Why I decided to work on my business full time

Alright, to be honest I am just starting with this whole creative business thing so I am no expert. I have no idea where this will take me and what it will look like. But I have dreams, I have hopes and I have goals.

At the moment I am in the middle of a process of seriously taking this to the next level. It feels like once I am over this stage I’m really in it. I’m sounding way too vague right now, am I? I promise, I will share more news very soon. But for now, before I am on the other side of this bunch of serious business steps I wanted to share how this whole thing started.

It all started in the beginning of 2014. I have just graduated and I was in the beginning of a new path. I was scared. I had no idea what was coming next. I was not completely happy with my degree. I have studied to be a media engineer who can do a bit of everything: web development, graphic design, mobile app development, photography, audio and video, layout design, you name it. But if I’m completely honest I’m good at exactly none of this stuff. The only thing I really enjoyed and concentrated on during the last couple of years of my studies was printing. I worked at a printing lab at my university and taught a couple of printing courses. That was a fun job and I got to work with paper products and I fell in love with them. I also got to save some of the paper from going to trash and made my first hand bound notebooks with it. This all ended once I graduated.

I applied for a masters degree in photography at an art and design school of my dreams and did not get in. I was not a photographer, I did not have enough experience to show. I was so tired of studying I did not want to try applying anywhere else.

In February I was lucky to visit Tartu (Estonia) and stay there for a month as an art resident at a printing museum. None of my relatives understood what I was doing there. “Isn’t that for artists?”, they wondered, “Sasha is not an artist, she’s an engineer”. But I could not feel more at home and at peace with myself. Every day I was doing what I love: making beautiful things with my hands, trying new techniques, learning from other creatives, binding books and teaching my skills to others. And unlike in “real life”, that was exactly what was expected from me. I was there to do creative things and share them with others. I had a purpose and it was beautiful. I did not want it to end. I was wishing I could just grab my husband and my cat and travel from one art residency to another for the rest of my life.

I had to go back though. So I got back to the things I was supposed to do. I started looking for a job sending several applications every day and not hearing anything back from a single one of them. I was becoming less motivated and more depressed with each unanswered e-mail. I did not have a perfect job description in mind. I did not know what my purpose in this life was. I was just applying for whatever I thought I might be qualified for.

Then the summer came and we went on tour with my band. After that my sister was visiting me and I took a vacation. I enjoyed life and one of the best summer weeks we had here in Helsinki. We went to the beach almost every day, rode our bicycles around the city, took buss trips to old little towns, swam in the pool.

I forgot about my sad unemployed life for a while until september came and the unemployment lady that took care of my situation suggested I take a job search coaching course. I felt really skeptical about it but I went there anyway. And I am so happy I did! One thing I realized that finding a job was even harder than I thought. I also realized job searching is not one of my strengths. But I loved the support of the group and all the exercises we did together. During two weeks we were constantly helping each other find our strengths and talents and open our minds to possibilities.

Day after day it became more and more clear to me that I wanted to start something of my own. I could not see myself with a great engineering career, but a creative one seemed more and more real. In the beginning of the course I was referring to myself as an engineer and by the end I was telling everyone I was a book binder and a designer. People saw me as a creative person and it gave me confidence. I shared my dreams with the coach and she was very supportive, but suggested I still find a job first, because entrepreneurship is not usually what you start your career with. I knew that. I kept hearing of people quitting their day jobs when their businesses were growing and they could finally afford doing what they loved. But I did not have a day job I could quit. And I would need a lot of time to find one. So I thought I might just use this time to concentrate on my business instead of looking for a job I would be waiting to quit anyway.

And here I am. Really doing this. I am still at the very beginning and still learning, but I feel I am going somewhere, moving forward. A week ago I travelled to Tartu again to print some of my designs that I made last year. It felt so great to be there printing for the whole day and enjoying what I do. These days I finally get to have this feeling of purpose that I felt a year ago for the first time. It took me a whole year to realize where I want to be. It is still a bit scary and I have no idea if it is going to work. But I am so happy I am where I am today!

One thing I have to mention is that I could not have done it without being married to the most wonderful man in the world. He believes in me even when I do not believe in myself. He supports all the financial decisions I take for my business even though he’s the only one with a proper income in our family at the moment. I don’t know how he is doing it, but I am so thankful I have him next to me supporting me through this difficult but exciting time of my life.

And this is my story. I was a little scared of writing it out and sharing it with the world. But I am glad I did. Now I will be able to look back at it and remember how I started. And feel proud for myself that I went through the difficult time, came out on the on the other end and took this important decision.


  1. It's so good to read your story! It's hard to choose something else then the direction in which you were initially going, but it's good that you realized what made you feel really alive. While you're still in school you have a purpose, and when you did the art residency you had one too. When that stops, you're suddenly without and you have to find your own purpose and that, for me, was so hard too. Still is sometimes because you have to work on it every day. But I do believe it will get easier! Good luck on all you're going to do!

    1. Thank you, Inge! Yes, it is still hard. There are days when I start thinking 'What am I doing? I suck at this!' but I just try to throw these thoughts away or cry it out and keep working. I guess when you are doing something of your own and you can't know exactly where it's leading you there will always be doubt and we should just treat it as a normal reaction and keep working :)

  2. thank you sasha for sharing your story! good things happen to the brave so i wish you all the best luck in the world! you are already a success, having found something you love and devoting your time to it!
    all the best from a fellow paper lover!

    1. Thank you so much, Sara, for the nice words! Yay for paper lovers!