In 2016, Yuli Scheidt left her full time job and joined forces with friend and established freelance designer & developer Janine Isabelle to start the multi-disciplinary design studio Kindred. In their brand new space off Queen West, the two help clients with identity & print design, digital design & development and art direction & styling—all with a unique approach.
We sat down with the collaborators to find out their opinions on design and to get some advice about entrepreneurship. We ended up also touching on mansplaining, the importance of adult female friendships and the role of design to make positive change in the world.
Janine Isabelle and Yuli Scheidt in their Studio.
On Kindred’s Vision
Janine: What I’ve always wanted in my work life is a creative family. Yuli was the first person to come together with me on that notion to build something as a collective. Most of the projects we’re doing right now are small enough and within the realm of our expertise that we can work together but eventually, we want to bring more people into the studio who want to be a part of what we’re building with Kindred.
Looking to Brooklyn for Inspiration
Yuli: We modeled ourselves partially off Ghostly Ferns, a family of freelancers in Brooklyn. They bring together designers and illustrators with a unique set of skills, so when a project comes along, they bring it into the studio and say, “Who wants to take this on? Who’s excited about this?” It’s not like an agency where you’re forced to take on projects you may not be into. The idea is that we’re all freelancers, under one roof. The model is similar to a law firm where you have partners that all have their own clients and nobody is really an employee. It’s partially because of this flexibility that Ghostly Ferns has won a bunch of awards and scored clients that might have gone to big agencies in the past.
Hard at work in the Kindred Studio (Photo by Yuli Scheidt)
Their Advice for Freelancers
Yuli: Advocating for myself was huge. Setting my prices not just because I need the money to survive but because I need to value my work appropriately. My best advice is to list all the work you’re doing on the estimate and put the numbers beside it, even the stuff that isn’t necessarily design-related, like communication, planning, project management, etc. One of my services is that I do non-traditional headshots. After doing a PR professional’s headshot, she sat me down and said, “You’re not charging enough. I just took three hours of your time and you’re still going to have to go back and edit.” It took a client telling me I wasn’t charging enough to open my eyes.
Figure Out What Works Best for You
Janine: For me, I really had to start trusting my body and work processes. My brain is not functional first thing in the morning. If I have a slow start to the day and give myself 2 hours to not do anything but read my Twitter timeline–I’m way more productive than if I force myself to be at my desk at 9am every morning. My usual freelancing advice is do what works for you. If it makes you more productive to do your hair and put pants on, then that’s great. If you work better naked in your bedroom, do that. That’s the beauty of freelancing.
Yuli: I was shooting an event and there was another dude who was hired to photograph the event. He introduced himself by saying, “I’m going to steal your shot”. I thought “so a man is going to steal my work, tell me story I haven’t heard.” He then proceeded to give me unsolicited advice: “Your camera set up isn’t going to work”. This isn’t the first time this has happened. And I’m like “Are you looking at my camera? My settings? The 20+ years of experience I have?”
Janine: I love that you were like, “Just watch me.”
On Their Next Big Idea
Janine: I can’t tell Yuli my ideas because the next day, she’s already gone and registered the domain for it. I love that she’s always immediately ready to jump into the next thing.
Yuli: You don’t even want to know how many domain names I own.
The Importance of Diversity in Design
Yuli: We believe there is a place for design in solving societal issues—all sorts of issues. For example, accessibility is a design issue.
Janine: Take the old Darkhorse in Leslieville. They used to have this communal table but the chairs were bolted to the ground. So if your body doesn’t comfortably fit into that chair, you can’t move it to suit you.
Yuli: Sadly, you’re just resigned to it in a “It’s their world, I’m just living in it, kind of way.” A design mandate I have is to change this.
Janine: I always tell people, if you push a door when you’re supposed to pull it, it’s the door’s fault. Seriously! You’re not dumb, that door was just poorly designed. Good design is when you open a door the right way on the first try without even having to think about it.
Representation in Design
Janine: Representation is another huge issue in design. There are studies that show the more people are exposed to diverse bodies in the media, the more open-minded they are out in the world.
Yuli: One day, we would love to do a print publication that features diverse bodies and people. I recently took a bunch of photos for a magazine. The theme was ‘Shape’ and I was the only person who took photos of diverse bodies. In the end, they ended up not using the pictures.
On Getting Like-Minded People Together
We do a lot of side projects that are almost exclusively with women. I’m a member of Drunk Feminist Films. I’m working with one of the OG Drunk Fems, Amy Wood, on a project called “Yes New Friends”. It’s a friendship matchmaker for female-identified folks. Amy literally matches you with a potential friend who has similar interests and even though it’s still only in beta, it’s had a ton of great feedback. We love this whole concept of adult female friendship in the Internet age and definitely have plans in the future to intersect with them. We want to do workshops and events around this concept because it’s core to our vision: friendship, kinship, creative family.
Photos provided by Yuli Scheidt. Interview by Jenny Morris.
(Photo by Jenny Morris)
If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur looking for a place to gather with your community, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use the space as a pop-up office to meet, write, or blog with free wifi, chill tunes, and amazing coffee and food. Open on the weekdays before 5pm!