My (design career) Story

Hello friends! I know it’s been quite a hot minute since I’ve posted on the blog, but a wave of inspiration hit and I thought I better run with it. While I share bits and pieces of my career story, I haven’t devoted a whole post to it.  So, I’m sharing where I started and how I got to where I am today. 

Since I was very young, I LOVED to draw, color, paint, etc. I dreamed of being an artist when I grew up. As I got older, I realized that would be a risky career as far as income was concerned. So, left-brain me chose to major in Communications in college. It had some creative aspects, but offered more opportunity once I was out in the workforce.

After college, I applied to several positions with ad agencies in the L.A. area but nothing panned out. I took a job as a bank teller at the time, so I had income while still pursuing an agency career. Fast forward a few years; I moved back to Santa Barbara (where I went to college), became a loan officer with a local bank, met and married my husband, and got a certificate in visual design through a night program at UCSB. Now that I had some design skills under my belt, I was ready to make the switch only to have it put on hold again. My husband’s family owned a convenience store in Santa Barbara and had been trying to sell it. It finally sold and I agreed to move to the Chicago area, where my husband was from. I was pregnant with my first son, so I put off job hunting until after he was born and we were settled in our new home.

A few of my fav projects

My first real design job was with a company that published a huge annual campground directory. I was responsible for layout of various ads in the directory. It was less than glamorous, but it allowed me to develop my skills in Adobe programs and learn from other designers around me. After a couple of years, I was able to get a job at a small ad agency near me as an account manager. They didn’t have an in-house designer, so I saw an opportunity to make a path for myself once I was there. I eventually became the lead designer/creative director. I loved my job and the people I worked with were like a second family, but I had a dream of having my own design studio. It wasn’t feasible for me to leave my job, our kids were small and we needed two incomes. I went ahead and started Studio L Design in November of 2002 as a side hustle. I loved finding my own clients and being able to create for industries completely different from what I worked on at the agency. Some years were better than others. At times it was exhausting to work a full day, then come home to work on my client projects at night and on weekends. The ad agency continued to grow. I was employee #6 and it eventually grew to over 300 people. Again, I loved working there, but I was always torn with whether to go all-in on my own.

The Studio L office

This past January, that decision was made for me. There were layoffs at the agency, and I was in that boat. It felt a little surreal, I had been there over 20 years but at the same time I was ok with it. This meant I had no excuse not to put 110% of my time and effort into MY business and I felt invigorated. These past few months have been an adjustment, but I’m starting to find my groove. I’ve had 3 client projects and many networking events. It feels good to be able to create what my day looks like, and how my time is spent. I’ve been leaving Fridays open for non-work things which has been great. It’s also nice to meet a friend for lunch and not have to rush back to my office. It’s a little isolating not having colleagues to chat with throughout the day, but I make a point to get out with friends or business contacts a few times a week.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for being here! I’m thrilled to see where this new chapter takes me and my business. If you’re a designer who is struggling with whether or not to go off on your own, my words of wisdom are; do what’s right for you when it’s right for you. Everyone’s path is different. It took me 22 years to be full time in my studio, and that’s ok!

Ciao friends!

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