First off, tell us who you are and what you do!
Hey! I’m Carli Anna and I’m a graphic designer, most of my work is with other businesses to create a beautiful brand. I help them create logos, design templates, online course work, websites and more! My goal is to create something that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but effective. Design is supposed to be SMART, right? I also work the occasional bride to create unique wedding invitations.
When/how did you decide to become a boss and create your business?
I don’t know if there was ever an exact moment that I can say was THE moment I decided to do freelance work. But, a few years ago was going to college for design and just introducing myself into the creative world. And I remember thinking during one of my lessons one day “I could do sooo much better than this” haha So I decided teaching myself design and developing my own style. I think because I studied so unconventionally, yet have a strong base in conventional design it helps me see it from a unique perspective. I really developed a unique style and I knew that any design agency I could ever work for would never allow me that same freedom of developing my style. I just KNEW that I could do freelance design, I can’t even explain it, but I just knew that if I wanted to do design I could. I knew it would be a lot of work, definitely not easy but I just did it and went for it! I started with a really ugly etsy store and instagram page haha but I had to start somewhere and I’m so glad I did! One year later, quit my day job and I’m the sole breadwinner of our fam! And no more ugly Etsy shop haha.
How/why did you decide to change your Instagram handle and to rebrand your business?
Ahhhh, A lot of people don’t know this but I’ve actually change my business name THREE TIMES! I know, crazy. My first two business names were “The Velvet Cactus” (yikes) and “its northwest” At first I really wanted my business to be really involved with the outdoors I grew up in the northwest US in a mountain range and grew to looooved it. I still try to involve the outdoors as much as I can into an artistic business so, that’s not the reason I changed it. I changed it because 1. saying “my business names is it’s its northwest” got confusing, nobody knew me, my name or the face behind my services. 2. A million people thought it was a fan page for kim kardashians first child hahaha. Which I didn’t hate 3. I wanted my business name to be able to evolve with me as I grew, I’m adding products and services to my brand all the time and the only name that could stick with me for a long time was my own!
What inspires you and keeps your creative juices flowing!
There are so many things that inspire me, I really believe that you can find inspiration everywhere and I try really hard to find inspiration in places that people wouldn’t normally look. My first source of inspiration is always the outdoors, whenever I’m feeling like I’m in a rut, I go for a hike, try to just not think for a minute and notice small details around me. I also love looking at really old design pieces, magazine covers, journals, even old library cards.
What is a day in life of Carli like?
Pretty boring actually! I try and wake up around 8 or 9 in the morning, mornings are really slow for me, I just answer emails, clean, send invoices, basically just get all the backend boring stuff out of the way first because I feel like I’m not really awake until 11 am anyways. So I try to just keep it simple until then haha. Then I start designing, I always work on clients projects first, then when I can I work on my own projects. And I’ll usually work until I go to bed, taking some breaks for food and what not. Right now I’m working on a line of organic/nature-made and pretty art materials like paint brushes, inks, etc. So I’m doing a lot of hiking and collecting right now which is pretty amazing!
What is your creative process like?
I don’t know if I have a specific “creative process” I feel inspired by lots of things everywhere. You really never know when you will be inspired by something, and it may be by something that you really didn’t think you would feel inspired by. Whenever I come by something that really inspires me to be creative I save it somehow by taking a picture, pinning it to my pinterest board, or whichever! Then when I’m starting a specific process I’ll go back through all my past inspiration and find things that I think would pair well with the project. Then I really roughly sketch out different ways that I think I could potentially incorporate pieces of my inspiration into that design. From their I pick my favorite one and complete it!
Do you ever feel the pressure of competing companies? If so, what do you do to stand out!
Not really, I try to keep my head down and not pay attention to what other people are doing. When you try to have a really strong brand aesthetic and story it makes it a lot easier to appreciate what other people are doing but not feel pressured by them. I feel knowing my brand really really well has helped me stay close to what I’m best at, and not feel pressured by what other people are doing.
Any advice for aspiring artists/business owners?
I heard this saying somewhere “If you’re not embarrassed by your first product (or in this case design) then you started too late” Just start, and get it out there! Everybody had to start somewhere. I know that probably sounds cliche but I mean it. For artists or business owners who have already started their business: One of the best business decisions I made was to get myself a great mentor and invest myself + other valuable resources. I never regret a well made investment.