Meet Kia Cannons
What does being a creative mean to you?
Being creative means getting to explore further all the things that inspire me. As a visual person I constantly notice interesting colour combinations, forms, textures etc and to me being creative is having an impetus to follow through on that inspiration and take it somewhere.
Do you recall when you first realized you HAD to be creative?
Yes, I realized I had to be creative when I finished university and found myself sitting in an office doing administration. Very quickly I noticed that the job didn’t come naturally to me and what would be easy for somebody else - just remembering to give a message to your boss for example, to me was the hardest thing in the world because I was often lost in my own thoughts staring out the window! I dreamt of doing something artistic but was told by my school art teacher when I was 12 years old that I couldn't take art because I couldn’t draw. I spent all my school life looking longingly at the jam jars of paint brushes lined up on the art room windowsill wishing someone would invite me in. To me that door had been slammed shut and because a person of authority told me I was not good enough I totally believed it for the next twenty years.
What is your favorite work ritual?
Oh this is a fun question! I love starting my working day with a latte and a read through of my ‘mother of a lists’ - a large notebook with one enormous list of all the personal ‘life’ things that have to be done on one side, and on the other side, all my work related tasks. Literally everything goes on those lists. I use the ABC123 method to make the important tasks pop off the page and avoid having to read through all the items everyday. Each morning I scan the lists for my A and B tasks and choose about 5 to work on, writing those down on a post-it note which I stick it on the front of the notebook. That way I just have a handful of tasks on my daily list and don't let my ‘mother of all lists’ overwhelm me.
How do you cope when you feel overwhelmed?
Ok full disclosure, I am awful for reaching for chocolate when I'm stressed and it is something I'm working on! However, once I have eaten the chocolate and realised it hasn't made anything better, I then grab my ‘mother of lists’ and reassess what I my priorities should be. I start taking action with getting stuff off my list that isn't really necessary, maybe arranging some childcare to give myself an additional couple of hours clear and just literally knuckling down and doing the work. The one thing that I always remind myself of is that perfection doesn’t exist. So a big part of dealing with overwhelm is just give myself a little reality check and let myself of the hook, simply doing my best is good enough. However, that’s answering the question from the perspective of being overwhelmed by volume of work, I can also get generally overwhelmed by juggling my business, my two little boys, running a home with my husband only being around on weekends, plus a head full of ideas! When I get that kind of overwhelm I am kind to myself. I do whatever I feel like doing just for that day (which usually results in wanting to crack on with my work by the end of it) but giving myself permission to read in bed, meet a friend for coffee or just veg out allows the overwhelm to dissipate and my drive to reappear.
What three traits would you say are a must for someone going into business for themselves?
The first trait is to be driven - for me I realized I was on the right path when it became necessary to skip watching TV every evening in order to work on my business. Alsobeing happy to sacrifice material things to work on a start up and I was totally ok with that was a good indicator. The number one way to tell though is to ask yourself if your idea burns deep enough that you would be devastated if you got your deathbed and you hadn't tried it.
My next trait is confidence. If you're not confident about your business or your idea that's fine, but you have to quite quickly become your own advocate and cheerleader, and get confident quickly. Instagram is the most wonderful place in the world to start with confidence. The first time I put my paintings up and the likes and lovely comments started to appear they stoked my confidence and in the early days, totally fueled it.
And my last tip is you need to be productive. If you don't know how to be productive I would say to look to others who look like they're making the impossible look easy or have secretly figured how to grow more hours in the day! They are probably just exceptionally productive and have figured out how to get stuff done. When you run your own business there is never enough time to do it all, because you really are doing it all, so you have to get good at getting stuff done. If you are driven, confident and productive I think you have an arsenal of skills to crack being your own boss.
What is your definition of success? Do you feel that you are successful?
To me being successful means being free, and being free means being able to make my own choices about the things that matter to me. The things that matter to me are my time and my family. If I can spend my time just the way I please, and if I can be there for my family and provide for them the things I feel they need, (and for me those things are my time and attention, rather than stuff and things), I feel I've cracked my version of what motherhood and life means to me. So in life all I want to do is spend quality time with my boys and the rest of my time spend it doing something that I love, and if I can help others in the process then I really do feel like I've made it. I am so amazed that in my mid-thirties I feel very successful and extremely content that I am carving out a career I love. I would love to afford to buy nicer things but they are not as important to me. Which is fine, as I that to aim for.
What has been the best advice you have received?
The best advice I have received has been around the notion that life is not a rehearsal and also, to not care what other people think. Once I grasped the attitude that we get one crack at this thing called life and I’m not going to care about other people’s opinions of me I had the tools to fully enjoy my life just as I pleased.
Who is a female (past, present or fictional) you find inspirational?
I have followed the life of Heidi Swapp (a US scrapbooker) via books, blogs and now Instagram for a good ten years. I feel she is a wonderful example of someone who is following her dream, being real about life, and her creativity is just so inspiring. Check her out!