For this edition of Small Biz Chats, I’m chatting with Breanna Rose of Rowan Made. She is a fantastic designer with beautiful taste, as well as a co-founder of Be Free, Lance, an online course about building your own design business (one happy alum right here!). I’ve followed her blog for years, and today she has a great story to share: take it away, Bre!
What is your business, and why did you start it? I started my graphic design studio, Rowan Made, last year after a few years of freelancing under my own name. At the time, I felt a shift in my own work and wanted to create a space that was more in line with the direction I was going. Today, Rowan Made is an individually run design studio that specializes in branding and web design for creative clients all around the world. I am currently going through a major brand overhaul and hope to continue steadily growing my business and potentially hiring others in the future. We’ll see!
What were you doing before you launched your business? Before I launched my own business, I was in college studying design. And during my senior capstone course, I chose to design + code my own blog, which gave me an outlet to share all things creative. I loved it so much that I kept it up well beyond school, which ultimately, helped kick off my business!
How did you find your first paying clients/customers, and what really helped you to grow your business? To begin with, I started my blog in order to stay connected and inspired, and kick myself to actually stay creative. All the creatives I looked up to had a blog so it felt like the way to go and introduce my work to the world. The blog itself helped my work get a bit more recognized, and that gave me the push to keep creating and sharing my work. At some point, I created a graphic design shop on Etsy, and although that did go fairly well, potential clients would email directly to me, so I ended up closing the shop after three months or so.
What tools are most important to help you stay organized and on task? I have several systems in place that help me stay organized and feel that I could talk for hours about it, ha. But some of my “life savers” are Gmail, where I spend the most time communicating with clients, and Todoist, where I record all tasks that need to be completed by me and my clients. Other tools include CudaSign (online contract signing), Pancake (invoicing), and Google Docs (for client homework). I’m always looking for new + improved ways to better my systems, so I’ll let you know if I find anything else that trumps the rest. 😉
What aspect of your business is your absolute favorite thing that you do? I absolutely love helping other creatives tell their stories and crafting identities from the ground up. I recently tightened up my design process and have fell into a groove ever since. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to watch my clients successfully grow alongside their new brands. It’s the absolute best.
Do you have a dream project type or client that you’d love to land someday? Hmmm, this is a great question! Well, my favorite type of clients are food, fashion, or home related. For example, if somebody emails me and is like, “Oh, hey, I’m opening up a cafe downtown and need a brand,” I’m usually all in before I know the details. Ha. If we’re talking “dream project,” though, I would say something that allowed me to dip my toes into every inch of the project, design wise. Oh, and something local, too. Those are my absolute favorites!
What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to launch his/her own dream business? I teach a workshop called Be Free, Lance for designers who are interested in starting their own business and one thing that we’ve noticed is that for most, the fear of “failure” or overwhelming uncertainty is what’s held a lot of them back. The thing is, you’ve gotta take that first step, which is often the hardest part. You can plan for years and years, and still come up with excuses not to do it. So one piece of advice I often give is to have them ask themselves what’s the worst thing that could happen. Usually, it’s not as bad as one may think. 😉 Plus, you can always start off part-time and take the “official” leap once your side gig is demanding more of your time. Everyone has their own unique experience when launching their own business. You just gotta listen to your gut and do what feels right when it comes down to it.
And finally, what is your favorite mid-workday snack?
I feel like this is embarrassing (because it’s so not healthy), but currently, I’m a huge fan of Oreos. Every time I cross off a big task on my list, I head to the pantry and have one cookie. I should probably switch it up and eat a handful of nuts or something. But I probably won’t. 😉
Thanks to Bre for sharing her insights! See all the Small Biz Chats posts here.
All images are property of Breanna Rose & Rowan Made.