From Finance to Design: How One Millennial Ditched the Finance Industry to Build An Online Design Studio
Ever wondered what it takes to ditch the cubicle and become a full-time girl boss? Our Student Spotlight Series interviews our students who have made the transition from 9-5 to remote CEOs!
From what inspired them to start their own business, their favorite podcasts, go-to morning routine, advice to aspiring girl bosses, and so much more!
Today, we’re sitting down with our student Lucia O’Grady, Founder of Serena Design Co.! Originally from Wexford, Ireland, Lucia gives us a glimpse into her girl boss journey…
Q: What type of online business do you own and what services do you offer?
I’m the Founder of Serena Design Co., an online design studio that provides minimal brand and website design for creative entrepreneurs. I help small business owners elevate their business through authentic and purposeful design!
Q: What inspired you to enroll in the Bucketlist Bombshells Academy?
I had always dreamt of being my own boss and having the freedom to travel the world, but I never thought it could ever be possible.
So, when I stumbled across the Bucketlist Bombshells, I was immediately intrigued. After I participated in the free workshop, I was hooked! I enrolled in the Design Skills Course and the Tech Skills Course as soon as I could!
Q: How have the courses helped you to become an online business owner?
The Bucketlist Bombshells courses simplified the process of developing relevant design skills, especially with the Adobe programs. They gave me the confidence to set up my own business!
“I discovered an entire online world that I never knew existed!”
Q: What type of job were you working in prior to running your own online business?
Prior to launching Serena Design Co., I worked in the finance industry in investment services. I graduated college with a degree in International Business and went straight into the 9-5 life.
Q: How long did it take you to ditch your 9-5, and how much time did you dedicate in order to make it happen?
I ditched my 9-5 in Ireland in September of 2018. Then, I set off traveling around Southeast Asia for five months with the intention of moving to Australia and seeking another finance-related job.
However, while looking for a job, I stumbled across the Bucketlist Bombshells’ courses. In March of 2019, I enrolled in the Tech Skills Course and the Design Skills Course. Luckily, I had some money left over from my travel savings (as well as a very supportive partner) to be able to treat the courses as my new job.
I spent two months eating, sleeping, and breathing the courses for about 30 hours a week. In May, I was ready to launch my business!
Q: How long was it until you landed your first client online?
I landed my first client one week after launching my online business, followed by another client a couple of weeks after! I didn’t expect to book clients so quickly, and I’ll always be so grateful for those first clients.
“My first two clients gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed to know that this career path was possible!”
Q: What has been your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest setback occurred about five months into my business when things started to slow down. I had started out so strong and had continued to attract a steady flow of clients up until then. So, this unexpected lull in business really knocked my confidence.
Because of that, I fell into imposter syndrome, where I began to doubt my success and was paralyzed with fear. I can often take things a little too personally while running my own business and saw this slow-down as a reflection on my abilities.
“I began to think I wasn’t good enough.”
In times like this, it is so important to have a solid support system around you. My boyfriend helped me put everything into perspective and realize that this was completely normal for a one-woman business in its infancy.
Once I realigned my mindset, I found the drive to come up with a marketing strategy to get myself back out there.
“Everything comes down to your mindset!”
Q: What was the final push in your story to get you to ditch the idea of a 9-5 job?
When I enrolled in the Bucketlist Bombshells courses, I had no idea what to expect. Working for myself always seemed like an unattainable dream. Although I was hopeful in starting the courses, I didn’t expect to be able to completely ditch my career in finance!
About two weeks into the Design Skills Course, I had my “aha” moment. I was completely and totally engaged in every module.
“When I began the mini projects and designing mockup brands, I knew right away that this was something I could do!”
While designing, I was in a creative flow and it was such an amazing feeling. I was excited and inspired by what I was doing – something I had never felt while working in finance.
“I realized it was possible to ditch my 9-5 and pursue something that I was really, truly passionate about.”
Q: Tell us what a “day in the life” looks like for you now that you’re running your own online business!
Every day is a little different for me, but I do keep some set routines. I wake up around 6:30am, which is actually earlier than when I worked my 9-5. I get in a quick gym session and take a shower. Then, I enjoy a nice relaxing breakfast, one of the things I love most about my new routine.
When working my 9-5, I always felt like I was rushing out the door in the mornings to get to the office. It took me a few months to get out of the habit of waking up and feeling frantic!
Afterwards, I’ll head to a cafe or the library to get my work done. I love working by myself, so I don’t really have that feeling of loneliness that many freelancers experience. However, I am also really lucky to live in the same suburb as one of my friends who also runs her own business. We often co-work together, which is so lovely!
Q: What’s the most challenging part about running your online business?
The most challenging part about running my online business is procrastination. I’ve always been a serial procrastinator, so having the freedom of running my own business has added a whole new level of difficulty.
“I’m much better at disciplining myself and setting challenges and rewards!”
Q: How do you stay inspired and motivated to run your online business?
I have been blessed to work with some amazing clients. When I’m in the midst of a project with them and we’re flowing and collaborating together, I get the biggest high!
When I’m lacking in inspiration, I set time aside to create something fun and exciting just for me. It could be a mockup project or a fun illustration of one of my friends. It’s just something quick and easy that I know will spark my creativity again!
Q: What is your process for finding and landing clients online?
Facebook groups have been my go-to, along with approaching local businesses here in Sydney. I’m also beginning to attract clients through Instagram, which was my goal from the start.
“It takes time to build a steady, organic following!”
Q: What do you love most about the work you do and the clients you work with?
The creative flow feeling I get when I’m designing is like no other! I love that I get completely lost in my work and become oblivious to everything around me!
Q: What’s the best part about being your own boss?
The best part about being my own boss is having the freedom to set my own working hours. If I’m traveling, I can split my work across the entire week and just do a couple of hours a day!
“I’ll often take an extended lunch to go to the beach, meet a friend, or even just watch a movie!”
Q: What is your favorite destination to work remotely from?
I usually work from a local cafe or library. Since I tend to get distracted easily, I’m not much of a work-from-home kind of person. The buzz of a cafe environment helps me focus.
I love that Sydney has a massive cafe culture. There are always new places to try, so I never get bored. My go-to is Angry Tony’s Pizza, which is only a five-minute walk from my apartment!
“I love to get cosy in a corner with a cappuccino, put my earphones in, and get lost in my own little bubble.”
Q: What is one travel item you can’t live without when you’re working and traveling?
No matter where I am, if I have my laptop and a pair of earphones, I’m good to go. That’s the beauty of working online!
Q: What’s your go-to favorite podcast that you’d recommend to other girl bosses?
For business tips, my all time favorite podcast is Steph Taylor’s Socialette: Bite Sized Online Marketing Podcast. I love that a majority of the episodes are under ten minutes!
I would also always recommend “self-help” type podcasts that promote a healthy, positive mindset. Two of my favorites (which are both Irish) are The Good Glow with Georgie Crawford and The Pat Divilly Podcast!
Q: What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring Bucketlist Bombshells?
Don’t be dictated by fear or worry about what people will think. It’s a scary prospect to shift lanes and go out on your own, but it could be the best thing you ever do!
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3 Steps To Building A Wildly Successfull Service-Based Online Business
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