Emma Orchardson is a designer and owner of accessories brand One We Made Earlier. She is also mum to two daughters, Elsa (7) and Lily (5). In this edition of Life Stuff tells us how she and husband Rob manage to fit in all the life stuff required of them as self-employed creative people, as designers, as business owners and as parents.
Over to you, Emma...
I am a designer. I design, make and distribute a range of jewellery under the name One We Made Earlier.
Most days I can be found in our studio sanding, drilling and putting necklaces together. We cut and hand finish all our designs in-house, so there are many hours of labour involved. Rob (my husband) cuts the shapes and I work on the finishing processes and packaging. Every day involves a range of computing tasks - from dealing with shop enquiries to keeping up with mounds of admin. Trips to the post office are very regular too. Sometimes we have meetings with our stockists, perhaps to work on bespoke designs for them. If customers are local, they might pop by the studio. It's nice to have visitors!
I’m not sure we do manage to fit everything in successfully... there are never enough hours in the day. Balance is something we are always striving for.
Rob and I are thankful to have ‘flexible’ work lives that allow room for the kids to spend time with us. The girls LOVE coming to the studio. They are quite keen on building our tube packaging, as it happens. I am longing for the day when they can help with the sanding too! They also make things of their own when they come to the studio. Lily spent a long time drawing a design on a chunk of wood the other day! Long may it last.
I pause work to do the school pick-up and to spend time with the children in the afternoon. That means I nearly always have to do some work in the evenings. Rob works on something most evenings too. Rob works as a contemporary artist, so juggles that, One We Made Earlier and some teaching. There is never a dull moment in our household! No matter what though, once the children have gone to bed, Rob and I will always eat dinner together. That is a nice moment to catch up. I enjoy the cooking bit as well.
To relax as a family, we tend to go to galleries. Our children have been going to galleries since they were babies, so thankfully they get excited about going to see a show. They pack their notebooks and pencils, ready to draw their favourite works or make lists of titles! We also like visiting different parts of London, looking in design shops and discovering new cafes and restaurants. The girls are always keen to sample chocolate brownies in all locations and Rob is a bit of a coffee geek. I’m very happy with an Earl Grey and a scone!
I guess art and design is pretty 'present' at home - though we are quite indecisive about the artworks on our walls. It's taken us years to put pictures up! It is nice to have a few of Rob’s artworks up - like the poster he designed for London Underground. We love art and design books and magazines so we have many of those.
Our passion for good design has influenced family life in that it makes us avoid buying tacky flashing plastic toys! I think we are past that stage now anyway, thankfully. Our children seem more interested in making things and in imaginary play than in playing with large Barbie houses or whatever. We are quite lucky they don’t demand such things. The downstairs of our house is completely open plan so everything is on view and merges together - child stuff, adult stuff, life stuff! We are always refining things and striving to be more minimal as the children get older.
As much as the girls love visiting the studio, if they were 100% in charge of my free time, Lily would want us to go to the park together and Elsa would want to go to the woods near our house and eat chocolate sitting on a log. (I know these very specific details because I asked them!). Sounds fine to me. I can pack my own scone.