Bhavini Lakhani, Founder of B81 Designs

A freelance graphic designer specialising in branding and all things design from brief to print

Drawing on walls aged five, it was my destiny I’d do something creative when I grew up!

Working as a print graphic designer for a London-based digital marketing agency I was living my dream, but on my return from maternity leave I was given a choice of two options which I never saw coming: work full time and the agency would pay for me to retrain as a web designer, or take voluntary redundancy. With an 11-month daughter to prioritise, I opted for the latter and set about finding a job with flexible hours that was closer to home.

In 2011, a friend of mine who was working in a company’s marketing department put me forward for some freelance graphic design work; accepting it was the best decision I ever made. Over time, my need to job-hunt for a more permanent role took a back seat because my freelancing mushroomed to the point where word of mouth was spreading fast.

The following year I set up my business; then had a second child in 2013; and moved to Milton Keynes in 2015. Over time my client base has spanned global brands such as Barclaycard and British Gas to SMEs across the world. Regardless of size, they all receive the same high standards from me.

Two things I’ve learned about self-employment is: go with your gut – even if every other fibre of your being is saying otherwise – and never, ever forget your own value. In the early days, if a client said I was too expensive I’d give in and do it for less, but then those projects would become a serious headache! If you stick to your pricing and explain the investment if necessary, you’ll attract the right people to work with and they’ll treat you with respect. Trust me, it’s absolutely fine to say no if you don’t feel comfortable because there’ll be a good reason why… it’s the gut kicking in!

Seven years in, I love what I do and it means everything to me that I can work around being with my kids. It’s important that I’m a strong role model for them and demonstrating what hard work can help you achieve.

B81 Designs