184: How This Freelance Textile Designer Is Charging $75/hr

Listen to the new podcast episode!

Here’s what you’ll find in today’s episode:

Are you tired of the rat race and longing for more control over your schedule? In this inspiring episode, textile designer Masha Khoruzhik shares her journey as a freelancer and how it transformed her life for the better.


Masha’s freelance career has brought her more than just financial success – it has allowed her to prioritize her mental and physical health, earn more money working fewer hours, and collaborate with renowned brands like Anthropologie. From setting boundaries with her clients to realizing the power of raising her rates, Masha’s story is a testament to the freedom and fulfillment that comes with freelancing. Join us as she dives into the challenges she’s faced, the surprising transformations in her life, and how taking control of your schedule can lead to a happier, more fulfilling career. Get ready to be inspired and reconsider the endless possibilities of freelance work!

About Masha:

With a background in illustration and painting, Masha specializes in bespoke textile design and prints for the home fashion industry. Her focus is hand-drawn and painted designs suited for various home textile brands and companies – from open price to luxury. She’s on a mission to whip up one-of-a-kind art with innovative techniques. And, she’s not stopping there – these creations pack a punch in the market and align with the brand.

Connect with Masha:

Heidi [00:00:00]:

In this episode, I’m chatting with Masha Khoruzhik, a freelance textile designer for the home fashions industry and one of my fast students. Masha kickstarted her freelance career a year ago, and in that time, her entire life has changed. She only works 26 hours a week, but she is making more money than when she worked full time in house. Even better, for the first time ever, she’s working out and exercising regularly. She says that her mental and physical health has improved now that she has, and I quote, reclaimed her life. During our conversation, Masha and I talk about how she set and recently raised her rates, how she’s been getting clients, including projects with brands like Anthropologie, and what she’s done in sticky situations like getting asked to knock off someone else’s work. At the end of the interview, Masha told me that she’s still shocked by her new life as a freelancer because she never thought this was actually possible. Masha and I also talked about how she wanted to take Fridays off, but she was scared to ask her clients.

Heidi [00:00:56]:

Well, quick spoiler alert. A few weeks after we recorded, masha emailed me to tell me that she told her clients she was taking Fridays off and her clients were, quote, stoked for her. She told me that this blew her mind. Masha showed me the email that she sent to her clients and I immediately knew why they were stoked for her. It’s because she positioned taking Fridays off as a benefit to her clients. So here’s what I did. I asked for Masha’s permission to share the email with you because I think it’s an amazing learning opportunity. Here’s exactly what she wrote to her clients verbatim.

Heidi [00:01:33]:

Hello, team. And then she put the brand name in there. There’s been a slight change to my schedule. Starting August 4, I will no longer provide services on Fridays in order to set more time for improving my skills and workflow to then in turn, provide you with better designs. I also plan to start offering super exclusive artwork tailored to the home industry and current trends, including Beach Jacard designs for sale online, hopefully by the end of the year. Rest assured that you as my client are on the top of my priority list and I will keep accommodating your inquiries to the best of my abilities with no change to our previous arrangements. I will still be answering emails, so in case you happen to get an emergency project that is due on a Monday, you can still reach out to me on a Friday and I will let you know if I can accommodate over the weekend. Thank you for your continuous trust and understanding.

Heidi [00:02:21]:

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend. That was the email that Masha sent and the line that made her clients feel most stoked was this I will no longer provide services on Fridays in order to set more time for improving my skills and workflow and then in turn, provide you with better designs. She’s showing them that by taking Fridays off, she’s going to do personal development, which will ultimately benefit her clients. This is the magic in Masha’s email. Masha, I am so stoked for you. Congratulations on taking the leap, setting boundaries, and creating the life that you want. If you have been thinking about freelancing but are scared to jump in, or you want to raise your rates or are looking for some inspiration to cut your hours or take Fridays off, you’re going to love this conversation. Let’s get to it.

Heidi [00:03:08]:

Masha, welcome to the podcast. Can you please start out by introducing yourself to everybody and letting us know who you are and what you do in fashion?

Masha [00:03:15]:

Yeah. So my name is Masha, and my business name is Studio Sukla. I do freelance textile design and print design for the home fashion industry. So bedding towels, shower curtains, bedding and bath, mostly.

Heidi [00:03:33]:


Masha [00:03:34]:

And I mostly work with big manufacturers who pitch and sell through brands in major retailers, like Costco, Walmart, Target, all those.

Heidi [00:03:47]:

Okay, gotcha.

Masha [00:03:48]:

I’m kind of like I designed the original artwork that goes on the end product.

Heidi [00:03:52]:

Okay. So it’s a manufacturer, though. It’s not a print house. Like, explain how this actually am I right? Yeah, explain how this works. Yeah.

Masha [00:04:01]:

So manufacturers, they source from different factories. So they basically license with different brands that sell in big retailers, and they get direction every season from the brands. And so then they pitch products to be sold in those brands through the major retailers. So they would pitch, for example, in Target. Target has a lot of brands like Hearth and Hand, for example. So then we would get direction from Target what they want to see with the next collection and manufacturer sources from different factories. This product to be sold there. So it’s kind of like, I guess, the middleman.

Masha [00:04:46]:

So they make the product, and I’m on the design team helping them design the product.

