Staying Home, Rising up with Frankie from the Design Kids

‘Staying Home, Rising Up’ is our series where we talk to Pioneers who Pivot to survive crisis. First up one of our favourite colourful human beings, Frankie from The Design Kids!

Nice to e-meet you! My name is Frankie and I’m the Founder of The Design Kids. If you haven’t come across us before, The Design Kids is a giant free resource to help bridge the gap between studying and working in the Graphic Design industry. We currently have nearly 275,000 designers in our community, across 33 countries and 73 cities. We have daily interviews, monthly meet-ups, a jobs board, design competitions and very active socials channels. Last year I launched my second business Designer’s Bootcamp. I also do business coaching and make Wix websites for people!

2020 has been a challenging experience for everyone so far! What keeps you focused, inspired and productive?

I’ve been running daily online classes so I would say my attendees keep me on track. It’s an excuse to set the alarm, shower and change out of my PJ’s, even if it’s only the top half haha! I think it’s easy to freak out and I’ve had a few of those days (I found myself at a shopping centre at 10am the other day! Naughty) but on the whole, using this extra time we’ve all needed for a while to get on top of those extra projects has been great! We’re also so lucky in Australia with the Government handouts to keep everything as normal as possible too, so that’s really helped financially.

How has your working projects been affected during this time, and how have you managed to navigate and pivot where necessary?

But designers are nothing if not adaptable in the face of a challenge so we quickly pivoted (in about 4 hours!) to an online model..

We run 4-8 Designer’s Bootcamps each year, in exotic places where we take 20 designers away and redesign their careers and life. It’s SUPER fun and this was the first year where Designer’s Bootcamp was a separate business from The Design Kids. We ran our India trip early March and had to cancel the remaining 7 events, meaning we lost all the money we had paid which hurt a lot! But designers are nothing if not adaptable in the face of a challenge so we quickly pivoted (in about 4 hours!) to an online model. Very hectic week; 2-day journey back from India, 1 day sleeping off the jetlag and redesigning the whole business, 2 days promoting the new course, 2 days of straight interviews over the weekend and we started that Monday! It was very full-on and I was exhausted, but it’s been really super. I think the main thing is supporting our audience through this and not freaking out but using this time productively to get ahead. We’ve already run 2 Bedroom Bootcamps and we have 2 more coming up in June and 2 more in October.

Where have you made meaningful changes both within your business and future trajectory?

I spoke to a good friend early on, at that point isolation was only looking like a few weeks and he said: “rebuild your business to work remotely for at least a year minimum”. That was a huge shock but really great as we’ve been working remotely for years so it’s an easy pivot. The main changes were listening to the feedback from previous Designer’s Bootcamp attendees (More time! My own bed! Fave coffee!) and building those in, as well as fun, silly things like dress up codes daily (newsreader theme where you wear a smart shirt and PJ bottoms or vacation day) and buddy systems to keep people on track. On The Design Kids side of things, we’ve used this time to rebuild our entire site and simplify what we do. All our physical meet-ups #TDKtuesdays (we run 495 each year!) are on hold or digital so it’s actually the perfect time to rebuild everything!

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to?

Podcasts; One Wild Ride by my friend Pru Chapman, Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon (highly recommend her book – The Multi Hyphen Method) and How I Built This by Guy Raz.
Playlist; soundtrack from Normal People – omg I’m five days in and can’t stop!

What are some words of advice you have for other creative small businesses trying to survive and thrive this season?

Don’t jump on the bandwagon – if you have nothing to say during this time IT’S OKAY. I feel like a lot of brands are telling us don’t worry, their staff are washing their hands, etc etc and its too much. Be quiet, save your energy to what’s coming next! Also, lots of soul searching – are you doing what you want to do? My advice for design students who are my audience (so could be relevant for small biz too), earn money doing whatever to survive. I feel like people think there’s a big test in the universe HOW ARE YOU EARNING YOUR MONEY?! No one cares; clean houses, do deliveries, do whatever to make sure you have enough for you and your family. And use that extra time to really streamline your business for what comes after all this. It’s a superb period where you can get away with anything so use it wisely!


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