Responsive Ad Area

Share This Post

Mama Stories

Bic

Bic

I have been sitting on pins and needles ready to share this truly inspiring mama’s story! It’s women like her that make’s my “ah-ha” moment with this community. From struggles to hard work, and community to family values, Bic let’s us take a glimpse into her past and a peak into her daily life. An extremely talented and inspiring women, she will not only warm your heart but inspire you to create something of your own.

Thank you so much, Bic, for sharing your story!! I loved reading your story!

______________________________________________________

{ Bic }

Tell us about you and what you do!
My name is Bic Walker and I am a mum of two beautiful teenagers, wife to a fantastic guy (Chris) who is also my business partner and the cook at home, and founder of SketchMill, a print illustration brand based in Melbourne.

Our SketchMill Iconic images are popular with tourists and locals alike and celebrate our love of Australian places and all things travel. Our SketchMill Moments range includes images for birthdays, special occasions and gifts.  The art we produce is featured on our prints and also goes onto greeting cards, post cards, soap, tea towels, candles and a range of timber products including jewelry, bookmarks and coasters.

All our products are designed, printed and packaged in Australia and assembled with great care by hand in our studio.

I wake up everyday feeling so lucky that my business is also my hobby. I am an artist and have created a business out of my artwork.

Do you have a full/ part time job? Do you have a side hustle? What are they?
Being a Creative Director at SketchMill is my full-time job as it is very demanding. Running a small family business requires me to wear different hats; On any given day I can be the designer, product developer, sales rep or the person who stuffs envelopes.  You just have to get on with it to get everything done and be very flexible and open-minded.

I am a trained Architect but left corporate life to find the work/life balance I needed.  I still pursue architecture through my love of illustrating buildings and spaces.  I live in Melbourne and I enjoy drawing Melbourne icons.  

My side gigs are what led me to illustration and the foundation of SketchMill. Five years ago, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “A safe place to live” about my journey to Australia as a Vietnamese refugee.

I was born in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and escaped the country with my family when I was four years old.  Our boat was robbed by pirates and we were left adrift until we were rescued by a Canadian oil tanker.  In 2012, my book was listed in the Premier’s reading challenge and many schools and libraries around Australia purchased stock.  This also led to public speaking gigs.  Eventually I got myself a public speaking agent and now I have a hand full of speaking engagements every year at schools and community events.

Walk us through a normal day of yours. Soccer games, daycare, work, dinner, ballet practices, what’s involved?
Being a mum of two teenagers and a business owner, there isn’t really a typical day.  The kids are extremely busy and have different activities and interests so Chris and I have to juggle driving them around and attending their school events.  They have either training or games everyday of the week as well as music lessons.

Work can take us anywhere from visiting clients on the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas to meetings with suppliers in Moorabbin and Thomastown.

One of the reasons for having a family business is that we can be around for the kids when they come home from school, to make sure they have healthy snacks, do their homework and have friends over for a playdate (although I am not allowed to call them “playdates” anymore now that they are teenagers).

Exercise is also a very import part of our lives, I try to go to the gym or for a run in the mornings and do Body Balance twice a week.

Twice a week we also employ some of my daughter’s friends to come and help us out with the business.  We live just across the road from school so it’s easy for them to walk over after school.  It’s actually so lovely working with them as they chat and listen to music while they fold cards or wrap soaps.

We have a great network of friends from school that we socialize with.  We all help each other out by sharing some of the driving kids around.  This makes life a whole lot easier.

How do you prioritize your to do list?
As the business has grown I’ve had to acknowledge that I am bad at this.  Ideas flow through my head frantically and continuously and I am easily distracted with new ideas.  Chris is very systematic and calm.  He organizes and makes me focus so that we meet our timelines and stay on track.  Between the two of us we manage to balance creativity with productivity.  

Generally I put the kids, sleep, and exercise above everything as it is really important for my mental health, and if you don’t get that right, everything else suffers.

Do you get down time in your day? If so, what’s one thing you do for yourself daily?
I try to go to the gym or for a run 4-5 times a week.  I often combine a walk or a run with catching up with friends or having one-on-one time with my daughter.  

If I am by myself, I like to listen to business podcasts as I find them inspiring and educational.  

We also have dinner as a family every day together, this is the time everyone gets to talk about their day which makes sure we stay connected.  

During the school holidays we often try to get away camping or for an outdoor activity like surfing, skiing or hiking; something that encourages leaving the screens behind and being more in touch with each other and our surrounds.

How many hours of sleep do you get on a regular basis?
Ideally, I try to get 7-8 hours a day but it rarely happens. My mind is always buzzing and I find it hard to get to sleep. I have tried meditating, yoga, drinking hot milk or even something stronger.  On occasion, I will build up too much of a sleep debt and total crash and burn. Fortunately, the nature of our business and having a husband to step in means this isn’t a total disaster!

