For me, part of the draw of writing and working freelance is that I can do it any time from anywhere. Leanne Garrity, the talented maker and designer behind Chi Chi Dee Handmade, is sort of the embodiment of that dream. Born in England, raised in Australia and recently relocated to a tiny little village in the Alps after a decade in London, Leanne seems to have the whole go-with-the-flow vibe down pat.
I love her work and the incredibly laid back vibe she seems to radiate, so I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say about business.
Tell me a little bit about your business. When did you start it? What inspired you to get it going?
I design and make women’s fashion accessories, including turbans and tie up headbands, collars, arm warmers, bags and knitwear. I have dabbled in womenswear, kidswear and homewares too. I mainly sell my products on Etsy but am in the process of setting up a shop on my own website, plus I am stocked in a handful of brick-and-mortar boutiques around the world. I’m also a regular contributor to popular craft magazine, Mollie Makes.
I have been making and selling things since 2008 but I officially quit my job as an EFL teacher to focus on my business in 2012. Aside from wanting to do what I enjoy, it has always been important to me to have a job that allows me the freedom to live in different parts of the world. Making a living via the internet was so appealing as it enabled me to move from the U.K. to Germany to Australia and back again. Right now I am living in a little Alpen village. I’m looking forward to where it will take me next!
How do you balance life and running your business?
My partner and I both work from home so we take turns looking after our 11 month old baby boy, and we are lucky enough to have my mother-in-law babysit for us once or twice a week. We don’t really have a set work schedule, so far we’ve been pretty spontaneous about it all and it’s suited us well. That said, I tend to work mornings then after lunch we switch and he works afternoons/evenings while I do dinner, bath and bedtime with the little one.
When my partner gets booked on location for a job it means he might be away for a few weeks, during which time I close up shop to be a full-time mama. When work is quiet we have a lot of time to spend together as a family. Being freelance you have to learn how to enjoy the downtime as before too long you’re usually run off your feet again! It’s also worth mentioning that moving from the city to the countryside has positively impacted our work/life balance.
Does being a woman affect your business?
I guess I am pretty organised and pedantic about doing things the right way; arguably these are female traits, which benefit the way I run my business.
What inspires you creatively?
Life, people, places, other designers, the DIY community.
Do you have any procrastination techniques that you always fall back on? How do you break out of them?
I give myself permission to be really lazy. Then, once idleness, boredom and discontent finally kick in, I usually get a creative burst again! Alternatively I just do something else for a while. It’s important to keep switching things up otherwise even the most creative job becomes dulled by monotony.
Do you have any tips for other ladies who are looking to turn their passion into a business?
Take the first step, and let it all blossom from there.
Leanne has been cool enough to offer you guys a 10% discount in her shop with coupon code 1STAR. Pick me up some tie-up headscarves while you’re at it, will ya? 😉
If you’re a small business-owning lady interested in being featured in a future edition of Girl Boss, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.