GSD // Erika of Small Shop Studio

Photo by Jennifer Daigle Photography for the Glitter Guide

Erika Brechtel 
owner, small shop [a brand styling studio] 
blog — shop talk

See how Erika gets shit done after the jump!

What does a typical day look like for you?
6:30am – My daughter storms in for a quick cuddle before we head downstairs. My husband always has coffee ready. Hurrah!
8am – They go off to school and work, and I get an hour to get ready and walk my dogs.
9am – I give myself an hour to go through my inbox, doing some quick social media, and if I get a chance, going to a few of my favorite blogs.
10am, on – I always have my day’s work scheduled out per project, and I have to be diligent and stick to that, otherwise the entire day will go by with nothing to show for it! I’ll typically have lunch at my desk, and definitely more caffeine in the afternoon.
6pm – My family returns home. My husband and I will take turns making dinner and getting our daughter down for bed. We get 1 hour to watch a recorded show. Currently on the DVR: Mad Men, Burn Notice, White Collar. But there are also a lot of nights that one of us will have a meeting, and won’t get home until after 8 or 9pm.
9pm – back to my desk to write the next day’s blog post, if I haven’t done that already. Some nights I need a break.
11:30pm – up to bed to read a few pages of a spy novel before dozing off. Currently reading James Rollins’ The Devil Colony.

What parts of your job do you love?
I love being creative every day, and that I get to have direct contact with my clients and really know when I’ve made an impact in their professional lives.

What parts of your job do you dislike?
My husband (an architect) and I work all the time: most nights and often one day on the weekend! So although we work for ourselves and you’d think we have tons of flexibility, we are really tied to the amount of billable hours we can produce every week. 

Additionally, when you work for yourself, there is never the “perfect” amount of work. The absolute worst is to be idle. We remember 2008 all too well, and are extremely appreciative that we are so busy now.

What things do you have to do that you didn't realize going into your job?
I think that you have to do all the jobs that a larger firm would have several people for: accounting, marketing, sales, strategic planning, client/vendor management, project management … and then you get to creative.


What type of calendar do you keep?
I cannot function without my Outlook calendar. I have every project listed as a different “category” with a designated color. My calendar acts as my to-do list, as well as my timesheet. It’s essential that I keep a very tight daily schedule.

How do you plan out your calendar?
That’s another aspect of my job that’s tough: you can really only plan out your schedule roughly 2 weeks in advance. You can have an idea of a timeline for a project, hard drop-dead dates. But creative project schedules have to be somewhat organic, since it’s a collaborative process, like a journey of discovery with each client.

How do you organize your to-do list?
My inbox acts as my to-do list, although I have to schedule my time very specifically in my Outlook calendar. Once I’ve scheduled a task into my calendar, I’ll file that email away into a project specific folder where I can access it when the time comes. I also file away all inquiries and have to dedicate a time to respond to all of them at once.

How do tackle your to-do list?
Many days I’ve got so much going on with projects/business/personally, I have to write down every task on a pad of paper so I can figure out the priorities, when I can schedule them in, and check them off! 


What is your process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
Being diligent about my time and schedule. Turning my email and phone off for a few hours at a time in order to concentrate on my work. Good music, that is often dictated by the “feel” of a project. Lots of folders on my desktop for each and every project and task. Keeping my physical desk totally clean – I have a place for everything, off of my desk. A folder for each open project is on my bookshelf, and I’ll only pull the project I’m working on at that moment. Bills and mail are in a drawer, catalogs and magazines are waiting for me on a shelf, old projects are filed away in a cabinet. I find that I get overwhelmed if I have stuff laying around, which inhibits my creativity.

When you are stuck on a project, how do you get out of it?
I definitely go through creative lulls. But I find I have to push through it by continuing to work. My husband always says to knock out what you can, the easier stuff, if you’re not feeling the big stuff yet. Or I’ll work on a blog post that I’m excited about, to get the juices flowing again. 

And I have to feel inspired in my office space – whether it’s redoing my gallery wall or surrounding myself with visual inspiration such as my favorite magazines and design books.

How do you GSD at home (decorating, kids, cleaning, etc.)?
Lots of help from the husband, but it wasn’t always that way. There was a time when I thought I could do it all – work, groceries, laundry, house cleaning, cooking, mommy-ing, social calendar, blogging. I think a lot of women are guilty of this, and we end up resentful. We share household duties now because we understand that we’re both busy, and are flexible about each other’s schedules that wax and wane depending on our workloads.

