We had the good fortune of connecting with Kay Hues and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kay, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In this capitalist economy, specialization seems to be the epitome of professionalism. But I tend to disagree. Humans are multifaceted, multidimensional beings, and the success of my content creation business is the living proof of this idea.
Our education system is designed to produce tools for solving ever more specific problems, and these tools usually have a single purpose. Architects design impossible buildings, engineers calculate the risks, and the construction workers slave away in 12-hour shifts installing all those metal beams to prevent the architect’s dream from collapsing onto our clueless heads. Each person plays a specific part, like a little cog in a well-oiled machine, quietly fulfilling their duty day after day, after day. The goal of human existence is framed around a single utilitarian purpose. No more, no less.
But what happens when one wants to step out of this laid out specialization track?
Well, in my case, this journey has taken me through the debris of self-doubt and confusion, over the bottomless pit of despair, and onto the path that showed me my higher purpose: using my creativity to help others achieve their dreams. This is my ikigai, my raison d’être, my innermost drive, without it I would be but a shell of a human being.
Growing up in Russia, I always felt out of place. I didn’t understand why I was expected to lead a largely meaningless existence consumed by grayness when I had so much color trapped inside. So, I was constantly questioning the status quo. “Because I said so” cut my mother in response to my ever-growing curiosity. “Don’t ask too many questions” teachers grumbled at school. “This is just the way things are here” – I was told again and again by everyone who was confronted by my confusion – “You need to accept that this is how the world works. You don’t always get to do what you like.”
Why? Why should I accept it? So, I can die inside, just like the rest of you?
I knew that seeking my own path would be hard but living a life of regret is simply unbearable. I would not forgive myself if I didn’t try. I refused to believe that a human mind is meant to become a tool, a mere building block of the prison I used to call home. Well, at least mine isn’t.
My mind is more like an untamable ocean – reaching to the farthermost regions of the globe; getting into the smallest crevasses that contain all of Earth’s secrets; falling as rain to feed the abundant crops; becoming hot meals and cotton blends, pungent cigars, and pages of worn-out history books. I find life fascinating in all its creative diversity.
So why am I being constantly asked to choose one thing?
Choose your favorite subject, they say, get good at it so that you can enter a prestigious university. But what if I like spoken languages just as much as I like programming ones?
Choose a major they said and choose it wisely, after all, it will determine the rest of your life. But what if I want to create art AND learn about the complex entanglements of modern society?
Choose a stable career path they said, this is how your life will have a sense of direction, stability, and all those things you need to be considered a functional adult.
But I refused to choose. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Fine Arts, AND I was the Editor-in-Chief of the university photo magazine. I got a Master of Arts in Transcultural Studies with a focus on social media, AND I worked at an art gallery while perfecting my photo- and videography skills on the side. I learned to speak 5 languages, AND I acquired the basic knowledge of web design. Now, I can tell you about the nuances of the TikTok algorithm AND discuss the role of NATO in the Bosnian war.
That said, upon graduation, I was still at a loss on how I could combine all of my skills and talents to get where I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to help people somehow – after all, this higher drive is what gives life meaning. I also knew that I wanted to have creative freedom and not be doing the same things all day every day. I sought to explore, I craved to learn, I yearned to push those boundaries, to finally let those colors out.
Turned out that the answer I was seeking was right at the tips of my fingers. Literally. The entire universe neatly fitted in the palm of my hand. And the production of content is the energy that keeps this universe expanding. At this moment all the dots finally connected, the light went on, and the angelic choir began unironically singing in the background. This was the moment, I realized that if I wanted to, I COULD do it all. In the end, if there are countless individuals successfully pursuing a life of boundless creativity why can’t I be one of them?
What about competition you say? Yes, it is certainly high. There is a lot of good content out there. But great content is and forever will be more valuable than gold.
Great content stays with you long after you saw it.
Great content talks directly to people’s hearts.
Great content changes lives for the better.
Great content connects us all, transcending the imaginary boundaries we consumed with our mothers’ milk.
