We had the good fortune of connecting with Grace Offerdahl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Grace, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I think America is one of the only countries in the world that puts so much pressure on work. Denmark has some of the world’s most efficient workers and they run on a 37 hour work week, distributed over 5 days. Every employee is legally entitled to five weeks’ paid vacation per year, and working overtime is discouraged across the country. In Italy, only 4% of employees work overtime, compared to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 11%. You request time off when you need it, and you call off when you’re sick – no guilt trip required. They believe that work should be secondary to enjoying your life.
Growing up, you’re taught that your life won’t be fulfilling if you aren’t a hard worker with a great job. While I care about work and I care about my career, I also recognize that I am a full person without that. While I know that now, it definitely took me a while to get there. I’ve been working since I was 15, and it wasn’t until recently that I found what I think is a good balance for myself. In high school, I worked anywhere from 3-6 days a week at a restaurant, and I struggled to balance going to school, working, homework, extracurricular activities, and trying to be a normal teenager who hangs out with their friends. Once I went to college, I was taking 18 credits a semester, working part-time as a server, working 20 hours a week at an internship, and running a campus organization. It’s safe to say my college years had zero balance – I can remember a handful of occasions where I broke down because I felt like I had no time to do anything I actually wanted to do.
The main thing that I’ve changed about my work habits that has led to a better balance is that I keep work in working hours. I bartend part-time and once I leave my shift, that work day is over. I don’t go home and stress about rude customers or mistakes I made or anything related to work because it’s over and can’t be changed. Bringing it home lets work invade your personal time, which is something I try my hardest not to do. It can definitely be a challenge, especially since I work part-time from home for my other job. It’s much harder when you live where you work, because the balance starts to blur. I used to work wherever I wanted to, sometimes from my bed or my couch or on my patio, but I found that it wasn’t healthy. Now I have a desk that I do all my work at, and I don’t allow myself to work anywhere else. I let my work live in that one room and once I close my laptop, I don’t open it again until my next shift starts.
With my business, Nasty Woman Earrings, I felt like I had to constantly work on it for it to succeed. I was spending all my free time making new products, taking photos, tweaking my website, and producing new social media content. If I got a message or email from a customer, I felt like I had to respond immediately no matter what I was doing. I didn’t give myself any breaks, which led to me becoming uninspired. It’s something that I love to do, so it was hard to think of it as a job. Once I forced myself to see it as a job (which it really is), I was able to pace myself. I used to work until I burned out, now I only create when I’m feeling inspired. It leads to better products for the customer and better peace of mind for me. I still struggle with the social media aspect of it, because I feel like I have to post or engage or interact every day, but I try my best to limit myself with how much time I spend every day.
I didn’t always care about having a balance between work and life, because they felt like the same thing to me at one point. When I was in my junior year of college, I realized that it was completely draining me. I still don’t feel like I have the perfect balance, and I don’t know if that even exists, but it’s something I make a conscious effort to give myself everyday.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In 2019, I started Nasty Woman Earrings, my small business where I make jewelry out of polymer clay. I started playing with clay as a way to relieve my stress while I was a full-time student working two jobs and I honestly never saw it going past my dining room table. I started wearing my earrings to class and getting compliments on them, so I decided to set up an Instagram page and start selling.
Although I love NW, it is not my career and I don’t intend for it to be. I graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Entertainment Management and a minor in Digital Marketing. My goal is to work in the music industry in talent management, touring, or music supervision. Although I don’t see Nasty Woman as my end goal, I never want it to go away and will hopefully always continue the business.
Nothing about running the business is easy, but it’s all worth it. I didn’t know anything about making an e-commerce website or taking product photos or doing taxes (yuck). I’ve had a great support system and I’m an expert at Google, so I was able to get through most of the bigger challenges.
The name Nasty Woman comes from the feminist movement that took place in 2016 after Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman.” Instead of being offended, women around the world embraced what was meant as an insult and reclaimed the word, and it became a rallying cry for women everywhere. Nasty Woman Earrings is meant to empower people to say, do, and wear whatever makes them happy, even down to your earrings.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Youngstown, Ohio is not the most exciting place on earth and I’ll be the first to admit it. I went to college in Pittsburgh, which is only an hour away, so I consider that to be part of my home as well.
In Youngstown, the first place I’d take them to would be Westside Bowl, a bowling alley, bar/restaurant, and music venue downtown. I am a bit biased since my parents own it, but it’s the coolest place around with the best pizza in the area. They’ve got a bunch of local craft beers on tap and even more in cans, but I’m partial to Rhinegiest Slangria. I’d make them try the pickle pizza (yes, you heard that right) and the cheese curds, because those are the best things on the menu. I’d take them to the McDonough Museum of Art to see the local artists on display, and then I’d take them through a walk in Mill Creek Park, which ranks among the largest metropolitan-owned parks in the US. I’d make sure to bring them to The Youngstown Flea to shop all the local makers, artists, and small businesses that Youngstown has to offer, because I try to shop small whenever I can.
In Pittsburgh, we’d go to the Andy Warhol Museum and The Mattress Factory to see some incredible art. We’d ride the Duquesne Incline to see a view of the entire city skyline, see a game at PNC park, and go to a concert at Stage AE. We’d go to the most beautiful garden I’ve ever been to, Phipps Conservatory, and see the quirky collection of street art at Randyland. We’d eat the best tacos at Condado, the best Thai food at Noodlehead, and the best hibachi at Ichiban. And even though you can do it in any city, we’d go to the movies because the AMC in the Waterfront is the best theater around. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom is the coolest person on the planet. She’s supported me my entire life, and that support only grew when I started my business. She’s constantly putting my needs and my sister’s needs before her own, and she is a great mom and a great friend. She works her ass (you can censor that if need be) off and inspires everyone around her. She’s the best and everything I do, I owe to her.
I also want to shout out Elena and Nic for always cheering me on no matter what, and Mya for continually supporting my small business since day one.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nastywomanearrings/ (@nastywomanearrings)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dontbegracist (@dontbegracist)
Professional photos: Romond DuVal Product Photos: Grace Offerdahl Product Selfi photos: Sent in by customers