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Balancing the Grind with Kirsty Minns, Creative Director at Mother Design

Kirsty Minns is the Creative Director at Mother Design, an independent branding & design studio, that has worked with brands like Facebook, Nike and BBC.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am currently the executive creative director of Mother Design, where I partner with Kathryn Jubrail on leading the design and branding arm for Mother London. My role is about creating the best possible environment for creativity to flourish. 

I started in design nearly two decades ago and have been lucky to work with some amazingly talented people along the way at places like The Future Laboratory, Google Creative Lab, Scheybeler+company as well as residing at Benetton’s experiential research laboratory in Italy, Fabrica. 

What they all have in common is the idea of putting creativity at the heart of the business, which is what attracted me to them. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every day is so varied, so it totally depends and that’s what I love about a career in design. 

7am: start with coffee – I couldn’t survive without this.

8am: try to fit in an exercise class when I can – it is so important to have those moments before the madness begins

9am: team Zoom meeting. We’ve grown the business through lockdown, which is great, but it also means that there are people within the team that have never met in person.

It is so important that we all have time to connect, talk about our weekends, or discuss any challenges that we might face openly. You create your best work when you feel part of a supportive team.

The rest of the morning will be spent jumping between creative reviews for the latest projects, giving feedback, and looking at opportunities to push the work.

Lunchtime: often a chance to get off my computer for an hour, go for a stroll, or flick through a book or magazine. We all have a lunch-hour blocked out of our diaries at Mother, and that time is respected. When we were in the office, lunch would have been eaten together around a big table. 

The rest of the afternoon is spent on clients calls, workshops, or presenting work. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

During COVID, the team adapted quickly to remote working. This has proved that you don’t always need to be in the same room.

However, there are parts of the process especially for design where it would have been better to be in the same space rifting off each other to get to a solution – that’s often lost in the world of zoom. I’m looking forward to experiencing those moments again. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

When I’m not designing for clients, I’m trying to find new inspiration through cinema, galleries, travel, fashion, and food. Sometimes dreaming up new passion projects with friends and family or finding joy in mentoring. Work-life balance for me is more about feeling inspired and energised. I do try and get sleep, drink water (when I remember), and do sport too! 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

We protect people’s time. Mother introduced Wellness Wednesday during lockdown to give people a few hours on Wednesday morning to be away from their screens. We have ‘Feel Good Friday’ too, an early finish to unwind. Having these times blocked out and respected is key to that balance. 

6) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I can’t live without my Philips smart sleep wake up light alarm clock. It gives me no excuse to sleep next to my phone and wakes me up in such a lovely way.

7) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

I’m a massive design nerd, so I’d love to hear from a design legend like Dieter Rams.

8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I always advise the creatives I mentor to never compare yourself or your path to anyone else.

I remember reading interviews of inspiring female creative directors when I was younger, and they all seemed to get up at 5am, spend two hours in the gym, managed to have perfect hair and makeup all the time, and went to bed by 10pm.

That’s not realistic for me, so I have stopped beating myself up in the weeks I get it wrong – when balance has gone out of the window, I didn’t go to sleep on time, and I eat takeaways two days in a row. 

Every Monday morning, I reset and think ‘ok how can I find a balance that works for this week’. Every week is different.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.