Charli Prangley: Design your life, love it
For most, graduating from university means scrambling to interview for the best jobs, with the highest pay and the best CV rank before other students apply for them. For others, it can mean finding a project to work on or a company to start as they become entrepreneurs and business owners. For Charli Marie Prangley, it meant both.
After leaving Massey University with a Bachelor of Design and working at Mitsubishi Electric as an in-house designer, Charli became a marketing designer at Xero by day, a YouTube personality by night, and when time is on her side, Charli works on her apparel company, Liner Note Kids.
Charli’s average work day isn’t unpleasantly hectic either. Much to the contrary, it’s inspired, focused, and organised – the result of meticulous planning and excellent time management skills.
“An average day for me involves attempting to go to the gym in the morning, then heading in to the office for work,” Charli wrote to NZE in an email.
“I’ll often come home for lunch for a change of scenery and chill out on the balcony with a friend, or maybe I might even use the time to film a video or check some smaller things off my to do list.
“My evenings are generally spent doing some editing, hanging out with my flatmates, cooking dinner if it’s my night to cook, or perhaps printing t-shirts if I’ve had an order through my store.”
“Life is busy!” Charli adds. “But I love it.”
Liner Note Kids, or LNK for short, is one of Charli’s oldest ongoing “side” projects, which began in 2009 with one t-shirt designed to promote an album.
“I started it because, as I’ve mentioned, I love music, and at the time, a lot of the merch available for bands I liked wasn’t brilliant,” Charli said, “so I wanted to design t-shirts and hoodies for music lovers who wanted well designed apparel to show their passion.”
LNK’s target audience is the “kids” who need more from their bands than what they’re getting. They’re the ones willing to show dedication in it’s highest form – by wearing their favourite bands’ lyrics on their bodies – and LNK gives them a classy, dignified way to do that.
“It’s also special because every t-shirt is screen-printed by me on a made-to-order basis in my bedroom. And because I print-to-order I can offer my customers the option of changing up the colours of the ink and shirt if they wish, so they can get an item that suits them perfectly.”
Another project that Charli has taken up recently is her YouTube channel, CharliMarieTV, which covers topics like design, fashion, and lifestyle.
The vlog – as it’s called in the industry- began in late 2013, after Charli’s younger sister, Smay Prangley, became involved with the vlogging community in New Zealand and started creating videos.
“I wanted my channel to really encompass who I am and I never want to feel locked in to making a certain type of video,” Charli says, “so by creating content on such a wide range of subjects, it serves as an awesome creative outlet.
“I also really want my channel to be a source of ideas and knowledge for young designers who are just starting out. I basically make the type of content I would have loved to see when I was first getting interested in design.”
There are thousands of videos for designers on YouTube, but most of them are Photoshop or Illustrator tutorials, and that was of no interest to Charli. She wanted to hear from designers and learn what interesting things they were doing. She wanted to see how other designers channelled the creativity, how they lived their lives, and what they were working on.
With that inspiration in hand, launching the channel was not difficult. Charli first created a few videos before publishing anything so that she could always have a buffer of one or two pieces of content. She then began consistently recording and releasing the videos, and encouraging watchers to subscribe and like them. Last of all, Charli leveraged her network to spread the word and gain those first loyal fans.
“I think sticking to a schedule has played a big part in my audience growth,’’ Charli advises, “because anyone who looks at my channel can see I deliver videos consistently and they know what to expect.”
Another key factor has been the quality of the videos. Charli’s audience knows that videos will be rich with knowledge, well shot, and the topics will be relevant.
So far it has paid off, and the budding YouTube celebrity is earning money from her videos, although the majority of the revenue is coming from advertising.
“Most successful YouTubers get their main earnings from brand sponsorship,” Charli explains, “so I’m hoping that once my audience gets a bit bigger I’ll be able to approach brands that align with my values and my channel for some video sponsorship opportunities.”
Finding conversation topics, writing a loose format down, recording, and editing is very time consuming, especially when that workload is being added to a full-time job and another side project. Charli says she does all this by relying on to-do lists for everything she does.
While most of us are scrambling to meet deadlines, grow revenue, and stay positive, Charli is planning her week and writing down daily tasks on two apps. The brain can only handle so much – like a computer if you will – and, by writing things down, Charli relieves stress, allowing her to be fresh and creative.
Wunderlist, a simpler and more robust task management app, is what Charli uses to keep track of work projects.
“I keep separate lists in two separate apps so that I can easily concentrate on my work tasks during the day, and my side projects in the evenings and on weekends,” Charli told us.
“I firmly believe that if you’re passionate about something and want to do it, you’ll make time for it. It sounds super nerdy, but on a Sunday I’ll generally plan out my week, organising when I’m going to fit in filming and editing etc around other commitments.”
Overall, the multi-talented designer is satisfied with the current lifestyle she has. It’s comfortable, but it’s still filled with adventure and risk.
In 5 years, Charli hopes that she’ll still be doing what she loves, because she never wants to be a ‘working for the weekend’ type of person.
“I hope that my YouTube channel will have grown a lot more by then too, and that I’ve put out more collections of shirts on Liner Note Kids,” she says.
“Because I love my ‘day job’, I’m perfectly happy for these to stay as side projects for now, but I’m still focussed on growing them as much as I can.”
In the midst of our busy lives, it becomes easier and easier to forget that unparalleled sense of fulfilment that comes when one is doing what they love doing every day.
What does it mean for you?