It wasn't that long ago that the Printfresh team was hanging out together in the studio trying on pajamas and brainstorming new prints. But for now, we're staying in and staying safe. In the post below, we discuss the transition to working from home, what we're currently reading and watching, and what we're most excited to get back to once this all blows over.
How was the transition to working from home? What pros and cons have you noticed so far, and were there any unexpected challenges?
Christiane, Designer & Art Director: It was definitely a bit of a struggle transitioning to working completely remotely, since our normal working process is pretty collaborative. But I routinely do a bit of photography and illustration freelance in my free time, so I was lucky enough to already have a decent setup at home. I’m also single without children, which makes a huge difference in terms of juggling responsibilities and distractions. I love having some uninterrupted time to focus on a single task without putting out daily fires at the office—getting creative is easier and more natural when I’m working from my own space. Zoom meetings outside on my roofdeck have also been a big plus!
Amy, Creative Director: I’m definitely still struggling. I was used to being in meetings and working very closely with our small team so it’s been a big adjustment to working virtually. Now that I homeschool my kids from 8:30-3 every day, my working time really is only from 3-5, so I need to really make it count. My biggest challenge is probably trying to have better boundaries with my partner for sharing responsibilities more equally. We also made the insane decision to move 3 weeks ago (to help better sustain our business and also for our kids sake to have more outdoor time) so there’s been a ton to do around the house to get it family and work ready. Our schedule is totally out of whack at the moment, but I’m hoping in the next few weeks to get a better, more equal schedule in place so we can both work in a more supported way.
Sophia, Marketing Manager: It was a little rocky at first for sure—getting my computer set up at home, dealing with spotty wifi, trouble accessing files remotely, stuff like that. But I think I’m slowly starting to get into the groove of things. Some pros are wearing whatever I want (pajamas!) and hanging out with my cats more—I have two of my own but I also foster, and spending extra time at home makes that easier. If you’re interested in using this time to house an animal in need, reach out to your local rescues/shelters! (If you’re in the Philly-area, I recommend PAWS.) The cons are obviously communication with the team is a little more difficult and I’m probably eating way more than I normally would haha.
What’s a typical day like for you now?
Christiane: I’m trying to keep to a similar schedule as usual, since the line between work and life is blurred. I wake up, take a shower and put on a bit of make-up (again, trying to feel normal!). Then, I make coffee and breakfast, feed my cats and my fish, and settle in to work. I tend to break for lunch around 1:30 or 2, and try to get a daily dose of fresh air by eating in my backyard or going for a walk in the evenings. I wrap up work around 6, cook dinner (tonight I’m trying Pizzeria Beddia’s pizza recipe that Joe kindly posted on his instagram), and unwind with a TV show or movie with my roommate and her boyfriend. I’m a busy-body, so in the evenings I’ve been working on some kind of a project like sewing masks, repotting my plants, painting in a sketchbook, or working on newsletters/IG grid for the animal sanctuary Chenoa Manor where I volunteer. One thing we’ve been trying to implement in my household is making special plans for the weekend, so Saturday and Sundays feel different than the rest of the week. Usually we’ll order take-out from a local restaurant we want to support, plan a Zoom party with friends, or start a new puzzle.
Amy: I get up around 7 and get the kids situated with breakfast (and 2nd breakfast—they eat soooo much!). I start schooling for them around 8:30 (since our city hasn’t started online learning yet) and then chat with a few team members around 9 when they are starting their workday to get aligned and set some goals for the day. We take a break at 12 which is when I pack orders and get them ready for shipping out. After 3, the kids have free time and that’s when I work and do zoom meetings with the team. Around 5:30, I start on dinner and we eat as a family. Then it's bedtime routine until around 9pm. At that point, I like to drink some wine and watch cheesy Netflix shows.
Sophia: I’ve also tried to keep my routine somewhat similar to before I started working from home, just to maintain life-work boundaries and efficiency. I wake up and as my coffee is brewing I feed the cats and clean up a little around the apartment. After cooking breakfast, I sit down at the computer around 9/9:30 to start my workday and that’s my focus until about 5:30/6. I do try to take a few breaks during the day—go for a run, have lunch on the porch—just to add some variety. As I’m finishing up, my boyfriend is usually getting home from work so we’ll have a drink and talk about our day. Then, we cook dinner and eat while watching a movie or doing a puzzle or something like that. On weekends I spend more time doing things like reading, writing, art projects and bike rides.
Best tip for staying focused and motivated when working from home?
