Genie De Wit is a graphic designer obsessed with food and bunnies. She’s also a food stylist, photographer, and blogger. Seriously living the dream – in my words and her own. I talked to Genie about how she makes her one bedroom flat work for her and her freelance husband, “The Koala.”
Why do you work from home as opposed to an office and how long have you been doing it for?
I’ve been freelancing full time since April 2016 and my husband, Kelvin joined me at the end the year. I started my blog BunnyEatsDesign.com about 6 years ago and we started our creative company, Monster Illustration & Design a year later. Both started out as side projects. Freelancing has always been a dream but up until last year, it wasn’t clear if it would be viable as a full time gig. I had a full time job in print but worked nights and weekends, slowly building up our client base and body of work. Eventually it was like I was working two full time jobs and that’s when I quit my day job to concentrate on my blog and on Monster.
I love working from home because I need different work areas to be efficient (desk, full kitchen, photography area) which would be difficult to find in a traditional office or shared work space. I dislike the idea of having an office space elsewhere and having to commute between home and office every time I needed to switch between computer work or photography work. Also, Auckland traffic makes me furious so working from home is the best.
How do you find working immediately next to your partner? Is he a distraction? How do you decide who has to do the next coffee run?
Having an office buddy has been great. It can be a little distracting, but also entertaining. We take micro-breaks throughout the day when we have to show each other hilarious animal videos. We pretty much keep to ourselves while we are working and at the moment don’t have any team projects, but we used to do more collaborations. It is good to have someone creative on hand to bounce ideas off though. We don’t go out for coffee as we’re trying to save money but we make coffee at home throughout the day.
Describe your work space and how you use it:
We have our office set up in the lounge of our 1 bedroom flat. We got matching desks last year so our computers could be side by side and we share a printer/scanner and lightbox. The rest of the lounge can double a meeting room when we have clients. It works really well for us. Sometimes I think I’d like to have a separate room but it’s more social being in the same room. I had about 6 months as a solo freelancer and the work day can be long and lonely with no one to share the day with. My other work space is the kitchen which doubles as a photography studio. This is where food blog magic happens.
What do you love about your work space and what can you absolutely not do without?
I’ve always been the type of person to decorate my desk so I love having a few bunny items on my desk and my whiteboard is starting to accumulate things too. My sister Joanne Ho is an artist and painted this calendar which features glorious outdoor and beachy scenes. I like having nature close to my desk.
Aside from my computer and camera, I love having a photography space permanently set up with my props in easy reach. It might be tiny but it’s efficient. Even if I’m not planning a full blog post, it’s easy to quickly set up and take a photo for Insta.
This year I have made a habit of using a diary to stay organised and I also list all my current jobs on a whiteboard. My lists are a reminder that I have other things to do besides check Facebook and Instagram and I get so much satisfaction from crossing off completed tasks. I work best when I break down big projects into smaller tasks. I have lists for everything. I love lists.
What do you find challenging about your work space? What would you change about it if you could?
I shoot in natural light so planning to cook and shoot in daylight dictates my schedule. I own studio lights but they are huge and can’t be set up permanently in my kitchen. It would be awesome to have a bigger photography space (but still close to the kitchen) so I could have my lights set up permanently. I’ve been using a client’s flash lighting set up once a week at their place and now I want the same set up at my place but it wouldn’t fit.
Tell us about your photography area and how you use it:
My photography area is in our kitchen where the best light in the house is. We live in villa with close neighbours so we don’t get much daylight inside except in the kitchen. Often I will set and style a shot while I’m cooking so that it’s all ready to go when the food is cooked. This is a bonus of having a photography studio in the kitchen.
What would be your dream addition to your photography area/props department?
Floor to ceiling shelving for storage and a shit ton more props. I don’t think you can ever have too many props right?
What are some of your favourite props and why?
I love handmade ceramics where every piece is unique due to the handmade process. I prefer neutral and monochrome because they allow the food to be the hero and have a couple of pieces from Miss Changy and Thea Ceramics that I adore.
What do you wear when you’re working? Do you make a point of “getting dressed” or are you often found at your desk in your pyjamas?
I don’t work in pyjamas but I never wear a bra when working from home and before freelancing I didn’t own any track pants. Now I have a collection of trackies. I find working in comfort a luxury to be indulged in but I always dress properly for meetings or location shoots.
What do you like to listen to while you’re working (if anything)?
If I really have to focus or am writing, I prefer silence, but otherwise we stream Pandora in the office or kitchen. If I’m photo editing or doing a lot of product photography where I don’t have to read or write, I’ll put on a podcast.
Do you eat while you work or do you make a point of taking breaks? What do you eat and drink during your work day to keep you going?
We don’t make a point to have meal times or breaks during the day. We just eat when we are hungry. What we eat can be a combination of blog or client related dishes, leftovers or whatever I feel like making. I make a point of incorporating a walk to the shops once a day where I’ll buy whatever is on special or in season. For example, today we had two types of salad leftover from last night and I added some spicy baked chicken wings. Yum.