At Work With is a bi-weekly feature on Ember & March that does just what it sounds like –showcases entrepreneurs, small business owners and the like At Work. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #EMAtWork! Have someone you’d like to see featured? Shoot me an email using the subject ‘At Work With *Name*’!
Today, I’m thrilled to be chatting with Suann Song –owner of Simple Song Creative Studio and Appointed Co, an American-made brand of desktop products. She’s sharing how she makes things happen while running two businesses and bringing a full product line to fruition.
Tell us a bit about your business and how you got started.
I’m a graphic designer and have had a design studio (SIMPLESONG Design) for the last 7+ years. This business has evolved over the years — we started with wedding/collateral design but organically moved into branding and identity design and that’s what we focus on now. During the seven years we also had a small stationery line that did well but I pulled it to focus the growing custom work. I loved designing and making product and knew I would eventually get back to it and that lead to Appointed, which I had the idea for a while and started putting ideas together and designing about a year and a half ago.
I created Appointed with the goal to make a suite of desktop products that are both beautiful and functional. There are a lot of beautifully made Japanese or European products but I found fewer in the U.S. that make a suite of products. As a designer who uses paper and desktop products everyday, I wanted to create products that enter our work spaces that functional and inspire us.
Having completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, what do you think is the key behind funding your visions as an entrepreneur?
I think two things are really important in this area: have a clear plan and path; and a have a strong point of view. Think about where you want to be in 1, 3 and 5 years and what’s the path you’ll take to get there. And its really important to have a strong point of view and have it extend across all areas of your company/brand.
What time do you typically wake up in the morning and what tends to be the first task you tackle?
I start my day early around 5:30 am and I try to knock out about two hours of work before getting the day going. Its probably my most productive time of day and I love it. After coffee, I usually tackle emails and get a jumpstart on whatever is ahead for the day.
How do you manage your inbox?
With so many emails coming in for both companies I try to stay on top of my emails as much as possible. Client-related emails are automatically flagged so I don’t miss. I also start and end my day going over email and I try to respond as quickly as possible so I don’t miss.
What are your best practices for managing your time and keeping organized?
I try to schedule my days as much as possible. I designate days for Appointed and other days for SIMPLESONG. I also schedule out design time, certain days are designated for meetings, or production. It usually works but I also have to flexible because things always come up!
How have you balanced launching Appointed while still running your design studio?
Its definitely a juggle and a work in progress but each month, as we get processes down for Appointed, its getting better and more efficient. I also have a great team working with me on both sides who keep things moving.
What’s one thing you wish you would have known before jumping into entrepreneurship?
This is hard to answer! I’ve learned valuable lessons on this path of entrepreneurship — had I not experienced various challenges I wouldn’t know the lessons from them.
Are there any go to apps, tools or websites you use to make life/business easier?
Yes, for sure. We love:
- Producteev — its a task assignment/management tool
- Google documents/spreadsheets — we use this so much to share documents
- Evernote — I use this to organize notes and things I find online
But at the end of the day, I write everything down to keep things organized : ).
If you could give one piece of advice to current or aspiring business owners, what would it be?
Keep working at it! This Ira Glass quote is more for creatives but I think you can apply across the board. I recently found and wish I found sooner. I think I’m still closing the gap and its a work in progress but I’m getting closer as I continue to work at it!