Christiane: Making a loose plan for the day with top priorities definitely helps keep me on track. It’s also nice having the rest of our team reachable via text and gchat, so we can still get the little bit of the coworker chit-chat we’re used to. I also try to take short breaks in between tasks to keep up motivation—even just making myself stand up and walk over to kiss one of my cats or go downstairs to refill my water glass helps reset my attention.
Amy: Writing out my priorities for the day (focussing on the top 3) and planning those out for the week ahead of time have always been my go-to strategy. Having 1on1 working Zoom meetings or calls with our designer also helps me feel more motivated and makes me finalize ideas faster. We were so used to working closely together, so it helps to recreate that digitally.
Sophia: I spend some time each Monday morning scheduling out the week ahead so I have a clear understanding of the things I want to get done. I’ve always been an eat-while-you-work type of person at the office, but I’ve been making it a point to take lunch breaks while I’m working from home. I think having that little bit of time to focus on something else—sit outside, catch up on the news, check my personal social media—helps keep me from getting too antsy and then I can finish my day a little more productively.
What are some of your favorite things to read, watch and listen to during this time?
Christiane: I’m a sucker for terrible television, and have been rewatching One Tree Hill on Hulu from start to finish. I feel more balanced when watching shows that are still actively airing (helps that I can’t just binge them), so in that category I’ve been keeping up with the Voice, This is Us and Little Fires Everywhere. I’m a big podcast listener, but have been trying not to overdo it with corona-related news so I’ve temporarily traded in the Daily for lighter options like Armchair Experts and How Did This Get Made. Music-wise, I am currently obsessed with Tobi Lou (Skin Care Tutorial 2020), the Weeknd’s new album, and a couple throwback Spotify playlists I’ve been compiling with a couple of my best friends from college. I’m not great at finishing books, but I’ve been trying to read a short essay in a John Muir anthology before bed.
Amy: I loved watching Self Made on Netflix. Since we are living on a vineyard right now, and we are learning a lot of farming techniques and life skills, I’ve been watching the Simple Life on Amazon Prime, which is hilarious and a good parallel to my life right now. I haven’t had a lot of time for reading recently, but I’ve been working through a few pages every morning of Judy Wicks’ book, Good Morning, Beautiful Business.
Sophia: I’ve been watching a lot of the Great British Baking Show to get me inspired for the extra cooking and baking I’ve been doing recently. It’s also just a lighthearted show that helps keep me in a good mood. Similarly, I’ve been trying to listen to upbeat music as well like Shannon & The Clams. Nothing that will stress me out too much since reading the news does that enough right now haha.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or revisited any old ones?
Christiane: I’ve been a DIY sewer for a long time, but am currently working on honing my skills with sewing my own clothes from patterns! I just finished my first two dresses (the Eva pattern from Tessuti), and am going to tackle my first top this weekend (from Wiksten). If you’re interested in learning, I highly recommend exploring the #memade tag on Instagram and clicking on specific pattern name tags when you see a style that speaks to you.
Amy: We’ve been baking a lot more than I usually do—it’s a great skill for the kids to have and also counts for math/science class (at least in my eyes!). Journaling every morning has been important to me for grounding myself and recording this unusual time in life. It helps me clear my head, let go of fears and anxiety, and gives me some reflection time, which is especially important right now when we lack human connection and in person conversations with our friends.
Sophia: Cooking! I’ve always loved to cook, but I am doing it SO much more now. It’s been fun planning out meals and trying new recipes. I’ve also gotten back into puzzles, something I used to do a lot when I was younger. Other than that, I’ve just had extra time to dedicate to some of my usual hobbies like journaling, which has helped me stay positive and centered.
What has been your favorite meal you've made? Any strange ones?
Christiane: I’ve been making a new soup every week so I have ready-made lunches—tomato basil, tortilla, and a twist on PA dutch chicken corn soup. I have a pasta maker so last weekend I premade a bunch of spaghetti to freeze for the next few weeks. I made mushroom risotto for the first time, which was DELICIOUS. But I’ve also eaten my fair share of peanut butter sandwiches and baby carrots and hummus.
Amy: I am overjoyed that I’ve finally mastered making good pizza dough. My family growing up always did pizza Sunday and somehow in my adult life, despite being a good cook and baker, my pizza dough was always lacking. I kept trying and we jokingly called my pizzas dinosaur patties as they were rock hard and never fluffy or even edible for that matter. My mom gifted me a bread maker for my birthday and it’s made making the dough fun and easy—and the kids love helping with it!
