Simple Living in Real Life is a new series where we take a closer look at how different people approach simple living. The theory of “living with less” is straightforward enough, but how does that actually look in real life? Each interview in the series will delve into how different folks apply the ideas of simple living to their every day. Enjoy!
Simple Living in Real Life: The Creative
On average I receive one email a week from an avid crafter who desperately wants to simplify, but is struggling with their sizeable stash.
Considering I get my creative juices flowing with words on a screen these days, and that I’ve given away almost all my craft supplies, I am definitely not an expert on this.
But what better way to begin the new Simple Living in Real Life series than asking a talented, creative business-owner and crafter to share her simplicity tips.
Alicia Parsons is the boss lady behind Akimbo – an Australian stationery label. She is a graphic designer who creates ‘clever hellos’ and very beautiful, timeless art prints.
1. You’re a creative business-owner. Tell us about your work and the raw materials you need to create.
On a daily basis I need my computer, printer, product inventory and shipping supplies. I also need regular access to things like my photography gear, invitation samples, marketing materials, stock envelopes and of course my art and craft supplies. Finally, there’s the periodically used items such as my expo/market stall setup, spare supplies, packaging materials and photo shoot props/backdrops. Oh, and of course the usual stuff like books, paperwork… the list goes on!
2. With physical supplies necessary for your business, how do you keep clutter minimal in your workspace?
I work in a very small space (our tiny second bedroom) and have a product-based business as well as a blog involving craft so it’s a constant battle to keep things under control. Here are some strategies that help me:
- Going paperless wherever possible (is this ironic for a stationery business?!)
- Not over-ordering supplies (sure, that bulk order of 5000 envelopes may be cheaper but where am I going to put them?)
- Regularly decluttering (let’s be honest: I’m probably never going to use those fabric scraps)
- Borrowing or hiring infrequently needed items (for example, photo shoot props, specialist craft tools, expo displays)
I’m actually considering outsourcing my warehousing and shipping to a fulfillment house which would dramatically decrease the amount of inventory I need to store.
3. Aside from your creative work, how do you embrace simplicity in everyday life?
I’m an organising machine from way back! I find great satisfaction in decluttering our home and making intentional choices about what belongs here. Like my parents, I would rather buy one thing I love rather than ten cheap, trendy things (hard when you have a decorating blog though!). Either when tempted in a shop or looking at my own home, I ask myself ‘Do I love or need this?’.
So that’s the physical stuff, I am good on that front. Simplicity in other ways – such as my time and commitments – is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m always trying to pile ‘one more thing’ onto my plate so it is a conscious effort to add more breathing space to my life. I’m getting better at saying ‘no’ and accepting my limitations. This is hard for me, but I try to remember that my friends come over to see me not a perfect house and the only person who cares whether that cake is homemade is me.
We also live in a small and modest home (2-bedroom unit) and started out with hand-me-down furniture until we saved for what we wanted. So many people our age were buying the three bedroom, two bathroom plus backyard combo. Which is great if that’s what they want and can afford, but I know some of them feel burdened by the cleaning, maintenance and big mortgage. We are happy with our choice and it works for us but we still occasionally get asked when we are buying a ‘real house’.
4. Do you have any storage/organisational tips to share?
Decluttering should always be the first step of any organising project: the less you have, the less there is to keep tidy. Choose versatile items that can be repurposed when your needs evolve and don’t just look in the storage aisle – you’ll find much more attractive storage elsewhere.
I could go into all the nitty-gritty, but the most important thing is to work with your own tendencies and lifestyle. Otherwise you’re fighting a losing battle. For example, if you prefer to work on your laptop from the comfort of your couch, stop worrying about putting your supplies back in the office every day, simply pop your charger, pens and notebook in an attractive lidded box on your coffee table where you actually use them.
Notice how – even though our work, living situation and circumstances differ – so many of the core ideas of simplicity can be found in Alicia’s space? I love seeing these ideas applied!
It’s proof that simplicity doesn’t need to cramp your style.
Tell me, do you have any tips on how you embrace simplicity in your daily life?