Featuring Caroline Hamill from Caroline Hamill Design, aged 33 from Dungannon
Caroline has one little girl Lily, who is 4, and has been a graphic designer for over 10 years since leaving university in Liverpool graduating in Design for Visual Arts.
She says, “I was a graphic designer for a year before embarking on teaching career in 2008 completing a PGCE in Secondary Art and Design. Working as a teacher in Manchester and then in Somerset and Devon I always missed being creative myself. I was teaching and encouraging my pupils to live their dreams and promoting Design and the Arts to be a viable career choice whilst I felt I haven’t achieved the very thing that I was teaching! So as fate would have it I left England after leaving a turbulent 11 year relationship. Feeling depressed, alone and my teaching career over as there were no jobs, I grabbed the opportunity to go freelance. I worked with diet chains, NI4KIDS, Leckey Designs and developed a pet food brand in less than a year. I decided I needed more experience in the industry if I was to better myself as a designer so was offered the role as Graphic designer/Illustrator for Argento Jewellery. I worked in this role for over 2 years and the experience I was exposed to was second to none. I was supported creatively and was able to create unique designs for seasonal shop campaigns, for different jewellery brands, catalogues and global advertising campaigns. I had a thirst for business and I loved the job however I felt restricted and bound to office rules and politics.”
Caroline talked about her role as a self employed mother,
“Then the best thing that had ever happened to me happened, I had my daughter. I was told this was supposed to be the most exhausting and difficult time of my life, especially since I was a completely single parent since pregnancy. I was so lucky this was not the case; I fell in love with my new role as a mummy and the desire to succeed in my career had taken over. I needed to provide for my little girl, it was all on me. I had a talent and the experience to do great things so I left my job in Argento and went freelance with a lot more experience in business and the creative industry. I juggled being a parent and working freelance for over a year. I ended my maternity leave early and created amazing designs for a range of people. A job opportunity then arose, a year’s contract for Graphic Designer for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. I applied and I got the job. As a creative person I felt my skills in corporate graphic design was lacking so I was able to learn from the most talented lady and my work had improved tenfold. My portfolio for ABC included 80 plus page tourist guides, Tommy Makem Exhibition in Keady, Navan Centre Events, Georges Day brand development, Corporate documents and Newsletters amongst other things. After a year my contract ceased so I felt I had enough experience to succeed as a Freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator. I haven’t looked back!”
I asked Caroline what makes her design service different and she explained,
“The service I offer is unique to each of my clients. I wear many hats because my love for Graphic Design, Illustration and Art is boundless. Each of my clients experience a creative and unique service depending on their needs and budget. I offer graphic design services such as
- Logo design
- Business Stationery
- Corporate documentation
- Shop Signage
- T Shirt design and print
- Banners design and print
- Vehicle livery
- Large print outdoor/Newspaper advertising
- Seasonal campaigns
I also offer a range of other services such as Illustration for advertising, editorials, book publications and for private purchase and gifting. I love to draw and recently rekindled my interest in painting so have been known to create private murals and portraiture which can be seen on my facebook page Caroline Hamill Art.”
Being self employed is never easy so I asked Caroline what she found most difficult and she said,
“My biggest struggle in business has been firstly to take the final plunge into self-employment. I am a perfectionist and my desire to succeed sometimes cloud the basic principles of self-employment; that it takes TIME to establish yourself. The fear of not earning enough money, juggling tax credits and benefits with income was a struggle at first– but I learnt that struggling was more of a worry and fear, and anything can be easily resolved with help, guidance, planning and patience.
Also valuing myself and my product/service. I have dealt with difficult clients, especially receiving payment. I trust easily which in business can be dangerous but have since developed ways of protecting myself – I am very much still learning!”
I asked Caroline if she had any advice for others and she said,
“The advice I give to anyone who wants to develop a product or service is to seek help with their local Business/Enterprise Centre. They can guide you with free courses and schemes, business plans and grants available. Make sure you have a solid plan and be patient, but ultimately face the fear and do it anyway! Life is too short! What’s the worst that can happen?”
Having time off can be difficult, and so I asked Caroline is this possible, and she laughed and said,
“My favourite thing to do to relax is to work…..that sounds very cliched but I do LOVE my work! “Relaxing” work however has no time limits and no boundaries, so it can be a drawing, developing designs and illustrations for a hair brained scheme I am thinking up or a mural (I am currently painting my bathroom at home!) I also love to spend time with my mini me and go on adventures. We love to tour around coffee shops!”
Staying focused on priorities is always important and Caroline explained,
“The one thing I am the most proud of is my daughter and the relationship I have with her, especially doing it on my own alongside work which in my case has been a benefit to her upbringing. I want to be a strong role model. She is proud of what I do and I am super proud of her!”
Caroline’s 5 easy tips for Success:
- Success doesn’t come easy!! Be patient, work smart and don’t give up!
- Value yourself and be confident in your service/product – clients can smell fear!!!
- We learn from FAILURE not success, use it as inspiration
- Plan your workload and learn to say no. If you are overworked you may make mistakes that can perhaps lose you work in the long run
- Love what you do, once you lose that passion then you have lost your business
- An extra bit of advice – don’t be afraid to ask for help
Caroline is a VIP member of the Mums At Work Group.
“ I joined the mums at work group as it was an epitome of myself – a mum at work. Being a mother is a full time job in itself, to be a working mother has challenges but to be self-employed and have parental responsibilities is a whole different ball game and the support given in this group has been second to none. As a freelance designer it can get pretty isolating, through mums at work I can ask for advice, vent or laugh with like-minded people. What you put into it is what you get out of it and hopefully I can be a service to help other mums, carers, WOMEN in this group succeed in their own goals.”