Sophia: There’s been a ton of favorites—vegetarian sloppy joes, no-chicken noodle soup, coconut curry veggies—but my most interesting one was when I tried to make biscuits out of all expired ingredients. I found expired flour, expired baking soda and powder, and expired almond milk. I Googled to make sure these things wouldn’t get me sick, and then thought it would be funny to give it a shot. Well, as you can imagine, they came out looking and tasting awful. It was basically a time-consuming way to throw everything out haha.
What have you found helps you when you're starting to feel anxious?
Christiane: I’m a pretty chill person, so I’m a bad person to ask about managing anxiety. But immersing myself in a task (especially one with repetitive hand/eye motions) always makes the time fly by and relaxes me. Cuddling with my cats always makes me feel better, and I’ve always been texting and FaceTiming with friends and family to stay sane. I also have some meme message chains that always bring a smile to my face.
Amy: I was feeling pretty anxious a few weeks ago—we had a lot of changes in our business and we had just moved (and didn’t even have running water at first). However, we have been very busy with getting our business set up again, starting homeschooling, and finishing our renovation of our house (which was a pretty epic project) so staying busy and doing projects that give me a sense of accomplishment have been rewarding and grounding. Building a routine here in our new normal has really helped me with my sleep—I love using a diffuser at night with lavender oil, and I recently got a weighted blanket which really helps me relax and get the rest I need to feel my best.
Sophia: Breathing exercises and gratitude journaling have been my go-to’s to reduce anxiety. Forcing myself to take long, slow breaths helps me slow my heart rate and calm my racing mind, and gratitude journaling helps me focus on the positives in my life. Getting outside, whether it’s just sitting on my porch or going for a bike ride, has also helped quell any nervous energy. Lastly, cute animal videos! My latest obsession is a foot-drumming duck named Ben Afquack I found on Instagram.
News on 24/7 or avoid the news when possible?
Christiane: I’m on a strict one-hour of news a day diet, and that hour only includes written news (I skim aggregated news articles which usually include WSJ, NYT and BBC). Television news stresses me out, and while I want to stay informed, hearing updates every few minutes just isn’t emotionally productive. For health updates I’ve been enjoying Dr Joshua Wolrich on Instagram—he’s a cute, inclusive British doctor who also shares videos of his pet hedgehog.
Amy: I’m especially sensitive and I have always found the news to be really stressful to read. I skim the NYTimes, I ready WWD (the fashion industries go-to daily news source) cover to cover and share anything important with the team, and I follow Jessica Yellin on Instagram (she explains the news in a palatable way and brings in experts). My husband reads the news 24/7 so he fills me in on what I need to know.
Sophia: A mix. I get a few morning newsletters to my inbox, like Billy Penn and The New York Times, so I make it a point to read those and stay up to date on at least some level, but then I try to avoid checking every update that happens throughout the day unless it’s major. I want to be informed, but don’t want to be obsessive.
FaceTime/Zoom with friends and family or keep it to call and text?
Christiane: All of it! I have a few group text chains going with my friends and family, talk to my mom on the phone every week or so, and have done a couple Zoom parties with friends (highly recommend getting a group together to play Jackbox games via a screenshare/video Zoom meeting).
Amy: I FaceTime a little with a few friends, but the moms on my street have a neverending WhatsApp conversation so that makes me feel connected.
Sophia: I’ve FaceTimed with a couple of people, but for the most part I stick with texting friends throughout the day and calling my parents regularly.
What are you most excited to get back to?
Christiane: I miss hugging my friends! And traveling. I was so bummed that we had to cancel our March trip to India, and as someone who tries to plan a getaway every couple months or so, not being able to travel is really disappointing. I’m not sure when the travel restrictions will start to lift, but even a little weekend road trip sounds amazing right about now.
Amy: I’ve never mastered doing my own nails and toenails but love a nice tidy pedicure so that’s one of the things I’m most excited about. I also really miss going to yoga class and getting massages. I’m very introverted so I feel like I’ve embraced staying in especially well in regards to most other things.
Sophia: ALL OF IT. Traveling, eating and drinking out, and seeing friends and family. I was lucky to get in a trip to Europe right before all this started, and I can’t wait for my next adventure. I also can’t wait to give a giant, neverending hug to my friends and family when I finally can. Lastly, as soon as bars and restaurants can open back up, I’m going to do my own tour of Philadelphia and eat/drink at every single one of my favorite spots.
Get to know the team even better by checking out some of our past interviews here. You can also follow along with Printfresh on Instagram to get an inside look at new prints, our design process, and more on how we're staying comfy during quarantine.