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This month, we interview Sarah Vella, our resident graphic designer and owner of local graphic design business, Sarah Vella Designs. Sarah talks to us about why brand consistency is so important and why you should engage a qualified graphic designer, not just your mate! She also shares what she loves about graphic design, which local companies she designs for and what’s so great about living in Mona Vale.

BCW: WHAT DO YOU DO & HOW DID YOU GET INTO IT?

SV: I’m a graphic designer. After leaving school I wanted to get into fashion, I had my portfolio ready and an interview at Billy Blue, but my voice of reason (mum) convinced me otherwise. Majority of my family come from a creative background e.g. Graphic Designers, Architects & Artists so Graphic Design seemed like the more stable career choice. Fashion is so much about who you know and I knew NO ONE! I spent many years working for printers, magazines, start up agencies and big corporations and I loved the variety. Following maternity leave with my second son I was ready to return to the position I had been in for 8 years, however my employer was not willing to let me do 1 hour less per day to allow me to pick up my kids. I decided that was the push I needed to go out on my own. Sarah Vella Designs was born 4 years ago and I haven’t looked back.

BCW: WHY IS BRAND CONSISTENCY IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?

SV: People need to be able to recognise your logo/brand, your colours and your style at a glance. If all elements of your brand are consistent, it develops trust and loyalty with your customers and allows them to see you as a legitimate business. “Purchasing is more an emotional decision than a practical one.” so making sure your target market relate to you builds trust and return business. Think about McDonalds – even if you just see the ‘M’, or the golden arches as they’re known, you know it’s Maccas!

BCW: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ENGAGE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER, RATHER THAN JUST USING YOUR MATE WHO KNOWS HOW TO USE CANVA?

SV: Honestly, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!. I spend so much time ‘fixing’ work done by mates (or someone on Airtasker who isn’t qualified!) and it ends up costing so much more than it would have in the first place. A graphic designer will think through all the practical applications of a logo, the colours, the layout, supporting imagery etc, so you will get consistency and a “brand” that is uniquely your own and not a rip off or someone else’s.

BCW: WHAT IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING THING ABOUT GRAPHIC DESIGN?

SV: Clients don’t value our time. Design is difficult and time consuming, we often have to read minds to create that logo, flyer, brochure etc to give the client something they often don’t even know they want, or to show them that what they think they want isn’t the best approach. There is so much thought, drafts, research & amendments done before creating that final design and even before you present the first design to the client.

BCW: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE OF DESIGN?

SV: I love working on magazines, look books, flyers and brochures, especially for fashion brands. I have always loved the challenge of making the brand seamless across many pages.

BCW: WHICH LOCAL COMPANIES DO YOU LOVE WORKING WITH?

SV: The majority of my work is with local businesses which I LOVE! A few of those include Tranquillo Place, Everyday Love, Ladies Renovating Collective, Simply Downsize, Carma Meditation, Pasadena Pantry & Fresh, Belledonne Beauty, Skin Inspiration … and of course, Beaches Coworking!

BCW: WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF BUSINESS ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?

SV: It was from my husband actually. He told me:

“You have to value your own worth, before your clients do”

I will never admit it but he was so right. It also made me realise that you need to be paid appropriately for the work you do too.

BCW: WHERE AND WHEN DO YOUR BEST IDEAS COME TO YOU?

SV: My best ideas always come to me when I least expect it – it’s like when you lose something and you can never find it until you stop looking. Creativity never comes when you force it so a lot of my inspiration comes when i’m in the shower or at 3am when I should be sleeping! It’s where I get peace and quiet from the kids and I can just think.

BCW: WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHEN YOU NEED TO GET STUFF DONE:

SV: I love a good 80’s mix. I have to be able to sing along to the music!

BCW: CAN YOU SHARE ANY PRODUCTIVITY HACKS WITH US?

SV: I set up my To Do List at the start of every week using Trello, which I review every morning before my day starts. Then I grab a cup of tea (I can’t start my day without tea!) and most importantly I start work on the job that I’m most excited about first. That puts me in the right frame of mind for the day and then I get to the other work that I absolutely have to do.

BCW: HAVE YOU GOT A FAVOURITE QUOTE?

SV: It is one by Milton Glaser and I first heard it at Tafe … It drives every design I do.

“There are three responses to a piece of design: ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘wow’. Wow is the one to aim for”.

BCW: HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED ON THE BEACHES? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?

SV: I grew up in the Hills District, moved around a bit overseas before settling in London. London was amazing but we missed the beach, so we chose the Northern Beaches to escape the cold and settle back into Sydney life. We’ve been on the beaches for 15 years now, although I’m not sure we could be classified as a local yet. I love how chilled it is here. There is a special light here and that combined with the beautiful beaches makes me feel like I’m always on holidays. After having kids, I’ve also realised what an amazing sense of community we have here in Mona Vale. Someone always has your back and that’s an incredible feeling.

BCW: IMAGINE YOUR PERFECT DAY … WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

SV: As any parent who works from home would understand, achieving a whole day of uninterrupted work is just not a thing. For that reason a full productive day of uninterrupted work and happy clients would be a dream day for me. Followed of course by cuddles and time with my favourite little men. If I could throw a little me time and a bit of sunshine in there too, I would be a happy girl.

Sarah recently mentioned that having monitors for her to plug in would mean she could work from Beaches Coworking more often. So voila … we now have new monitors! AND we’re celebrating with desks for creatives for just $25 +gst per day throughout May 2019. Book in by emailing: hello@beachescoworking.com.au

Sarah owns Sarah Vella Designs – have a look at some of her work below. We’re sure she’d love a follow on Instagram or Facebook too.