Grafted is a new architect-led design studio, inspired by Walthamstow’s tradition of makers and creators.
My partner Lemma and I decided to start our own company after the birth of our daughter - it might not mean working less hours but it does mean we can plan the hours we work around her.
The start of most weeks is currently spent in Norwich, working on a kitchen extension and ground floor renovation. Our typical Monday will be spent briefing tradespeople on tasks for the week ahead and running through fabric swatches or paint samples with our clients.
Tuesday is our regular day on-site together so it’s the best day to get big things done. Some of the details in our current design - such as the red-pigmented concrete footings - are totally bespoke so we are producing them in-house to achieve the shape, colour and finish we want. This means recently we’ve spent a lot of time assembling moulds and pouring concrete; with over 70 individual elements, we have a lot to get through!
On Tuesday night, I head back to Walthamstow so I can take our daughter to nursery, meaning Wednesday and Thursday are my working from home days, where I get most of the finance and admin done. At Grafted, we act as both the architect and the contractor, meaning we don’t have to worry about the design being compromised based on what is easiest or cheapest, while still working within the budget agreed with the client. I manage the money carefully and spend a lot of time researching to find the best people, materials and products for the job.
As well as bigger architectural projects, we also design, fabricate and install fitted furniture. The first step for these smaller projects is always a consultation to find out what our client wants and how the furniture would fit into the rest of the home. Once we have the measurements, Lemma presents different designs and a shortlist of materials and finishes to choose from.
When it is time to make the furniture, we head to the workshop. Lemma programmes and operates the machine that cuts out our design and, depending on the desired finish, I sand and oil or paint the wood. Once it’s done, we’ll install it together.
I'm Angela, a graphic designer in Walthamstow and the owner of Lyons Creative, a business I set up a decade ago after I left full-time employment.
My week begins on Sunday evening when I check my emails and plan the week ahead. On weekdays, I generally wake up at 6 am when it’s still quiet, which means I can check my overnight mail. Shortly after that, the routine with my children kicks in. Both are at secondary school and I make sure they get up, ready and out.
Once they are on their way, I will exercise - sometimes for an hour or, if I’m busy that day, just for a quick 30 minutes. I either go to the gym, swim, run or cycle, anything to clear my mind. I try to do this at least four times a week because I can really feel it if I don’t but I do sometimes struggle to fit it in!
I’m usually at my desk from around 9am. I have regular clients throughout the year and client work is scheduled in the diary, which means no day is the same. On any one day, I could be designing magazines, creating a new brand or working with a marketing department, the list goes on. I work with most industries from start-ups to corporates.
I mainly work from home but I’m trying to branch out for a change of scenery and in order to meet new people. Now that things are opening back up again, there’s been far more industry events and, in the last few months, I’ve attended The Marketing Meet-up, Black Business Week and the International Magazine Centre’s away day.
Lunch, when it happens, is around 1pm but that actually often involves working at my desk – not great.
Last year was one of my best years in business because my dream project, Freelancer Magazine, was launched. My friend Sophie Cross had the idea and asked me to design it for her, which meant I got to create a whole new brand from start to finish. The fifth issue has just come out and the magazine does what it says on the tin: it’s for freelancers in all walks of life, whether that’s accountants, doulas, copywriters or drag artists. If you are a freelancer, you are in it.
I try to switch off at around 6.30pm to have time with my husband and children. As a business owner working from home, it’s too easy to go over hours or work on the weekend and I really try not to but sometimes… Really it’s a sign of how much I love art and design and I feel blessed to have made a living from my passion.
See more of Angela’s work here. If you would like to be featured in a future column, contact email@example.com
At age 25, I discovered I had a brain tumour, which turned out to be a life-changing diagnosis in more ways than one. Twelve years later, it has left me with epilepsy and a disabled arm and leg but also with a business that gives me purpose and joy every day.
In 2017, in an effort to control my seizures, I began eating a Ketogenic diet - low in carbs and free from sugar - which meant completely cutting out normal bread and cakes. These were two foods I had always loved and, unable to find any low-carb versions in shops, I simply began baking my own. A year later, The Keto Bakery was born.
A typical weekday starts around 7.30am, I work out of my own kitchen in Walthamstow so there's no need to get going earlier as my commute is only downstairs. After cleaning the kitchen and making myself Bulletproof coffee (black coffee blended with MCT oil and butter, which I highly recommend), I get stuck in answering emails.
My inbox varies from the ridiculous to the sublime, from customers asking why they've yet to receive an order they placed the night before to a request from a celebrity for their husband's birthday cake. All my orders come through via the eCommerce platform I use.
I love Mondays (and Tuesdays and Wednesdays etc) because they're devoted to baking. Thursdays and Fridays I often receive a lot of commissions for celebration cakes and they're also the best days for meetings. Once I'm done with that day's goods, I handpack them and deliver them across the borough by tricycle or transport them to the Post Office to be shipped nationwide.
With that sorted by late afternoon, I'll spend some time preparing packaging for future orders, folding boxes and printing labels, or deal with the business side of things - stock check, finance, marketing, etc - before finishing work around 6.30pm to cook dinner. I try to get to bed by 10.30pm and I'm often so tired that I fall asleep holding my Kindle.
A lot of businesses like mine will work seven-day weeks to hit the weekend food markets, which is one of the best ways to meet new customers, but I've found that's not really healthy in the long run and try to take some weekends off. I'm learning that to run a successful business you need rest at some point but it's a challenge!
Waltham Forest Business Network writing about great Waltham Forest Businesses in https://walthamforestecho.co.uk/