By her own admission, Brianna Wettlaufer is “not particularly great at balance.” And yet, the Stocksy co-founder still manages to curate every image on the stock photo site she founded and take off a couple afternoons each week to hang out with her kids.
“Not a lot of people know it, but I’m actually the sole curator for Stocksy, and have been from the beginning,” she said. “After that, my day consists of a lot of meetings. Stocksy is run with a fairly flat or horizontal hierarchy; meaning everyone is responsible for themselves and accountable to each other.”
Wettlaufer co-founded Stocksy four years ago in Victoria, British Columbia, as a profit-sharing co-op capped at 1,000 members. The company is now owned by 900 photographers and generated $7.9 million in revenue last year. Stocksy paid out $4.3 million of that revenue to members, according to Wettlaufer.
“So far we’ve proven that integrity for our community and creativity is paying off,” she said.
Meet our Working Geek and continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire:
Current Location: “At Stocksy HQ, where we just finished squeezing all of our staff around our boardroom table for our weekly stand-up meeting. After the recent round of hiring, it’s getting pretty tight in there.”
Computer types: “MacBook Pro. I need a heavy-hitter laptop to continue my goal of being able to run every Adobe Suite product simultaneously, while keeping about 100 tabs in Chrome open.”
Mobile devices: “iPhone 6 Plus. Sure, I originally thought they were a bit ostentatious, but after borrowing one as a camera for a weekend, I couldn’t look back.”
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “Adobe Lightroom, Instagram, VSCO (for on-the-fly processing), Scannable, JIRA (I’m a documentation fanatic), Gdrive, Slack, and Spotify (music nerd).”
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “My desk sits inside a wooden house frame covered in twinkly lights that sits on the main floor with the devs. I have two giant (5-foot tall) paper flowers I scored from a children’s shop (that closed downstairs) beside me, a hulk mask hanging above me, a lunar calendar from Smith Magazine behind me, and my coveted 30-inch Mac monitor in front of me.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “I’m not particularly great at ‘balance.’ I like to push things and myself as hard as I can and work until I mentally collapse. I’ve accepted this about myself, so instead I make sure to take breaks where I focus my energy. Recently we hired a VP of Ops who’s been freeing up my time to focus on the things I’m best at, like product, marketing, and community development. If you don’t take inventory on your time, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of tiny tasks and meetings and die a death by a thousand cuts.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “Our social network of artists at Stocksy. It’s like a second family. We all follow each other on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We’re not just looking at each other’s professional photography, we’re sharing all the intimate moments of our lives together and supporting each other.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “11,832.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “20.”
How do you run meetings? “Collaboration is really important to me, as well as well-crafted strong opinions. I would never want to be in a meeting where everyone wasn’t willing to share his or her opinion in a totally blunt and honest way. Candy-coating just wastes everyone’s time and tends to be ambiguous. Our meetings typically focus on brainmeld through whiteboarding, challenging understandings (just to be sure) and building on top of them — laced with wit, banter and a lot of laughs.”
Everyday work uniform? “I have two looks; my up days are black leather pants and stilettos, and the down days are high tops, sweatpants and a snapback.”
How do you make time for family? “I have two amazing kids, 8 and 2. I try to take a couple days a week where I leave work early to pick them up from school and we all go do activities together, like nature hikes, picnics on the beach, exploring tide pools. When I think about how much time I work and the sacrifices I’ve/they’ve made while we were in our early days as a startup, I owe it to them to pay them back and not miss out on these precious years.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “It’ll sound obvious, but I really do love taking pictures. It fuels me creatively and I get grumpy when I don’t make time for it. A close second is rummaging through used bookstores for anything Henry Miller. Third, one of our developers is a responsible gun owner, and after a really stressful week, he’s let some of us go out to the gun range with him. Getting a bullseye is pretty exhilarating.”
What are you listening to? “I’ve been in love with Billy Childish for awhile now. My favourite is his creole/punk/blues version of ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Bottom of the Sea.’ A couple others: The Wytches, Suuns, The Amazing Snakeheads, chilling to banjo with Dink Roberts, ‘Bad Seeds’ by Beat Happening when I’m feeling like trouble, ‘Itotiani’ by Chicano Batman for kitsch, and during the day, when I really need to get some shit done, I crank the Trapaholics playlist off Spotify.”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “The daily curations on Facebook by The Death of Cool – Desillusion, iGNANT and The Jealous Curator.”
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt.”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “Never doing either effectively.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “When I clear my plate, turn off being in reactive mode, step back and start walking through projects, our website, possible features, from start to finish — just scribbling down ideas and challenging how we can improve. I can be a bit insatiable.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “We recently had the pleasure of working with Matthew Haynes from . His passion is infectious and it was brilliant seeing a person who will settle for nothing but the creating the coolest experience possible for people.”