Britney Beeby and Harriet Stockwell: That Freelance Life

Freelance Creatives

Industry: Creative

Home Base: London, England

Who are you and what do you do for a living?

We are Britney Beeby and Harriet Stockwell, or to each other Beebs and Hbomb. We’re best friends and a freelance creative team originally from Cape Town, South Africa, now living and working in London. We work in ad agencies and creative studios by day, and by night we make our creative dreams come true with passion projects and side hustles.

What is your passion?

Making work that sets our souls on fire - the kind of work that delights people and brings them joy, touches them deeply and challenges perceptions.

We try to do it as often as possible in our day jobs, but if the briefs we receive don’t allow for it then we make time to do it ourselves after hours. Dishing out compliments with @contagiouscompliments or hosting Disney sing-a-long inside a giant rabbit in the desert with @rabbit_heart_family, are our joyful outlets to bring delight into an often too serious world. While our biggest side hustle yet, That Freelance Life Podcast, let’s us live our passion of helping other creatives live their best lives. Don’t be fooled though, disco dancing and sharing a bottle of wine over a delicious meal, are also things we are highly passionate about.

What are you most proud of?

Our podcast – That Freelance Life – which we record, edit and host all on our own.

It began as a small idea in passing, that after 6 months of non-stop hard work after hours, finally came to being.

Our first season was all about how to go freelance in London (setting up a company, getting clients, dealing with recruiters etc) and we’re following up with episodes about broader topics, like maternity (& paternity) leave when freelancing, mental health, remote working etc. We love seeing our community interact with one another and hearing the feedback on how an episode really hit home for someone. We are so proud of what we’ve made.

What lead you to this point in your life?

Harriet: My undivided ambition to create work that moves people with my constant curiosity to discover and know more. To be honest, when I left school I wanted to be in musicals. I graduated high school in Dance, Drama and Art, but I had to pay for university myself so I thought I should study something that would be a guaranteed money maker. Never chase the money my mom always says. She is right, however, art was still a huge passion of mine and going into the arts led me to meet Britney and discover the real fire burning in my belly.

My ambition led me to work for some of the best agencies in the world and my curiosity got me traveling the world.

Until I landed myself in London, curious to learn to live in another country and ambitious to build my career.

Brit: Figuring out what I didn’t want to do and judging what I love from there. I’ve lived on 3 different continents, I’ve been a lecturer, food stylist, Graphic Designer, Art Director, worked for international corporates and tiny start ups. Looking back all of the dots connect, and I can see how every choice I made brought me to where I am now.

What did you study?

We studied (and met) at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where we did degrees in Graphic Design. Our course was so varied, we learnt how to design, art direct, copy write, concept, present - all those things have come in handy in industry. But we also learnt how to make the ideas we came up with by hand - photography, typography, mixed media, print making, illustration - so that by the end of the course we weren’t afraid to get our hands dirty trying to make things, which really set us apart from peers in industry. It’s a mindset we’ve held onto ever since.

What did you sacrifice to follow your dreams?

Brit: I’ve moved around the world following love mostly, but also to go where the money was good, so I’ve definitely sacrificed time and making memories with my family and friends back home. That being said, I’ve built new networks and friendship circles that I never would have otherwise, and I’m so grateful for these, as well as my old ones from home.

Harriet: You can’t bring everyone with you, Britney followed love, I left love behind, sadly. I worked hard, I studied during the day and waitressed at night to pay for it. This left little time to spend on relationships and as a result I missed out on a lot and lost relationships along the way. I’m trying to create a balance now, but my work ethic still often takes over. Having said that, I have experienced incredible moments in my life and met amazing people, through traveling, through work and I am the woman I am today because of these experiences.

What is the most important thing you have learnt?

Harriet: Speak up. It is never as scary as you imagine in your head to stand up and speak up. You have an idea – share it, you think something is wrong – say something, you want what you’re worth – ask for it. Don’t be afraid, fear is the only thing that holds you back.

Brit: That mostly, what you think is a huge deal at the time, never ends up being that big a deal in hindsight.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Harriet: Traveling the world was my giant box of inspiration I often used to dig into. But now I find when brainstorming, my inspiration comes from my relationships with my family, friends, lovers and even strangers. People fascinate me, and because we are in the industry that taps into and changes people's behaviour, I am often found people watching. Then again, I do enjoy Instagram scrolling, gallery hopping, music listening and wine chats for inspiration.

Brit: I’d be lying if I didn’t say Pinterest and Instagram, but I definitely find galleries, walks outside, folders of papers I’ve collected over the years, Behance or doing a creative hobby to be far more beneficial in kick starting my creativity again.

What excites you about your life?