Heidi [00:04:53]:

Okay, so let me just try to summarize this because this is an interesting I haven’t quite heard this exact arrangement before. So Target says, we want cotton shower curtain, and we’re really seeing leopard on trend or something. I don’t know. They give kind of something like that.

Masha [00:05:10]:

Yeah, they give, like, mood boards.

Heidi [00:05:12]:

Oh, wow. They do, like, full mood boards and stuff.

Masha [00:05:14]:

Yeah. Some retailers are vagues, but Target usually sends us full direction boards and everything.

Heidi [00:05:23]:

Okay. And then you do the design on a freelance capacity for the repeats the prints. Right. Or maybe sometimes placed print.

Masha [00:05:31]:

Yeah, placed prints. I do towels, too, so, like, beach towels. So I do wovens as well.

Heidi [00:05:37]:


Masha [00:05:37]:

So I would design into an end product, which is a Jacard, for example. So I would create the artwork that fits into the technique.

Heidi [00:05:46]:

Okay. And then based off the inspiration that you’ve gotten, which might be as much as a mood board or might be a little bit more loose, and then the manufacturer sources the towel, the shower curtain, whatever, and then works with Target directly during the whole development process, get the approvals and all that stuff. And then does the bulk production and then it goes to Target with the hearth and home label and its cells, correct? Yeah. Okay, cool. That’s a little background on how Target does that. Okay. So you started your freelance career. What’s it been? Has it been a year about?

Masha [00:06:16]:

Yeah, thanks to you, I started my freelance career.

Heidi [00:06:19]:

Let’s hear about it. I know a little bit about the very, very beginning and it’s a really exciting moment at the beginning. I remember. Can you share how it kick started last year?

Masha [00:06:30]:

Yeah, as a quick background. So I’ve been working with the manufacturers full time as a designer for three years after college.

Heidi [00:06:41]:


[07:00] Jumpstarting a Freelance Career

Masha [00:06:42]:

And I always wanted to try freelancing, but I never really had the courage or the resources to know what to charge or how that goes. And then I’ve been following you actually for probably four years now, even since college I found you. But then I decided last summer to join your freelance workshop through Facebook Live. And I got some resources from you for calculating the hourly rate. But then that workshop you really pushed me to ask for the rate that I was uncomfortable with, asking a bit more than I was comfortable with. And I think the timing worked out because I was working at that time for a company and it was kind of slowing down at the end, so I wasn’t really doing my job anymore. So I was like, this is the perfect time to jump into freelance.

Heidi [00:07:39]:


Masha [00:07:40]:

And after the week workshop, I had a possible client who was my past employer, and I was like, can I freelance for you guys? And she was like, totally. And when I said the rate, she was like, yeah, she just agreed to the rate right away. So I was like, mine.

Heidi [00:07:59]:

Okay. And I remember this going down. Like, this all happened during the live event. You were like posting in Facebook, like, holy cow, guys, I just landed my first client for this rate and it’s like a set number of hours. So you have like a really good base.

Masha [00:08:14]:

Yeah, I was secured for 20 hours a week and I was like, I can do this.

Heidi [00:08:20]:

Yeah. Okay. Would you be willing to share a little bit about the rates, the rate that you were going to start with and then the rate that you actually went in with based off of what you learned during that event, that freelance week event, I remember the numbers.

Masha [00:08:39]:

I think that I was like, I need to charge 45, but then I asked for a range of like right now I charge like 60 to 75. And my company was charging freelancer. I mean, the freelancers are charging them and it was like 45, 50. So I didn’t think that going over would be cool.

[09:00] Negotiating Rates and Building Confidence

Heidi [00:09:03]:

Over 50? That’s interesting. You knew what they were paying other freelancers. That’s wild to me a little bit. Yeah.

Masha [00:09:08]:

Because I was working full time and we did work with freelancers sometimes. And since the team was very small, I knew.

Heidi [00:09:17]:

You just knew. Okay. So you thought, well, I can’t go over 50 because that’s what we’re currently paying other freelancers. And so you were going to go in around like 45 and then you went in.

Masha [00:09:29]:

Yeah, I asked for, I think, 65 and she was totally cool with it.

Heidi [00:09:37]:

You just gave yourself a 50% raise. You could have been getting 45. Instead you get 65. Like that’s 20 extra dollars an hour. Let’s do the math. 20 hours a week. That’s 400 more dollars a week. That’s a lot of money.

Masha [00:09:52]:

Yeah, it was kind of crazy. And I actually just raised my rates too.

Heidi [00:09:57]:


Masha [00:09:58]:

And that’s like a whole other we’re.

Heidi [00:10:01]:

Going to talk about that. Okay. So you kick start your career with just pitching to your old employer, just saying, hey, can I go freelance? I mean, that’s pretty lucky. I feel like that it was just so easy to get that. No, yeah.

Masha [00:10:14]:

No, I definitely feel like privileged that I actually haven’t had to cold pitch at it’s just because what happened was during the pandemic, my original company, people spread out after COVID because the company was is it out there in New York? Yeah.

Heidi [00:10:35]:

Okay, so everything was in house, like physically? Yeah, on location. Okay.

Masha [00:10:40]:

And because I was a CAD designer, that’s what I started out as. I worked with all of the teams, so there was window team, there was a luxury team, there was like open price team. So as a CAD designer, I worked with everyone, so I got to know everyone. And once everyone kind of spread out after COVID to different companies, I was able to just reach out. And since they already worked with me, that’s kind of how the major thing that helped me was just staying in touch with people and doing a good job out of college.

