Rocket Fuel Design

Rocket Fuel Design / Our Stories  / How And Why I Quit My 9-5 Job
Lainey, founder of Rocket Fuel Design at her desk

How And Why I Quit My 9-5 Job

Lainey shares how and why she quit her 9-5 job to start Rocket Fuel Design.

I always dreamed of running a graphic design studio. Even while I was still studying, I would brainstorm names and create logo designs. I did manage to take on one or two paid jobs, but I was never good at finding paid work or selling my services. The work I got had to come to me.

Development of Rocket Fuel Design Logo
The development of the Rocket Fuel Design Logo started way back!

Once I completed my studies, I applied for a role as a graphic designer at a local real estate company. The work wasn’t exciting, but I considered myself lucky. Most of the graduates in my class didn’t land jobs in their field of study. I saw the top animation student working at Burger Fuel the year after we graduated, her dreams of Weta Workshop a long way from being a reality.

So I did my job with not a huge amount of satisfaction, while on the side I continued to dream of the design studio I longed to build. Then one day something happened. The Marketing Manager suddenly left. The box that I didn’t realise I was in, was pulled away and I was given the freedom to explore ideas right there in my job. I didn’t need my own business after all! 

How lucky was I, I had found a job I truly loved. I treated that brand like it was my own. At one point I even thought about asking the owner if they would let me open another branch of the brand in a different location. I guess the desire to build something of my own wasn’t completely gone. Just dormant. 

Then the meeting came. The whole team was called in for a very important announcement. We all sat there in anticipation, I was so excited to hear what it was! Then the words, “We are merging…”. The business was being sold and so was my dream job. So what did I do? I did what every overly sensitive young person does. I cried. 

So a few weeks later the business was sold and we merged with the other company that had acquired us. One big happy family. Well for those of you with blended families, you will know that a merger [of any kind] is anything but happy. 

Suddenly there were strangers at the coffee machine. 

Let’s just bypass 6 months of misery [as I think I might have signed a nondisclosure agreement]. I left. 

So what was I going to do now? What I really wanted to do was, you guessed it. Start my own business. But when you have a mortgage and bills to pay and no clients to speak of that’s a bit hard. So I took a role as a marketing coordinator at a tertiary provider. An exciting new adventure.

I hated it. When you’re passion is ideas the worst place you can be is a cog in someone else’s very large machine. I was stifled and I was stuck and I lost my drive. 

Then something marvellous happened. I got pregnant! And my energy and drive came back. So when my maternity leave kicked in and I had time on my hands, while most people relax and start to prepare for their new arrival. I started my very own business. FINALLY! 

I pitched to my first client. They told me I was overpriced. But I had calculated exactly what I needed to be paid to grow the business I wanted. So what did I do? I did what every budding freelancer does. I lowered my price. But I didn’t care. I waddled into the bank at 8 months pregnant and [much to the astonishment of the bank manager] I asked to open a business account. I was in business!

So I worked my butt off – all for the $100/month my client agreed to pay me [for those reading this outside of New Zealand, that’s about USD$50!] But I gained a bit of confidence and word got around and I managed to get a few more clients. Oh, and I had our son, Andre. 

Lainey Graduation with husband and new born son, Andre by her side
Lainey at her graduation with her husband and newborn son, Andre.

I would work while he slept and I would take him for walks while listening to podcasts. I would watch training videos on business management while I rocked him to sleep. It was tough, but I was finally doing it. I was building my business. 

But I still had bills to pay, and those first couple of clients weren’t going to cut it. Remember I was only charging $100/month… So I returned to work, but I managed to convince my boss to let me cut down to part-time hours because I had a baby. Two, if you counted my business. 

So this is where things got hectic. I worked part-time and worked on my business while still being a mum and a wife. And I did that until I couldn’t do it any more. I talked through me leaving my job with my husband and in true Data Analyst style, he made me put together a business plan and 12-month financial forecast. It checked out. He agreed. 

I was free! 

And that is how Rocket Fuel Design began. 

Today Lainey continues to develop Rocket Fuel Design and has begun helping other students to pursue their dreaming in both design and marketing. She has welcomed her second child, Hunter and remains dreaming of bigger and better things for her company. 

Lainey dressed up with her childern, Andre and Hunter Hunter, Laineys secound child.

Comments: 4

  • Lara
    January 22, 2020 ,7:06 am

    Kia ora Lainey. awesome journey you took me on reading ur story. Gr8 stuff.. its inspiring how you managed it with all ur hard wrk …so much has changed for you since ur went on maternity…
    .congrats to you n ur beautiful wee whanau…may you continue to prosper..nga mihi Lara

  • Luke Farmer
    January 24, 2020 ,11:50 am

    Incredible journey there Lainey. Very inspirational for many in the industry as well. I remember us back in 2006 all bright eyed and full of dreams. Its great to see you are living out yours and its all working out. Hope all is well.

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