ‘me’. I launched the Contrary To Reason brand in July 2019, led by what I had produced for my Final Major Project.
Sept 2019 - Peach Panda Studio had not been forgotten however, as I launched my first ever subscription box service which sends out exclusive new products every month.
I also started planning my Indie Hull project, a guidebook to showcase Hulls talented artists and creative local businesses, inspired by the connections I’ve made over the past few years in the local scene.
Oct 2019 - My uni decided they wanted me to come back as an Alumni Engagement Officer, to bring together a creative alumni community for the Art School and it’s current students. I do this on a freelance basis for a couple of hours per week.
I also began a new side income in the form of being an exam invigilator.
This is my savings account top up income. It’s only every few months but it pays well, so the money goes straight into my savings. I really recommend this as a freelancer bonus income if you don’t mind standing in silence for a couple of hours!
Jan 2019 - I launched the Contrary To Reason online shop and began taking orders for machine embroidery portraits.
So there we have it! Six years (as if!) managing side hustles and part time jobs. There have always been odd jobs and experiences mixed in, some paid, some not.
I’ve also done my fair share of customer service jobs too, including working at a certain high street fast food chain whilst I was running Rachel’s Fantasy Island.
If you’re interested in more about creative self employment and managing side hustles, here are some books I’ve read that cover this topic well;
Thanks for reading my first ever blog post! Please feel free to comment and let me know what you'd like to see in future posts.