Even though I am at the early stages of my content creation business and still have a very long way to go, I know that if I keep listening to the calling coming from deep within my soul, success is simply inevitable. After all, why do I feel so much greatness trapped within me if it is not there waiting to be unleashed?
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally? Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I often refer to myself as a holistic content creator. This basically means: “tell me your idea and I will make it happen.” I think this is what really sets me apart – I can create pretty much anything with any medium. And if I don’t know how to do something, I am more than thrilled to figure it out along the way.
Maybe I should thank my innately curious nature or my rampant ADHD, but I love a new challenge. A client needs an updated logo for their rebranding campaign? A single night spent in Illustrator and a vortex of YouTube tutorials, and it was done. One more happy client walks the face of this earth.
You require a research style SEO article on Internet Governance? I got you. You need a video ad campaign for Instagram stories? I’m just gonna grab my tripod. You want me to make a short film commemorating your art exhibition? Let’s do it! You dream of a high-end portrait photos to promote your fashion brand? Count me in! Oh, you want me to do creative make up for it as well? 1000 times yes!
To me, creativity comes in many forms. The language of creation is my native tongue, so translating it with a help of a new tool is just like pouring liquid from one container to another. I might need to pay a bit of extra attention, but the creative mechanism is the same everywhere.
At the beginning, when I still didn’t have a lot of experience or a decent portfolio, I did a lot of work for free. Some clients ended up abusing this dynamic, while others tipped me way over what I thought I was worth. This helped me build up my portfolio and get first paid clients. And then the word is mouth in combination with my social media presence started doing the trick – I started getting more and more paid offers.
But even now, I sometimes take on projects on a donation basis. This happens if I feel like I don’t have a lot of experience with a particular medium and I just want to give it a try without feeling too much pressure. Interestingly enough, since I do my work well, those same clients often come back with paid project ideas. I guess I have my toxic perfectionism to thank for this one Or if the client has a really tight budget, but I REALLY like the project idea and have a bit of free time on my hands, I like to help them out. Call it good karma, call it charity, but I firmly believe one needs to give in order to get.
My ability to do anything is my greatest superpower in the demanding world of content creation, but it can also be a serious weakness. Keeping all the different projects organized, making sure that I have enough time and energy to not only finish them, but finish them timely and well is a serious challenge.
Not many people know the price I paid and continue to pay for my creative success: countless sleepless nights, burnouts, panic attacks and breakdowns. Time and energy are limited resources – learning that was the hardest pill to swallow.
Because I am interested in so many different things, I tend to scatter myself. I overestimate my potential for productivity and underestimate my need for rest. This usually happens when I plan my time on my good days, thinking that I will have the same levels of motivation and energy throughout the month. But we all know that this is not how human beings function. A stable output of energy is a prerogative of robots, or well-oiled cogs in the capitalist machine, not people.
The solution was to learn to plan with this need for rest in mind. I will leave spaces in my busy schedule for quiet walks, journaling and mediation, for Sunday hikes and brunches with friends. I will not fill all of my free time with meetings and editing blocks like I used to do before. Because some of my time NEEDS to remain free, so I do not feel like an inmate in the jail cell of my own design.
The perfect work-life balance is as elusive as the memory of your the night’s dream. But I believe that finding it is what this journey is all about – it is the ultimate answer to life, universe, and everything . This balance is responsible for our fulfillment and our success, our mental and physical health, and ultimately determines the quality of our lives. Maybe it is the Libra in me speaking, but it is my greatest mission to strive for this balance. Every. Single. Day.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh boy, Berlin is a fun city to explore. Even if you know all the ins and outs, there are always new things popping up out of nowhere – outdoor festivals, spontaneous demos, street musicians, art exhibitions and so, so much more. But of course, I have my own mental lists of permanent places and things that would give a great impression of the city.
