Balancing Multiple Jobs as a Maker with Miriam Dema

Sometimes your side hustle has side hustles. Or maybe all of your hustle can't be contained. Or maybe you've got a very active left brain and a very active right brain and finding *ONE* good paying job to fulfill both of them is not happening.

Enter makers with multiple jobs. Oftentimes the "end game" of starting your own business is viewed that it's supposed to become an ever-expanding full-time job. Which it might. It totally can. But not everyone wants that. Part-time businesses are still businesses. 

Today's guest is fully an artist-- while having a "day job" that has almost nothing to do with being an artist. Except it totally does.

Q: Please, introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

A: My name is Miriam Dema, I’m an artist and a maker. I run my own creative business Miriam Dema selling my artwork and products online, at events like Renegade Craft Fair and wholesale to a selection of boutiques across the country. I’ve been making and selling things professionally for about 15 years, first in Oakland and now in Los Angeles. I have a collection of silkscreen pennants that celebrate California and other fun places around the country. I also sell a collection of hand stamped and tooled leather work- jewelry, wallets, key chains and custom projects.

For about 9 years my husband and I have worked together at our audio company, SSR Sound. We provide audio, video and lighting rentals for events, weddings, parties, conferences throughout the Los Angeles area. We are a full service company providing all of the equipment as well as delivery, setting up the equipment and often engineering the event. We pride ourselves on our great team of experienced engineers and quality customer service. We’re involved in anywhere from 500-600 events a year. 

Q: What is your role in each of your businesses? How do you divide your time and attention between them?
A: For SSR Sound I run the office; handling clients and quoting out jobs, our constantly changing schedule, our employees, and the bookkeeping. My husband Jim manages additional aspects like inventory and purchasing, strategic company planning, employee training and provides a necessary sounding board when I need to know how something works or the right direction to suggest to a client. 

For my creative business I’m the beginning and the end. I design and make everything and get it out the door in some fashion or another including online sales, events or wholesale orders. 

I go back and forth from each business quite fluidly. It often has to do with what needs to be done next based on an ongoing list of tasks and projects. I spend a lot of time in the studio designing and making as well as equal time in the office getting things done to move it all along. Emails are never ending. 

Q: What motivated you to pursue both at the same time?
A: It’s always been important to me to maintain multiple streams of income - before that was even a thing. I’ve sold my art, worked for other artists or event companies, and had day jobs. All of it has allowed me to have a level of financial independence and to pursue creative projects. Running our audio company together was a natural extension of that. 

Q:  Has there ever been a time where you struggled to find balance between both? What happened and how did you face that problem?
A: Sure, it comes and goes like any job or commitment. Usually I handle it by making more lists and realizing that I have to outsource a particular aspect of my schedule or project. I typically start backwards with any project or even my daily list. Then I fill in what I have time for and I try to be realistic about it. 

Q: What do you do for self care and how do you avoid burnout?
A: Ah. I am a HUGE, HUGE proponent of self care and having conversations with myself about what needs to happen to stay sane and get everything done. In 2009 I took some time from actively selling my creative projects to focus on getting healthy and losing weight. I changed a lot of my personal habits, lost 100+ pounds (kept it off so far!) and worked on having a better understanding about what helps me stay happy and healthy. During that time I also added some skills to my maker brain that helped inform and steer my products when I was ready to start actively selling again.

To avoid burn out there a million things I do that all add up. Exercise, eating healthy, drinking less, reading for pleasure, drawing for fun, hanging out with my husband, our dog and our friends. Getting out of town, going on a mini adventure…sometimes just taking a nap on the sofa.  It’s an equation of working a lot, making things a lot, changing direction when needed, taking care of myself a lot and making task lists every chance I get. Yes - I put the gym and eat dinner on my list. 

Q: What has been the biggest surprise or lesson so far? How do you apply it to your day to day
A: I don’t know that I’m all that surprised by much anymore. I just keep on keeping on. I don’t really think life is in the high moments. I think it’s in the small things that you do really well and keep doing well…when someone is excited enough about something I made to bring it into their own world or give it as a gift or when someones event goes really well because I sent them the right person to run their event with the right gear. That’s what matters to me. That and tacos. Tacos are pretty important. 

Q: What advice would you give to a fellow maker trying to balance a day job with their art?
A: I don’t consider myself to have a day job. I have businesses that I’m passionate and excited about.  Be passionate and excited abut what you do and do it really, really well. I’m also a big fan of getting dressed in real clothes every day as well as writing everything down. But those are maybe more personal choices. 

Q: Where can we find you?

Miriam Dema | Artwork and Designs
@miriamdema on Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter

SSR Sound 323-839-7705
Audio, Video and Lighting Rentals in Los Angeles

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