Maia Hariton is the brains and Founder behind Cassiopeia Studio, a web design, and development shop. She creates beautiful websites for her variety of clients. She empowers her clients with the right tools to make their website work for them.
What made you want to start your business? What or who inspired you to do so?
My husband and I were software engineers working in San Francisco, and we wanted to travel the world while working on the road. So we started freelancing at night and during the weekends. As soon as we got enough clients, we quit our jobs and have been traveling since 2015.
I started my business, Cassiopeia, because I started having so much work that I could not handle all of it myself. I started hiring other freelancers to help me out.
How long have you been doing this?
I have been working as a remote freelancer since since November 2015.
What is a day for you like? What is your routine?
It really depends on where we are.
If we are in the US that means we are on a slower traveling schedule so I usually wake up at around 8:30am, do some yoga, have breakfast, start working at 9am, take a break for lunch at around 11:30am, check twitter for a bit and get back to work until about 7pm. My husband and I then usually have dinner and I might work a bit more after dinner if needed.
If we are traveling somewhere else around the world then we only work for half of the day, usually, the morning, have lunch where are staying or out. The afternoon is all about exploring the new city we are in and we might work a bit more after dinner if needed.
How did you go about starting your business? What were some of your initial steps that you took?
I started freelancing and building out my portfolio as well as my credibility. Once I had a couple of regular clients, I started hiring other freelancers to help me out.
I also started learning everything I could about other aspects of design, marketing, and copywriting so that I could offer a comprehensive set of skills to my clients.
What are your biggest responsibilities as an entrepreneur/freelancer?
My biggest responsibilities as a freelancer for my clients are to set a defined scope of work, do a good job, deliver on time.
What has been the hardest part of your transition?
The hardest part of my transition has been the ups and downs of finding work. There are still times when I have so much work I am not sure how I’m going to handle it. And other times, I freak out because I’m finishing up all of my projects and there is nothing planned after that.
Another issue is work/life balance. When you work for yourself, you start feeling guilty if you are not working; you forget what it is to not be working. It is something I am working on constantly.
What has been the easiest part of your transition?
Being able to structure my day however I want, and pick the projects I want to work on.
What do you think is the most important characteristic to have for someone who wants to take a similar career route to yours?
For developers, I would say learn and build as many projects as much as you can until you are ready to freelance. People will not hire you if you have nothing to show in your portfolio.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ‘sell yourself’ to everybody, networking is a huge part of why I have work coming in.
What do you wish you knew before starting out on your own path?
I wish I knew all of the technicalities of being a sole-proprietor/freelancer in the US; tax season was complicated for me the first time around. I also wish I had prepared all of my client proposals, invoices, etc in advance.
Did anyone help you in developing your own business or side business?
Definitely my husband and a lot of online communities like the Tech Ladies Facebook group, the Freelancing Females Facebook group and the SheNomads Slack channel.
What is your favorite thing about the industry you work in?
The collaboration in the design/development community and the fact that there is always something new to learn.
What are some tools that you can live without?
Trello, Google Drive, and Skype.
What do you have on your desk, or working space right now?
My phone, my laptop, my headphones, sparkling water, and some cookies.
What do you want other women in similar situations to know about your chosen career path?
Becoming a freelance designer/developer is completely possible if you work hard for it. I hear a lot of women say, “Oh I could not do what you do, trying to get clients all the time and traveling while working!” Well, I’ve been doing it for 2 years now and I love it!