Let’s assume that it is summer, as this is the best time to visit the city. I would probably start of our tour with checking off some basic touristy things off our list. We are going to go to take a classic selfie by the Brandenburger Gate, check out the solemn Holocaust memorial nearby and then have a little picnic on the lawn near the Reichstag. Then we will go on a walk by the river until we reach the Museum Island – a home of 5 world-famous museums housing a whole lot of art and historical objects from various periods of European and Mediterranean cultures. We would probably have to come back here again to spend a day at the museums. So for now, we will just walk around and enjoy dazzling neo-baroque architecture.
Then we would check out Alexanderplatz – a home of the iconic TV tower, the second most common symbol of the city after the Brandenburger Gate. If you are up for it, I could even sacrifice my vegetarian ideals for some Korean fried chicken at the Angry Chicken place nearby or we can try the best vegan donuts in the city at Brammibal’s. And if we still have energy left in us after, we shall visit the Eastside gallery – a remaining piece of the Berlin Wall turned a permanent street art exhibition.
But of course, one cannot talk about visiting Berlin without mentioning the city’s party culture. The word nightlife would be a misnomer, as the parties here can last from Friday night to Monday evening. Interestingly enough, most locals go out on Sunday early in the morning right after their morning coffee and come back home that same evening to wake up fresh and rested for work. So, during the weekend, I could take you to one of the best clubs in the city. If I can get you in, my first choice would be Berghain (let’s just say it is world-famous for a reason;), Kitkat if you are feeling more adventurous, or Sisyphus if you enjoy more of a festival feel.
Festival-vibe places are actually quite common in the city. There are a lot of spaces referred to as cultural centers that you can visit during the day to enjoy the sun with a glass of beer in the lounge chair by the river, or you can come here at night to hang out and dance. My favorite places like these are called Holzmarkt, Yaam, and Raw Gelände.
Being a part of a queer culture, I have to mention Typsy Bear – a cozy bar with a little stage that is a home to the best people and wildest drag king performances in the city. We are definitely going to see one! And, if you enjoy Bourlesque, the circus-themed bar called Zum Starkem August is certainly on our agenda.
I can talk for hours about all the art galleries, museums exhibitions, street art spaces abundant though the city. And don’t get me started on the local street food – I can write a novel just on this topic. It is also so much fun to just go and hang out at the city’s parks, riverbanks and lake sides – Berlin is truly rich when it comes to nature.
But honestly, words are not enough to describe that whirlwind of emotion that is this city. So, I guess you just gotta come and check it out for yourself!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First of all, let me give the BIGGEST shoutout to my support system: my friends who pick up the late-night calls, my partner who quietly hugs me until my sobs subside, my therapist with her unwavering faith in me, and my mother, who was the only person supporting my crazy ideas throughout my childhood and adolescence. Without you all I wouldn’t be here. Thank you! I love you to the end of the observable universe and beyond.
Secondly, I would also like to mention certain ideas and strategies that deserve credit for my success.
In order to keep myself organized, I started keeping a bullet journal – a mindfulness-based productivity system developed by Ryder Carroll. The bullet journal gives me the flexibility a normal organizer cannot provide. In my journal, I not only keep track of all my ongoing and future projects, but I also make sure to leave space for simple sketching practice, set up little milestones, write my accomplishments and keep a daily gratitude log. But most importantly, this is where I keep my habit tracker. In my line of work, building the right habits is absolutely essential.
One idea I found particularly helpful in this regard comes from a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. James basically argues that when it comes to habit-forming, just as little as 5 minutes a day can make all the difference. Honestly speaking, I attribute many of my greatest achievements to this concept.
Some days, I have a hard time getting started, especially if a task feels too overwhelming. But if I decide that I just need to do it for 5 minutes, there is no room left for excuses. After all, it is just 5 minutes! Then, more often than not, I get into a state of flow and can easily sit there for hours hyperfocusing on this particular task. On the days I don’t feel it well, I can just do my 5 minutes and still have a sense of accomplishment.
Currently, I have 6 habits I am working on building, so this whole routine could be done in as little as 30 minutes a day.
These are probably the biggest lessons I have learned throughout my journey:
- Even if I can do everything by myself, I don’t have to do it alone.
- If I want to achieve consistency, setting small goals is the key to success.
All photographs are done by me