Heidi [00:11:12]:

Yeah. What did you do to stay in touch with people? Because it does really come down to something as basic as that, but I’m always curious to know what exactly that looked like.

Masha [00:11:23]:

I made a lot of close friends, so I was just hanging out with some designers, but then just like texting people out of the bull, like, how are you doing? Especially during COVID since everyone’s going through so much stuff. So just seeing where people landed after, so just touching base. I wasn’t keeping in touch all the time, but once in a while to just catch up.

Heidi [00:11:51]:

I mean, it sounds like that was something that was pretty natural for you to just periodically reach out and just say, like, hey, how’s it going? And those little things do mean something and some people do it naturally. Right. That’s the type of person they are staying in touch.

Masha [00:12:05]:

Yeah, and since I guess it helped also because I moved to another company with my old boss and she was staying in touch with a bunch of people. So it’s crazy how the home industry is kind of there’s a lot of manufacturers and companies, but everyone knows each other and everyone knows what’s going on and crazy small world it is, especially in the city.

Heidi [00:12:30]:

Yeah, for sure. You’re in New York. Okay, so you negotiated that, which gave you this amazing base to because what happened, if I remember correctly, you were still working for one employer. Then you negotiated a freelance opportunity with a previous employer. Once you had that secured, then you quit your current employer job. Yeah, right. Yeah, because I remember you put in your two weeks during freelance week. Like you came into the group, you’re like, I just quit my job.

Heidi [00:12:59]:


Masha [00:13:00]:

It was a wild time.

Heidi [00:13:02]:

Yeah, it was a wild time. But you had that base, so that felt really good. So somehow got an update from you that you were like, oh, yeah, I’m doing a project with anthropology. And I was like, I’m sorry. What? Talk to me about this.

Masha [00:13:16]:

Yeah, so I hit the ground running and I was like, well, so I have one client, but I need to look for more. So I did the open to work update on LinkedIn and I kind of just went through my contact list of even people from college that I maybe just are acquainted to, but we’re not best friends. So I texted someone who was in anthropology. She was in the fashion apparel part of it first, and then she moved to home. So she was curious. We had a conversation long ago about she was curious about home. So I reached out to her and I was like, if you guys need any help, I’m available for freelance. And so this was through a college acquaintance.

Heidi [00:14:03]:

Okay. You knew her from college.

Masha [00:14:04]:

Okay. And yeah, probably most of the opportunities that I got so far was just like word of mouth because again, everyone knows each other and that time when everyone spread and everyone kind of knows about me, it helped a lot.

Heidi [00:14:21]:

But these are like first of all, you’ve kind of kept in touch with some of these people just in general, so it’s not like they don’t hear from you for three or four years and then all of a sudden you’re like, hey, you’re working anthropology, you guys need any help? It’s not quite like that.

Masha [00:14:35]:

No, I mean, this girl mean, we just follow each other on Instagram and sometimes talk on Instagram. So it’s like just social media friends, I guess.

Heidi [00:14:43]:

Yeah, but the point is that there’s some light engagement over time. So it’s not like, oh, now Masha’s just reaching out to just ask for this thing to ask for this opportunity. It’s like there’s been some casual connection over the years, which that’s all it really needs to be, like, a quick social, like commenting on someone’s post because that makes them feel really good and it’s hard to get people to comment. So just little stuff.

Masha [00:15:10]:

Yeah. And just keeping people close. And you never know where people end up. And especially in college, someone can end up being your boss someday. Yeah, that’s what we’ve been taught. I had an illustration teacher and she was like, do not be an asshole to anyone.

Heidi [00:15:29]:

They might be boss one day. You might walk into that interview and you’re like, oh, hi. Oh, this might not go well because I was a total dick in college to you.

Masha [00:15:37]:

Yeah, exactly.

Heidi [00:15:39]:

Okay, so you get this opportunity for Anthropology via a college friend, and then you proactively reached out and was like, hey, I’m freelancing if you guys need any help in the home department, I’d love to do that. And that worked.

Masha [00:15:52]:

Yeah. She connected me with the designers and I emailed my portfolio and everything, and they were done.

Heidi [00:16:00]:

Did you go in with the same rate?

Masha [00:16:01]:

No, it’s within the range of, like 60 to 75, but I went higher.

Heidi [00:16:08]:

Good for you.

Masha [00:16:09]:

Yeah, I gave my first employer, obviously, as a thank you, like a discounted rate.

Heidi [00:16:20]:

And they were giving you, like, solid 20 hours a week.

Masha [00:16:23]:

Yeah, more or less. Right now, I work on average, like 25 to 30 hours.

Heidi [00:16:29]:

Okay, so then you are working with Anthropology, and you’re like, I’m just going to go in for a little more money and you get it, which is great. Where do you think you like, what was going through your heads during parts of this? Because that can feel I mean, I know some of it was like you had the whole freelance week group behind you, like, rallying. We’re like, go for the rate, go for the rate, go for the rate. But then you’re going into Anthropology, which arguably could feel kind of intimidating. It’s a really big brand. How are you feeling about going in? And do you remember what your mindset was during that?

