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Maria Joy

An active member of Leapers, Maria Joy shares a little more about her work.

How do you describe what you do for work, and how long have you been doing that?

I work on brand strategy, visual identity and communication strategy, and I can also help with communication designs for marketing and other outreach programs and designing and maintaining websites and running social media. I started off as graphic designer in 2005; sometime between 2012-2014 I started to work with different brands including some really well-known ones like Unilever. And I totally loved it. In 2014, I decided to be a freelancer focusing exclusively on brand strategy and visual identity.

What is your workstyle, and what led you to working in this way?

Even though I make use of the flexible work hours that comes with freelancing, I like to stick to Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. It helps me be balanced and set boundary between personal time and work. I generally hold one or two retainerships, giving me steady income. That way I have one less thing to worry about. I also keep enough room for single projects, that gives opportunities to break free from monotonous work and create something new, work with people from different backgrounds. It is also a good learning opportunity. I like working with a sense of purpose. Because of that, I prefer working with any organisations that promote mental health awareness, disability inclusion, environment, education and arts.

What's the most challenging thing about your work?

I miss working with a creative team. I always loved having a critic with a similar profile as mine. Your clients can’t do that for you. They often tell you want they want, not how to improve your work. I am very bad at marketing. Most of my clients reached out to me because someone I’ve worked with in the past recommended. It is a good thing really and flattering, but I think every freelancer needs some basic marketing skill, specially if you are trying to reach new demographics.

What's the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Time. I have spent much time volunteering and travelling in the past seven years. And I believe those experiences has helped me to grow exponentially as an individual. I wouldn’t have had that chance if I was fulltime employed.

What healthy habits do you have in place to look after your mental health at work?

Like I said before, I have set clear boundaries and expectations with my clients from the start. Unless it is critical, I don’t work during my off hours and weekends. I prepare a task list for the weekly and each day. Whenever possible, I prepare my daily task list the day before, that way I can get straight to it the next day. And I use the pareto principle to check how much I’ve accomplished each day. I don’t shoot for ticking off every item on the list, even though I’d agree I’m usually over the moon on the days I actually cross off all. I have been trying to incorporate a little bit of workout every day. And this isn’t directly related to work but I turn off my WIFI and most my devices at least an hour before bed to have no notification that would keep me glued to the screen.

If you could have known one thing before you went self-employed, what would it have been?

It may seem like a one man’s job, but you definitely need a communities, networks and supporters, like Leapers, to make it work.

Tell us something surprising about you

I can’t ride a bicycle (How can anyone keep the foot fixed on a moving pedal!?!?) or say the word “statistics”, I usually go for “data” at client meetings. Lol.

And finally - can you share a piece of work you're super proud of?

What I love the most about this work is the story behind the brand name and it’s potential to change people’s life. It is a computer application for visually impaired to gain digital literacy. Previously the product has earned recognition from Zero Project under the name EYE Tool. This was a rebranding.

Where can people find you online if they want to work with you?

On Leapers’ slack, obviously. You can also write to me [email protected] or find me on LinkedIn

What do you appreciate or find most valuable about being a member of Leapers?

I have been very fortunate to have friends and family (even one or two clients) with whom I can openly talk about my mental health. They have normalised my struggles with anxiety and depression. But I know that’s not how it is for many people. So if there is a community that encourages talking about mental health without a judgement, I would definitely want to be part of that.

Also, remember I said I miss having a team? Leapers offset that deficit in many ways. I like how I can wave hello to someone in the morning and have a chat during my coffee break, just like back in my office days. Even when I don’t answer the weekly question for reflection, it often makes me stop and think about it.

And on days I am struggling to pull it all together just by myself, Leapers is a good reminder there are many, many many more like me out there 😊

Work With Maria

You can say hello to Maria on the Leapers slack, or visit online via the links below:


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Maria Joy, interviewed by Matthew Knight.
Originally published on 2021-09-06
"On days where I am struggling to pull it all together just by myself, Leapers is a good reminder there are many, many many more like me out there"

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