We had the good fortune of connecting with Skyler Kogachi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Skyler, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
There are two things I do to keep my overhead low: I utilize technology to make myself more productive and I work from home. The great thing about working from home, is that you are always at home. The worst thing about working from home, is that you are always at work. Getting the balance between work and home when you work from home can be challenging. Some people have a hard time motivating themselves while they are at home. Others may find it difficult to stop working and start living. Here are a few tips I have found helped me tremendously. 1. Exercise in the morning. Every morning I either go to the gym or swim at a pool or work out with an app at home. It wakes me up and puts me in the right mindset to get things done. 2. Keep a routine. That means going to sleep at the same time every night, and getting up the same time every morning. 3. Get up and get dressed. You will be more productive dressed for work at a desk, than in your robe with a laptop in bed. 4. Use a calendar. Plan out your days and allocate hours on your calendar for specific tasks or projects, whether it is work or personal. Adjust them as the day goes on. It not only helps you manage your time, it also shows you how much time it took to get things done. 5. Use reminders and checklists. When you need to focus on a task, you need to clear out your head. Get all those other things out of your head and into a list so you can concentrate on what you need to do now. And when you finish that, you go to your list and do the next thing. 6. Stick to a work day. Unless I have a pressing project deadline, I stop work at 5 pm. I usually avoid answering work calls at night as well. 7. Don’t work hard, work smart. Find ways to be more efficient without sacrificing the quality of your work. New technology or altering your work flow can ensure that you get the same amount of work done in less time which means more personal time.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
After graduating in Architecture and East Asian Languages and Culture from University of Southern California, I worked for a corporate firm doing architecture and interiors for the new Japanese American National Museum Pavilion in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. When that was ending, I either could work on hospitals or prisons. Instead, I went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for graduate school. During that time I started to do small residential projects under the moniker Schism Design while also working part-time as a server at a Japanese restaurant. Eventually, I left that restaurant and started my own restaurant (Big Sky Sushi) with a co-worker while still working on residential projects. After a few years, my business partner fell ill and I had to take care of the restaurant full-time while he recovered. After he came back, I had to make a choice between my design and restaurant business. I decided we needed to sell the restaurant; I made more money selling the restaurant that I did for the entire 3 years of owning it – and even that was very little. Even though it was a lot of work for very little financial return, it set the stage for my design business transformation. With the knowledge I gained, I started doing architecture and interiors for restaurants. It uniquely positioned me to help my clients understand how design can facilitate better operations or customer experiences. Eventually, I was able to grow my business beyond just residential and restaurants to include a major hotel renovation, community center, and an office building. I didn’t have a predefined business or career path and left myself open to chance and change. By following my passions, I was ultimately able to hone in on an area where I could grow the business and be profitable, while still enjoying myself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ironically, for a restaurant designer, I don’t go out much in Los Angeles. We tend to invite friends over or go to other friend’s homes for dinner or hang around the pool during the summer. However, we vacation in Japan almost every year and I could share a ton of places all over that country that you should visit. Los Angeles: If I had to pick, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Broad would be the places to get a little culture. LACMA has so many different pavilions and The Broad has such a great contemporary collection, they are the places I go to multiple times a year. Otherwise, I would cook at home, and we would just eat and drink on the deck overlooking the San Gabriel mountains. Tokyo: This is going to sound very touristy, but Tokyo DisneySea is so incredible. First of all, Tokyo Disney Resort is the only Disney park that isn’t owned by Disney, so the rides are unique and the atmosphere is more Japanese. The restaurants are amazing and not more expensive than an equivalent restaurant outside of the park. Even the concession stand food is beautiful. Kyoto: Toei Kyoto Studio Park is like a low-fi version of Universal Studios for Japanese period filming. If you are lucky, you’ll see them filming a period drama or an action movie or television show. The must-do thing to do here is to have them dress you up in period clothing (like a samurai, geisha or peasant) and take a photo of you. It takes only 10 minutes, but it’s really one of the best pictures I have of myself (possibly because I don’t look like myself at all)! Kanazawa: This city has some of the best sushi because the fish on the west side of Japan comes from colder, deeper waters, giving the meat more fat and oil. But the must see in this city is the Kenrokuen Garden outside the Kanazawa castle. It’s particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season (mid-February to end of March) or autumn foliage (mid-November to early December). It’s the best garden in all of Japan! Takeyama: The old town area has streets of preserved buildings from 200-450 years ago. It’s like being transported back in time! Best of all, there are many sake breweries scattered in the area, with all of them offering tastings and bottles for sale.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The person who made my success possible is my best friend and husband, Sheng. We’ve been together since graduate school, and he diligently worked and saved and supported us while I started my design practice as well as a restaurant. The finances were not easy in the early years, but he never complained (about money).
Website: www.schismdesign.com alonetogetherbaking.com.