Women pursue passions from the comfort of their homes

Women pursue passions from the comfort of their homes

Afew women in the city have quit their stable nine-to-five jobs to pursue their passion. Many don’t stop at just switching career paths — like from journalism to spirituality or blogging — they decide to never go back to an office. 

It is a common misconception that working from home means lounging in your pyjamas, drinking coffee and sneaking in work. The women Metrolife spoke to tell us the pros and cons of such a decision.

Alicia Souza

Illustrator

Alicia Souza has been drawing since she was a kid. Today, she owns a company by the name ‘Alicia Souza’, that manufactures artist merchandise. She has been a freelancer for the last eight years and says illustration was something that she wanted to get into for the longest time. 

Why work from home: I like to stay at home so this came naturally for me. Having said that, I never really worked full-time in a company. For me, specifically with my work, there is so much to do. So, even if there is someone else in the room when I am working, it is quite distracting. Therefore I have a strict schedule. And it all works out for me. When I started off, it was really hard. I didn’t actually know any freelancers who could guide me. 

Turning point: A year-and-a-half into working as a freelancer when I realised that I can pay my bills. I even started to have savings.

Work-life balance: I am strict with my work timings; I learned this three years into freelancing. The best advice I got was to stop working at a certain time and that’s exactly what I do. I start my day at six in the morning because I feel I am the most productive then and end my day relatively early. Even if I draw after that time, it’s not work-related. This distinction is sacrificial in a way because work can go on forever if you let it. I work nine hours a day. 

Challenges: I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but time is a constraint. I feel the time is always running against me.  

A word of advice: You have to be diligent about your work-time and play-time, and they are both essential. And you should be able to multi-task.

 

Sumaa Tekur

Founder of spiritual and wellness consultancy

She worked as a journalist for almost 12 years before she switched to the corporate world, where she continued her journey as a writer. It was only three years ago that she decided to pursue her passion for alternate healing and energy work. She set up Golden Swan Healing, a firm that deals with Reiki healing, Vedic astrology and spirit work. She conducts workshops, personal readings and works as a spiritual advisor to many.

Why work from home: For over a decade, I worked in a high pressure, noisy newsroom environment. When I switched to the corporate world, my role was to run a global team. The company did not have an office or a team here. So, the switch to working from home was an organic one, and in some ways something I was forced into. It was quite challenging initially, especially in terms of adapting to the quietness. But now, I would not have it any other way. Plus, it is great to not waste energy just getting to office and back.

Turning point: The validation I get when I receive feedback I get my clients; it is what keeps me going, especially during moments of self-doubt. 

Work-life balance: It took a while for me to get to a point where I am able to disengage myself from work when I shut off my laptop. With the freedom of moving around with my laptop came the problem of being constantly shackled to work. I had to learn to create physical and mental distinctions from my workspace. I started off by going off to cafes for a few hours until I got my work done. Ultimately, I had a work station designed at home. I have made it a habit to only work there.

Challenges: Lack of social connections is something I still struggle with. One of the perks of going to a physical space is that you make a friend circle by default. I don’t meet a lot of people in my everyday life that I can befriend, and I can’t really get too close to my clients. I have to consciously make an effort to go out and connect with people. It is still not easy because there are always logistical issues. 

A word of advice: Bring balance to your life; it is the key to ensuring you have a productive life. You need to be mindful of what you bring to your day. All the little things you do add to the bigger picture.

Make sure you do a little each day that takes you closer to your life goals across all aspects of life. 

 

Ambica Selvam

Food and product photographer and food stylist

It was in 2011, after she watched the film ‘Julie & Julia’, that Ambica fell in love with food. Today, she dons the hat of a food blogger, photographer and stylist. She also does photo documentary and art direction. It has been more than five years that she quit her job as a corporate professional and to pursue her passion.  

Why work from home: I was in the corporate sector working as an eLearning consultant. I used to run a food blog called ‘Lingering Aftertaste’ at the time. Soon, I realised that food and my blog made me happier than corporate life; so much so that I would be thinking about what to cook next while at work.

Blogging gave me a lot of opportunities to work on my photography and food styling skills. I am a self-taught and intuitive photographer. Freelance also gives me the opportunity to work with different clients and projects, making it exciting. 

Turning point: The joy that I got being around food. I still enjoy the whole process of planning my blogs. The fact that I never get tired of what I do, was an affirmation that this was my calling. 

Work-life balance: Initially, I was pragmatic about how I manage my time between work and life since the number of projects coming my way were fewer. However, somewhere along the way, I got too busy and the desire to work was a little too much. I started realising that my personal life was taking a backseat. Today, I make a conscious decision about not taking up work at least one day of the week and I don’t shy away from saying this to my clients. I also ensure that I don’t allow myself to be fatigued by work; I take up different projects and hobbies to avoid monotony.

Challenges: Since I have a make-shift studio, creating setups and certain types of ambience is a challenge. I have to search for different venues constantly. 

A word of advice: Work from home takes a lot of discipline and time management. It is necessary to understand that one needs to create a space for yourself even at home. It is important to compartmentalise things. You can’t just work from anywhere -- sitting on the bed or sofa. Creating a little workspace helps in getting into that zone. It is also important to prioritise your work during the days so that you are not distracted by other things.  

 

Monika Manchanda

Culinary writer, trainer and food consultant

Monika Manchanda is a baker, blogger, food writer and avid traveller. She began blogging while she was still working in the IT industry and soon made it her career. Today, she runs a blog ‘Sin-A-Mon Tales’, where she posts reviews, recipes and food stories. She also works as a food consultant for menu and recipe design and conducts culinary workshops. 

Why work from home: I started working from home when I was still in IT. I was partly working at home and partly in office because I had a son who was all of six months. It was really convenient to schedule work like that at the time. 

Turning point: I started my food career as a home baker and a blogger. Though money was less, consulting gigs helped me break even initially. Since then I have done a lot of consulting gigs for various restaurants and bigger brands for recipe design. Recipe and menu design is what I now specialise in. 

Work-life balance: The thing that they call work-life balance is just a myth. It’s something that I am still trying to achieve. It is really hard, especially for women. This is despite the fact that I have a husband at home who adds in equally without having to run behind him. We try to dedicate some time for family and put everything else on hold. Yet, we are constantly struggling with the guilt of either not giving enough to your family or your career. So many times you feel that you are working too hard but still not achieving what you want on both fronts. I have made my peace with it. I just try to do my best.

Challenges: The internet! I have two broadband connections at home but there are still days when these don’t work when I need them to. Time and place to focus on is also a problem area. I have a studio office at home, which is completely separate from the other parts, which helps with this. A dedicated space makes you feel as if you are at work and not sitting on your bed lounging in your pyjamas. 

A word of advice: Don’t let work take over your life. I keep dedicated work timings . Else, mornings will turn into nights, work will become home and you will never have time for yourself. Time management is crucial so as to accommodate every aspect of your life.