Honest Business – Juggling A “Proper” Job & Being A Designer

Following on from my post last week about not quitting your day job, I wanted to highlight how it works for someone other than me. Looking at my local designer peers, I was drawn to Sally from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes as I know that not only does she design the brightest jewellery around, she is also a bona fide fancy doctor. I am slightly in awe of her, so we had a virtual chat about how she “does it all”.

Sally McAdam - Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes

Claire: So, Sally – tell me about your day job?

Sally: I’m a doctor, specifically working as a registrar in Acute Medicine. No one ever knows what that is (even some other health professionals) so I’ll try to explain a bit – a registrar is a mid- to senior-grade doctor, over 4 years after graduating from medical school. I work in the field of Acute Medicine which covers the medical receiving unit; this is the place you go when you are initially admitted to hospital under the care of the medical team from either A&E or your GP.

I treat patients with all kinds of conditions, including strokes, heart attacks, pneumonia, meningitis, etc and our unit is open 24 hours a day. I also look after the High Dependency Unit at my hospital which is where people who are critically unwell go for organ support treatments unavailable elsewhere in the hospital.

As well as all these sick people I also see a lot of patients who can be managed as an outpatient and I help to run the General Medical Clinic. I work a lot of long shifts, both days and nights and a lot of weekends, but I love my job and I don’t intend to give it up anytime soon.

Claire: And could you tell me a bit about Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes?

Sally: I design and make laser-cut acrylic jewellery and sell it online on various platforms and very occasionally at craft fairs, although less of those recently. I’ve also branched out into enamel pin badges and stationery in the past couple of months and it seems to be going well so far (fingers crossed!).

I run my business on my own, including designing and making jewellery, marketing and PR, accounting, photography, packaging and shipping items, emailing customers and retailers and everything else that comes along. The tasks are never ending, but I try to keep my to do list up to date!

Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes Motel Necklace

Claire: How do you make time to take care of business alongside saving people’s lives?

Sally: I set aside certain periods of time to dedicate to my business – if I have an evening or day off, I prioritise my to-do list so I can get the most important things done first. I try to prepare for times when I know I’m not going to have much time to work on business-related things, for example, if I have a week of night shifts, I’ll cue social media posts for that week so that my online presence doesn’t just shut down for a week. The lead-times on my orders are significantly longer than other similar businesses but it’s difficult to avoid; I try to make up for it by producing original products you can’t get elsewhere.

Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes CMYK Enamel Badge

Claire: How about job satisfaction? Do you get a different sense of achievement from the two different jobs?

Sally: Definitely! I love the high-pressure, fast-paced environment of acute medicine and I like to counter that with the creative process of designing and making jewellery. I also develop skills in one job that I can use in the other, for example, the fine motor skills I’ve practiced whilst making tiny items of jewellery helps me perform fiddly practical procedures in the hospital. Communication with patients, relatives and other hospital staff has helped me effectively communicate with retailers and deal with difficult customers. Prioritising tasks is very important in both of my careers; I think they complement each other more than most people realise.

Claire: Would you consider giving up the day job to concentrate full-time on HOYFC?

Sally: I don’t think I would. I love being a doctor and if I gave it up I would miss it and the many challenges that come along with it. At some point in my career, I may go part time and dedicate more time to Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, but then again, I also have the option of closing up my business for a while if I need to concentrate on medicine. I like having the option!

Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes Cuff Links

Claire: Where do you see yourself a few  years down the line?

Sally: If all goes well, in a couple of years I should be able to apply for Acute Medicine consultant posts which will mean I will likely settle down in one hospital (rather than moving all over the place as I do at the moment) which will give me a bit more stability and hopefully less night shifts!

In terms of Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, I’d like to expand to have some more international stockists and I’m enjoying my foray into other non-jewellery products and I’d love to design more. One day, I might even hire an accountant to help me with my tear-inducing tax return!

Claire: Ha, you and me both, Sally! God bless Excel. 

And that’s that – hopefully you enjoyed this little insight into a fellow full-time/full-time worker/designer. Give me a shout if you’d like to chat about your own situation – I’d love to hear how other people make it work for them, and why, too.

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