You’re an entrepreneur driven by purpose more than profit. Something within you has pulled you to your business, and you can’t NOT do it. It’s your dream.
You need a brand that works as hard as you do to set you apart from the competition. You’re ready for a professional, polished image that makes you proud, stands out to your customers, attracts more of them, and ultimately takes your business to the next level.
You feel like the image you’re currently putting out there isn’t the best representation of your business. You’ve been making your own graphics, buying pre-made ones from cheap websites, or have tried another designer who didn’t really get your vision. So far, everything just misses the mark.
We’re going to change that right now!
I’m Erica, a branding and graphic designer working with purpose-driven small businesses — just like you! — who need a fresh look that gets them noticed. I make their ideas a reality with beautiful brands and visual identities that represent who they are so they can stand out to ideal clients and take their businesses to the next level. You’ll be proud to share your business with the world.
An Art Kid From the Start
I knew from an early age that I would do something creative with my life. I remember loving art as far back as grade school; drawing cereal box packaging and illustrating children’s stories. What I didn’t know was that it was a legitimate career choice! That revelation changed the course of my life.
When I was 16, I applied for a big-deal summer art program. It was my first formal interview; I didn’t know what sort of questions to expect, and I was so nervous that I completely lost all cohesive thought during the interview. I didn’t get accepted, but the feedback they gave me was worth gold. One of the judges told me I should research graphic design because my technical ability and attention to detail lent itself well to that genre.
I took that judge’s advice and looked up all the artsy words he said to me during our conversation. With every new thing I learned, I felt a stronger and stronger tug in my chest that this is what I’m going to do.
Plan A All the Way
Many college students need a year or two to fully realize what it is they want to do with their life. Not me. I entered freshman year with a solid plan (I actually had my whole 4 years mapped out!) and there was no other option to earning my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Visual Communications. It wasn’t until the final semester that a professor told our graphic design class of 10 that only 2% of artists actually get a job in their field. I made a pact with myself right then and there: I will be in that 2%.
Fast forward several years, and I entered the workforce during a challenging time in our economy: the Great Recession. As many an entry-level designer will tell you, getting a job was not easy. Many of my friends and classmates found other career paths so they could settle into “grownup jobs”.
Something was different in me, though. Probably the same thing as what’s different in you. I couldn’t give up. It took two years of tenacious searching, applying, and interviewing before I finally got hired at a magazine publisher I had swooned over for years.
The daily commute was long, but since I loved the work I was on Cloud 9! I loved my huge Mac, the way the office smelled, the openness of the floor plan, the spaciousness between the work areas, the huge L-shaped roomy desks, the comfy chairs, my fancy key card to get into the building, the unlimited supply of brewed coffee. And are you kidding me with these ginormous windows and all the natural light??!! Seriously, it was a wall of windows!
Didn’t See That Coming
Less than a year later I had my first child. You see, I always imagined myself as the super cool career mom with power suits and heels and perfectly-done hair. I would kick butt at work all day then breeze into my home in the evenings and sweep up my sweet chubby-cheeked boy with kisses and giggles.
What really happened was I missed him terribly. Most mornings I cried when I left him with the babysitter, and I couldn’t focus at work. I took short lunches so I could leave earlier, and rushed home way faster than I should have, once resulting in a pretty bad wreck that still leaves me with pretty bad pain.
Suddenly the three-hour commute that before had seemed so worth it began leaving me frustrated and worn down. I began to feel less fulfilled about the work I was doing, and more like a machine cranking out things. After all the work it took to get here, I wondered if I had gotten it all wrong. All I wanted to do was be a mom.
The company was very progressive and family-oriented, and we were able to make some changes that allowed me to stay with minimal mom guilt.
Dreaming a New Dream
Somewhere along the way, the idea of freelancing was introduced to me. It would allow me to work from home, saving the 3 hours of commute time to instead spend with my family. It would allow me to make my own schedule, which would immensely help with the childcare I had available. But the fear of not having a stable income held me back from taking the leap, so I stayed at my job for another year and a half.
What I didn’t know about corporate-type jobs was that, at any time, someone at the top could decide they didn’t need your position filled anymore. Not that you didn’t do a great job, but that they were eliminating it entirely as part of some bigger plan for the company.
Just a few weeks before my second child was to be born, the company started to go in a different direction. Jobs were being cut in many departments. Since staying there had become just as uncertain as leaving, I finally got the confidence to go out on my own.
I didn’t have a plan. I had two clients and the feeling I’ve had many times before: it just has to work. The best thing that could have happened actually happened! It was a much-needed affirmation that I was making the right decision. My former employer become my third client!
Living the Real Dream
Amazingly, once I was out there dangling, referrals just kept pouring in! My reputation for skill, workmanship, technical ability, and kindness carried me farther than I could have imagined.
I freelanced for several years, serving a variety of small businesses and nonprofits. The knowledge I gained in my corporate job had served me well; I was able to provide my clients more value than just being a designer. I helped them solve problems. They came to trust me, and I came to be seen as part of the team.
It was incredibly rewarding, but I still felt this unexplainable tug that something was missing.
I read What Keeps You Up At Night, a book written by Pete Wilson, a person I greatly respect. (Pete, if you ever find this page, I miss you and I’m rooting for you!) In it, he talks about serving others using the gifts you have to make a difference. It was profound but also puzzling. How could art make any real impact on anything? I went on with life, but that idea stuck with me in the back of my thoughts until the day the knowing hit me so hard it was like I couldn’t breathe.
That’s when my little design studio became a real business.
I found my niche helping people that had outgrown their current business level with new branding that launched them to the next level. In the process, I discovered that this dream of mine turned into something much bigger than I ever planned for myself.
Designing is an opportunity for me to serve people who are in business not only for money, but because they have a message, purpose, or cause that the world needs to know about. They are real people trying to make their corner of the world a better place with the gifts they have. They are people who believe so strongly in their company’s mission that they can’t NOT do the work.
Magic happens when people collaborate on a common goal.
So tell me, how can I help you build your dream?
The right design will get more eyes on the important work you’re doing.
Click here for ways I can help.
To get you started, I put together the Branding Blueprint Worksheet. It’s the first step to getting a brand you’re proud to show off. Grab your free copy below!