Today I have another business spotlight to help inspire you. Laura of Laura James Studio is a branding expert, designer, and photographer. [Yes, we have similar talents!] I reached out to her and she agreed to give us the 411 on her business. Get ready to take notes and get your creative juices flowing!
Tell us about you and your business.
Where do I begin?! I suppose I’ll tell you a bit about my business first – it’s easier than talking about myself! I’m a brand design and development specialist. I’ve been working in the graphic design industry for over a decade as a contractor for larger corporations and marketing firms, and freelanced on the side. In 2012 I decided to go full freelance and work directly with my clients. I specialize in small businesses, family businesses, and creatives.
Aside from work, I’m a military wife and mother of two amazing kiddos. I’ve lived on the Pacific and Atlantic ocean, and a few areas in between too. I don’t get a whole lot of “me” time, but when I do kick back I love reading books and watching movies!
When did you realize this was something you could do for a living?
When I was young (very young, like 18) I needed invitations – but couldn’t afford the ones I wanted. I decided to DIY the project, and found that I really enjoyed it. I asked friends and family members if I could create some examples for their celebrations, and eventually someone loved them enough they hired me. I was hooked on design ever since. While I’ve dabbled in a few different areas, once I stumbled upon logo and brand development, I never looked back.
What did you want to do for a living before you found your current path?
My parents owned their own company and for a while I just assumed I would work for them, and eventually take over. When they decided to instead sell the company, I was only weeks from graduating high school and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I went off to college and changed my major a handful of times (business, education, economics, history) but none of them took. I decided to take a leave of absence from school to focus on my design work and photography skills instead. It was the best decision I ever made.
If you had to go back to your younger self and give one bit of career advice, what would it be?
Don’t try to fit the mold. I always assumed I would graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, work in a business office (specifically my parents), get married and settle down in my home town, etc. – and I hated each step of that, but didn’t realize there were other options. When I finally did things my way I began to thrive.
What’s your favorite business book and why do you love it?
Oh my goodness! I have read a few books here and there over the years but my favorite so far is called “Worth Every Penny” by Sarah Petty! I can’t tell you how much I love how it focuses on entrepreneurs who want to have higher customer service standards.
Was there anyone who really helped or continues to help motivate you in your business and goals (mentors, etc)?
I don’t have any direct mentors, but I love following other creatives and just collaborating whenever possible. Since my clients are almost exclusively freelancers and entrepreneurs in all different fields, I’m constantly motivated by them – and many times wind up working with them on collaborations in the future as well.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Take a negative and make it work for you. I had a bad experience with a competitor once, one I thought I would be friends with, and it really deflated my thoughts of sisterhood and comraderie in the design industry. When that happened, another colleague of mine suggested instead of being sad about it, I should turn it around to a positive experience. I did exactly that and was not only to meet and collaborate with new colleagues, but also bring in double my average monthly inquiries.
What tips would you give someone starting out in your field now?
Be an open book. Share your secrets, your mistakes, and your successes. Ask for help when you need it, and offer it to others whenever you can.
What have you done that made your business stand out?
I did and do what I advise others to do, I’m an open book! I don’t keep many parts of my business secret. Obviously there are some client confidentialities – but when it comes to my favorite fonts, softwares, accessories, etc., I’m constantly sharing them with others. You can find a lot of that in my blog posts too!
What’s a typical day look like for you in your business?
My work day revolves around my personal life – as a full time work from home mom, no two days are alike! Still, every day I take care of emails in the mornings, and client projects during afternoon naptime. Because I’m constantly running around the city, I do a lot of mobile work too. I’ll work anywhere that I can find Wifi!
What social media platforms have been the most useful to your business and why?
Facebook is my go-to social media platform because I’m able to connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs and creatives using Facebook groups. I also get a large following from Pinterest, which makes sense since I’m in such a visual industry!
What organization and productivity techniques have you found most helpful?
I think it’s super important to develop a workflow for repetitive tasks and projects. Having a set workflow for each of my projects saves me from performing countless “status reports”. I use Asana to outline all of my workflows, which gives me an “at a glance” status report for all of my projects. I also use a lot of automation tools so that I spend less time on things I don’t need and more time on designing. Programs like BufferApp, HootSuite, written actions for my software, etc. all help save me time.
Where is your favorite place to visit and why?
Oh that’s a tough question! For me it’s a tie. I love spending autumn in New England, especially in my hometown – it’s gorgeous. The rest of the year though I’d prefer to be in the Florida Keys. My husband is from Miami so we’re able to visit that area often to which is great :)
If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Burgers and fries! I’m a fan of anything from McDonalds to Umami’s gourmet burgers and everywhere inbetween. There’s a burger for every occasion!
Some of your favorite social media accounts to follow?
For business and inspiration, I love to follow Pottery Barn, The Everygirl, Design Love Fest, Female Entrepreneur Association. For fun, I love Robert Downey Jr., Jimmy Buffett, Lifehacker, and the entire humor section on Pinterest!
Tell us everywhere we can find you?
Get to the comments and let us know your favorite take away tip from Laura! We would love to hear from you! Be sure to sign up for more updates and get your FREEBIE ebook on turning your business website from blah to BAM!