Welcome back my favorite creatives! Meet Zsofi Koller. She is the brilliant mind behind Zsofi Koller Designs. I have loved her work since the beginning of wanting to start a business. Along with her impeccable design eye lies a way with words you can't help but fall in love with. The talent in this woman runs deep. Zsofi resides in a small coastal town in Nova Scotia with her husband and sweet twin girls who are 4 1/2. Welcome to C + W my friend!
Where do you live? Describe your abode.
We live in an 125-year old farmhouse that’s painted red. This region of town used to be called “Goosetown” because this is where the flocks of geese were kept. It’s a small house with painted floors, gorgeous old windows and brightly painted walls.
What makes you a creative?
I’ve always been a creative--I remember writing stories about unicorns and weird, dreamy places when I was a very young child. I grew up reading stories and my book choices were never prescribed or controlled. I believe strongly that children should be encouraged in this and why my imagination was allowed to run free without limits. So I’ve long had an interest in the supposed non-reality that makes life interesting. These days I make my living creating designs for people (i.e. through web design) which is departure from the written words of my youth, but it is unparalleled freedom in different ways.
I consider myself a creative because the more fresh perspective I can bring to my work, the better my work will hit the nail of real expression on the head. This is what my clients need, and what makes me excited to power up my laptop every morning.
I consider myself a creative because I am helping other people put their abstract thoughts into tangible forms, so that other people can connect with them more easily and share in those ideas. It’s the ultimate problem-solving, and I am almost ashamed by how FUN it is. I still can’t believe it’s my “job.”
What is your style?
I consider myself a chameleon to my clients’ needs, because I am expressing them, not myself. However, I will always maintain good taste, proper form, an economy of elements, minimalism, and the strong belief that less is more.
I think if you know what you want to say, you don’t need too much to say it.
Any healthy habits or daily routines you follow?
Yes. I am a compulsive mover--the hardest thing to me about my job is sitting still at my desk. So I don’t. I alternate between a sitting and standing desk. I stand and dance. Or I try to alternate the ways I sit. I walk a minimum--and often much more--of 10K steps a day. Listening to an audio book while walking is 100% my favourite way to both enjoy myself and exercise. I stretch almost every night, sometimes rolling on yoga balls (they are amazing!). I wear shoes with a minimal heel (most of the time) to honour my ankles and calves. I practice pull-ups on my laundry room door. These are less routines than ingrained habits.
How do you try and stay balanced as both a creative entrepreneur and a mother.
I wish I knew the answer to that question. I don’t, really. I am all over the place. Sometimes work takes the backseat because I need to 100% focus on my kids. And sometimes I need to focus entirely on work; so then my husband, who is a wonderful and very involved father, will be the one focusing on the kids. Right now with very young children, we tend to “trade time” with each other. It’s not ideal because we don’t get as much time as a complete family unit in the way I’d like best. But we both do get a lot of time with the children, which is absolutely a non-negotiable, obviously. The way I work is very immersive. Unfortunately I loathe interruptions--I just can’t stand it. So I need to remove myself when I am in deep creative work. More rote work creates less of an issue. So that means that giving myself that space is important. Do I feel guilty about it? Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s an ongoing struggle. But I need to work--not just to support our household, which I do. But also because it is also a need in me to create and to know I can sustain our family. I can’t not honour that need.
It doesn’t feel right to describe it as balance. It feels more right to accept that there are many shifting needs and energies ongoing constantly, and sometimes one need takes the center stage, and then another will. But my first priority is always to my children, so that clarity will crystallize my necessary actions should issues ever arise.
When/how do you feel most beautiful and most aligned with yourself?
In connection with my above comment, the greatest commodity to me, especially with very young children in the house, is time. So I feel most self-aligned when I feel like I have the time to do what I need, and there are as few stresses lapping on the edges of that time as possible. There is always a little stress around it. That seems inevitable. Accepting that always-present stress is just reality. So when I can have that time to do what I need to do, and I feel like I’ve had the chance to work through the way I want to do it, and I feel capable and in control--that feels beautiful to me.
What are some of your imperfections and how do you embrace them?
I have my fair share of imperfections, though it seems a bit disingenuous to say I embrace them. In the moment I would say I tolerate them at best. It’s usually hindsight that reveals the wisdom gleaned from experiencing my imperfections.
What is your beauty regime?
Minimal, to say the least! I like to wear a bit of concealer and mascara to brighten my eyes. I generally let my hair air-dry and I have a love/hate relationship with my bangs, depending on the day.
What are 5 things you cannot live without?
Well my family, obviously! My daughters are hilarious, smart, sweet and the biggest gift I have ever been given in life. My husband is not so bad either. ;)
Walking at least 10k steps every day, listening to audiobooks. Audible.com is everything.
My best friends who make me feel so absolutely beautiful in being who I am. What a gift those wonderful people give me!
I am hopelessly bound to my iphone and macbook, for better or worse.
Coffee. It’s a cliche but it completes me.
What advice do you have for mothers looking to find balance as a mother in both being healthy and staying creative.
Stay focused on what it is you really want to do. Don’t buy into any social pressure you might get around the idea that you shouldn’t be working--if that’s what you want to do. Honour your needs as well.
Make sure you have a good support system. If not a life partner, than a trust-worthy daycare or babysitter or nanny or grandma, etc. Finding these things is very, very hard but it is so worth it because your children will learn and grow and you can keep growing and providing as a creative.
Wow...thanks so much Zsofi for sharing a bit of your life and also how you manage the intricate dance of motherhood and being a creative. If you would like to get to know her a bit more check out her links below. Until next time...