Creative Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Jessica Middleton, Founder at Sunstone Studio & Creative Director at Think Cups

Jessica Middleton is the Founder of Sunstone Studio, a Manly-based creative design studio, and Creative Director at Think Cups, providing reusable coffee cups.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Hi, I’m Jess. A 25-year old artist turned Creative Director, born in a tiny little town in country NSW, Australia. I’ve worked within the design industry for 5 years, after graduating University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communications in 2014.

Creating and collaborating is where my passion lies, having worked with some incredible brands over the past 5 years. My drive and focus is greater than ever, yet somehow the journey feels as though it has only just begun – especially with the recent launch of my own Design Studio, Sunstone studios.

As a Creative Director I offer a holistic approach to design, connecting and understanding who my clients are and combining a healthy dose of intuition and design intelligence to bring their visions to life.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

For the last couple of months, every day has been very different. I have been facing into new challenges and spending time with a lot of new people. I’m working on so many different projects as well as getting my studio off the ground, so times have been crazy.

But generally my mornings start with 30 minutes of mediation, whether it’s at home before I leave the house, on the bus, or ferry.

Today I arrived at work, coffee in hand, made some calls, sent some emails and started writing a new daily list of things that I make sure are done before the day is done.

I’m currently working with my biggest client on a new project, so I spent an hour with them to discuss the next stages in their brief. We talked about things such as creating engaging visualisations, planning social media strategies and discussing the project timeline.

While the work varies each day, I think a typical day is working closely with my team to achieve clients’ goals. I find no matter how much experience I gain, I am always learning and growing in the creative industry.

I am continuously working with other designers, copywriters and producers to find better design solutions.

3) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I find that prioritising your tasks ahead of time is super helpful. I list my tasks in order of importance, making sure I finish all of my most important tasks during the day.

Also, stepping away from the computer is really important! I do this a lot when I want to brainstorm new ideas, and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

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4) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance means doing an awesome job at work but also having enough time and energy to focus on my other passions and relationships.

This year I made the jump into running my own business which aligns more with my personal passions and allows me to tap into that energy and focus in a new way.

Like many millennials, I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the daily grind. So finding a way to blend my career and passion allows me to be more present in my personal and professional relationships and feel more fulfilled overall.

This is something I am committed to continuing to work hard on.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

I believe mindfulness is the single most important habit to cultivate if you want to be truly successful and fulfilled. And the the truth is, it’s actually very simple.

You just have to stay aware of what is surrounding you, be present, and observe the various situations that present themselves in your life. When you give people your full attention, you can really hear, understand and learn from them.

From years of practising this I started to realise that all of the information I needed had come at exactly the right time. I find mindfulness helps you to embrace the changes that occur, and detach from clinging to any specific outcomes.

Ultimately “success” comes and goes, like everything else in life. But if you choose to embrace and be content with each and every moment, that in and of itself is an accomplishment that should make you feel more connected, and therefore more able to be achieve the success you want.

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?


8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Do what makes you happy.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.