Tinsel & Twine



Business Time: Creative Mornings

Last week, with coffee and business cards in hand, I joined an impressive crowd of design-minded people for the latest installation of Creative Mornings.

This series of breakfast lectures, established by Mother Superior / Queen Bee / Boss Lady Tina Roth-Eisenberg (aka Swiss Miss and founder of Tattly)(#NBD) began in NYC and has quickly spread across the entire globe to 84 cities. On a monthly basis, creatives from Amsterdam to Zurich gather to discuss topics related to the art of making.

This month’s topic was Minimalism. Our New York speaker was Anthony Casalena, founder of Squarespace. He talked about how in his business’s 10-year lifecycle, their biggest ‘win’ was learning to strip away extra bells and whistles to offer the best of one really good thing. By doing that, he and his team were able to own a space. And without the distractions that come with being all things to everybody.

I believe that minimalism is a process. It’s not an aesthetic. It’s not black and white. It’s the thoughtfulness that goes into creating these things.
— Anthony Casalena, Creative Mornings, New York

Most people think of Minimalism as an aesthetic or visual style. His approach to business used a different lens: “Minimalism is a process.” 

I like that mindset. A lot. Anthony’s tips for applying Minimalism to business were:

1. Clear your head (erase your mental whiteboard)

2.  Get to the essence (what's the truth?)

3.  Throw out good ideas (to make room for great ideas)

Looking through a TINSEL lens, I would add:

1. Spend your time and energy on the things you’re great at. It’s more efficient to hire someone to do the things you don’t enjoy or kick ass at. (In my case, bookkeeping. Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

2. Celebrate the success of quality vs. quantity. We talk a lot about the smoke-and-mirrors of #business where people online always seem to be doing/making/going. Particularly in the design space where there are seemingly endless amounts of events, photoshoots, projects, weddings, launches, dinners, etc etc etc (!!!) it’s easy to question whether you are doing enough. This year, we are learning to appreciate the quality of our client work vs. working 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.

I think minimalism, if approached in the wrong way, if it is approached in the aesthetic sense, can give people the wrong reaction.
— Anthony Casalena, Creative Mornings, New York

3. Protect your personal time. When you own your own business, it can be hard to separate your working and personal hours. Especially when you work with your friends and get friendly with the people you work with, happy hours, lunch breaks, and weekend brunches easily slip into biz mode. That’s the fastest way to burn out. It’s important to unplug and take time to eat, sleep, breathe life beyond your business.

Friday’s ice-breaker question was: “What’s in your apartment that you've been meaning to throw away?” (My apartment is too “cozy” to keep excess stuff. C’est la vie, New York.) From a business standpoint, Minimalism doesn’t have to mean getting rid of things, but not allowing them in the first place.