Masha [00:16:59]:

I was terrified. I didn’t have any doubts about the rate. Really? Okay. But the impostor syndrome was like, crippling. Just like, with any new thing for me, especially that big, it’s intense. So I did end up spending more time and this is an hourly rate. It’s not like a fixed, but I think I got a bit much in my head and I don’t know, it was scary. I don’t know.

Masha [00:17:34]:

But then with every project, it kind of got easier because they started out with I was working with existing artwork, so I wasn’t really creating original artwork.

Heidi [00:17:45]:


Masha [00:17:46]:

And they have a very specific group of artists that they go to for art, and then they do a lot of licensing stuff with artists as well. So I got one project that was, like, original art, and that was amazing.

Heidi [00:18:00]:

So what then were you doing? Were you just modifying it a little bit or getting it into repeat or cleaning it up? What was your actual role?

Masha [00:18:08]:

Yeah, so if they send me an artwork, I would usually clean it and put it into a layout for bedding, for example. Yeah. And they would want different options of layouts and different color ways, so I would have to most of the time, a lot of their bedding is digitally printed, so there’s no color limitation.

Heidi [00:18:31]:

Okay, right.

Masha [00:18:31]:

So I would just have to put into a layout and recolor it.

Heidi [00:18:39]:

Okay. Is there anything that you did for them in the market yet? Have you looked?

Masha [00:18:44]:

But as I was told, the process is so just with any in my experience, a lot of things get killed, and they just keep it in the archive.

Heidi [00:18:57]:

Maybe in, like, three years, you’ll be like, what? I remember that.

Masha [00:19:00]:

Yeah. Sometimes I’ve done so many things that sometimes I’m like, Did I do that?

Heidi [00:19:07]:

Oh, my gosh, I bet. Okay, so then you’re doing some stuff for the Anthropology, and then what else? Because I think around that time too, you were like, oh, yeah. And I have another client that I’m working with. I remember you telling me something else too. I can’t recall. Yeah.

Masha [00:19:21]:

So right now I have, like, two to three solid clients. And yeah, I reached out to another girl that I used to work with from the same original employer who is in another manufacturing company now.

Heidi [00:19:37]:


Masha [00:19:38]:

So I’m basically just working with two big manufacturers. That’s been enough.

Heidi [00:19:44]:

That’s been good.

Masha [00:19:45]:

Yeah, it’s been super busy, especially during the summer. I mean, obviously, people go on vacation.

Heidi [00:19:51]:

Yeah. And what is your schedule? What does your day to day look like? You have some flexibility. It’s just like as long as you get it done. Are you working exclusively at home? Are both the manufacturers in New York? What does that all look like?

[20:00] Embracing Flexibility and Prioritizing Mental Health

Masha [00:20:02]:

Yeah, they’re both in York. I maybe once a month or once in two months, I go in office for one of them.

Heidi [00:20:10]:

Oh, very infrequent. Yeah.

Masha [00:20:12]:

I try to not freelancer.

Heidi [00:20:16]:

Let’s be blunt here.

Masha [00:20:18]:

Yeah. My days are day.

Heidi [00:20:21]:


Masha [00:20:21]:

So I usually get about three to four projects during the week, and they give me a deadline by which I need to do that. So, for example, I would get, like, three sheet designers due in a week, or, like, three designs for a quilt. Then I would just work throughout the week until the deadline. And yeah, I don’t have really set hours. I kind of want to try to change that, but it’s hourly and about 25 to 26 hours a week just getting their projects done.

Heidi [00:20:59]:

Yeah. Which is a nice, comfortable workload. I mean, it’s not 40 hours.

Masha [00:21:02]:

Yeah, but you know what? I don’t know where all the other hours are going.

Heidi [00:21:06]:

Okay, interesting.

Masha [00:21:07]:

It’s something I’m working on. 26 hours is billable, obviously. So I don’t bill for lunch, but I just developed such a healthy I started working out again. So now it takes me like 2 hours because I lunch and then I work out during lunch.

Heidi [00:21:25]:

That’s great.

Masha [00:21:26]:

Right. But then I also don’t start work until like 930 ten.

Heidi [00:21:31]:

But that’s fine. I mean, how does it feel like having that flexibility in your schedule to because I imagine when you were in house, it was pretty structured, like eight to five or something. Nine to five. Okay, so that’s a big change.

Masha [00:21:42]:

I love it. I could probably never go back because yeah, I love my sleep and I hated working out for most of my life. And now that I found a workout that I like and I like working out before lunch all the other morning, I’m too tired. Evening, I’m too tired. So with a nine to five, I’ll never really be able to do that with 1 hour for lunch. So it’s been good for my mental health. But also I’m like, shouldn’t I be working 40 hours? Maybe it’s just like a nine to five mentality still in me that I should be working at least 35 billable hours because I could be making way more money.

Heidi [00:22:24]:

But I’m like, money is nice. It’s not everything, though.

Masha [00:22:28]:

Yeah, exactly. And I used to take Fridays off for my own skill development and stuff, but I’ve just been overbooking myself for the past three months. I don’t know, I’m still learning.

Heidi [00:22:39]:

You’re still learning? Yeah, totally. It’s a very big learning process. How’s it been, like being out of the office from maybe like a social aspect.

