With a captivating online magazine, engaging podcast, 1:1 business coaching and creating a whole host of inspirational content, Kaylene Langford has a unique passion and flair for dreaming up collaborations and idea for how to better educate and grow the creative community.
After beginning her Bachelor in Sport and Exercise Science on the counsel of her parents, Kaylene quickly realised it was not for her, and in 2014 left the 9-5 corporate life to start working at Startup Creative. Her mindset completely flipped and with the unlikely help of an old receipt she began to see the career of her dreams develop. We talk about her background, the transition from full-time work to entrepreneurship, her biggest risk and her best piece of advice.
Introduce yourself and tell us about your role at Startup Creative
Hey, I’m Kay! I’m the founder of StartUp Creative. My work consists of things that make me feel totally alive from 1:1 business coaching, producing a magazine, running workshops, developing online content to help other people start their own businesses, live videos for inspiration and forever dreaming up collaborations and ideas for how I can better educate, inspire and grow the creative entrepreneur community so more people choose to follow their passion and do what they truly love instead of going with the flow of life without question.
Did you go to university, if so what did you study?
I did, but I never finished. When I left high school I had no idea what I wanted to do.
My 4 subjects were all science and statistics and I lost interest very quickly. I liked the numbers so I did well at stats but decided not to attend the exams for chemistry and biology and found myself a job before my parents could question my choice to leave.
What’s your background in? What were you doing before SUC?
I worked in outdoor education in Queensland for a year, then went to to do more youth work for a number of different organisations and schools. My parents raised us with very strong social justice morals so I spent a lot of time volunteering, working with people on the fringes of society and setting up programs that allowed everyday people to connect and give to those in need.
“I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a vehicle that allows you to build a career from doing what you love and as a result design the life of your dreams.”
Tell us a bit more about SUC and how it evolved into what it is today.
I was hired to study best practice in youth services around Queensland then advise how we could implement a new funding model that would allow the government to purchase outcomes from suppliers. It became clear that change wasn't going to happen anytime soon, and I began to lose hope in the job I was assigned.
One morning on my miserable morning commute I read the quote ‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve’ from the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I knew that I had to be the one to change my own life. I started mapping out on the back of a receipt, ‘what do I have to offer that I can sell?’ I knew program development was my strength so I started writing a course called ‘how to turn your passion into a business’. So I started researching, reading and learning everything I could about entrepreneurship and business , I set up a business under the mentorship of a careers coach I had at the time and I started selling my course and facilitation skills to universities, schools, local government.
I focused on building an Instagram community, redirecting my energy to my target market was one of the best moves I ever made for my business. It meant that we became more connected to what people needed, we could use whatever tone of voice we wanted and allowed us to deliver quickly on the people's needs
How did you get funding in these early days?
I knew that when I left my job I would have 6 months to make money with StartUp Creative so I put my head down and did everything in my power to figure out how to get cash in the door.
I’m proud to say that I’ve kept reinvesting in the brand with my own cash to get it where it is today.
I think sometimes we think money will solve all of our problems, everything counts and I think it’s an essential skill every entrepreneur needs to learn from the beginning and you can only learn through experience. When you make a dumb call on cashflow, you feel it personally and guarantee you’ll never make it again.
How did you meet your co-founder Tess from Smack Bang Designs? Aside from Tess having the design skills, how else do you think your skill sets complement each other?
We met on Instagram years ago, Instagram was much more personal, approachable and social back then. We shared a common theme of being female entrepreneurs, with a creative vibe to our brands and working in the space of providing products/services to startups and entrepreneurs.
I emailed her and told her I had an idea, she called me, I pitched it and she said yes. We didn’t think about it too much, it seemed to flow with ease. Tess is fabulous at detail, vision and is the right amount of hustle and flow. Tess keeps me focused and shows me what real hard work can do.
How did you make the transition from working full time and starting a business?
