In Cindy’s shoes: Designer, Dreamer, and Finally entrepreneur

Since I was a little girl I always loved to draw. At first, my mother and my uncles thought I would be a fashion designer when I grew up because I was always drawing very detailed outfits. My mother was a seamstress and her brothers were pattern drafters for the fashion industry, so it made sense that I picked up a few fashion tips and tricks from them. In addition, my family was poor so I started working with my mother at the factory at the age of 10 doing miscellaneous things. I continued to design clothing and work at the factory throughout my high school years, until one day my mother passed away from breast cancer in my early teens. I was very heartbroken to lose my mother, so at that moment I decided become an oncology doctor to help find the cure. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue my medical studies due to financial hardship. It was a hard decision for me to make but I needed to change majors, so I could graduate with a degree to find a job. For a while, it was very hard to think of doing something else, but it was just impossible to continue without financial help. As time went by, I accepted the idea of moving away from medicine and studying something else. I thought I would go back to fashion design again but I wasn’t intrigued with it like I was when I was a child. Not knowing what I should study, I went to the career center at my school and took a personality test. One of the recommendations was that I should be an art director. Since I liked to draw and I needed a major to graduate with a college degree, I went ahead and registered for some fine art and graphic classes. As my first day of class began, I started to remember how much fun it was to create. It brought back memories from when I was drawing with my mom. As time went by, I found graphic design to be more philosophical- the combining of various colors, shapes, white spaces and fonts had more meaning. It was like solving a very long complicated formula, but there is no actual formula for you solve. So when I did finish a design, there was a sense of accomplishment and pride for my work because the graphic I designed defined the story and visual of the product. Plus, I loved the continuous new challenges that came with every project.

When I graduated in the early 2000s, I was happy to have a mentor to help pave the way for my graphic design career. He taught me a little bit of everything, including reconstructing a figure from a photograph, understanding the mechanics of off set printing, new product branding, style guide design and the list goes on.  After working with this mentor for eight years, I decided to move on. I continued to do graphic design on my own and worked in areas such as non-profit and fashion for over 14 years. During those years I gained a lot of experience in consumer marketing psychology. I enjoyed being an in-house designer, but commercial design appealed to me less and less as I got older. Eventually I got laid off, but in a way I was actually happy when that happened. I was starting to feel the grind of commercial design- a lot of the work I produced satisfied the clients but it was repetitive and not innovative. I was very constricted creatively and frustrated at the work I produced. Ultimately, this caused me to daydream about having time to create and produce my own work. Little by little, I started to put together my business agenda, my company branding, style, techniques and my story. I started turning my daydreams into reality. Eventually, I created my dream job and this idealism lead my stationery and t-shirt company called Personal Types.

I didn’t know the first thing about starting a small business. As a matter of fact I really didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. But my husband was always there pushing me through every hurdle. One thing was for sure, I wanted Personal Types to align with my graphic design aesthetic. I wanted my designs to tell a story rather than just look visually appealing. So I created Personal Types with core objective that  “EVERY TYPE IS PERSONAL”. I wanted to create visuals that are relatable and emotional.

It’s been about five months now, and I am still figuring out my niche, style, technique, voice and social media content marketing. Most of the time, I get discouraged instead of staying positive about the future of my company. But I push myself to be confident in my brand and company. One thing for sure is that I do not regret my decision to follow my dream. The only thing I regret was not starting my business earlier. So for those out there who are daydreaming, wishing, thinking or wanting, just let go of your fears and do it because the alternative is always asking “what if…”

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