Your design-thinking-creative, consultant, and founder of Drawer Full of Giants. Hello.
Love learning about the stories of others? Here are...
The 3 top questions I'm always asked
'Drawer Full of Giants? Cool name, how'd you come up with that?'
3 weeks and screeds of paper lists attempting to marry together all kinds of words that best represented me. But, like any jigsaw, once done, it was the most obvious outcome. It nods to how I serve. The drawer represents my mind, and for a decade I worked out of my carry-on luggage which fit my entire creative office needs. The Blue Whale—the largest mammal on earth, represents the number of ideas I have. I often think how amazing it is that so many prolific ideas come out of such a small space, both my mind—figuratively and physically—the small drawer-sized bag!
'When did you start working for yourself?'
I started taking on my paid clients in 2010 and by the following March, feeling this was the way to go, DFoG was named and registered as a company. I was 40. However, I've always been a designer, my 1st job out of school at 17 was in a small advertising agency as a junior artist.
'How do you come up with all those ideas?'
I've had them all my life, you'd often find me busy daydreaming while drawing and colouring as a kid. It wasn't until my mid 20's when I was professionally aptitude tested and scored 95% for high-idea generation (among other confirming things). This information gave me an aha moment in helping me understand and embrace this very natural part of myself. But it was still many many years before I realised that my ideas were also something of value to others. I've always incorporated and acted on them personally and some afforded me to be brave in taking some big risks and adventures (more below). Nowadays, I know their importance in the kind of work I do and how they can serve my clients. I love the idea process!
Below are the meaningful stepping stones that I've taken which lead me to my 'now' - but backward in their telling.
Drawer Full of Giants beginning started with a social entrepreneurial purpose
Midway through DFoG's first year, I had this crazy idea that inspired and drove me to figure out a way how I could work for myself, travel overseas, and live a purpose-driven lifestyle. I didn't want to travel for the sake of traveling alone as I did in my late teens and early 20s.
I learned there was a name for this, social entrepreneurship, and it was actually a business model. Although new to doing business and bootstrapping everything, it was important for me not to give up my small number of clients. I had to be able to continue serving them AND incorporate my heart's desire of travelling and experimenting with working remotely while juggling self-sustaining volunteering. It couldn't be any old volunteering, I had to be able to use my particular skillset and experience. It was a grand life-changing idea.
Pitching it to others, I soon found myself invited into a position overseas. By the end of 2011, I'd sold everything, moved my 18-year-old out of home (she was ready - no birds were hurt in kicking them out of the nest), and flew to Thailand for 2012 to learn how to juggle my paid work while volunteering my time on other projects. I found the ideal solution was a 50/50 split, 20 hours for my paid work, and 20 hours for volunteering.
After Thailand, I spent the next 8 years traveling and working for myself while lending my support to individuals, small businesses, and organisations around the world 9 months a year. I'd donate my time in two-month blocks then spend a month to myself housesitting somewhere lovely so I could focus more on my own work. In early December I'd return home and spend the Summer with my daughter and parents before leaving again the following February.
I was so fortunate to have had many amazing opportunities to work with some great teams and on projects that I would never have had the opportunity to work on, otherwise. I lived, worked, and volunteered in this fashion in Thailand, Cambodia, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand—several times each in the last 4 countries. I found that I loved supporting businesses and ministries that support their own communities, so I gave them my all.
I learned a lot about myself, my abilities, and my talents over these formative years, these building blocks shaped the backbone and operations of DFoG and the formulation of future plans. I've ideas in continuing its social enterprise heart in a more scalable way.
This video was taken of me while working in Thailand.
I felt so brave but LOVED exotic animals to handle! This day was my 42nd birthday treat, while project managing the filming of a Thai TV program. It was MAGIC!
Tiger Temple - in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Doing Business God's Way
yeah, a little different
In 2010, as I finished up my BA in Visual Communication, two tutors called me aside to advise me that they felt I should work for myself, stating I had 'what it took' to make a good go of it. This was unexpected and not at all what I had planned for myself.
But the seed was planted and you've read enough about me to know that once I have an idea, I tend to move on it. If the shoe fits, etc.
If it's your own personal habit to live a lifestyle open to your spirituality, faith, or religion, you will be familiar with the regularity of 'checking in' with that spiritual center. I was doing this an awful lot since there was all this change around me.
Not far into my entrepreneurial experience, I started having a lot of new 'bright ideas' about the way I could market myself. It was the first time I took notice of them, as they felt bigger than me in some way. Having had no reference to whether they were actually feasible, I ended up 'checking in' with God to ask if He'd mind if I visited a marketing professional (lol), as, tbh, I was a little flummoxed by the detail of the ideas I seemed to be having, there was a lot of information on how, and what, I could do, and I simply didn't want to waste my time if these were just fanciful ideas and visions of grandeur on my part.
The long and short of it was, as I'm walking into the office of the professional in question, I shot up a request for confirmation - if she liked my ideas, then I knew God gave them to me.
I couldn't tell you what else was said after she exclaimed, "Wow, I don't get BIG businesses giving me this much detail, this is great!... ". Guess that's that then, I have a partner in business! Who would have thought?!
From then on I intentionally experimented with asking Him how to do business His way, and so far I've not been led astray.
Connecting the dots, I've always been 'innovative'
I am an ideas girl, a lover of the colour blue and living outside the box! My creative and entrepreneurial talents showed themselves at quite a young age (12). That's when I realised pocket money was to be made in selling my artwork to the doily-crazed, silver-set—my nan and her friends, in the form of liquid embroidery.
Although pursuing a career in graphic design since childhood, and even landed my first important job in a studio at 17, it took many more years before I became aware of the importance and responsibility I had, to develop the natural talents I possessed. It took a job layoff to see an opportunity knocking, pulling me, once more into the classroom in my late 30s to earn a BA in Visual Communication and to realise a held-close-to-heart 25-year-old dream.
Afterward, not merely limiting me to 'just' earning a living, as mentioned above, this is when God invited me to take my business anywhere in the world I wanted to go, instructing me, wherever I found myself, I was to donate my time to the business owners and ministries He placed me in front of me and went on to promise if I did this He would keep me in paying clients. The rest, you know.
With the emergence of the pandemic in 2020 my nomadic lifestyle came to an end. I took the opportunity to fully focus on developing the business side of DFoG, and nowadays, you'll find me based in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Some more fun facts about me: In the first 20 years of my life I traveled the length and breadth of little ol' NZ 60 times with my family! True story!
I also raised an amazing daughter on my own, who is on the cusp of 30. A very talented young woman who embraced her creative talents and education in musical theater and vocal coaching.
Feel free to look up Sofia's Voice Studio
I drew her in her favourite signature red ball gown for her branding as she started her own business.
Here are some fun family snaps of my favourite girls.