Fives years ago I’d started a new role and was sitting at my desk in an open plan office. Through posting tweets and crafting emails I was eaves dropping on a product development meeting happening a few metres away. Above the murmuring of ‘move this here’, ‘change this colour’ and ‘let’s get a sample’ came a definitive ‘But do we REALLY LOVE it?’ challenge from a passionate and somewhat frustrated voice in the corner. I looked up and knew that whoever belonged to those words was my kinda lady. I hoped that eventually we’d find time in our fast paced jobs to have a conversation and maybe become friends.
It didn’t happen. Well, not for another two years when Marsha decided to leap and leave her job. In her final days in the office she came over to me, looked me straight in the eye and said ‘I think we should be friends. Do you want to grab a coffee?’ I said ‘I agree. Yes. And I can I have that Muuto lamp on your desk?’
Since then Marsha Golemac has become one of Australia’s most sought after creatives. Her leap from the security of full time employment, to self employed freelancer in an industry she had no experience in took more than a little courage. When you read her story you’ll see that listening to that 10 year-old self who knew what set your heart on fire is worthy of your attention. It can lead you to speaking up for things your believe in and take your life on an extraordinary trajectory. It can find a way to a make things happen even when you think there isn’t one.
Seeing Marsha take her leap was one of the reasons I felt I could take mine. Her being brave helped me to be too. And in knowing her story, I hope you feel inspired to maybe take a leap of your own.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
I grew up in a fairly isolated town and found that creative pursuits weren’t popular or encouraged nearly as much as sports. Thankfully my parents had built a beautiful home on five acres of land where I could run around, play amongst nature and have the freedom to indulge in anything artistic. But unfortunately it wasn’t enough to give me the understanding that a creative career was possible. I thought a good alternative would be a career as a journalist – but I realised years later that I was just trying to fill a gap that could only be filled with what I truly loved. Plus I couldn’t write to save myself so I don’t know what that was about.
What did you study?
I studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Literature and Media followed by an Applied Design course.
What were you doing before you made your leap?
When Year 12 was over, I moved to the city only a few days after my last exam. I then went on to complete an arts degree however my career to date has been in product development and I have spent a large portion of that time working for kikki.K as a product manager. A few years back I came to a crossroad and started asking myself ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ It is a strange question to ask yourself at the age of 28 but I realised that it is very natural for one to discover new interests or revisit old ones as time moves on. It is whether you choose to embrace them or not.
[Tweet “What do you want to be when you grow up? What would your 10 year-old self say? #theleapstories”]
From a very young age I was determined, eager to learn and make something of myself and, although I was satisfied very much with what I had achieved so far, it wasn’t until that moment that I really started to question where I was going. I had reached that point where I needed the gap filled. I looked back at my childhood and I realised that the little me really seemed to be on to something all those years ago. I spent my time drawing, collecting stickers and stamps, painting, writing, making stationery, creating collages and constantly rearranging my parents home. So, here I am all these years later with the same interests and same passions. I believe I was naturally influenced by my surroundings to grow up, find a full time job and eventually make money when in fact I should have just listened to my 10 year old self and said “I want to create beautiful things, and get paid for it!”
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
Family has been the biggest influence for me. My father is very strong willed and doesn’t take no for an answer which can be annoying when you’re a child but this characteristic has been passed down to me and therefore my approach to work/career has been better for it.
Working in retail. Whilst studying I worked as a sales assistant and worked my way up to a store manager role. I think having that level of responsibility at such a young age gave me an insight into how I would want to run my own business one day. Everything from cash flow to hiring staff to visual merchandising – every aspect of running a store can be translated to what I do now. On occasion the store would be quiet and yes it would get a little tedious if customers were not coming in but I do not have any regrets in starting my career off this way.
Sharing. I contacted a stylist that I admired as soon as I entered into the world of working for myself. I had no experience at all. This incredible woman not only accepted my invitation for a conversation but also invited me into her home. We chatted about the industry and she shared her achievements and her struggles. I knew from that moment that I wanted to be open to sharing information with other creatives. It made me understand that competition can be unhealthy and that sharing experiences with others opens up a lot more doors and more importantly it’s super good for the soul.
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
Absolutely nothing. I took the leap without having any idea of what my next step would be. I just did it and somehow knew that I would be better for it.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?
I cannot recall an exact moment but I do recall being unhappy. I wasn’t being challenged and I felt that I wasn’t using my brain as much as I probably should have been. It’s a hard thing to explain but I just knew I didn’t want to do what I was doing anymore. I needed to be scared – I didn’t like the comfort zone. It was just time to do it.
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
The flexibility to do what you want when you want and getting to the point where you can ‘choose’ the projects you want to work on.
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap?
No matter how established you are there is always the concern that you may not get the work that you need to sustain your business. It’s about being proactive and not always expecting business to come to you.
What might be your next leap?
Taking my work internationally. I’m yet to know how or where but the challenge is certainly exciting.
What are your favourite words to live by?
Just do it. Honestly I don’t have nor do I believe in a particular quote or phrase. I’m all about getting on with it.
Who do you admire that also made the leap?
My friends and colleagues Photographer Brooke Holm and Marketing + Brand Consultant Neil Hugh Kenna. We have taken similar paths and have gone through similar things to get to where we are. I admire them for taking the leap and their willingness to progress.
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
To take it. There is never a right time. When you throw yourself into the deep end you actually have no choice but to make it work. Expect that everything will not fall into place and that you will need to do work that you will not enjoy but there will be a point where things start working the way you want them to, just remember to keep at it. And most importantly, be nice to everyone.
Be nice to everyone. The perfect words to end on and to live by. A big thank you to the always gorgeous Marsha for sharing her story. To find out more about Marsha and see her work, visit marshagolemac.com
I’d love to know, what part did you connect to most?