If anyone would’ve told me the 20-year-old me that I would be starting my design studio four years later, I would’ve laughed. I just knew I would open a studio in my thirties once I was married, and my husband would help me run it.
But here I am, 24, unmarried, and killing it in the brand + web design industry.
Where it Started
Let’s go back a couple years. I’m 22 and fresh out of college. #GoBulls. I was in Tampa trying to figure out where in the production industry I wanted to go, when I found an ad on craigslist.
“Looking for Storytellers”
Hmm… that’s vague. But hey, rent’s still due so I applied anyway. That job landed me in the news industry where I became a producer and journalist. It pushed me in so many ways as a creative. And while I credit them for giving me my first job, I never hated a position more than I did that one. I made virtually no money, and I was constantly breaking even each month. Six months in, I told myself that I would make it to the one year mark and haul it.
At my one year mark, I left for another opportunity. To be honest, I didn’t even wait for the offer letter. That’s how bad I wanted to leave. The hiring director promised me the job, and I took his word. Then, the day before my start date, offer letter signed, they rescinded the offer. I never felt so low in my life.
So there I was, unemployed, back in my mom’s house, and burnt out. For three months, I sulked and binged on Netflix series.
During my break, my boyfriend kept telling me how he wanted me to create the brand for his new business. He planned on opening a nursing school, and wanted me to design everything. Everything. That meant logo, banners, website. Everything. My boyfriend literally became my first client and started my journey in brand/web design.
While my process sucked – I definitely remember spending four hours at Barnes & Noble guiding him through the brand questionnaire. I remember how excited he was when I finally presented the complete branding to him. The colors, font choice, logo, it all encompassed his brand perfectly. He flipped when I transferred the brand into a full blown website.
That was when I realized not many things lit me up the way branding did. Seeing my designs out in the wild and on flyers, door, etc gave a joy I couldn’t describe. That was it. I decided I would finally act on my fear and open a studio, and see where the Lord would take me.
Don’t get me wrong, finding those first few clients were TOUGH. So many people want thoughtful branding, but not the price tag that comes with it. However, I kept pushing, and made it through.
My Words For You
I’m not sure if you’re a fellow brand designer. You could be a potential client. But if you landed on this post, you probably want to own a business. Take it from someone who was in your shoes. I was clueless on how to market myself. I didn’t have any connections. I’m HELLA shy, so going door to door was out of the option. I literally had to pray about it and grind it out.
Don’t let that passion you have die out. We get one life. One. The days themselves aren’t even guaranteed. Make the most out of them. Start the business. Create that YouTube channel (by the way, here’s a link to mine).
Don’t let that God-given idea die with you.
I’ve come a long way from the girl who first stepped into the newsroom. I vocalize my ideas more. I’m more confident in my skills and worth, but I still struggle with self-doubt just like the next girl. Get up. Do the work. Then go out there and kill it. I’m rooting for you.
Like I said, if anyone would’ve told me I would be starting a design studio at the age I did, I wouldn’t have believed them. But life is limitless.
Resources That Helped Me
I’m not going to let you think I did this on my own! Here are a list of resources that helped me start my design studio with a solid foundation.
Spruce Rd’s Share Worthy Design
Jamie walks her students through her branding process. Remember when I told you, I spent 4 hours in Barnes & Noble with my boyfriend. Taking her class cleaned up some of my mistakes. Honestly, I still use her tips and templates to this day.
Check it out here.
If I wanted to start making real money – like money to replace my 9-5 type money, I knew I had to start designing for e-commerce clients. Think of a few people around you who have businesses. Do they have a product? Well, that’s an e-commerce business, and they definitely need an e-commerce site. Shopify is the number one platform for it. I took Morgan’s class so I could design sites for both service based and product based businesses. It’s definitely worth a look.
Check it out here.
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