OWNER/DESIGNER, LAHA DESIGN
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME ON REMOTE YEAR?
When I heard about Remote Year from a friend, I thought it was the perfect situation for me. I've been doing freelance design for the past two and a half years, which has allowed me the freedom to travel and work from wherever I wanted to. So coming across an organization that enabled me to do both, AND meet some incredibly amazing, like-minded people, along the way, seemed too good to be true! I just HAD to sign up!
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON FOR THE YEAR?
I have about 30+ clients, in varying industries, scattered all around the globe. So my work can range from branding for a winery in California, to web design for a New York production company, to business collateral for a real-estate investment company in Australia. I have big projects, small projects, busy months and slow months, and love every moment of it – it doesn't feel like work to me, at all.
It’s important to have personal projects outside of work as well, so I’ve also started an Art Club and Yearbook Club in RY2, Battuta. I spend a lot of time putting together fun art projects for people in the group (like painting murals and doing drawing classes), as well as organizing a Yearbook that we can have to remember this incredible year we’ve had together.
WHERE HAVE YOU LIVED/TRAVELED TO PREVIOUSLY?
I was born in Wisconsin (Go Pack!), grew up in North Carolina, went to university in Savannah, GA, and have lived in Texas, Washington DC, and most recently, New York City.
I've been to forty-six of the fifty states in the U.S. (Iowa, Vermont, North Dakota, and Alaska left to go)! Outside of The States, I've been to about eighteen countries with two more to go at the end of Remote Year, and maybe a few more in between.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF A REMOTE ROLE?
I worked in the Advertising industry for over six years; starting out as a Junior Art Director, and working my way up to Associate Creative Director. And through those years, I got to work on some incredible brands (Gatorade, Dunkin' Donuts, Samsung Mobile, Constellation Wines, to name a few) and with some amazing people.
But through the years, my role as a designer shifted from over-worked-designer-workhorse to over-worked-meeting-attender and phone-call-maker – I was no longer doing the thing I loved, which was designing and creating, and was now doing the thing I loathed, which was dealing with budgets and clients all day long, and at 70+ hours a week!
But with the hardship, came the experience and knowledge on how to deal with money, clients, budgets, planning, pitches and all the other fun things that come with running a business. So three years ago, I made the bold/insane decision to quit my job, and start LaHa Design, my very own freelance graphic design company.
I haven't looked back since.
WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR TRAVEL COME FROM?
I'm obsessed with history and culture. I love becoming aware of the world around me and discovering the differences but also just how similar things are, from country to country. I feel it is such an important thing to experience and understand. It has helped me become a more compassionate and composed person; unafraid and more-accepting of the unknowns.
YOUR FAVORITE DIGITAL NOMAD HACK?
Not really a hack, but just PACK LIGHT. Drop the hair dryer, leave the two extra pairs of jeans behind, only pack two pairs of shoes. It's a pain to carry around a huge pack or luggage and you usually don't need all that stuff anyway!
Plus, anything you could possibly need, you can more than likely purchase wherever you're going!
WHO DO YOU HOPE TO BE BY THE END OF REMOTE YEAR?
At the end of Remote Year, I hope to have made many more friends from around the globe. I hope to know more about the people and cultures I immerse myself in, and therefore grow as a person and professional.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHERS LOOKING TO BRING TRAVEL INTO THEIR LIVES?
Doing freelance has allowed me the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere; from friend's couches in California, to mountain cabins in North Carolina, to poolside cabanas in Thailand.
But not everyone has that flexibility, so my advice to anyone that is looking to travel more is JUST DO IT! Seriously. Make it a point to save for a trip and stick to it, even if it's just one trip a year! Don't be afraid to ask for time off; you've earned it! And don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone; nothing great was ever accomplished by staying the same.
Traveling is so important to do and extremely beneficial to your health, and happiness. You learn about so many different people and cultures and you discover that your small bubble of a world becomes this great, big beautiful place.
I lived in one of the most expensive cities in the world – New York City – and still made it a point to save enough for at least one big trip a year! I maybe had to cut back on that name-brand product, or turn down a couple nights out with friends, but over time, that stuff adds up! And it's SOO worth it.
WHAT BOOK SHOULD EVERYONE READ?
Awareness by Anthony de Mello!!!
No other book has been as transformative for me, as this one. It's all about how people need to “wake up” and learn how to live in the present and stop allowing the culture, conditioning, ego, or what other people say determine one’s personal world and mood.
"What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you."
YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE/WORDS TO LIVE BY?
Complaining is silly. Either act or forget. - Stefan Sagmeister
If there is something that you're not happy about with your life, complaining about it solves nothing. Either act on it and make a change, or forget about it and deal.