I first met Emilia Farrace at a bar late one evening. I was early on in thinking about starting my business. And because I overthink, contemplate and hesitate over any major life decision, I sought out as many experts as I could find. Emilia was one such expert. As the founder and creative director at Simply Elaborate Creative Agency, Emilia helps her clients connect the dots that form their big picture vision.
Simply Elaborate is a consciously curated collective of digital artists and brand architects who share a collaborative spirit. Known for blending style with purpose, bringing significance to simplicity, turning fresh ideas into flourishing spaces and for making brands more memorable, the agency specializes in creative strategy, brand identity, and web design and development.
When Emilia and I met, she was so chill from the get-go. She was very direct, but easy to talk to and funny as hell. I could tell Emilia was the ultimate #girlboss. She just had a certain swagger. She had been in her business for a while, but talked about how she began her journey and founded Simply Elaborate. Her questions made me think about the other side of entrepreneurship. The unromantic side that people don’t really talk about. Things like, you don’t necessarily need to work from 9-5pm, yes and that’s great. When you’re running your own business, it’s more like 24 hours/7 days a week. You might actually have to ask people to pay you and sometimes Sundays will have to be set aside for invoicing. Out of everyone I spoke to about starting my own business, Emilia was the only one to discuss the topic of money.
I panic a lot. Sometimes I roll up like a ball in the corner of my apartment because I’m afraid to pull the trigger on something – an email, a post, a tweet, a thought. It’s the kind of stuff you don’t see on my Instagram. During these moments of sweat induced fear, I try to reflect back to that evening at the bar in mid-town Toronto and my conversation with Emilia. Her giving it to me straight. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you work less and on your own terms. “You are literally up at night!” But since that meeting, and despite the panicky nights, I jumped in anyway and haven’t looked back. I guess you could say, Emilia helped me connect the dots that formed my big picture vision.
Please enjoy 10 Questions with Emilia Farrace.
I just didn’t feel like I really worked well in an office environment. Or, maybe I just hadn’t found the right one, but I was always go-go-go and trying to find other things to do when I finished my work. I always believed there was something else out there in terms of my career and I loved helping people go after their dreams, too, I figured out. It actually happened when I moved back from Calgary to Toronto, I’d taken a sales job with a company that paid commission only and I wasn’t doing too well, I ended up spending my nights working on side jobs designing and working on websites for people to make money that eventually I was making a decent enough amount to do it on my own.
2. What problem are you solving?
I’m helping people accurately portray their message online. There are so many good ideas out there, great products, and these amazing entrepreneurs that are putting it all together online but don’t know what they’re doing – obviously – because their focus is on the product/service their selling. So then they’re focusing on learning this new industry, just quickly, to get it done, and it falls flat or isn’t as great as it should be for their level of service/product. So we do that for them! Create their brand and online presence in a way that accurately represents who their brand is, they are and why they are a passion-based business.
3. What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?
Loaded question. At first, it was being taken seriously, and support. Once I got over not caring what people think about that – it got easier. Now, it’s more about work-life balance. It’s tough. There’s a constant struggle of FOMO with your friends and family, but with no chains to a 9-5 schedule, sometimes that means weekends. I love working on weekends, mostly writing, because it’s the calmest my inbox is – however, that’s also my favourite time to have brunch with my guy, or with our families – and sometimes I just can’t sacrifice those memories and therefore I’m stuck working in the middle of the night. But that’s the sacrifice I’m okay with, to me – it’s worth it.
There other big thing is being around people that don’t necessarily understand what it means to be one, and I’m not working at a day job, so it is a big all-consuming (my business) so I don’t just “turn it off and relax at night” because my mind is always running. I can be lying on the couch watching Netflix, but my mind is running with ideas or strategy based on the ideas that I get while watching the shows. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I make sure to watch the shows that have strong characters, development and I actually decipher the development and direction of the movies, shows or characters I watch – and connect them to how I can apply it to my life, business. Multi-tasking at its best!!
4. What does a typical day consist of?
Depends on the day!
The typical one is mostly getting up, making the bed, making breakfast and either eating while planning my day with my Passion Planner or having a calm morning with my boyfriend (depends on how many times the snooze button is pressed!) Then, I listen to the Being Boss podcast while I get ready for work and start my day. I’m fortunate to work from home but I make sure to have that daily routine to get into work mode. Once I’m on it for the day – I tackle what I’d suggested to do in my PP. Designing, project managing, Skype calls, emails – I’m also writing a lot of emails between my team and I and sometimes we have our Skype connect-calls as well. I prepare a lot of contracts, quotes, and online networking for our worldwide following.
Some days, I have client meetings where I’m showing off a project we’ve completed for them, or meeting them as a perspective client. When it’s social media planning week, a day can also consist of SHOPPING (yup, that’s right) at super unique local stores that have products we’d love to feature in our online community but that also we tend to use in our everyday working lives. We also have photo shoot days where we take one or two month amount of photographs for our photo stock and Instagram feed (editorial content takes planning!) so that’s a pretty unique day as well.
As we also offer coaching, I can have a full-day full of coaching calls with clients as we get them started on their business ideas as well. Every day is different!
5. What do you love to do at night?
I love to cook! I am obsessed with Gwenyth Paltrow’s IT’S ALL GOOD cookbook and basically love cooking from there – I’m so excited for her next one. I believe it’s going to be called IT’S ALL EASY. I try to write at night, spend time with my boyfriend for date-nights, knitting, colouring (the new fad!), networking events, and watching a Netflix show or two.
6. How do you dress to exude confidence?
I dress to exude me. I tried the “this is what you’re supposed to wear when you go here” type of thing, and then the entire time, I always felt uncomfortable, like I couldn’t pull it off, felt weird. As soon as I started just wearing what I felt comfortable in, and strong – I think it just came. I came to realize that I don’t have a corporate job; therefore corporate business attire does not make me feel comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I still dress well – but I definitely dress like me – and that, to me, excludes confidence. That, and red lipstick – red lipstick can make me super confident in jeans.
7. Yoga, strength training, cardio or all three?
I have been obsessed with all three, at different times in my life, so it’s really hard to choose. I loved running because I could do something while doing it (outside, listen to a podcast or inside a gym. I’d watch documentaries or Lynda.com videos to learn while watching); strength training because I could easily feel the results (and saw them the quickest) and yoga because it literally forced me to do nothing but be in the room and participate in the class. You may have noticed I have a problem with just be-ing. So yoga has definitely helped with that. All important – can’t choose just one.
8. How does your culture/background influence your work?
It definitely tempts me. I come from a culture of labour-intensive work produces the best results, the fastest, with the most money so I’m not always completely understood for the job I’ve chosen to give myself.
9. What do you consider to be a life well lived?
I consider a life well-lived when there is more time spent doing something productive, and helping others than complaining about the things not going exactly as planned in life. It’s a vague sentence, because I think it can apply to everyone and doesn’t need to be like “when you have money and can sit by the pool all day” because everyone has a different vision of what is their happiness and what is a good life. I think that helping others being a big part of what you do in life will bring that great life back to you – it is the great life!
10. If you could write your own obituary, what would the tagline say?
Always willing to help others with a smile on her face. (cheese, please!)
Images via Emila Farrace