Name: Stefanie Wong
Business Name: Sanctuary of Design
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Describe your business:
I’m a creative professional focused on building great user experiences for web and mobile products. I often partner with high-growth startups as a product design strategist to invent custom software solutions.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
Twice now, I’ve embarked on the journey to self-employment. My first time as a freelance designer lasted six years. I briefly went back into the corporate world to give full-time work another shot and quickly discovered that I needed to work for myself again.
I need the ability to craft my lifestyle in a way that keeps me mentally and creatively healthy. Earlier this year, I decided to make a totally clean start. I got a brand new business set up with the help of Collective, and I’m ready to be back on the self-employment rollercoaster ride again.
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
As a self-employed person, I’m most excited to have the ability to create a lifestyle customized to my personal rhythm. I’m happiest when I’m reorganizing massive amounts of information and optimizing workflows, but it takes A LOT of creative energy and personal space to hold all the puzzle pieces in my head at once. So having direct control over how I want to spend my creative juice and my precious attention – there’s nothing better than that.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
When I began designing for the web, user experience design was a relatively new concept. When I first heard of it, I knew that I was part of an industry that was still being defined with lots of space to explore.
Fifteen years later, I stay open to evolution in any way possible, and I love knowing that there isn’t really a “right” way to do anything. As long as I continue to be curious, experimental, and knowing that there are a million different ways to get results, that’s what continues to help me navigate an industry that changes rapidly.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has opened up interesting opportunities for my line of work since we’re all remote now. At the moment, I’m experimenting with the idea of jumping from one short-term project to another, which is an ideal situation for me. The landscape feels ripe with opportunity.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
Currently, I’m working on two projects that excite me creatively in different ways. I’m working as a UX/UI lead for Warner Music Group, where, in short, I’m organizing lots of data and creating interesting ways to surface compelling insights from that data.
I’m also working with a digital marketing startup called Ylopo, which is in an exciting stage of growth. They have already created a suite of innovative marketing products and are now looking at new ways to package them. I’m jumping in to create a digital storefront and potentially develop a plan to level up their branding.
Are you a part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
I’ve been a member of Freelancers Union since 2015. It’s been a wonderful resource to connect with other freelancers in my area, and they often host super relevant and helpful events.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
When it comes to business setup, insurance, accounting, all of that, please hire a professional or at least partner with someone who really knows about it. My first time around, I was so confident that I could do all of it myself. This time I know better. When I first saw an ad for Collective and found out that they would take care of my entire business formation and help me with my accounting, it was a no-brainer.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
I just learned that by having an S Corp status, I can form corp to corp agreements with design agencies, which is a total game changer! Instead of being a W-2 employee, my business gets paid directly, and in short, I get more money. I’m excited to discover what other paths I’ve unlocked by having an S Corp.
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