Who are you/what do you do?
I'm Taz. I sell eco friendly packaging supplies for small and micro businesses as well as folded pieces of paper with a single crease and print on them (greetings cards) - also 100% recycled stickers and a few other bits and bobs!
How has Covid changed your business?
I had time to focus. I moved my business out of my home on April 1st (yes, I chose April Fools) and took a workspace nearby. I probably would have had staff into my home if it hadn't been for Covid, as my partner used to travel away for weeks on end, and we have 3 kids.
Is there a story behind the name (if it's not your own?)
It's my eldest kid's initals X-O (Xavier) and his brother Quin (Joaquin) - I googled shit hipster logo and bam, jobs a good un.
How old is the business and how did you get started?
I'm coming into my third financial year. The concept has existed since 2017 but it was just a bit of a 'side hustle'. The business became a reality in November 2018 when I registered the company and went legit. A few days later, we found out I was pregnant with baby number 3 (planned by the way) and that was it. This had to become my job. Nobody would employ a grumpy, sarcastic, up the duff freelancer with 3 kids.
Probably not. I'll be honest I do have collections but they were researched for the market. I'm probably best known for the eco packaging side of the business though.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I'm from an Asian family, obvs my mum wanted me to be a doctor, I think she still holds out hope I might yet become one...
In all honesty though, I always wanted a creative job. I worked in print production before becoming a freelance print and web designer. When I went through a redundancy at 25 I landed a junior job at Marvel Studios, arranged a sponsor and everything, I was gonna move to NYC and work at MARVEL!!!!
I stayed cus of some boy, urgh.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I probably wouldn't give my younger self any advice. If I did, it could change where I am now.
How did you learn your craft?
On the job. I started as a print production assistant in the B2B print industry. Soon repro and typesetting started coming in house so I learnt basic typesetting on Quark (yes I'm that old), then Indesign. I was self taught on the job for most of it, and after being made redundant at 25, a print buyer I used to work with pulled me in on a page layout job, which became "permalance" (a permanent freelance position) in a studio of 25-30 other designers, and I basically learnt from them!
What do you do on your days off?
I've only just learnt to take days off this year. I made them part of my yearly goals (I pick 5 with my accountability partners) and this was one of them - I sit around and do sweet FA, potter around the house, don't check my phone, literally nothing!
Biggest highlight or achievement to date?
Moving the business out of my home, creating separation between myself and my business. I am no longer the heartbeat - taking the mental leap from 'handmade business' to classing myself as a SME (small and micro enterprise). Realising this is real and an actual job. This is what I built, with 3 kids in tow.
Struggles you encounter? How do you solve them?
My biggest issue is probably expecting too much of myself. Most of the time I need to take a break and a step back. Hustle culture doesn't really emphasise breaks and the benefits of resting! There are only so many hours in a day, sleep is SO very important. I actually use a meditation app a lot. Resting enables us to solve problems in our subconscious.
What sparks joy in what you do?
Being able to shut the door on my work and separating myself from my business, true story, sorry hustle culture. Also, most recently handing over staffing. I honestly didn't think that in 3 months I'd be so happy to start giving staff jobs and trusting them. I only staffed for about 2 months now, so I guess that goes back to highlights and achievements.
Dream stockists/brand to collaborate with?
Selfridges, or John Lewis? Or maybe my own store, even better! I often talk to Therese from Small Business Collaborative, and it's absolutely no secret that when you see me stocked somewhere it will be a vanity project.
Any lessons you'd pass on?
Turnover is vanity and profit is sanity! If you don't know this phrase, I highly recommend you read Profit First (thank you Mandy from Girl and Cat Studio).
What's next for you and your business?
I have no idea. I currently have 3 units at Containerville (that escalated quite quickly, as I only completed one quarter there). I'd like to be in a light industrial unit within the next 2 years. We'll probably end up doing more manufacturing. I am stunned by the growth this year, and have really struggled with the changes and transitions from a 'kitchen table' business to an actual business with dedicated units
I'd like to see a minimum of 2 full time employees and probably 6 part time warehouse staff. I currently run shifts of two staff, two days a week around schooling and a young one at nursery still. I don't really have this option until Porita starts reception in 2022. Then the shifts will probably become 4 x days a week.
Pics of @containervillelondon