Regaining strength and motivation

 180 Creative Camp photo by  Sérgio

180 Creative Camp photo by Sérgio

Hi everyone! :) This time I’m writing something different, sharing a bit of our personal lives.

For those who don’t know us, we are a small studio composed of 2 people: Cláudia (me) and Sérgio. And you might not know, but we’re a couple. And yes, I get a lot of questions about it. The question I get the most is “How do you make it work?”. Let me tell a bit of our story.

We’re a couple for 5 years, we started dating on September 2013. And our professional relationship began in April 2014, at a startup called Nourish Care. Sérgio’s asked me if I wanted to join the team, and my first reaction was “NO, that is not a good idea!”. At the time I was doing some freelancing work in branding, graphic design and web design. I was struggling but getting some occasional work.

I had never thought of working for a tech company or even working with my boyfriend. But the field of the company and its mission challenged me. The team also had two more people, Diva (Social worker) and Filipe (Developer), and I got thrilled with the possibility of being in a multidisciplinary team. It was an incredible first experience doing product, and my first time doing UI and UX professionally. I learned a lot with the entire team. In the end, I felt we had a strong professional bond with Sérgio due to the many challenges we dealt together. And for sure he was my real mentor over this experience.

I already knew Sérgio wanted to open his own studio. He left Nourish first, and that was the time for creating something new. He asked me to join the project but I was drowning in doubts. Doubts about my ability, about spending the whole day working with my boyfriend, and if we could deliver good work together. And also financially because if something goes wrong it’s not just one salary you’re not taking home.

But finally, I made the decision to do this leap of faith. Five months after Bloco was created, I joined the project. A big opportunity to design and build a design-based company. Creating this maze of services, processes, brand, team, office.

I won’t lie, it isn’t easy. We face many difficulties, there are growing pains, dealing with expectations and frustrations. It needs constant adjustments, focus and, above all, believing in a purpose and legacy. This last 6 months we lagged on some good business development habits. Talking with other companies, being present at events, actively searching for new projects. And we had fewer leads because of that. We’re still trying to figure out how to better sell design.

About having studio run by a couple, we need to deal with comfort and habituation. Monotony is a big enemy. In our case, sometimes we don’t keep an open communication. This can result in the loss of energy and motivation, misleading information and then you create errors and discomfort. And often we get too picky and demanding of each other. This is something we need to continue to work on and improve.

One year ago we moved to a new office, after leaving Nest Collective. A community office where several companies work together. With that, we lost interactions, having a varied group of people who to talk about different topics. Or simply having an informal time to relax and have fun.

That leads us to come up with new plans for recharging the batteries. Not losing the community sense, and not losing track of who we are beyond work. Reconnecting with your old Nest folks, keep meeting new people from the industry. Keep doing and going to workshops, and doing business events.

Working on digital projects also leaves us craving for manual and community work and with that, we began to book events and travels that could give us more headspace.

180 Creative Camp
1 week, 50 creatives, in a Portuguese inland town. Having workshops, watching concerts and hanging out. And we had an awesome time! Working on something as different. As drawing, painting, analogue photography and film directing is refreshing and inspiring. But it was the fellow campers that made the experience unforgettable. A great group of friendly and interesting creatives that we got to know through the week.

The New Digital School
Attended the workshop Jobs to Be Done - Workshop with Stephanie Troeth hosted by The New Digital School Was a great first immersion to Jobs to be Done. I had some idea of the framework, but being able to do and apply some concepts, and clarify some aspects. Was a good deal for me.

Radio Baixa
Sometimes I collaborate with RB doing some graphics and minor tasks. Sérgio is different, he is managing the operations with the rest of team, plus doing some DJ sessions.

Zain Talks
Together with Rafaela (from Deemaze) and Sara (from RedLight Software). We are building quarterly talks about design and creativity. With the purpose of bringing together the design community, in Coimbra and Center of Portugal.

Brief Festival
3 days of an intensive conference in Madrid, about knowledge “The Logos” and creativity. From Motion, Illustration, Video, Advertisement to Branding, we meet a lot of new studio and artist from Spain and the rest of the world.


To end, we know we need to do more than Bloco, to be comfortable and happy with each other. It’s a constant self-development, rediscovery and acceptance. Sometimes we get tired of pushing, but we always have a huge desire for creating more and better products. It’s hard to continue when we feel stuck in the same place, not seeing much progress. But you need to keep creative and, hopefully, everything will be alright.

Projects, Life, About, BusinessCláudia