Masha [00:22:48]:

That’s the thing that I kind of missed, the social interaction. So it would be nice to be like three days at home and two days in office or somewhere else, at least. It has been isolating. But also I’ve been able to be more flexible for my nine to five friends so that I could get out early and meet them for lunch some days or make it when they’re available. So kind of make myself more available to social interactions with my friends. Yeah, but it has been I don’t know, I guess it’s like the impostor syndrome of I feel like I’m not learning enough by being home all the time. I feel like I’m missing out sometimes, and I feel like sometimes I feel like I don’t know enough to we all get that.

Heidi [00:23:43]:

So you were doing personal development Fridays that you said your schedule has gotten off kilter, so the time isn’t there for that. But what were you doing on those Fridays? What type of stuff are you doing?

Masha [00:23:55]:

Yeah, so my plan is to actually start offering collections to buy online on a website. So kind of act like as a print studio would just so that whenever I can’t take on a project, I can direct them to a couple of prints that would fit within their brief online and they would buy it for me. So the Fridays have been for brand development and building a website, which well, first of all, like, starting collections. Let’s just start there. And I think, again, I got carried away and I kind of lost focus, honestly, with my first collection. But I’m trying to get back into it. It’s just the summer, it’s been busy.

Heidi [00:24:47]:


Masha [00:24:47]:

So, yeah, Fridays, I would do collections or I would figure out my brand guidelines and just like away at it.

Heidi [00:24:57]:

Just chip away at it. Yeah. It’s a learning curve, for sure, to go from a structured nine to five to figuring out your own schedule. Right. I mean, I love that you have the lunch workout thing sorted and you’re like, this is the first time it feels actually good for me to work out. That’s amazing. To take care of your health and your body in that way. I mean, that alone is a massive win.

Heidi [00:25:18]:

And the other stuff will come with time. Like, it’ll fall into place. You’ll figure out a groove. Right. And then maybe it changes six months later. But I love that you’re at least consciously thinking about how can I make this time work best for me as a human being, right? Yeah.

Masha [00:25:33]:

And it’s kind of hard since I’m always on call, basically with my clients because I work so much for them. It’s hard to keep. I can’t just be like, one month. I’m like, oh, I’m not working Fridays. And next month I feel almost to be like, well, now my hours. Actually, I’m only working until three, or actually I’m only taking calls after two when they have so many meetings and so many updates. But I know that I have to set my own boundaries, too, right?

Heidi [00:26:06]:

Yeah, you do. I’m like you said, on call, and I’m kind of like, Wait, I’m sorry, what? You’re not on call? No, it doesn’t work that way. Yeah. Let’s talk about some boundaries. It’s not unprofessional to set boundaries. It’s professional to set boundaries.

Masha [00:26:20]:

Yeah. So I think I did set a boundary of I’m working with one client, just nine to three.

Heidi [00:26:27]:

Okay. That’s when you’re available.

Masha [00:26:29]:

Yeah, but then I break my own rules sometimes when it’s a lot of.

Heidi [00:26:35]:

So that’s all right. You’re learning how to hold the.

Masha [00:26:40]:

Like, on call, per se, but I am, like, on their teams, so what’s called the Microsoft teams.

Heidi [00:26:48]:

Right? You’re like, on chat.

Masha [00:26:49]:

Yeah. So if there’s like, an update from a client, I would get chatted after 03:00 P.m. Sometimes, and I would answer, okay. I guess.

Heidi [00:27:00]:

Okay. So, yeah, you need to practice holding that boundary a little better, which is hard. It’s really hard. You want at the end of the day, I don’t know, I imagine you’re just like, I just want to do a really good job, and I want to do a good job, and I want to make everybody happy.

Masha [00:27:13]:

Yeah. I’m definitely a people’s pleaser, and I have a hard time saying no to projects, so that’s why the overbooking is an issue.

Heidi [00:27:20]:

Yeah. Okay. Yeah. You’re only booked 26 hours. Not only, but 26. Yeah, but it’s not crazy.

Masha [00:27:25]:

It’s not crazy, but it’s, like, enough for me.

Heidi [00:27:28]:

Enough. Okay, good. You get to make that choice that you’re like, 26 is enough. I don’t really want to do 40, although you’re having some mental thoughts of, like, oh, but should I be doing more? But that’s a choice that you get to make.

Masha [00:27:41]:

Yeah, I don’t want to work 40 hours, but I guess I need to. Raising rates would help with that.

Heidi [00:27:49]:

Yeah. You said, though, you raised some rates. Can we talk about that a little bit?

Masha [00:27:53]:

Yeah. I promised myself that within a year after I started that I would reevaluate my rates, and I successfully raised my rate for one of the clients for extra $5. And I was kind of scared and doubtful about it, but it was received very well, and they’re like, yeah, we love working with you. What do you need?

Heidi [00:28:23]:

So what did you say? I want to hear the conversation. Is this in person? On the phone, on zoom? On email?

Masha [00:28:30]:

So I planned it to be an email. I planned to send an email being like, at the end of the next pay period, I’m raising my rates to this because I would like to focus more on providing a better service, and that will, I guess, give me time. But then this client all of a sudden, so they had someone leave, and they needed a lot more work from me, so they reached out, and I only was able to do, like, six to 10 hours with them, but they were like, we need you for more than 15 hours a week.

