Happy Monday friends!! I’m so excited to kick-off this week with my designer pal, Bre. Bre has been such an amazing friend and mentor during my journey as a designer and has been SO supportive. Plus she’s a kickass designer and I feel like we could literally talk about food all day long which makes anyone great in my book. We’ve been friends for many years now and witnessing her grow as both a designer and business owner has been nothing short of inspirational. She has been one person I constantly look up to in my field and I’m so happy to call her a friend! Read more about Bre below:
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Bre and I am the founder + designer behind Rowan Made, a small (AKA solo) design studio that focuses on branding, build-out, and website design for small businesses that are typically related to art, food, or fashion in some way. On the side, I also run an online workshop for freelance designers alongside my friend Jen Serafini. Work stuff aside, I also love eating (pizza!), practicing yoga, adventuring around Minneapolis, and traveling! I’m actually gearing up for a road trip in Iceland as well as a quick visit to Copenhagen this summer with my husband, so we’re getting pretty pumped about that.
Describe your path to becoming a designer:
I started dabbling around with Photoshop while I was still in Middle School, which continued on to be a hobby through high school. I’m pretty sure I just made random collages and graphics for MySpace (ha!). Everyone kept suggesting that I pursue a path in design, but I was really stubborn (at first) and didn’t want to listen, thinking that I’d give music management or nursing a shot. Then, about two weeks before college started, I completely panicked, wondering why I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. So I switched schools, roommates, majors, and packed up to leave all in under a few weeks. It was absolutely CRAZY, but I’m so happy that I followed my gut in the end.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
I’ve found that I’m most motivated and focused in the mornings, so I try to check off my “big” tasks for the day before lunch. That doesn’t always happen, but I try! Afternoons are reserved for emails, meetings, presentations, or other small tasks that don’t require as much focus. I’m also big on boundaries between my work and personal life, so I always try my best to be done by 3 or 4pm!
How did you prepare yourself to jump in and start your own business?
I’m not sure that I prepared myself at all if I’m being completely honest. When I graduated from design school, I started applying around to jobs just like everyone else was. But after submitting a handful of applications, I found myself NOT wanting to hear hear back at all, even though I was “supposed” to be excited and diving head first into the world of design. Being my own boss seemed much more appealing at the time, so I just went for it. It was definitely a crazy decision, but I was living at my parent’s house at the time, which helped immensely. I was able to make connections and put myself out there without paying rent, which was a major blessing. I wouldn’t have survived otherwise! Thanks mom, thanks dad. 😉
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I always try my best to really dive in and understand my clients (and their business), so it’s really rewarding to receive positive emails that reinforce I’m on the right track. You know, stuff like “YES THIS!!!!” Those are my favorite moments, hands down. Well that, and seeing a brand I helped create in real life situations (signs, menus, etc.).
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced working for yourself?
It’s funny because you’d think that as my own boss, I’d make up my own rules. But for awhile, I kept trying to follow the path of a “traditional” designer instead of forging my own and simply doing what felt right. So up until now, that’s been my biggest challenge. But I’m working on it! My whole process as a designer is a big experimental mess right now and I absolutely love it! I’m learning to just be myself instead of shape my business into something it’s not. And it feels SO good!
Who is inspiring you at the moment?
I’m currently inspired by so many people! My friend Athena Pelton is a beautiful writer and inspires me through her transparency, to just be me. I love that Meg Lewis of Ghostly Ferns does these random dances on instagram that remind us all the importance of having FUN. And Amy Poehler has this mantra that I absolutely love and live by: “Good for you, not for me.”
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to be a graphic designer?
Yes! Do your own thing, dig in, experiment, and always keep going. Also understand that it takes time to develop your craft and produce consistently great work. Ira Glass sums this up really well right here!