Today we’d like to introduce you to Genevieve Douglass.
Hi Genevieve, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My first graphic design jobs out of college were working for a senior dental healthcare company and a road flare manufacturer. I realized relatively young I wasn’t built for a 9 to 5 job; even though I was by then working at Pandora Jewelry which was one of the best companies. Free gym, breakfast, lunch and a really great social atmosphere and living blocks away from my first home I bought at 23; which was a dream. Except I felt creatively stifled. Me and the photographer there started doing our own shoots where I was the prop stylist and our photos tested really well in the market. But I had already been working on my exit strategy for the past two years when they started laying people off in 2016. I finally knew I was ready. I retained my job as a prop stylist on a freelance basis but was also working “full time” freelance for GDD.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Nine days after I left my job, I was in a bad car accident when someone ran a stop sign in Canton and I broke my right hand, my dominant hand. I spent all my saving getting surgery, three pins and over a year of PT. In the meantime, I told none of my clients and learned work with my left hand. It was so humbling because I realized if I could get through that, I could get through anything.
My business has had its ups and downs like any other small business. I have never had the luxury of relying on people financially but have had incredible mentors along the way. I have had times where I felt so alone and lost and times where I have been so high on success. There is nothing better than getting a new, cool client, especially a local one where I visit their space as a patron. And I now try to offer advice to other people wanting to start their own business because of the positivity I received in the past. It isn’t always easy but it’s always worth it. I consider myself fortunate, but not lucky. I work really hard for my job and my life, even when it sucks. You have to be willing to do the work. I always say that it’s fun to do the fun parts, and lots of people start business there but don’t make it through the shit. You have to be able to hang in there and keep going…. you have to do “the work.” I have so many incredible people along the way, and I often tell them how crucial they are, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to do this on your own. I hope people can find my story inspiring.
I’m not making millions but I’ve traveled, lived in Puerto Rico, have an incredible work/life balance and have never looked back. Everyone is capable if they want to make it on their own.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Print design! I have a fine arts and business background. It’s so crucial to make design that doesn’t just “look good” but has purpose. In college, we had to critique each other’s work, you could never just say “I like it.” You had to say why. Good looking design in superficial, I learned and respect design with intention. Honestly, everything in life should be done with intention in my opinion, otherwise it’s not worth doing.
That’s why I love either brand redesigns or working with new companies, especially in the restaurant industry. There’s so much competition now, and people’s attention span is practically nonexistent. And just like everything else design in always in flux. You need print design and web as a hybrid. Your brain reads them differently and it’s so important to know how to reach your target audience. I know why people react to what they do. It’s why I’m so against things like fiver, 99designs and canva. It’s like saying anyone can do what us designers do. I would never pretend I could just download an app and take over someone’s whole career.
Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I know networking is so important but it is something I struggled with. I have a lot of anxiety and don’t hide the fact that I’ve been on anti-anxiety medicine for years and have been to therapy on and off since I was in elementary school. I really want to de-stigmatize mental health issues. I’m deeply introverted and have a hard time going out and just talking to strangers.
But it’s the nature of this business. I have to be a salesperson as well as a designer. One of my old print vendors asked me to coffee when I emailed him about business. He was so incredible, he still is. I have so much respect for him because he believed in me so much without any benefit to him. Also, the American Marketing Association was incredible. I participated in a mentor/ protege program with them that I would absolutely recommend.
He also encouraged me to reach out to at least one business a day via email. Based on the odds alone, I’d be successful he said, and he was right! It’s a practice I use today (and everyday). But I’ve used many local events and networking avenues over the years. I would make myself hand out at least two business cards before I’d leave any event. It was awkward sometimes and easy others. But it’s one of the crucial parts of being an entrepreneur.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.genevieve.is/working
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/genevieve.douglass.design/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GenevieveDouglassDesign/