In Conversation with Ari Krzyzek of Chykalophia

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Describe your business in a few words?

Helping women-led brands fast forward their business online.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

There’s a backstory on what inspired me to start my own business. My fiance at the time (now my husband and business partner) suggested that I should try freelancing after he found out that I was only paid $250 per month. This is when I was still living in Bali, Indonesia. I followed his advice and started freelancing in 2009. After freelancing for a few months, I realized how I loved the flexibility and the variety of design projects that I could work on. It was another thing that inspired me as well. When I move to Chicago in 2011, my husband and I decided to incorporate both of our skills into one company, Chykalophia.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I was working as a graphic designer assistant and had just graduated from college with a bachelor degree in Visual Communication Design.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

No. I didn’t even know that such an opportunity existed until I went freelancing and decided to build the company together with my husband.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

When my husband and I first launched our business, we were told to attend as many networking events as we can and get the word out that way. We did. It didn’t work as great as we hoped. I wished we had research more about what type of networking events are a good fit for us and where our ideal clients would hang out at or attend on a regular basis.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

In the beginning, I didn’t think that I would be growing my business beyond just my husband and I. I didn’t have a system and process that document how we work and guidelines that new hires can follow. So when we started hiring new team members to join our team, we ended up spending too much time assisting them on how they should work. Lesson learned: always document your process and set business systems so your team can be more productive.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Being able to work on projects with brands like Google, Live Nation, and Verizon as well as speaking at events hosted by Adobe and AT&T has been something that I’m proud of.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Aside from losing a couple of big projects that were supposed to be completed this year, many of our event marketing strategies are now moved from in-person experiences to online experiences. Our events rely so much on creating connections and conversations on a personal level. Unfortunately, online events haven’t been able to replicate such connections just yet.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Not really. It can be a myth or it can be real. I think it depends on how you envision your own work/life balance. Before the COVID world, I feel that I had work/life balance. But now, especially with assisting my 5yo with remote learning and running a business, I feel that work/life balance doesn’t exist. The only tips that I can share is to be flexible and do the best you can when it comes to work/life balance. It’s going to be messy for a little bit. Try setting a routine that would work for you and your family, be open to changing up your schedule and flexible as you need.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a Balinese, I’ve studied 7 languages in high school (Balinese, Indonesia, English, Japanese, French, German, and Arabic), and while I was born and raised on an island surrounded by the ocean, I unfortunately don’t know how to swim.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Do morning check-in / daily stand up to recap what you did yesterday and what you’re planning to tackle today.
  • Set my phone to silent during work hours.
  • Set boundaries for work hours and non-negotiable work schedules, ie. client calls typically need to be scheduled at specific hours throughout the week.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Always showing up even though sometimes it feels like the world is against you.⁣

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