Meet Linda and David, a couple of creative folks who live to create, every single day. With a passion for travel, design, photography, illustration and videography, the two teamed up to create Kinlake, a creative design studio that allows them to work from anywhere in the world. Collecting inspiration from their nomadic lifestyle and the world around them, the two spend their days working on what they love with the person they love. We asked Linda and David a few questions to find out how they did it.
What is Kinlake?
Kinlake is what represents us as a couple of creatives, living unconventionally and embracing creativity & spontaneity on a daily basis.
As designers, it’ s our creative studio through which we offer our services such as bespoke design & branding (complemented with other endeavours such as illustration, photography, videography) to like-minded small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to stand out, grow and attract their dream audience. We are humbled to make a living out of that. It allows us to connect with lovely people, to be their creative sidekicks who help them bring their dreams to life and to full potential. We love this job and it has allowed us to form amazing relationships with our clients!
The spirit of Kinlake however, goes even beyond business hours, and outside of the work we do for our awesome clients. It’s something we live and breathe. We love to question ourselves all the time, to go far enough to look for unexpected sources of inspiration and to have our own creative outlets. Kinlake is a way for us to share our journey as two unconventional creatives, so it’s a conscious blend between a business and a lifestyle which we want to openly share with the world and connect with other like-minded people :)
On our blog and our social media, we like to share not only our creative projects, but also some stories about our lives, our travels (lots of that, as we live nomadically!), what inspires us, as well as useful things we’ve learned that other people can find useful, such as business, branding & blogging advice, thoughts on minimalism and how to live a life that is simple, authentic and creatively fulfilling.
What inspired you to start this business?
What inspired us to start Kinlake was the pursuit of a truthfully creative way of life.
We craved the idea of having a business that is both a personal creative outlet and a way to connect with people to whom we can offer our services.
It’s important to mention that we defined what this all meant to us by experiencing what we did not like. Honestly, the best way to strongly realise what you want to do and what you’re all about is by knowing what you don’t like and what you don’t want to be.
We did not want to slip into something conventional. We did not want to start a business to be stuck in a soul-less office that smells of printers and burnt coffee. We did not want to use labels to define ourselves, wear “masks” or call ourselves anything other than what we are (hence our humble little baseline: creative folks). We did not want to create some sort of business-y structure that we’d have to separate completely from our lives, but a business that is, simultaneously, our lifestyle. We did not want to create a business that traps us, but something that we honestly live and breathe every single day, that can allow us to be ourselves, be creative and to connect with like-minded people.
All of that inspired the idea of what Kinlake now stands for :)
How did Kinlake get to where it is today? Quickly walk us through some of the major steps in your journey.
Before starting Kinlake and working together, we were actually working separately as two independent creatives. Each of us had a different skill set and a very different approach. This created a sort of ego clash between us, but instead of letting this tear us apart, we decided to do this drastic thing and just join forces together and see what happens. Putting our egos aside to fusion as “one” creative entity was the best thing we’ve ever done. We never really realised it, but we were meant to work together, as we are very complementary. Even years before that, we had always been each other’s best partner for brainstorming and thinking of creative ideas. The best part is what this fusion means creatively: Kinlake is this balanced mixture of our skills, our styles and our inspirations, which results in something that couldn’t possibly be more true to us and what we want to offer as two creatives.
We launched Kinlake and started working together in January 2015. Since then, we have worked with a lot of clients, on a lot of creative projects, and we’ve also collaborated with a few awesome people through our blog. Even though we are originally from Luxembourg (and we started there) we also progressively started living a nomadic lifestyle in 2016, which means we are completely location-independent and this allows us to work for anyone, anywhere. It also allows us to pull inspiration outside of our local bubble and we are starting to have clients from all corners of the planet. It’s super fun and gives us loads of variety.
How do you find running a business with your significant other? Are there any challenges you have faced and how did you overcome these?
As mentioned before, the first challenge was to overcome our egos and to put them aside. This is not an easy thing when you have worked by yourself in the past and have a certain amount of pride over the stuff you’ve achieved (big or small) but honestly, there’s nothing more eye-opening than letting your abilities fusion with somebody else’s.
When we do our creative job as a team, we have to be open to each other’s criticism, we have to spread out the workload and to help each other out. In order to do that, we have to be able to listen to each other, to be communicative and to keep a calm mind. It’s good to know when it’s time to crack open a beer and to have a good time, or when it’s time to have a hug. Whether things are good or things are bad, we’re in this together and this creates a special bond between us. As a couple, it actually brings us closer together because it’s a common passion we have, it’s kinda like our baby. It’s so good to be able to chat together all the time. When I think about it, we never really shut up (haha). We know it’s quite unusual, but...we are together 24 hours a day and we love each other’s company, so it’s working ;)
What are the benefits of living and working in a place like Chiang Mai? Would you recommend living and working abroad?