Your story!!! When was the moment you decided to make your life story into artwork? What was the first step you took?
At 8 and 10, our kids were living quite a privileged life in a great community.
As typical kids, they were taking so much for granted and wanted more and more with little or no consideration of the world around them.  I grew up in the housing commission flats, my parents worked really hard in factories for long hours, we got one bike to share in the family, my first Barbie doll was second hand.  I got fed up with the idea of raising entitled kids, so I decided to put my story on canvas to remind them about what its like to have nothing.  I also thought it would be a great Christmas present for my nieces and nephews too.  

Once I finished my paintings I took photos of the large canvases and started writing the book.  I kept the writing very succinct so that the story can be read on many levels.  

I did a mock up of the book at Officeworks, which was expensive and got me exploring publishing options.  I asked publishers and experienced authors but everyone discouraged me saying that the children’s books sector is very competitive and that no one would take it up as I had no track record as an author.  

I refused to take “no” for an answer because I had spent 6 months painting and really wanted this book.  

I have a friend who is an entrepreneur and is involved in many businesses and fundraising events.  He read the book over a coffee, loved it and said that he would fund me if I wanted to self-publish it.  In return I created a second book “Finding Hope” for a charity which he was involved with.  “Finding Hope” was about a Cambodian girl who had lost her mum to AIDS.  My second book raised more than $20K for the charity, Hope for Cambodian Children.

It was so overwhelming receiving the delivery of 2000 copies of my first book on my door step.  The thought that went through my mind were “Where am I going to store all these books?”  “How am I going to sell all these books?”  At that time I thought, that if I can reach 2000 people with my story I would be over the moon.  

I launched the book at the kid’s primary school hall with the support of my family, friends and the community.  I invited a Hazel Edwards, a well-known children’s writer, to launch my book. Hazel was the chair of the Melbourne Premier’s Readers Challenge and helped with listing my book on the Reader’s Challenge.

To date I have spoken schools and community events all over Australia and my story has reached over 20,000 people.

2012 my kids Artan age 10 and Indigo age 8

Sketchmill supports many of artists, how do you find the artists that you showcase on your site? Is there a process you go through when deciding to support that artist? (In case someone wanted to contact you to be an artist on your website.)
SketchMill was involved in a community group called “Art Crawl” where we asked café’s in the local area to support local artists by providing their wall space for artists to hang their work.  I met many artists through these events and have worked with them by promoting their artwork on greeting cards.  We are always looking for upcoming talented artists and often we connect with artists through our social media pages @sketchmill.  Pinterest and Instagram are particularly good for finding artists with images that fit into our range.

How do you produce your artwork? Do you paint, draw, watercolor?
I use many mediums, from Acrylic on canvas, ink on paper, watercolor, photography, and digitally on screen.  Although painting on canvas is a lot of fun, we find that we are running out of storage space so now much of our work is digital.

Do you bring the creativity into your household? Do you encourage a creative atmosphere with your family?
My kids and their friends often paint with me during the holidays.  My daughter also has her own line of cards and jewelry.  Artan (my son) used to draw as well but now he is more interested in music.  Both of my kids play the guitar and sing as a creative outlet.  

I find it harder to get the paintbrushes out as life gets busier and kids grower older.   The kids help out a lot in the business and we talk freely about the business around the dinner table.  Entrepreneurial ideas and ventures are very much encouraged and supported in our household.

What has been your “ah-ha” moment of SketchMill? (ie your “this is why we do this” moment.)
Having your own creative business is very unpredictable.  The “Oh-No” and “Ah-ha” moments come hand-in-hand.  

However, when something works, and you get great responses from your product launch it is extremely satisfying and you forget the things that are hard.  

There are many great reasons why we do this, and fortunately we are reminded of this more and more often.  This year we have seen an increase in passive sales.  There is nothing more satisfying than receiving on-line orders while you are taking a break with the family.

Ah-ha moments can also happen with trivial things like if my son forgets to bring his blazer and calls us from school, we can just drop it off because we are working from home.  Or if a sport or drama event is happening at school we can just pop in.  

I love to think that when the kids grow up and look back at their childhood they will think “mum and dad always had my back when I needed them”.

What’s one of your favorite quotes to live by?
I have so many favourite quotes I just can’t pick one, so recently Indigo and I have created a box of 24 inspirational quotes.

 

Rapid Fire Answer questions with one word or a short phrase ! GO!

List- maker? Phone or Paper?
Phone

What’s on the night stand? Book? Magazine? Wine?
Ipad (to draw)

If you had an afternoon to yourself, what would you do?
Go for a run or work in the garden

Your go to meal when in a time crunch – for the family.
Whatever Chris cooks

Your go to activity if you need 15 minutes to get something done.
Not applicable as kids are self sufficient or they can help

Do you have a favorite app that you can’t live without?
Instagram or Paper 53

Favorite social media platform?
Instagram

Favorite meal to cook when you have the time?
I love anything with salmon.

 

Words by Bic.

 

_______________________________________________

Check out Bic and her work at the links below:

Website: SketchMill

Instagram: SketchMill

Facebook: SketchMill

Pinterest: SketchMill

Blog: SketchMill

_______________________________________________

Thank you for reading!!

Share This Post

1 Comment

  1. Bic what an interesting and inspiring young woman you are.Thank you for all your kindness to me

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>