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Monica Kremer founded lifeonmars* design studio and paper goods brand in 2013 after finally succumbing to her life-long love affair with illustration and a growing yet healthy obsession with witty punch lines. The result is a line of "whimsy-cool" cards, calendars and art prints, infused with a unique touch of humor and visual play. All lifeonmars* products feature a mix of original hand-drawn as well as digitally designed illustrations and typography, together they create a style that is fresh and modern, with just the right amount of unconventional wit.

The lifeonmars* stationery line suits life's everyday feelings, and is made to sound like a conversation with friends, with a lot of banter and good will in mind.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Monica and I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did!

Sunita x

Sunita Sehmi: Why did you start Life on Mars?

Monica Kremer: I started the lifeonmars* collection in early 2013 after finally succumbing to my life-long love affair with illustration and a growing obsession with witty punch lines. Creativity and humour has always been my main driver in every day’s life situations. I had been searching for many years for a nice way of sharing some of my ideas not only with friends and family, but also within a wider community (I love meeting new people). The Internet seemed a natural place to start with. I uploaded my first art print on an online selling platform called “etsy”, and to my surprise, visitors not only liked it, but orders started to come in from all around the world! Almost two years later, my cards and art prints are now sold over more than twenty countries, which has encouraged me to develop a more elaborate retail and wholesale business around my lifeonmars products and design, both on local and global levels.

Sunita Sehmi: What are your products about?
 
Monica Kremer: Lifeonmars* is a design studio and paper goods brand "Made in Switzerland", specialized in creating whimsy-cool cards and art prints, infused with a unique touch of humor and visual play. Featuring a mix of original hand-drawn as well as digitally designed illustrations and typography, the lifeonmars* collection is recognizable by its use of bright colors, clean graphics and humorous messages; together they create a style that is fresh and modern, with just the right amount of unconventional wit. The cards of the stationery line are made to sound like a conversation with friends, with a lot of banter and good will in mind! I like to define my collection as "printed smile makers"...

Sunita Sehmi: Describe a difficult challenge in your life and how you got over it?

Monica Kremer: My most difficult challenge is daily: finding enough time to squeeze in all the things I need to do - and want to do! My family, my friends, my creative activities, my work, all plays an important part in my life. It’s a constant balancing act. Usually I take it with humour (again!), but sometimes I need to look for other sources of motivation - such as my two little renewable sources of energy aged 6 and 8, or a great review from a happy customer.

Sunita Sehmi: In your opinion why are people finding it hard to balance work and life?

Monica Kremer: Life’s personal and professional demands keep growing and growing. Although I’m a real Internet addict, I personally think that today’s constant connectivity in all areas of life (through social media, cell phones, Google, etc.) certainly brings new opportunities, but also new demands, and especially, higher levels of self-criticism. One is never good enough: there seems to always be a better parent, a better friend, a better sister, a better professional, a better artist, a better ice bucket challenger out there! Even if I don’t want to be influenced by others to such an extent, today’s high interactive society is inevitably putting more pressure on us, from all sides. And we only have one brain, one heart, and 24 hours...

Sunita Sehmi: All the literature tells us to communicate with more compassion and more empathy but how can we practice that in the work place?

Monica Kremer: "If you want to be understood, listen.” (Quote from the film Babel)
I think it is not that difficult to share some compassion or at least grasp someone’s joy, fear or frustration at work if we just remember that our colleague is not only a working machine, but also a human being, that reacts (usually!) to the same motivations and pressures as we do. These reactions might be different depending on culture, age, gender, etc., but the more we are aware of such "nuances" the better we are prepared to interact with each other in a smart - and hopefully sensible - way.

Sunita Sehmi: Could you share some of your strategies that we could use to keep more balanced?

Monica Kremer: Several times a day, I find some space - even if a very little one - for my own, a sort of "egocentric pleasure moment". This can be as varied as writing a nice e-mail to a friend, taking a walk on my own by the lake, calling my kids for a quick chat, or drawing. It’s my personal little "revenge" over a schedule that is usually more defined by external elements and people than by myself, and it always feels good! My second strategy is to be very very organized. I usually plan things ahead, so that "I’m left with more time to do nothing" as we love to say in Brazil, my home country. This is totally me.

Sunita Sehmi: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Monica Kremer: "Everything will be OK at the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end." I have learnt throughout the years to be patient and always seek new ways and solutions when things don’t go, as I want. Being a true optimist by nature, I always think that there will be a happy or at least better ending in everything, and that I sometimes need to work a bit more to read this closing line.

Sunita Sehmi: What's the next challenge for us?

Monica Kremer: Back to my comments on a more connected world, I think we will need to learn to understand and react faster to what is happening around us, as our growing connected world will make us face all sorts of situations and people much faster and directly than we were used to, at work as well as at home. We can’t really counter the flow. Instead, we should try to develop all sorts of knowledge sharing experiences, whereby we try to understand better - and fear less - what lies around and ahead of us. On a less conceptual level, I would say we should start by sharing more our knowledge and experiences at work and stop the so-called "silo thinking". Both big corporations and small businesses know this is an essential element of successful teams and thriving enterprises. I am convinced that the new generations will be less afraid to be confronted with what is different or with what they don’t understand, as they are already familiar with the notion of sharing thoughts, issues and ideas at school, in think tank hubs, even on social media. And that is quite an asset for the future!

Sunita Sehmi: What's next for you?

Monica Kremer: On a very down-to-earth level: develop lifeonmars* into a thriving business whose main purpose is to bring a smile on everyone’s face - including mine. I love this perspective! On a wider scope, and in relation to what I said earlier, I would like to become more involved in different local and global creative, social, and business communities, as I’m longing to learn more about what others do and like. I just started on this path, and I already love what I’m discovering.

"If you want to be understood, listen.” (Quote from the film Babel)

References: You can find out more information about lifeonmars* on Monica’s website, www.lifeonmarsdesign.com

Bio

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Sunita is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Consultant. She is of Indian origin and was born in London before moving to Geneva in 1992. She has a Psychology background (specialising in Occupational Psychology) and a Post Graduate in the Development and Training of Adults. She also completed a Masters in Ressources Humaines, Coaching et Gestion des Carrières at the University of Geneva.

During her 25 years experience Sunita's drive has always been to help people to do their best and hence led her to create Walk The Talk.

In her free time Sunita is a Mentor for the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship and a proud member of the School in The Cloud Team.

www.walkthetalk.ch