Brit: The fact that it’s such a wild ride - that no one can tell what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone a year from now. That every day is an opportunity to make the art that we love so much, and to create and think things and ideas into existence that never existed before.

Harriet: Hear hear to what Britney just said and to add on, it’s the people that make it most exciting. The ones I have met on my travels, through friends, through work, each one having a part to play in making this life full and exciting.

What is the best thing about your day?

Brit: When you’re mid brainstorm session and those really good ideas come through and you both get giddy with excitement over a concept or an idea or a phrase - that’s the best feeling in the world.

Harriet: Britney nailed it, it is such a harmonious feeling.

What’s it like working together as friends?

Brit: It’s so much fun - and because we’re friends first and creative partners second, we don’t have to pretend we’re okay if we aren’t - we’re completely open and honest with one another, which is so refreshing to have in a professional environment.

Harriet: And you can be totally yourself. No hiding, no polite cues, just exactly who you are and there’s trust in that.

When you feel secure to be yourself, you are more open to share your thoughts and ideas and enjoy the process of creating.

Obviously we don’t agree on everything and there are things we both do that irritate each other but we never go to bed annoyed, that’s a rule.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

Brit: In my career? You name it, I (and most other women) have experienced it - being underpaid, the only woman at the table, major imposter syndrome, people talking over you, working for long hours and no pay as an intern. Then there have been challenges more specific to creativity - having creative block when you’re on a deadline, dealing with rude clients, having ideas trash talked in meetings and presentations. It’s all part of the job and you soon learn to detach your feelings from your work.

Harriet: I think the detachment of feelings from your work, as Britney just mentioned, has been one of my biggest challenges.

Creativity is personal; it is pulling from all your experiences to create something unique, it is sharing your thoughts and ideas that someone else might not have thought about.

You put yourself into your work, it is hard not to. In turn creativity is subjective, as they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Learning to not take judgements against my work so personally is a skill that I have had to develop over years. What has helped is, the more you realise what is really important in life, the more you let go of what is not.

What is your support system?

Harriet: This leads perfectly into what is really important to me, that is my support network. My family and my friends, whom I like to call my tribe, Britney and her husband being part of that. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my parents' sacrifices, like my mom selling her car to enable me to go to a prestigious high school. My mom's encouragement to be whatever I wanted to be. My friends' assertiveness that taught me to stand up for what I wanted, and Britney being my creative partner who holds me accountable and pushes my creative spirit.

Brit: Harriet and my husband Ben are my daily champions, and support me in a million ways day to day. Long term, my parents gave me everything I needed and all my success in life I owe to them.

What is your 'recipe for success'?

Harriet: In the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ film, Will Smith's character says to his son, “You want something, go get it. Period.” That is my recipe for success, an ambition to work hard and go for what you want, mixed in with a healthy balance of play and a big dose of positive vibes.

Remember the measure of success is a personal opinion, so at the end of the day if you can feel fulfilled and happy then you have reached success.

Brit: Consistent hard work, saying yes to anything you like the sound of, whether you can do it or not (you’ll figure it out!) and remaining curious & joyful along the way.

What advice do you have for girls trying to follow their dreams?

Brit: Find a group of women in the same stage of their careers as you, in the same field, and support one another - give advice, be a shoulder to lean on and share opportunities and tips with one another, helping each other grow. Surround yourself with people who are better at things than you, and you’ll level up.

Harriet: Absolutely what Britney just said. The women that we lean on is our ‘Fierce Freelance Females’ Whatsapp group consisting of a bunch of talented freelance women in our industry from different disciplines.

Another point I would say is don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. When I was 17 I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything following the arts, and when I was 25 I got told I wasn’t conceptual enough to be an Art Director. Both of these moments I carry with me every day to push me to prove I can and I will, and here I am living my passion in the arts as an Art Director.

What do you think being a #Girlboss means?

Brit: I think it means being unashamedly yourself, owning your own time and getting paid well for what you do. It’s having the guts to back yourself, even when you’re scared and to pursue the things you want to in life, no matter what.

Harriet: And to have belief in yourself and your abilities. An ‘I got this’ attitude, and if you lack it, you have the vulnerability to ask your support for it.

What’s next for you?

Harriet: Once Corona is defeated the first thing will be to hug everyone I love and then everyone else I meet, hopefully kiss someone too. Then get back to cracking some paid creative briefs, building our experience to become a highly sought after creative team, turn the podcast into workshops and events, turn our side hustles into full time hustles and all along the way; sing and dance more.

Brit: Monetising our podcast, diversifying our income streams, working on new exciting ideas on the side, learning how to paint murals, making work that moves the world.

Instagram: @thatfreelancelifepodcast

Spotify: That Freelance Life

Apple Podcasts: That Freelance Life

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle