Like many designers Matilda Wilson freelanced whilst working full-time. After 6 months of juggling 50 + hours of work and on the brink of burn out, she hit a point where her freelance work became a viable full-time option and tentatively took the leap!
As Matilda says, “It was absolutely the best decision I could’ve made, and it’s unearthed a passion for my work that I wouldn’t have tapped into had I remained in my full-time role. For this reason, I’m exceptionally grateful for the people around me who supported this transition and backed me more than I did myself!”
Matilda is the Director of Matilda Wilson Creative, a full-service creative agency that specialises in audience centric, purpose driven communications.. While being located on the Central Coast of New South Wales means Matilda can spend her lunch breaks either by the beach or the bush.
From the very first day of operation, Matilda pledged to donate 1% of annual earnings to environmental non-for-profit GreenFleet who restore Australia’s biodiversity through planting native forests or bushlands that have been affected by natural disasters or excessive human intervention.
This consideration then trickles over into her processes at work, where Matilda does her best to educate clients on the potential to lessen the carbon footprint of their brand and lead their brands with their values.
Let’s get to know Matilda more!
What is a piece of advice you wish you had been told before starting your entrepreneurial journey?
Working for yourself doesn’t translate to working in isolation and there are thousands of resources out there for you to learn, grow and upskill without being in a physical office with a team. I had a very intrinsic fear that my growth as a designer and as a creative would be stunted when working for myself because I was without a direct mentor. I can happily say that this has been completely discredited! The wealth of digital communities out there, freelance networks, books, mentor programs and platforms to upskill means you have thousands of opportunities to learn exactly what you want, when you want and in a manner that suits your personality.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur is the exposure to different businesses, and within my role as an art director and designer, I mostly see entrepreneurs themselves and small startup brands that similarly to myself, want to work from a point of intention and value. When I conduct our initial discovery sessions with brands and hear about their ideas and vision, I am so regularly blown away with how passionate and clever people are. It really lights a fire in my belly to do my best work for them and do whatever I can to help their business succeed, especially if this creates a ripple effect for positive change. This regular act of using creativity as a driver and translating incredible ideas into actual communications is my favourite aspect.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
The best decision I made in business was understanding that staying small is more effective to what I wanted to do then growing a large business that’s devoid of meaningful work and moved too fast in directions I couldn’t immediately control. This came from reading Paul Jarvis’s book, Company of One and oh my god if you’ve ever wondered how to make work, work on your terms, and become un-disruptive – read this book. It completely stripped back the idea of a traditional growth-oriented business and outdated hierarchy of a corporate setting. From that point, I never compared myself to other businesses as I knew I was doing things on my terms and for purposes that mattered most to me.
How do you personally measure success?
I personally measure success by the positive impact I have on businesses and the ripple effect this can translate too, be that business oriented, environmental, or cognitive. My mental and physical health. My capability to step away from work and enjoy life first. My growth as a creative and designer. And my ability to live comfortably, in a home or area that enriches my life.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
I strongly believe in hiring people that are better than you, because it creates more value for your clients. However, if you have the time and can see the skill benefiting you and your business a lot, learn the skill. I believe both options can co-exist in practices as well, for example, if you outsource the skill, take the time to understand their processes and the why behind the work. This is a great opportunity to learn.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Designers are constantly exposed to rejection! We often present multiple ideas and only one of those goes through, so about 75% of our initial ideas get thrown out haha! I would say I stick with an idea if I see it as viable and give up on it when the client resonates with a different direction (only if their resonations are valid to the brand). I’ve learnt to embrace rejection as it’s an opportunity to further an idea and take influence from other areas of my work and learn. So instead of calling this giving up, I would call it progressing in another direction.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Oh gosh, hundreds! Off the top of my head, I really admire the recent push for wellness brands operating digitally, it’s a great example of generosity and value working above environmental extremities and limitations such as COVID-19. My top examples of a business’s doing this is Open; a meditation and movement community that exists online, their bank of videos allow me to disconnect from work and ground myself whenever I need. Plus, the design of the platform is on point!
What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?
- Find what drives you and look for ways to translate this into a commercial operation.
- Analyse your business currently, and project potential opportunities and threats in say 6 months of 12 months’ time, then strategize now on how to either capitalize on these or combat them in future.
- Spend less time comparing, and more time looking for similar business’s strengths and avenues for yourself to apply these practices uniquely to your brand.
- Remember to reset and rest, you don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, I promise more will come.