Conversations with creative women

Conversations with Creative Women: Vol. II by Tess McCabe

Calling all creative souls intent on getting serious about their business this year – I think this publication might just be the New Year boost you need!
Tess McCabe, the coordinator of Creative Womens Circle has recently released a second volume of her super inspiring Conversations with Creative Women. It is bursting with 16 indepth interviews with some of Australia’s most exciting female creatives – think Megan Morton, Georgia Hobart, Dawn Tan and more, covering a great broad cross section of industries.

It is fairly obvious that I am pretty into this type of content and place importance on the golden wisdom gleaned from learning others stories and lessons – so this book has me pretty excited!

The talented Tess McCabe took some time out to answer some questions below, just for us. I hope this gives you a better insight into her project and might ring some bells for some of you out there.

Conversations with Creative Women: Vol. II by Tess McCabe
Volume 2 has a super inspiring roll call of women!

How and why did you choose to profile these 16?

Choosing who to profile in this volume was the hardest part of putting the book together, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable parts too! I loved the ‘research’ phase: find out more about women whose work I admire, or who I see doing something unique with their business, or who are tackling a particular challenge I feel others can relate too.

Being the ‘sister’ book to Conversations with Creative Women: Volume One also influenced who I chose to profile in this new release. I want the Conversations series to cover a diverse range of stories from women working within a variety of industries, so my aim was to talk to women working in fields that were not covered in the first book.

The common thread, however, is that all the women that I chose to interview work hard and love what they do!

Conversations with Creative Women: Vol. II by Tess McCabe

Your own project and creative endeavours are really impressive in themselves (perhaps volume 3 should be your story!) What led you away from your graphic design career and down this path ?

I wouldn’t say I have been led away from my graphic design career as such… if anything my running Creative Women’s Circle alongside my design business enhances it. I have worked on design projects with women I’ve met via CWC, and a large part of CWC moving into the publishing arena is that I love designing books and having a beautiful printed object in my hands at the end of the day (free from client fingerprints, hehe!).

So graphic design still a big part of my life, whether it be on CWC projects or for external clients, and I’m sure it always will be! But as a woman running a microbusiness, the desire to be a part of a community of fellow creatives who are also managing life, paid work, passion projects, family commitments and everything else at the same time was inevitable, no matter what I choose to make of my career.


Conversations with Creative Women: Vol. II by Tess McCabe - photo by Martina Gemmola
All Photography by Martina Gemmola

Having been exposed to so so many ambitious, creative and successful women I am certain (from my own experience) that you are constantly inspired and buoyed by their stories. But if you had to choose, what would the top 3 lessons/snippets of advice be that you have learned and would like to share with Studio Home readers working on their own projects.

I remember Dearne Mills spoke at a CWC in 2009 about having wished she had set up her business to better accommodate her absence in the early days of having children, but had since adapted it to work around her family responsibilities – by taking on clients who understood her need for flexibility and concentrating on projects where she could work at her own pace. Despite not having children at the time, I carried that story with me until a couple of years later, when I started to plan for a family. Around that time I put some systems in place, which meant when I was taking time off as a new mum I could relax a little knowing the more important elements of my business were taken care of, and that I could continue to work and contribute financially while being at home with my son. (Perhaps that makes it sound like it was all smooth sailing – it wasn’t – but I sure was grateful for Dearne’s small part in my having the forethought to do it!)

Nic MacIsaac, founder of Magnolia markets, said in her 2011 talk that the value of a market experience (or any experience where you hope to sell your work, but sometimes fall short) should be measured not only by the cash in your hand but by the people you meet and the lessons you learned doing it. I try to apply this thinking to all experiences in my life, and trust that benefits of experiences – good or bad – extend beyond the tangible.

More recently, in 2013 lawyer Sharon Givoni gave a couple of talks for CWC about protecting your intellectual property as a creative person. Amongst other things, like having a set of terms & conditions for undertaking creative work for clients, she talked about building a reputation around your business and creative brand in order to protect your work from knock-offs and strengthen customer loyalty. Copyright and IP are an extremely relevant yet often confusing topic for creatives to wrap their heads around, but Sharon seems to say things in a way that make the concepts of law easy to understand (and most importantly, to remember!) Since her first talk, we have been working on a book together about areas of law which are relevant to creatives in different industries. Given how much more empowered I feel about my rights having only read the first draft of the manuscript, I am positive the book will help a lot of others as well when it is released later this year. It’s an exciting time for CWC and for creatives down under!

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