Insta is gold for connecting us with inspiring creatives and good humans. That’s how I first discovered the work and aesthetic of
34-year old Hamilton mum Erena Te Paa – fashion and product stylist, lifestyle blogger (Erena’s blog is devoted to writings on life, motherhood, confidence, style, interiors and more) and woman with all-round-amazing taste.
I’m excited to share Erena’s home and workspace with you, and ask this babely babe a whole heap of questions about her design-lead life…
Tell us about what you do?
I’m a freelance stylist and copywriter by trade, blogger by night (or when time allows!) and also stay-at-home mum to my two year old son Costa (with one on the way eek!)
In a nutshell I am hired to source products and style them for client campaigns (magazines, e-zines, catalogues)/photoshoots. Fashion styling (and personal styling) was my first passion and what I was originally ‘called’ to do (and how my business came to be) but in recent years that has evolved into more product styling (homewares/lifestyle) which I absolutely love. The copywriting side of my biz came from having worked in PR, and marketing but also the fact that quite a few of my clients follow my blog and liked the way I wrote (haha I don’t know that last bit for sure, but I think it helped!)
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have recently just finished writing content and sourcing for my clients Autumn/Winter 18 campaigns (i.e. fashion/homeware trends – in-centre magazines).
We are near completion on a guesthouse/air bnb so I am immersed in finishing that space and when it’s ready, maintaining it (chief cleaner!).
Also personally, trying to finish decorating my sons room and a couple of other spaces before baby arrives, the results of which will be shared on the blog (soon I hope!).
What was a highlight of your past week:
On a personal note, meeting my new niece Zoe and on a professional note finishing a writing project on time and before deadline.
A challenge/frustration you’ve been dealing with lately:
Being in my third trimester while also juggling work, motherhood and renos.
Or something you’ve learned recently:
I’ve learned to listen to my body first and adjust everything else accordingly. If that means I don’t get everything done or I need to rely on the help of others more than so be it. I can do plenty of things well but I can’t do everything and I would rather do a few things really well and be completely happy than do a lot of things so-so only to burn out at the end.
What advice you would give to someone wanting to be their own boss in the design/creative industries:
Do it but know that being your own boss doesn’t happen overnight and you may just find you’ll work harder and longer than any other job you’ve ever had. Generally, if it ignites your passion then it won’t feel like work.
I have been my own boss for 5 years but I started out being in a full-time job and setting up my business on the side. I was working twice as hard (doing two jobs essentially) while trying to promote my business in order to drum up a consistent client base (in a ‘niche’ market). Eventually all that hustling paid off and I was offered a contract which gave me the peace of mind to quit my day job and go full-time on my own.
Over the years my work has evolved and taken different twists and turns and as I’ve become a mother my priorities have changed but I am still here, still working, still passionate and still grateful for how far I’ve come. So I would always say ‘just do it’ and surround yourself with people who are just as passionate about it as you are.
Erena’s freakin gawjuss home office
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you work-wise/creatively over the past year?
I have really settled into my style in the passed year. I know what I like, I trust my abilities (more than ever before) and I think that has shown in both my personal projects (home renos) and in the work I produce for my clients.
How would you like to see your creative path unfold in the next year?
I’d like to continue doing good work for my clients but also step up my blogging. It’s always the first thing to stop when life gets busy, but its an important creative outlet for me and so I would love to be consistently producing content there.
(She’s a vignette maestro)
Can you share the schedule of a typical day or week in your work life? If there is no ‘typical’ day/week, what constants remain?
Our weeks have been very unstructured lately, simply because I have been juggling a renovation with pregnancy, motherhood and styling/writing projects. So it varies day-to-day but generally I have two days that I dedicate as ‘work’ days. On those days I’ll get up with Costa, get him ready, put the washing on, take him to kindy and then head back home to work.
My work varies depending on what deadline is coming up and what project I am focusing on but for the most part it involves researching trends, tracking down products, making phone calls, planning meetings or scheduling projects, replying to emails, writing copy and when time allows taking pictures or writing content for an upcoming blog post. I am lucky in that all of these tasks I can do from home or close by but when I am booked on a shoot I am generally required to be away from home for up to 3 days so this requires more planning but is less frequent and therefore easier to juggle. I also have an awesome husband and Mum who can help out with Costa when I am called away.
As a Mum I find it easier to dedicate days just for work so that I’m not trying to do work and parent at the same time and on the odd occasion when work spills into a day when I’m looking after Costa then I’ll try to do that when he has a nap or at night (thankfully this situation doesn’t happen too often and my clients are very understanding).
I love being a Mum and for me family will always come first but I have been very fortunate to also have this side hustle which can work around Mum life but also satisfies me creatively too.
In what ways do you give yourself work/life balance:
I am a self-confessed homebody and I also work from home so switching off for me has to involve getting out of the house at least once or twice. Whether that’s taking Costa to a park or to the zoo, going for a walk or arranging a meeting or catch up at a cafe.
I am still working on digitally switching off, but generally I don’t like to be too immersed in my phone especially where little eyes can see me so I’ll put it aside for a few hours and pick it up selectively.
A huge thanks to photographer Ash Muir for the stunning imagery
Finally, tell us what you’ve been getting into lately…
Listening To: Léon and LANY
Reading / Watching / Clicking on: Falling down the Youtube rabbit hole (Into the Gloss), binge-watching Love on Netflix and clicking on @_roomonfire and @nycbambi
Looking Forward To: Finishing our Airbnb
Eating/Drinking: Currently craving (because pregnant): Dumplings from The Chilli House / Mama’s Donuts and so old school but would love a Baileys (in a few months time!)
Wanting to Buy: A new camera