I’m so excited to introduce this incredibly creative and generous soul, Renee!
She’s a graphic designer and illustrator, who’s based in Melbourne. Renee offers a full range of design services – logo creation, helping business owners develop their brand’s identity, website design, ebooks and creating stunning one of a kind illustrations.
She’s amazing, get ready to take some notes!
Let’s get to know you a little better! How would you best describe yourself? What inspires you?
I run a happy creative studio in Melbourne where I spend all day designing and writing for creative entrepreneurs. It’s wonderful.
Design is powerful and I love that I can give that to business owners. We can use it to attract the right people to our work, to change the way people experience our services, and even change the way our clients see us.
I am inspired by connection, conversation and simplicity.
You can’t grow alone. You need to be building on what you know, and this means connecting with people, ideas and different ways of thinking.
The best conversations are those long and winding ones about work and life and value. Nothing’s more inspiring than watching someone get lost in their own excitement.
I choose for my life to be as simple as it can be. I spend a lot of time creating simplicity for myself and my clients.
What does a day in the life of Renee Carmody Design look like?
I start each day with my partner over coffee where we talk about the big dreams and little plans around us before heading to the studio.
I spend time connecting with business owners in online groups answering questions where I can. I take note of challenges people are facing which I use to brainstorm product ideas, or tweak the messaging of my services.
Inspired by Sarah J. Bray, I set aside time each day to learn. Sometimes this is taking a course module, sometimes this is watching an online workshop, sometimes this is implementing something exciting I’ve learned about.
The mornings are my most creative time of the day, so I use this time to sketch out illustrations, develop logo concepts, and write articles for reneecarmody.com.
My studio is located in the Nicholas Building which is filled with artists, designers and makers. There’s so many lovely cafés and lunch spots to choose from. I usually have lunch while reading my favourite blogs. Though I never read graphic design blogs—the best inspiration comes from interior design and photography styling!
Running a business is only lonely if you allow it to be. I make sure I schedule a couple of coffee dates with brilliant creative women every week to support and celebrate each other.
I dedicate the afternoons to tasks that require less intense focus—making amendments to designs, following up on projects and sending estimates to new clients.
Once I’m done for the day, I set myself up for the next day by writing out what needs to be completed. I’ve started writing emails to ‘employee Renée’ from ‘boss Renée’ so I don’t intimidate myself with all that needs to be done. It’s like talking to yourself, only more productive.
Being your own boss, how do you balance work, rest and play?
I don’t believe people who say balance doesn’t exist as an entrepreneur. It’s there, but no one is going to give it to you—you have to make it happen.
When I first quit my full time job in 2013, I felt enormous guilt every time I wasn’t working. I would work from the second I woke up to the moment I fell asleep. I ate with a laptop open. I had my phone with me at all times. And yes, reading business articles and replying to emails counts as work.
I had a sudden moment of clarity a few months in where I realised I was actively building a life I hated. The only thing that trumped the guilt was resentment.
I immediately imposed two rules on myself: No work on weekends. No work after 5:30pm.
If you don’t make time for rest, your body chooses when and how it happens. And you’re not going to like what it chooses. I used to be sick all the time growing up. Constant pain—always something wrong. It wasn’t until I started removing all the pointless stress that I found out life didn’t have to be that way.
Now I make a lot of time for rest and I make no apologies for it. You can’t have the work without the rest.
I have never found it easy to do something that doesn’t have a purpose behind it. I can see that it’s important, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.
It won’t happen on its own, so I’m now making a conscious effort to make time for silliness, pointlessness and fun.
When we first met in Byron, I was so inspired at how you carve out time for learning and educating yourself. How do you find the time for this?
I think learning is the most important gift you can give yourself. No one can take your education away from you. I didn’t go to university or get a degree in design. I started my first design job in 2007 and I learnt as I went by Googling questions, working through tutorials and reading books on Adobe programs.
It instilled this in me: There is nothing I can’t learn how to do.
The barrier to knowledge is so low. You can buy a course or work with a coach or read an article and you’ll walk away knowing more than you did. But knowing is only useful when paired with doing. You must find a way to apply and practice what you know.
Making time for anything is about making it a priority. When your priorities don’t align with the way you spend your time, you resent yourself.
You can’t create more time, you can only choose what you do with the time you have. Set your priorities intentionally and dedicate space for them to exist.
You offer clients both graphic design and illustration services. What projects really light you up? Who’s your ideal client?
I love working with service based businesses. Their work is so deeply tied to their experience and strengths, and I love bringing that side of their work out into the open.
Design has such a dramatic effect on the way people experience their business. It changes the way they are perceived in their industry. It’s an incredible transformation as a business owner, and I love facilitating it.
Logo design and brand design is where I get to blow people away with what we can do for them. My clean and illustrative aesthetic makes the designs so individual and original. It’s completely unique every time because every part of it is created for their particular business.
When it comes to branding, what advice would you give to someone who’s starting out?
Your brand is the way people experience your work, and what they perceive your business to be.
When you create the brand for your business, you are changing the way people experience and perceive it.
It’s an exciting process, and can be overwhelming. It takes a lot of introspection and thinking about why you do what you do, how people see you and what you want.
The best place to start is with the problems you solve for people. Everything else will be built upon this.
And if you don’t know, ask your favourite clients what struggles they were facing before they bought your product or service. I do this with every client and the answers are always fascinating.
It’s hard to tell people the problems you solve for them until you hear them tell you what it is. You’ll always complicate it, and they’ll come back with this perfectly simple answer. It’s beautiful.
Branding is the process of building upon the problem you solve.
The design of your business mirrors the feeling they experience when that problem is solved. Figuring out who you serve is about describing the person behind that particular problem. Your marketing efforts are guided by the other places people go to solve the problem.
Everything stems from the problems you solve.
We recently worked together on a photography shoot in Melbourne (which was awesome, BTW!). What drew you to collaborate with Eyes of Love Photography? Did you have any concerns/expectations/magic ‘a-ha!’ moments during the shooting process?
I knew that to grow my business, I need to reach people in a different way. I needed to connect with people outside of my design work so I could build trust with them as we got to know each other online.
I needed someone to get who I am so I could share who I am. And Michelle is that person. When we first met on a creative retreat run by Dani at Neverland Studio, Michelle was talking about capturing a personality in a photo. She turned to me and said “If I was to shoot you, Renée, I would take you to a café and make sure you had a coffee in hand.”
She had just met and she already KNEW me so well.
I had every confidence in her ability to show people who I was through her photographs. From that moment, I was simply waiting for Eyes of Love Photography to come to Melbourne.
When I booked my shoot, Michelle sent me a comprehensive and beautifully designed Rock Your Shoot guide. It helped me prepare my outfits and props for the day so I felt ready.
I didn’t feel nervous until the morning of the shoot. The team explained that they ease into the shoot—first with lifestyle and flat-lay shots, then with more candid portraits, then to public portraits.
I was surprised at how natural standing in the middle of Flinders Lane in peak hour felt! Michelle showed me her photos as she took them, and I was blown away by how amazing they looked in-camera. Her passion and love of her own photos made me feel like I made the absolute best choice for my business.
Favourite food: A vegan Panang Curry is my ultimate comfort food
On my bookshelf: I love business books. Always reading ‘The Independent Consulting Manual’ and Tara Gentile’s ‘Quiet Power Strategy’.
In my spare time you’ll find me: Getting a coffee, watching a documentary or going to brunch.
Dream holiday destination: Top of my list: Japan! New Zealand! USA! Iceland!
My guilty pleasure: I do love a weekly bunch of fresh flowers from the market.