Heidi [00:29:11]:


Masha [00:29:12]:

And this was through text, and that’s when I was like, oh, well, I was planning to raise my rates in a month, basically being like, if I am to work, basically to see if you still want me for that many hours after I raise my at the higher rate. Right? Yeah. And I told her I can’t do more than 15, but I’m raising my rates, and my hours might free up because I’m raising rates for other clients too.

Heidi [00:29:45]:


Masha [00:29:45]:

You know what I mean? I possibly will have more free hours for you.

Heidi [00:29:50]:

She was fine with it. What did you bump it up? You said $5 an hour. Yeah. It sounds like it was really easy.

Masha [00:29:56]:

Yeah, it was easier than I thought. I was, like, planning it for months.

Heidi [00:30:00]:

And there’s, like, one conversation, and she’s like, okay, yeah, but you said something, and I want to point out because it felt really strategic to me, but you were like, I’m raising the rates so that I can. Make sure I’m doing the best job possible for you. It wasn’t like I’m raising the rates because I need more money. It was about them. You made the conversation and the reason for the rate raise about them. Right. So I can deliver you the best product possible because at the end of the day, if you’re working for lower rates, you need to take more hours, which is sometimes not just the physical hours, but like the mental space that it takes up. Right.

Heidi [00:30:30]:

So if you can do a higher rate and fewer hours, arguably you can do better work in those hours. So it sounds like you kind of positioned it that way. Yeah.

Masha [00:30:39]:

Because before raising my rates, I was thinking of that’s how I approached the Fridays off as well.

Heidi [00:30:46]:


Masha [00:30:47]:

When I was like, well, I won’t be working Fridays because I will be focusing on bettering my skills to later provide you a better service.

Heidi [00:30:56]:


Masha [00:30:56]:

And that’s kind of like the same strategy.

Heidi [00:30:59]:

Okay. I didn’t think you actually pitched the taking Fridays off. Did you actually pitch that to your clients and say, I’m not working Fridays?

Masha [00:31:05]:

Because I was going to. Okay, but you did and then I just didn’t. I just made sure that I got all projects done by Thursday.

Heidi [00:31:15]:

Okay, so then you kind of just built it into your own schedule. Okay. But then you still have availability on Friday, like if someone messages you. Correct?

Masha [00:31:20]:


Heidi [00:31:21]:

Okay. Got you. I would encourage you to have that Friday conversation. Just saying.

Masha [00:31:25]:


[31:30] Journey to Friday’s Off

Heidi [00:31:28]:

And when you position it not because I want to work four days a week, but that I want to better my skills and focus on personal development and that at the end of the day is going to help you. I mean, I would love to hear that from a freelancer and I’d be like, Boom. Do it. Sounds great. Thank you. It’s very attractive to someone who’s the hiring person. Right. Not a manager.

Heidi [00:31:50]:

Right. But to see the freelancer being so proactive in themselves, it’s very attractive. You don’t see that a lot. Really?

Masha [00:31:56]:

Because it’s kind of easy to just get into a comfort zone and not really provide the same thing over and over again. I feel like it becomes less interesting for yourself, too, if you’re not growing or building on your skills.

Heidi [00:32:12]:

I would love for you to have that Friday conversation and follow up with me.

Masha [00:32:15]:

Okay, cool. Maybe after the summer ends and it’s not okay.

Heidi [00:32:20]:

All right. It’s July 13, so maybe like September. I’ll give you like two and a half months. Is that the right math anyway?

Masha [00:32:27]:

Writing it down.

Heidi [00:32:28]:

Okay, September Friday is off. You have mentioned to me that you’ve gotten into some sticky situations before with brands asking you to do things that you didn’t feel were very ethical. Would you be open to talking about that at all?

Masha [00:32:42]:

Yeah. There’s a lot of product that needs to go out and it’s and these manufacturers, they work with a lot of brands at the same time. So I understand when you need to get a lot of designs out. All of these companies, manufacturers, they sometimes use pattern bank or shutterstock. Just get designs out. This one off. The only time I charged the flat rate was I had to design 33 beach towels within two weeks.

Heidi [00:33:27]:

Oh, wow.

Masha [00:33:28]:

For kids. And it’s like super urgent project. And I was like, I have to rely on shutterstock. With shutterstock, they have a rule where you have to change it 30%, but then there’s no that’s so subjective. Yeah. So a lot of times shutterstock gets used by so many people. So I constantly see other people using the same exact shutterstock image and just not changing it. But then other times, I would get an inspiration for a bedding design and I try to stay away from copying it, obviously, but usually the inspiration is quite specific that comes in.

Heidi [00:34:18]:


Masha [00:34:19]:

So I try to stay away. I just look at it overall for mood and color and the style, and then I completely change the motifs and paint my own. With painting your own original stuff, it’s a bit easier. You paint? Yeah, actually my specialty is like hand drawn original design.

Heidi [00:34:42]:

Oh. Mostly painting or just any type of hand painting.

Masha [00:34:47]:

Drawing, pen, digital, too.

Heidi [00:34:50]:


Masha [00:34:52]:

I don’t do much vector.

Heidi [00:34:53]:


Masha [00:34:55]:

I don’t do that many GEOS or mostly like florals medallions conversational.

Heidi [00:35:01]:

Yeah. Okay, so you get the inspiration, then you try to DIY it to make it, like you said, change motifs, et cetera. Okay, so keep going.

