What do you do when you are struggling with the first project? Create a second one

It is a timely piece I wrote about when I was struggling with work years ago. It is a sentiment I totally relate to these days…with work, teaching, too many online meetings and then also trying to “insert” some type of physical exercise between these obligations…This is what happened years ago.


Aren’t you busy enough?

It was a question posed to me by a friend who was questioning my judgment when I told her that I was planning to start a blog.  She thought that I was crazy to think about starting another huge project when I just started my architecture firm, studio jonah only a few years before that.  It was a valid point…however, what she did not know was that I was “not that busy” (aka no work at the time since I finished the project I was working on). Many entrepreneurs would say how difficult to start a business and keep building… oh, how true that is in architecture business!


The year was 2015 and I had been running my architecture practice, Studio Jonah for a number of years by then.

As any entrepreneurs would say, it was not easy starting a business; dealing with employees, financials, marketing work( aka getting projects). There were many sink or swim moments. (actually more of the sink than swim moments.)

It was particularly a stressful time when I came up with an idea for starting a blog; I got rejected for the work proposal I submitted to a potential client. After working on the proposal for a number of days, and getting “another” no for an answer, I was exhausted from the whole process.

That was when I decided I wanted to create something that would give me a creative freedom, and absolutely zero chance of getting rejections-my own blog.

The one guideline I gave myself was to treat this as not a work, but a hobby, something I would enjoy. Combining all my design interests in fashion, interior design, industrial as well as architecture in one place and write in a way as if I was talking to my friends excited me and also sounded like an easy project to tackle.  

Oh, how wrong I was!!!


Design is design

After the flurry of activities of setting up the blog, and paying for the domain name, onahjung.com. I was staring at the blank screen and wondering what to write about.

That was the first time I was faced with why part of the blog. It was not enough to say “it is going to be fun. No rejections”! I had to come up with why part.  

That was when I thought about the tagline of the blog, life outside of design studio. I had to remind myself that this was not a proposal I was writing to a client, but rather writing to friends I have not seen for a  long time.

Well, time to get reintroduced to my friends who had not heard from me for a long time… that was the story behind my very first blog, why I started the blog

My First Follower

The most unexpected thing happened after a few days of writing: My first follower!!!

After asking (threatening) some of my friends to read/follow the blog, I was pleasantly surprised that there was someone (non-friend) who was genuinely interested in what I had to say.

She was a fashion blogger from Brazil who commented that she appreciated architect’s view on fashion. I was floored, to say the least!!!

Not only I shamelessly loved her compliments, I realized that compliment coming from another design enthusiast meant so much more!

It was a Great lesson in community building, even though, it was all done digitally!

Power of social media

I have recently attended the professional architectural conference, OAA 2018. In the midst of running a business with gazillion to do list items, it was not easy to fit the conference into a jam-packed work schedule.

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my sketch book

Of course, meeting the deadlines for continuing education hours (a.k.a. keeping the architecture license), I did not have much of a choice in the matter.

It was good to meet and network with the old colleagues and learning about the latest trends and architecture industry.

With the excuse of being busy, I have not attended any professional conferences in the last few years. This year, I made a decision to attend and get reacquainted with my old colleagues as well as meeting new people.  Of course, getting the latest info on building technologies and products are always the interesting part of the conference.

However, there was one unexpected thing happened at the conference: social media.

At one of the seminars, we were asked to fill out our social media handles besides our typical contact information.

My first thought was “I don’t want to share my personal thoughts with my business colleagues”  I especially did not want to share my blog….then I met a builder at the conference who made me to question my perspective; what is considered to be being professional?.  

After the quick introduction, he took out his cell phone and checked out my company website right then and there.  That was when he noticed my blog link and we started chatting about my personal interest besides my profession, an architect.

In the end, he commented that he felt that he got to know more about me and my design sensibilities because of the blog! For the longest time,

I felt the need to separate my personal life from a professional one…..well, after that conversation, I have a new appreciation for sharing my personal views on all things even to the professional audience.

It is difficult to go through these days without some people mentioning the importance of social media.  What I did not expect was that professional organization such as the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) conference taking the importance of social media.  Getting the feedback from a potential client that he appreciates getting a glimpse of his designer’s personal life/views is definitely a PLUS rather than a minus!

Now with this new found wisdom on the power of social media, you might think I am working more consistently on building my blog, but it has not been the case.

While working on the HUGE project( running an architecture firm) and being pulled in many directions, my crazy idea of creating ANOTHER project has not been so crazy afterward.  

There were many unexpected benefits I did not anticipate when I started this new adventure….starting with followers in Brazil:) Of course, I am still waiting to hear from that “potential” client I met at the conference…that would be another great story to post!

What do you think about my crazy idea about creating more projects when you are already struggling with one?  Any stories to share?

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