Photo by Jennifer Daigle Photography for the Glitter Guide
Any other information about how you GSD, please share?
I am really fortunate to have a husband that also works for himself. We are often each other’s sounding board to vent creative frustrations, work out client issues, and discuss ideas or projects we are really jazzed about. And we care about each other’s work, genuinely. We talk every day, but even more important are our date nights every few weeks, where we can grab happy hour appetizers and a glass of wine, catch up, and connect. I would not be able to work as much as I do if I didn’t have a strong personal foundation and solid family life. 

That’s not to say we don’t fall short as parents/homeowners/friends … we often do! But as my uncle says, “sometimes good enough is good enough.” We try our best. 

Apps you use frequently/can't live without:
Facebook & Twitter: social media
Pinterest: social media, finding inspiration
Instagram: social media & connecting with followers/friends
Spotify: just discovered this one!
FaceTime: calls with my parents in Napa and my grandpa in Hawaii
iPhone email and text messaging: always best to text or email me than call!

Websites you constantly use:
Dropbox: large file sharing
Basecamp: project management between multiple parties
RewardStyle: fashion blogging essential (it’s brill)
iStockphoto, 123rf.com, Getty Images (stock images)
MyFonts.com, Fonts.com, Typekit

Programs & technology you use:
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe InDesign
iTunes & iTunes Radio 

Your gadgets/tech items:
Bamboo pen tablet
All photos by Erika Brechtel unless otherwise noted
Let me know how you #getshitdone on twitter @megbiram 


christin said...

This puts me to shame, and I think I'm busy. Erika is superwoman and I am in awe of her. She is so inspiring and such a good role model. Loved this feature!

Sam [The Peak of Tres Chic] said...

I loved reading this! I always feel so busy, but when you put it in perspective, girls like Erika accomplish way more than me. I loved seeing how she stays efficient.

Grace - Stripes and Sequins said...

I'm in awe of Erika - she is incredible!!

Erika [small shop] said...

Thanks for having me Meg! Like I said, you really helped me see there is an actual method to the madness happening over here every day!

And thank you all for the very sweet comments!

Andrea said...

Wow I love how organized she is. It's inspirational! Beautiful photos too. I'm off to organize my calendar.

Desiree Jacobs said...

Obsessing over basically all of Erika's "stuff"- seriously great taste! Now, my burning question, where did you get that fabulous mustard top?


Liz {Sequins And Stripes} said...

Erika is such a rockstar, love seeing her featured on GSD! Makes me want to get organized stat.

Erin at thesparkle.net said...

FABULOUS inspiration! she has it DOWN, and i can learn so much from this. it's so difficult to balance it all with all of the distractions these days, and this is a post i'll be returning to! thank you, ladies! x


Jules said...

I love hearing how other business women get it done! I'm a business owner too, work from home and just had my first baby...my schedule (or lack there of) has been turned upside down! It's great to see how Erika handles it all and tries to keep a good balance between work & personal life. I'm definitely taking notes on her tips on staying organized and focused! Love this series :)

The Now said...

Argh Erika's office space is my dream! I love all the gold and pink..plus that etagere is insane!!! I just love her! Fab post! xoxo

Victoria said...

Oh I LOOOOOVE the idea of the color coded Outlook calendar. My biggest issue when working from home is dividing up my time well so that I can get everything done. Sometimes I'll focus on a project (or, okay, Pinterest) for too long and it screws up my whole day! xo, vmac

Stephanie G said...

wow talk about organised ;) inspiring interview!

steph / absolutely fuzzy

Tamra {ever swoon} said...

yet another reason why Erika is my inspiration. She puts things in perspective and gets shit done. I admire her diligence and I learn from her all the time. i cannot say enough wonderful things about her, she is superwoman!

Rachel {little bits of lovely} said...

I really admire Erika so it is great to read about how she keeps organised. I'm impressed how clean she keeps her email + the colour coding looks like a great idea! I also like the idea of keeping this as a to do list. I love this series! xx

Becca - {extra}ordinary wonders said...

I love Erika's tips! Especially the way she color organizes her calendar and emails - brilliant!

Theresa / InspirationCOOP said...

Love Small Shop Studio and Shop Talk so it's really nice to read how Erika GSD. I especially liked her advice on getting unstuck - tackling the easier stuff to get the creative juices flowing sounds like a solid approach. I can really appreciate Erika's diligent organization.
PS~My husband is in real estate and we definitely remember 2008! What a disaster.

@jenhalloran said...

@Desiree -- I love that top, too, and remember it from when Erika was featured in the Glitter Guide. It's Marc by Marc Jacobs: http://theglitterguide.com/2012/02/14/style-at-home-erika-brechtel-of-small-shop-studio/2/

ashley cooper said...

Great feature!
-Ashley Cooper


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