“It’s always been important to me to be around for my kids, especially now they are still quite young. Running my own business has allowed me to do that.” Julia Wetzel on her career – past and present…
Julia Wetzel is founder of JDW, a marketing consultancy for creative businesses and lifestyle brands. After working in marketing for for big corporates as well as smaller design studios for 12+ years, she decided to use her knowledge and expertise to support other creatives in nailing their social media and marketing. She is a visual thinker, so good design is a must, but equally she believes there is not much point in implementing a marketing campaign without a solid strategy and clear objectives in place.
How long have you been in your current line of work and what led you to it?
I started my own business last year, towards the end of my second maternity leave. I had often toyed with the idea of going it alone but was never quite sure what I wanted to do or how I wanted to do it. My husband is a project manager for a construction company so his hours are incredibly inflexible and we knew he couldn’t be involved in most of the kids’ admin, like school and nursery runs. My family is in Germany, my husband’s even further away in New Zealand which means we don’t have the support of grandparents either. For all of those reasons, having flexibility was high on my priority list.
It’s always been important to me to be around for my kids, especially now they are still quite young. Running my own business has allowed me to do that.
What were you doing previously?
Apart from my very first job as a design assistant for a lingerie brand, I have pretty much always worked in marketing. The first five years in Auckland, New Zealand where I experienced two redundancies. The first one hit me hard and knocked my confidence but each time it happened, the jobs got better, I landed more senior positions faster and most importantly, it taught me to be flexible, confident in my abilities and open to new opportunities.
When we made the move to London, I landed a role at British design studio Tom Dixon. I have to admit, at the time, I had never even heard of Tom and only realised how ‘famous’ he was when I started my job. In the six years I worked there, I learnt so much about design, the creative process, worked with some amazingly talented people and formed lasting friendships.
My time at Tom Dixon 100% shaped what I am doing now. It’s helped me determine my niche, be clear on the type of businesses I want to work with and left me with some great contacts that made my start into self employment a little bit easier.
Was there any training/studying involved for your current career?
I studied textile and clothing technology with a major in management. I didn’t do a business or marketing degree.
I was always pretty clear on wanting to work in a creative industry but never as a designer. So while my studies somehow formed the foundation for my career, the path I took in the end was quite different to what I had envisaged.
Do you do it for the love of it, money or both?
I love marketing and been lucky enough to work for some great companies, across some interesting projects and with supportive teams. However, earning a good salary is, and always has been important to me.
Which career moment are you most proud of?
Setting up my own business after baby number two when times weren’t always easy or calm. I feel proud every time I work with a new client or sell a spot on my course. Knowing it’s all my own drive, determination and the fact that people want to work with me (without having a big brand name behind me) is an incredibly good feeling.
And your lowest point?
My first redundancy after being in the job for eight months.
What are your daily work challenges?
Coming to terms with time limitations and accepting that it will likely be small steps and slow growth rather than achieving big things fast. September 2019 has been on the map for me for a long time now, knowing I would finally have the right childcare in place to concentrate on my career again. I am finding it hard at times when I am just about to get into a good workflow and then have to stop to pick my daughter up from school.
How do you cope when things aren’t going as you’d like with work?
When I feel stressed or get anxious about work, I reach out to my friends. It always makes me feel better and puts things into perspective. I also downloaded the Headspace app and try to incorporate meditation or some form of relaxation into my daily routine. If all fails, sign off from all things digital, take a shower, leave my phone at home and get out of the house.
Do you reward yourself after a work success – if so, how?
Yes most definitely! I am following Studio B on Instagram and am obsessed about every single item in her shop. Once I sell ten spaces for my online course, my plan is to reward myself with a new dress.
Would you be comfortable to tell us what you earn?
In my first year of self employment I earned £5,260. This month I made £150. Interestingly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to answer this question, simply because I am not earning very much at the moment.
But I think it’s incredibly important to openly talk about money and make it less of a taboo.
Are you happy with that amount?
I am happy that I got off to a good start but my goal is to get back to earning at least my previous part time salary.
What’s the dream/aim/goal – career-wise?
My dream is to grow my business to the point where I earn enough money to support my family and enable us to do the things we enjoy, without having to worry too much.
I want JDW to be the place creative business owners turn to for no-fuss, easy to implement marketing advice. Whether that is in the form of my online courses, bespoke 1:1 marketing support or coaching or by following and engaging with me on Instagram.
Three people we should follow, in your industry?
For all things design & branding Helen @mum_folk
Social media for fashion businesses Verity @styleupsocialacademy
Affordable semi-custom branding packages Hilary @themerchantassembly
Anything you’d like to plug?
I just launched my first online course, teaching people how to strategically map out content across all of their brand touchpoints (not just social media). It’s filled with lots of tips, advice and tasks that will help business owners build their own content roadmap, leaving them with tonnes of new ideas, a clear strategy and the confidence to tell an engaging brand story.
Photo credit: Taran Wilkhu