[35:00] Overcoming Challenges of Requests for Copying Work and Setting Boundaries

Masha [00:35:10]:

Yeah, but then this happened maybe once or twice, but I would send it back and they would give me feedback that they want. It pretty much exactly the same as inspiration. And the inspiration, it’s not like an inspiration of a photograph of a plant or something. It’s actual artwork. It’s either an artist painting their painting or it’s someone else’s print design.

Heidi [00:35:42]:

So it’s basically like, no, just make it this, but they’re not going back to that original artist to buy the license or anything.

Masha [00:35:50]:

No. This was pulled from Pinterest usually, and sometimes I’m just curious and I just reverse image search the picture and I sew that it’s actually a print studio that’s selling it online for them.

Heidi [00:36:12]:

Oh, boy. And they’re basically telling you, make it exactly this.

Masha [00:36:17]:

Yeah, but not in a way they’re like, well, in the inspiration that we showed you, this flower, for example, is like, over here and this is this color away. So they wouldn’t just say, Just do it. They’ll kind of be like, well, we want it.

Heidi [00:36:39]:

They’re very strategic with their language, but they’re basically saying, yeah, okay, so what do you do when that happens?

Masha [00:36:46]:

So what I did was this happened recently, but I basically emailed back saying, oh, I was trying to stay away from the swiper the inspiration.

Heidi [00:37:03]:

Oh, swiper. I’ve never heard it called that. I like that.

Masha [00:37:05]:

The swiper.

Heidi [00:37:06]:


Masha [00:37:07]:

I just wanted to stay away from it for copyright reasons. I just need a verbal something out there like some sort of paper trail that this was their ask, this is not on me. So I was like, I did not want to make this too close for copyright reasons, but if you need me to edit it like that, I will.

Heidi [00:37:31]:

Please instruct me to do that. Yeah.

Masha [00:37:34]:

As a freelancer, that’s the good thing is most likely they’re not going to go after you because they’re going to have their own stuff on their end. Yeah, it’s like my name is not.

Heidi [00:37:45]:

On it and no offense, you don’t have anything to offer going after a big brand. They have money, they have something to offer.

Masha [00:37:54]:

Yeah, and that’s why I’m kind of just trying to move away. Like my next steps would just start saying no to projects that involve Shutterstock.

Heidi [00:38:05]:

Just because.

Masha [00:38:07]:

Everyone uses it and I see the same stuff all the time and it’s hard to rummage through so much irrelevant stuff on it. It’s not very filtered and I don’t know, it just hurts my soul. Shutterstock is great for specific things, not for high end brand stuff. I think I would like to move away from Shutterstock and just take on projects that involve a completely original design that I can do.

Heidi [00:38:41]:

Yeah, I mean, I know pattern bank has a certain purchasing option. Like if you’re going to manufacture more than X items, you have to buy this different tier which is more expensive and you can even buy, I think, exclusivity through Pattern Bank. Right. And you’re like, OK, now you buy that print, like that’s your print. You own that nobody else technically owns. Like you what?

Masha [00:39:06]:

I don’t know which tiers they pay for.

Heidi [00:39:09]:

Right, you’re just getting the file. Okay, right. I guess I was just curious if Shutterstock has any tiers where you can genuinely pay to use the art as is from a legitimate yeah, you do, you pay. Right.

Masha [00:39:24]:

But when everyone is using it becomes kind of overused. Yeah, it’s not that it’s not ethical to use obviously Shuttersc, but it’s just yeah, actually yeah, I don’t think it is. I know how much they, you know, for which license.

Heidi [00:39:44]:

Okay. Which license you’re buying. Because the 30% rule, which I’ve heard many times over the years, specifically in relation to prints and repeats. Right. You’re applying that to like if you pull just some inspiration off of Pinterest, you’re supposed to change it 30%. The stuff if you buy off Shutterstock is what you’ve bought it assuming you’ve bought on the right tier, you can just use it. Yeah, okay.

Masha [00:40:07]:

Yeah, it depends on the tier, obviously. Right.

Heidi [00:40:09]:

But the stuff that you just pull off the internet off Pinterest, that’s the inspiration that you’re legally supposed to change 30%, which again is super subjective. In order to then use something. Is that right?

Masha [00:40:20]:

I don’t think we have like a rule for Pinterest, but okay. I think 30%, that’s not ethical because you’re not even yeah. With Shutterstock you’re buying it, sort of, but with Pinterest it’s just pulling something and it’s usually someone else’s art. I don’t think even 30% is enough.

Heidi [00:40:40]:

No, I mean, I totally agree. So ideally getting away from those types of projects, which you’ll get figured out.

Masha [00:40:46]:

Over time, more fun for me too.

Heidi [00:40:47]:

Totally. Yeah. Because you get more creative freedom and you get to create the art from scratch. That’s amazing. All right. Anything else you’d like to share with people about your journey in freelancing?

[41:00] Embracing Growth: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Expanding Your Horizons

Masha [00:40:59]:

Just that I’m still shocked every day that I’m actually doing it.

Heidi [00:41:04]:

Yeah, you are.

Masha [00:41:06]:

I feel very lucky to have consistent clients and I guess I haven’t hit the low end of freelancing of having to hustle and pitch all the time. Looking forward to finessing the schedule, finessing my own getting over my impostor syndrome and all that.

