Name: Mariska Voell (she/her)
Business Name: Playa Design Co.
Describe your business:
I work with purpose-driven brands solving their design problems and pushing their creative to the next level. I tell their story in a beautiful and impactful way.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
I quit my full-time job in January 2020 and decided to try freelancing instead of looking for another one! I was burnt out from working in the office around the clock and wanted to take some time to decompress in the Bahamas.
Shortly after my arrival, COVID-19 caused the island chain to close their borders and cancel all incoming and outgoing flights. I ended up staying there for six months. During that time, I found plenty of work just by reaching out to my network. Specifically, people I really enjoyed working with in the past.
I found myself busy enough to work – and live – on the island, all while paying rent for my apartment in LA.
I flew back to the states in August 2020 and worked full days for my clients – and reached my financial goals! In early 2021, I decided to make my relationship with my freelance work official and wanted to establish my S Corp. But had NO IDEA where to begin. That’s where Collective came in. It couldn’t have been a more perfect match for my needs.
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about working for social impact and purpose-driven brands. Knowing that my work is contributing to a good cause is what keeps me motivated and constantly pushing my creative limits.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
My passion for working for purpose-driven brands started at my first job out of college, which was a Junior Graphic Designer role at Applegate (the meat & cheese brand you see on your local grocery store deli shelf). My work there focused on print design and illustration, and Applegate’s work was focused on helping farms around the world turn to all organic farming practices.
I learned so much about farming (the good and the bad) and loved working for a company that was in business to change their industry for the better. From there, I learned the most valuable thing I can do in my career is to work with brands that are in business to make the world a better place.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
When I started working remotely, I had no idea the rest of the world would be doing the same just a few weeks later. I sharpened my digital design skills as my work made a huge shift to digital rather than print and environment since no one was meeting in person.
Because of this massive worldwide shift, I’ve found there has never been a better time to be in this business. A lot of companies are seeking “outside help” especially in their creative departments, in order to keep up with the changing times.
Are you a part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
Collective is actually the only one I’m in right now! Becoming a member to get my S Corp off the ground – and keep me organized with bookkeeping and taxes has been amazing. On those days where I’m asking myself “what on earth am I doing” (we all have those days, right?) and getting answers from experts in the biz has been SO helpful and has increased my confidence in running my business. I am forever grateful for that.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
Earlier this year, I started working with a start-up to develop their creative direction from the ground-up and help them launch their product. I’m designing for them part-time on a continuous basis. My client, Alltruists, offers kid-friendly, at-home volunteer projects in a box, inspiring families and kids to make the world better.
I design and illustrate the boxes themselves and all the contents and booklets in every box, which focuses on a different topic for each. This work has been so fulfilling. Combining my love for social impact work with design and illustration.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
Have confidence in yourself and your work! You’re doing way better than you think you are!
It takes a lot of courage to take the leap and be a Business-of-One. By taking that risk, you are already growing and learning more than the average person. That’s something to be proud of.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
When I decided to make my freelance business official, and establish an S Corp, I had no idea where to begin. Sure, my design skills are what keeps the clients coming back for more. But the time came that I needed to level up my business skills which is just as important. Forming an S Corp has saved me thousands on taxes and has kept me more organized and confident in my business endeavors.