Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, Julie Edwards, the extremely talented graphic designer of Julie Edwards Designs, talks to us about what it takes to be a business owner, what fuels her creativity and more.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
My first introduction to graphic design was during a high school job at Sam’s Club where I was asked to help design marketing materials for a local event. I can’t remember exactly how it all turned out but I’m sure it was awful, as I didn’t have any background in art or design at that time. Despite the poorly designed outcome, the experience was extremely fun and challenging and while I didn’t immediately think of going into graphic design as a career, I definitely consider this moment a precursor to my design career. It wasn’t until the end of my first year of college that I seriously became interested in Design and eventually took an internship at Blue Lemon in Köln, Germany after receiving my Associate of Science degree. Although I was enrolled at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, after returning from Germany, I ended up freelancing full time and have been working for myself ever since. Putting a hold on my education is probably one of my biggest regrets, so instead of living with regrets, I recently decided to continue my education at San Jose State University where I am currently studying graphic design and art history. Although the school, life, and work balance is difficult, I couldn’t be more happy about my decision and expect to graduate in the Spring of 2015.
2. What prompted you to start Julie Edwards Designs?
I started my business after being approached by a company to work as their part-time graphic designer on a freelance basis. Since the job wasn’t full-time and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating Top Ramen for dinner every night, I had to find additional clients to keep me off the noodle and broth diet.
3. What does your typical day look like?
I typically get up at 6:30 a.m. and try to respond to emails, walk my dog, drink a hefty amount of coffee and eat breakfast. I try to get this all done by 8 a.m. so I can focus on designing without any other distractions. I usually spend my first half of the day either sketching out ideas or rendering ideas I’ve already sketched out. I hate to admit it, but I usually use my lunch hour to finally get myself showered. At 1:00 pm I usually check and respond to any important emails and then get back to focusing on any design projects I’m working on. I try to end my work day between 5 and 6 but have a hard time stopping and tend to go until 7 or 8 pm. This is definitely something I’m trying to get better at. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work during the morning and attend classes in the afternoon.
4. What is your favorite and least favorite part of your job? (This can be in regards to being a business owner or a graphic designer).
My favorite part of my job is having the satisfaction of completing a well-executed design. I love the process of identifying a problem and finding a solution through the exploration of various ideas and techniques. When I have time, I also love learning new skills and have recently been dabbling in the art of hand lettering via Skillshare classes. My least favorite part of my job is dealing with the distractions that come with being part of a technological society. While being accessible and connected to one another is amazing, push notifications, emails, texts, tweets make it really hard to stay in my workflow. To resolve this issue I try to stay on a schedule where everything remains off except for specific times of the day that are dedicated to checking and responding to everything.
5. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
I tend to be a workaholic but recently found that working around the clock doesn’t do anything to inspire creativity. Instead of pushing myself to work through something that is not turning out the way I envisioned, I find that stepping away from the computer gives me mental clarity that I can’t get when I’m staring at the screen all day! For myself, my best ideas come when I’m driving, in the shower, or cooking dinner. So, it seems the best thing that fuels my creativity are mundane activities that allow my brain a chance to disengage and relax.
6. Do you have any mentors in the industry?
I don’t have one specific mentor, but I consider many of my teachers in the design program at SJSU to be very influential and am so grateful to have their guidance as I move forward in my career.
7. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
Prepare and be fully aware of what you are getting into before taking the leap. The reality of working for yourself is that you will be working far harder than you ever did as an employee. You must be disciplined and focused to stay on task. You will work long hours and often have to sacrifice some weekends. Start slowly while you still have a full time job. Begin by saving for times when you have slow months. Build a website and don’t be afraid to publish your work online. Build your portfolio and start taking work on the weekends so you enter your freelance career with a few established clients.
Just for fun…
1. Snail mail or email? Email
2. Coffee or cocktail? Oooh. This is a hard one but there is nothing like ending the day with a yummy cocktail!
3. Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn? Audrey Hepburn
4. Read the book or watch the movie? Read the book