Heidi [00:41:26]:


Masha [00:41:27]:

I think that I was dreaming of it for every time I was full time, and it’s kind of crazy to be doing it and earning way more money than I did full time.

Heidi [00:41:40]:

Okay, so working 26 hours a week, you’re earning way more than you were working full time. Yeah. Why are you still in shock? I mean, it’s been about a year. I’m very curious about that statement.

Masha [00:41:52]:

I think especially New York City, everyone has a full time job and it was never that available as an idea for me. And I just thought that I just had the stigma of my parents were like, well, freelancers don’t make any money, freelancers have to hustle. Just in general, I feel like freelancers get a bad rub, being like, oh, they eat Cup Noodles every day, they’re starving. But I guess that’s why I’m in shock, because I’m still getting over is like, more people need to try this, know, actually do this. Because you’re reclaiming especially with New York City, it’s a rat race. And just reclaiming my own time for workouts or my own time with friends feels like I’m reclaiming my life back from the New York City rat race, sort of the nine to five. And it’s just like everyone is like I mean, even talking with my friends, they’re like, oh, wow, you’re freelancing. It’s so fresh.

Heidi [00:42:57]:

Yeah. What do your parents think now?

Masha [00:42:59]:

Good way.

Heidi [00:43:00]:

They’re what? Sorry, cut out for a second. You’re what?

Masha [00:43:02]:

They’re also shocked, but they’re very happy for me. They were always supportive, but when I said that I wanted to freelance yeah. It’s just like, well, why would you want to? You have benefits and you have 401. I don’t know.

Heidi [00:43:19]:

What are you doing about your benefits now? Because everybody asks about that and I know there’s various solutions, but I’m curious since you brought it up.

Masha [00:43:25]:

Yeah. Four hundred and one K I should look back into that. I mean, I consolidated it, but I got lucky with my partner works a government job, so he got a good health insurance that we could get as domestic partnership. Okay. So, yeah, that helped a lot financially. I’m still early in the game for retirement, but I feel like I need to start now.

Heidi [00:43:55]:

Yeah, I will tell you because I’ve been working for myself in one way or another for almost 15 years, but I just have it as an auto draft. And you think you’re going to miss the money, but you don’t even know that it’s not there. I fund my Roth IRA and also have a 401K that I just have set up for myself. But yeah, the money goes in and once it’s gone yeah, automatically twice every two weeks. Once it’s gone, you just don’t miss it. I don’t want to say it so lightly. Obviously, everybody has a different situation with their finances. Right.

Heidi [00:44:31]:

And if money’s tight, like money’s tight, I get that. But if you’re comfortable, you will not miss that money. Yeah.

Masha [00:44:37]:

If you’re comfortable with the amount, that’s not going to make a difference to you much. Even if it’s $10 or something, it works over time, and that totally makes sense.

Heidi [00:44:48]:

I’m not here to bug you on your retirement, but I’m just saying, for me, getting it set up on autopilot and then I don’t ever think about it, and then there’s just some peace of mind that knows it’s getting taken care of.

Masha [00:44:58]:

You’ll get there. Yeah, I’m saving for a laptop right now.

Heidi [00:45:02]:

There you go.

Masha [00:45:04]:

Yeah, lots of saving.

Heidi [00:45:06]:

Yeah. Where can everybody find you online and connect with you and see all the awesome stuff you’re doing?

Masha [00:45:11]:

I’m on Instagram. I don’t have my website yet, but it’s at Studio Svecla. And you’ll we’ll put in the show. Yeah, yeah. I’m mostly instagram.

Heidi [00:45:20]:


Masha [00:45:20]:

I’m on LinkedIn, Masha, Karozuk.

Heidi [00:45:23]:

Yep. All right, cool. And the last question, what do you wish people would ask you about freelancing in fashion? That they never do what you asked.

Masha [00:45:32]:

Me about just the day to day, how my day is going, basically, even though I’m finessing that still. But I don’t think people are like I said, people mostly don’t realize that this is a viable solution to just taming your mental health and having time for yourself and yeah, just, like, the stigma around it. People don’t I wish people asked me, actually, how I spend my day, and then they’ll be like, wow, you have time for yourself. You set your own schedule. That’s crazy. That works for you. And you’re not starving.

Heidi [00:46:12]:

Yeah, right. And then you’re not starving. Like, I get up at 930 and I work out and do my lunch for 2 hours and I still work and I’m very comfortable. Yeah, it’s amazing.

Masha [00:46:23]:

I never get asked that. And they’re like, okay, freelance. And then they just go away with their own thoughts, like what that might look like.

Heidi [00:46:31]:

Oh, she’s freelancing.

Masha [00:46:34]:

Am I going to have to spot her on lunch today?

Heidi [00:46:37]:

Totally. That’s where people’s heads go for sure. Yeah, that’s very true. Am I going to have to spot her? Thank you for coming on and sharing your story and your success and the journey that you’ve experienced in your first year. Congratulations. It’s amazing. I’m really excited to have seen you grown and push yourself and gone out there for that rate increase and going out there soon for that Friday off. You’re doing great.

Masha [00:47:03]:

Thank you so much for having me.

©2008-2023 SuccessfulFashionDesigner.com

Heads Up: We use cookies to customize your experience and track how you interact with our site to serve you better.    OK     more info