Back in 2016 I began to establish Workman By Design. After working several other design jobs I realized that the work I wanted to do, I didn’t have the freedom to do. I was really shut down creatively when I was at the office and was forced to be creative for 9 hours of my day with a short lunch, no one socialized during the day, and the drive home through traffic never helped. Now, this is not a complaint. I believe I learned a lot from these types of experiences. But the reality is that creatives still have to be inspired by something or someone. If you think about it, there is really broad spectrum of creative inspiration literally surrounding us, yet I was still in a funk.
I was positioned at a small desk in a darker room facing a wall at one job. Although my direct supervisor was really nice and we got along well, they weren’t always there so it would begin to feel cold and lonely. Beginning to feel like the outcast was the beginning of a long journey for me that I’m definitely still on. I started questioning whether or not I fit in at this firm and why it was so hard to make friends and well it goes on and on. The doubt had settled in and I began to feel my work not live up to even my standards of ingenuity and creativity. Not to mention that in the world of design daily rejection is a thing and you have to have a thick skin.
In college, one of my professors told me something that I will never forget in my sophomore year of the communication design program. They said, “Sarah, your work may not always be the best right now, but your conceptualization is what makes you good.” Now, I’d say this was a negative and a positive all in one and it was very early in my career but I’m thankful for the honesty of my professor at the time. It allowed me to grow as a person and as a designer. Taking the constructive criticism and using it to persevere in the areas where I was weak.
During this time of big doubt I was going through post-college I often thought back to these moments that I had professors give me harsh truths, but always encouraging us to push ourselves to be better. Realizing at this job that I wasn’t feeling at home or comfortable with my surroundings I did something that I’ve never done in my entire life. I quit my job with no other job lined up. I was scared, had somewhat of a plan, but the moment I left that job it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer had to walk on eggshells making sure I didn’t do something wrong, say hello to a client wrong, show up and no one else show up to the office that day (this happened multiple times). Nothing, I was finally free of a job I had really wanted yet felt so burdened by.
After quitting I took about a week to just recharge the creative juices again. It’s so easy to get burned out when you live in a creative world and have no time to be social. In fact, you become very hermit like and prefer to be alone in your little corner with just you, your laptop, pencils and paper. Oh and I mean don’t forget the micron pens. I learned that when we don’t go and experience life we are hindering our creativity, not opening ourselves up to our surroundings, we are not being inspired and so much more. I kept thinking, if only I could get a job at a really cool firm or somewhere where you can take your dog to work with you (totally a millennial thing) but still! I thought then maybe the creative juices would start pouring down like rain again! But it’s deeper than that. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and quite often there’s a time in our past where we let things like doubt speak into our lives and we start to believe it’s true. This is what was hindering me, not allowing me to make new friends so I could be encouraged and inspired. Yes, this doubt was the culprit.
I began the journey of being a small business owner and posting online my t-shirts I had created and the startup of printing shirts for people, logo designs, etc. I realized in all my funk at work I had actually done a lot of freelance work that I was really proud of and hadn’t even noticed I was being creative again. There’s always been a little something even still, holding me back.
Ever since I went off on my own I began working from my home office. Enjoying the work I was doing plus the flexibility of being my own boss kept me going for a while. When my husband and I wanted to leave early to go see family or visit friends I could finally be off before 6pm and have a fun evening with friends. I began to grow and even enjoyed designing again. But the lulls always come, there was still doubt in my mind that being my own boss wouldn't work. There have been too many ups and downs to count but it’s all about your perspective and at the end of the day are you going to believe a lie? Or believe in ability and talents that God has given you to succeed?!
So here I am 2 years later still making it as a small design firm and I’ve definitely grown leaps and bounds but it doesn’t stop here and neither have the lulls. See, as we grow we still have to have aspirations, goals and desires of where we see our business taking us and in life too. I had gotten complacent with how things were going until I had a couple slow months that really made me consider what I was going to do. After some long conversations with people I trust, and prayer, I realized that I needed to make goals and market my business better and most of all get rid of the doubt that has been creeping in for a long time. Focus on what I love doing and go after clients that fit in my realm of expertise. Reminding myself daily to experience life and enjoy my surroundings has made a huge difference for me on the creative end.
Next step is growing, taking on more clients and hiring great designers to surround me to not only to boost business and output of work, but to inspire more designers to do what they love. Creating the environment I wish I could have had in a studio and hopefully a better overall experience for those that come through. Workman By Design is more than a small firm, but a place where creativity is constantly flowing.