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How to build a successful business as a self-taught designer

Have you been wanting to take your business from side hustle to full time? If you have been looking for tips on how to make that transition, then this interview is for you. Colbie Johnson is a self-taught designer who runs a successful branding and web design agency. What started as a t-shirt business led her to realize she found more joy in creating brands and websites, eventually developing into the business she owns today. Colbie tells us why it’s more fulfilling to be a business owner than working the 9-5 life.

1. How did you get started in your industry? What led to your passion for your career?

I actually started a chrisitan t-shirt business. I had tried to hire people from Fiverr and UPwork to help design the shirts, and I didn’t like the designs they gave me. So then I went to Youtube, and taught myself how to make my own designs. I ended up not only designing the shirts, but my brand and website as well. Through that experience, I learned that I liked creating the business more than running it. So a couple years later I decided to help other people create their own businesses through branding and web design.

2. What were some of the bigger challenges you experienced in getting started?

My biggest challenges were and are having a 9-5 and two little children, and the lack of time resulting from that. But my biggest challenges are also my motivation.

3. How has your life changed now that you’re pursuing your passion and living your dream?

I have more joy and fulfillment. My 9-5 has a very stuffy corporate culture, where I don’t feel like I’m making a difference. However, being able to help people launch a business and help them gain financial freedom is so empowering and fulfilling. It feels great to work on my purpose.

4. What’s your favorite part about owning your own business/your career?

I like having full control over my success. I don’t have to worry about being in the in-crowd at work in order to get promoted. I can promote my own business and not have a ceiling for growth. I love being able to show up how I want to, and own my failures and successes.

5. What does supporting women-owned businesses look like to you?

It means community over competition. It looks like encouraging each other when we get down. It looks like reminding others that they are more than a wife, than a mom, but are capable of being a CEO. It looks like sharing and referring those women-owned businesses to other connections to help them grow.

6. How has your brand/packaging/website changed or improved your business?

It has legitimized my business. I had created websites on the side without a website of my own. Once I created my own site and branding for myself, I was able to officially launch to the world and feel like I had a real business.

You can follow Colbie on Instagram at @violetbloomstudio. Check out her website here.

Know of someone we should interview for our MoneyMak(her) series? Send us an email here.


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hey, I'm meredith

I'm here to give you my best tips to help you build a successful biz. Welcome to our blog: the spot for growth hacks, DIY design tips, and advice from real business owners. Grab your latte and let's get creative!

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