Hey! I'm Erica. I'm 25 and I spend most of my time running my design business, Big Cat Creative where I specialise in custom web design and brand design! I really love helping women create their dream websites and launch their businesses, so that's the whole heart of Big Cat Creative. I work completely remotely from my laptop, currently living in New Zealand with my partner Neale and heading to Canada next month for a new adventure! I love to travel, adventure, try new things and be creative!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
"Follow your bliss" I know, it sounds like I just pulled this straight from Instagram (I might have), but seriously, this is my favorite advice for a few reasons.
I've always done this, I've always just done whatever I felt like doing and whatever felt right, even if it meant taking a big risk, switching jobs or completely going out of my comfort zone.
I always just thought I was indecisive or just 'couldn't stick anything out'. While everyone else was getting degrees and working their way up the corporate ladder I was traveling, studying something different every year, moving around the country, changing jobs and always had something else that I wanted to "try".
Now I'm older I'm glad I had the courage to "follow my bliss" and just do what felt right at the time, because now I am rich with experience and know strongly what I like and dislike doing, because I've pretty much tried all of it, and know more about myself than ever.
So I'm going to just continue doing what feels good, right now that's running my online business, I'm loving it! But if I decide I want to do something else, I won't see it as a failure, I'll just see it as a change of direction.
I think that's what a lot of people need to know, just because you've worked hard at something, doesn't mean you have to do that for the rest of your life. If something else feels better, just roll with it, and don't look at it as a failure, look at it as a new beginning! Because I believe as soon as you start to truely not enjoy something anymore, you're not following the right path or fulfilling your true life purpose.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
Just keep doin' what you're doin' girl! You'll figure it out eventually. And, be nice to people, 16 year old girls can be mean.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
"Collaboration over competition". I think this is important, especially for Women. Every day more and more Women are becoming their own bosses, starting businesses and building empires, and we are changing the way it's done. We learned growing up that every successful businessman holds his industry secrets close to his chest, if you want something you need to be competitive, or my fav "if you want to be successful, you've gotta be an a**hole". But this isn't what it's like anymore, and we're are redefining the ways to become successful. It's all about supporting your "competition" and working with them, sharing your secrets, being a genuine person. It's tough enough for Women out there trying to make a mark, why not support each other and all rise together? I know for a fact my business wouldn't be the same without support, encouragement and collaboration from my fellow "competition"! <3
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that I'm super laid back and relaxed. I work really hard, but I generally don't get stressed and if plans flip on me, I just roll with the punches (most of the time, anyway!). I also love, and am really thankful for, how positive I am as a person. Practicing a positive mindset is a big factor, but I also believe I was just hard-wired with a "glass half full" brain, and I'm really really thankful for that!
Why do you love to travel?
I love travelling because there's so much you can learn, in the history, the cultures, the people. A lot of the time you learn more about yourself, which I think is important. And often you are exposed to situations that make you even more thankful for your life, you take less for granted once you've seen the rest of the world.
What motivates you most?
Being happy! My whole life I've constantly been looking for a career where I feel happy, and in most of them I didn't, so in business I strive most to be just enjoying it. I was never motivated to make money as it never was a priority for me, but now I work for myself I'm much more motivated by money, seeing everything you do reflect directly into your bank account (apposed to working for someone else where it's just an hourly grind) is super motivating. I know if I slack off, I will see that directly reflect the money I make. I also love learning, as soon as I start to learn a new skill my motivation gets a huge boost. That's one reason I love working for myself, I can choose when I learn new skills!
How do you manage your work-life balance?
Not very well, right now! I spend 90% of my time working. I'm enjoying it, so it's hard to stop! I don't find my work draining or boring, so usually I'm happy to get up early or work late. BUT, next month I'm taking a WHOLE month off to move to Canada and life the #vanlife for a while! I'm really excited to be able to spent that time with my partner and be present with him, but putting in the hustle now is the only way I'm going to be able to make that happen. I find it hard to just relax at home when I know there's work I could be doing, so this is my way around it! Work hard while I'm at home then completely check out for a month. I hope to be able to do more of this as I start to diversify my income streams.
What is your favorite meal?
Great question, haha, veggie pizza! Closely followed by everything else edible!
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I go through phases of what I like to do every day, I usually stick to a routine for a couple of weeks and then switch it up. But I always like to incorporate exercise, gym, yoga, or even if it's just a walk. I like to get into the sunshine for at least 10 minutes and recharge (if there is any sun that day!) I love to listen to podcasts or read a book where I can learn something to do with mindset, personal growth or business - I've learned crazy amounts through podcasts! Every day, morning or night, I try to repeat some positive affirmations to myself, reflect on what I'm grateful for and day dream about all the great things unfolding in my life!
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
Something similar! I love the aspect of being able to work from anywhere, so something remote, and I also love being in charge, so, something very similar, haha! If I didn't NEED a job, that would be a different question, I would be travelling, volunteering and blogging and 'gramming along the way!
What is something on your bucket list?
Pretty much every country is on my bucket list! I love to travel. I also love adventure activities. I think I've done a pretty good job so far in ticking off the biggest things on my bucketlist (you know, volunteered in Africa, sky-dived, all of the usual "bucketlist" suspects) but as soon as I tick something off, something else comes up! I have a memory like a goldfish, so unless I did it in the last couple of years, it's not fresh in my brain, so I'll just add it to the list again! The most recent addition to the list would probably have to be this giant swing in Queenstown, New Zealand that I want to do, google it, seriously, it looks terrifyingly amazing.
Have you ever had an extraordinary experience? Describe it!
I've had a lot of extraordinary experiences and I'm so grateful for all of them, but probably the most recent was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Pcchu. It was a 4 day hike through the forest, it was full of history, serious physical and mental challenges, spiritual experiences, lots of learning and most importantly lots of laughs! It's crazy how much you learn when you're completely disconnected from technology for a few days, especially when you're in nature, you really tune into your thoughts and your surroundings on a whole new level.
Where do you find inspiration?
I love Pinterest for checking design inspiration, and Instagram for travel inspiration. General inspiration for me come when I step out of the office, get outside (preferably into the trees) and do some exercise.
What are your biggest passions?
Passions is a big word! Especially because I'm such a multi-passionate person. If you've read this whole interview you probably know that I've done a lot because, well, I like a lot of stuff! If I think of what really gets me hot headed and truely passionate I would say things like Social Justice, Environmental Protection, Animal Protection. I'm currently loving learning about mindset, manifestation and personal growth and how important it is your life and business. Of course I love art and creativity, because that's what I do full time. I hope to eventually align my skills with my true passions and be able to make a real difference through my work.
More About Erica
Erica Hartwick runs a design business, Big Cat Creative. They specialize in custom web design and brand design. She loves helping women create their dream websites and launch their businesses.
Erica works remotely and is currently living with her partner, Neale, in New Zealand. They are heading to Canada next for a new adventure. She loves to travel, adventure, try new things, and be creative.