A Week in the Life of Oh Squirrel HQ

You know when you have one of 'those' weeks that's just a little crazy? Well, last week was one of them!
I get a lot of people asking about running a business, and after dinner with a friend the other week where she asked what a working day was like, I thought it might be fun to keep a diary for a week, so I have!

 This was the last week at Oh Squirrel HQ - hold on to your hat!

Monday

I got into work at about 8. I'd planned my day the night before so I knew what I'd be doing, so as soon as I'd had my cup of tea and checked emails for any overnight 'emergency orders' I set to work cutting out about 20 sashes in different fabrics. I then sat at my sewing machine and stitched them all in one go. I like to make about 7 or 8 in one go usually, but over the weekend the orders had got a little mad so this seemed like the best thing to do!

When I finished stitching them, I selected the ones that were for orders to go out that day, and finishing making, pressing and printing them. There are so many processes that go into each sash they take a long time to make, but when they come together it's always lovely to see!

After those were done I started to work on some bespoke wedding stationery proofs and sent those over on email, before catching up on emails and orders. Ideally, I should spend a couple of hours sitting at the computer in a block period, however it never seems to work that way and I end up darting between sewing machine, badge press, computer, cutter and all the other tools all day long. I probably cover some miles in my little studio!

I then worked on a lot of artworking for badges - as every order is bespoke the artwork needs to be amended for each order. I use two different printers as they both have strengths on different paper qualities and colours, so sometimes I have both on the go at the same time.

I finished the day by working on another bespoke wedding order for decorative flags. After the artworking was done, I allowed myself to watch a bit of 'Girls' whilst putting them together as it's quite a repetitive task, and also it had gone past 7pm so a little telly is allowed! I'm going to New York very soon so I was looking for inspiration!

I ended up leaving pretty late on Monday but it was a great start to the week, many boxes ticked!

Tuesday

I got into the studio for about 8am again ready for a big deadline day. I had about 30 orders to get in the post - some of which were made, some of which were part made and some of which were brand new! I got my head down and worked solidly to make sure they were ready to be in the post by 5pm!

As online orders can be badges, sashes, cards, fabric tags... or many other things, it does mean I have lots of tools on the go at the same time on days like this! It's nice to have the space to spread out and make a mess! When I worked from home it wsn't quite so easy to do that.

After I went to the post office I had to go return my new phone as the battery was playing up, so I did lose about an hour messing about with that. I trotted back to work and had to take a little break from what I was doing and restore my iPhone backup which was annoying. It's funny, as these are the little jobs that you can cheekily get away with doing at work when you work for someone else, but when you're on your own time, they've very annoying!

Once that was sorted I went back to working on something very, VERY special! A very creative Order of Service design that I sent over to a couple with my fingers crossed that they'd choose it and they did, hooray! The wedding is very soon so keep an eye on instagram as I'll share it after the day.

I realised quite late that evening I was low on ink so had to place an emergency order for that. There are so many supplies I need to keep an eye on at all times, it's crazy! Even just down to shipping materials I have 3 sizes of padded envelopes, 3 sizes of board back envelopes, bag envelopes, tissue, stickers, bags of varying sizes and colours, twine, shipping labels, thank you cards, envelopes, luggage tags... so much to think about, and that's just the posting! Needless to say, I get visited by the postman a lot.

It ended up being another late one, but it had to be done! I walked home the long way round as the night before I walked through the park and terrified myself, so by the time I got back it was straight to bed - rock & roll!

Wednesday 

It had been in my diary for a while that I had plans with friends in the afternoon, so I went in super early to make sure I'd done a full day's work in advance of my afternoon jaunt. I also prepared a little work to do at home in the evening. We've had issues with the wifi at home for months so I've not been able to do a lot of things from home so that's been a total pest. Thankfully, at time of posting this blog it is now sorted, FINALLY!

I continued with the wedding stationery I'd been working on, and had a build up of greetings card commissions to work on too. I've just started to look at wholesale for the hen party part of my business so I was dealing with enquiries on that which is taking a lot of time, but in terms of taking my business to the next stage it's got to be done! Finding time for admin is one of the biggest difficulties I face on a day to day basis - it would be lovely to spend all my day making pretty things but that would not be running a business! In truth, I absolutely love the business aspect of things! I just wish there were two of me some times.

I headed out for the afternoon at about 2pm which was lovely. I went to the farm (!) and then to the shops with some good friends and enjoyed a nice walk by the river. When I got back in the evening I spent the rest of the time finishing up on some orders I'd dropped off at home en route out for the day. Even though I'd done enough hours earlier to justify a full day of work, I still get massive guilt for taking afternoons off, even it is just an occasional treat.

My housemates are used to me working daft hours and sometimes bringing stuff home with me too. They're really supportive which has been wonderful - I won't ever forget once when my housemate offered to pack a huge wholesale order of greetings cards for me so that I could go on a date! 

That evening at about 10pm I got an email that needed urgent attention, however I couldn't deal with it then and there so had to put it to one side to deal with first thing.

Thursday

I started at 7am. That was fun! I dealt with the problem from the night before right away, which was great to get sorted! The issue wasn't something I had any control over, but what I did have control over was sorting it out. Back when I worked in Buying, I was always told to go to my management with a solution, not a problem, so if I'm ever faced with anything difficult I make sure I offer the client a plethora of solutions instead of a problem. Anyway, it was all super and sorted, next!

Thursday was another big wedding stationery day. Lots of printing, cutting, sewing... everything! I share the studio with a very lovely florist who happens to be one of my very good friends so we had a really nice day singing along to the radio and having a good natter. 

I did some admin in the afternoon, chasing in invoices, moving money to my personal account as my 'wage' for the month, emailing about a few events etc. 

I finished at a normal time on Thursday, hoorah! I went to meet an old colleague and had a really nice evening - the thing about working like crazy is that when you go out you really, REALLY appreciate turning off for a while.

Friday

FRIIIIDDDAAAYYY!!!! Another big order dispatch day - I won't repeat the bits from earlier but it was a big day of making and working on wedding stationery. The lovely thing about doing bespoke work is getting to work on lots of different styles of items, which is great as it keeps things very interesting. 

Since launching on Not on the High Street every day has been a bit crazy! I'm so thankful for the wonderful start I've had with this part of the business, and am glad I waited until this part of the season as at the height of summer I doubt I'd have been able to ever go home!

One of the things I've had to put a lot of thought into is how the brand will develop and do I need to think about there being another person working with me. At the moment I tend to find most weeks my order book is at bursting point, so before long it might be time to start thinking about this. I occasionally have help from a freelance studio assistant but for now I remain a solo squirrel. I need to figure this out to remain some sort of sanity! 

So, that was my week! A lot of the time there are meetings in there too, countless trips to the post office, many trips to suppliers and all sorts! I love that every day is different, every day is creative, and everyday has a new challenge. It sure ain't boring! One of many reasons why I love my job.

If you fancy seeing more behind the scenes 'action' - be sure to follow Oh Squirrel on instagram