I would work on StartUp Creative on the train to and from work everyday almost 2 hours each way. Then I would come home and work on it, and Sunday nights were prime time for hustling. As I started to see results and a way for the business model to work, I knew I had to create more focused time to make it a reality.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to make their side hustle official?
Work when no one else is working. If you’re serious about it, you’ll carve out time to put energy into your side hustle. The more you feed it the more success you’ll have. Make a plan, get clear on the transition timeline/goal for yourself, hone in with laser focus and don’t stop until you get there.
"I inspire and grow the creative entrepreneur community so more people choose to follow their passion and do what they truly love"
- Kaylene Langford
What’s your one piece of advice for someone about to start their own business?
Just Start! There is no such thing as perfect timing. Fear will always be present. Ask yourself how bad do you want it and what would it feel like if you didn't give it your all?
What’s the big dream for you? The 5-year plan?
I’ve always said that I want StartUp Creative to be the go-to source for business advice for anyone in the startup, creative, entrepreneur scene around the world. I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a vehicle that allows you to build a career from doing what you love and as a result design the life of your dreams. If StartUp Creative can be known globally for that message then I would be very proud.
What has been the biggest risk that you’ve taken throughout your career and did that pay off?
Leaving my 9-5. Also starting a magazine. It’s been fabulous for reputation, legitimacy and a very challenging but a rewarding process and skills to have had to develop.
What does the definition of a life well lived mean to you?
Living from a place of ease, joy and flow. Being in love, trusting that everything is happening exactly as it should. The more time I spend in meditation and studying the unconscious the more I try to surrender to the flow of life and spend less time trying to control the outcome.
Who do you go to for advice and guidance? Are you part of any community?
I also meditate almost everyday and when I’m feeling really stuck, overwhelmed or low I take it all to my meditation practise and always find peace in a connection to a higher love beyond this world. I’m also surrounded by very inspiring, creative and passionate women who are all building incredible lives and who love and care for my and the vision I have for my future. My girlfriend Ellie, has also been instrumental in keeping me sane and challenging me to be the best version of myself day in, day out.
How has a failure set you up for later success?
When the investors came along and wanted to take over the brand of StartUp Creative and redesign the magazine, I said no. I had been negotiating with them for a couple of months and totally believed that we were on the same page and that this was going to be my big break in business. So when it all fell through and they questioned my ability, I felt like a total failure.
I ended up moving to Sydney, working alongside Tess Robinson who kept me focused and sane and eventually going on to produce a beautiful magazine with Tess & Smack Band Designs and my breakup led me spending three very inspiring and successful months in New York City,
What books/publications/podcasts/shows do you consume to stay on top of current news and affairs?
Coming from government work I saw first hand how biases the news is, you will only ever read, hear and see what they want you to. It’s also so filled with negativity. My mediation practise has taught me that whatever you feed your mind you will begin to experience in your life.
I do spend a lot of time studying the mind and trying to better understand the meaning of this life. Tara Brach, Oprah, Eckart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Joseph Campbell, Joe Dispenzia are some of my favourite experts in this space that I look to for deeper understandings.
When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
I always aim to stop the moment I feel unfocused and unclear. By stopping and becoming the observer of the experience you can begin to see new perspectives that you couldn't see when you’re deep in the chaos. I personally try to meditate, be it sitting down to a guided meditation from Dr Joe or listening to some chanting or yoga type music.
From that place I take massive action. To-Do lists, goals and a strong connection to my ‘why’ always help me in times of chaos.
If you could gift one book to someone what would it be and why?
Breaking the habit of being yourself, Dr Joe Dispenza - changed my life, taught me the science of mediation and everyone needs to read it. Total game changer!
What does your morning routine look like?
Meditation for 45-80 minutes ,water to flush my body. The Coffee, consciously in the sunshine. A creative task, review to-do-list then get to work!
Philosophy on life? Favourite quote?
‘What you focus on expands.’ be very diligent with where you spend your thoughts, they will manifest into form at some level.
1 OCT, 2019