Absolutely. If you're like us, and travel inspires you, or sparks your creativity and happiness levels, then it’s definitely interesting to try to make it a part of your lifestyle.
This idea of living & working abroad started when we occasionally took short “work cations” to different places. The first time we did it was in Crete, when we went there on a holiday with family but still had some projects to work on. We made time during our day to be “on” and to be “off” - this newfound work/life balance concept made us more productive, more inspired and it made us realise we could actually work from anywhere. Little by little, we made this concept a reality and we recently became full-time nomads. We launched a youtube channel where we’ll be talking about it, in case you’re curious :)
When it comes to destinations for living and working abroad, yes, Chiang Mai is a top place to start. It’s the perfect home away from home, a buzzing hub where you can meet loads of different people, blazing fast internet, yummy thai street food and a great coffee culture. We love it! Last summer we wandered all around Europe, in November we were in Bali and right now we are in Australia. In the spring we’ll probably be heading to Japan - I am in love with this culture and I can’t wait to see how it will inspire us for our projects.
Walk us through a day in your life
Even though we try to have a somewhat stable routine so we can be productive, no day is the same and this is always very fun. It sparks our creativity. A day’s schedule will mostly depend on where we are and how we have to deal with time zones.
Here in Australia, we usually wake up around 08:00. I sometimes do a bit of yoga to help me start the day, and then we have breakfast together. After that, we have a little ritual of spending the morning working on our personal creative projects. That’s usually when I work on my illustration and blogpost ideas, and when David edits his photos or plays music (because he’s also a musician!). We then have a little healthy lunch together. After that, we head outside and that’s when our work day officially begins. We go to a cool coffee shop, order a couple of iced coffees and whip out our laptops. We check what’s in the to do list for the day and answer our first batch of emails, then we work on our client projects, either together or separately depending on what it’s about. When we have our Skype sessions with clients or need a more quiet environment, we then work from home. The length of this afternoon work session depends on the amount of work we want to get done - we usually like to fit in a little sunset walk to the beach, right before dinner time but these days we are working a little later because we want to fit in as much as possible before the Christmas holidays :)
This sums up our week days - our weekends usually involve brunches, day trips, naps and movies! wonder what our schedule will be like when we'll be in Japan!
If you only had one minute to give your best advice to someone looking to start their own business, what would it be?
Read a mind-blowing book about setting priorities such as “Essentialism”. Set those priorities, take it one step at a time, but most importantly - just get started. Even if it’s just a side-hustle to begin with. Just do it!
Something more that I’d say if we have more than a minute:
Make sure this activity brings you happiness and a lifestyle you love. It’s a shitty thing to start your own business and then end up burned out or trapped in a cage. Define what your dream is about not only when it comes to business, but to lifestyle as well: how you want to take care of yourself, how much time you want to spend with family with friends, and what other activities you want to be able to pursue while you’re at it.
And when I feel that someone is afraid to start because they feel trapped financially:
Don’t let money rule your lifestyle choices. Don’t get trapped in a life that gives you debt to begin with. If you can embrace a simple, low-maintenance lifestyle and you’re happy to downsize a few things, you will notice this will actually bring you more freedom to do what you want to do. I say this because there was a time when we almost bought a house we couldn’t afford (almost!!) - if this happened then we surely wouldn’t have been able to take a risk and to start our own business. We managed to start it because we lived in a small appartment without too many expenses. And now we’re free to roam everywhere in the world because we sold much of our stuff and we’re renting it out. Freedom is a choice, it comes with setting priorities.
What does the future hold for Kinlake? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time and what will you be working on?
Woah that’s a tough question. We know the outlines but we don’t have a defined plan yet, so that we can be flexible and go with the flow. We want to keep working with our design clients for a while but in the meantime we want to work on some new parts of our business, such as releasing a few products and resources such as e-courses. We want to keep travelling, but slower, so we can spend enough time in places and get to know local creative communities - it’s always so nice when you meet people you can connect with. We talk about ideas all the time, so we don’t know exactly what’s coming but we know cool stuff will keep happening!
We also have an idea of a completely different business that we can start in the future, but this one will require a more stable base, so we’re saving it for when we’re less nomadic. I won’t tell you more about it now, because it’s in the clouds - it has to do with another passion of ours: food :)
Anything else you would like to add or share?
Live a life you thrive in and be bold. We designed a little visual about this a couple of months ago: http://kinlake.com/illustration-freebie-thrive-bold/