Tell us about yourself and your business!
My name is Laura and I’m happiest when I’m designing, crafting, playing dress up, or doing something creative! I have a BFA in fashion design, and started my business way back in 2014 (originally a jewelry line). My entrepreneurial journey was paused for several years while I worked as a design assistant for a menswear fashion brand. It didn’t take me long to realize the 9-5 desk job was simply NOT for me. I took the plunge, resigned, and really began to focus on my own dream business in 2015. After freelancing and dabbling in a few projects here and there, I ultimately used my background in fashion illustration and visual art to launch and develop my brand: TWG Designs - a place for digital scrapbook papers, hand drawn clip art, planner printables, invitations, logos, art prints, stationery, & more! (www.twgdesigns.etsy.com)
What inspired you to start your own business?
From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I’m an only child, and slightly introverted, so I feel most productive when I set my own goals, schedule, and work solo. Also, the sheer fear of working to make someone else’s dream come true while setting mine on the back burner was enough of a motivating factor to start my own business.
Is this your full time job?
I am beyond grateful to say yes, it is!
You also have an amazing blog, what inspired you to start blogging?
While I was (miserably) working my 9-5 desk job, I found myself constantly inspired by, and finding a community through, other people’s blogs. I loved reading about their experiences, advice, and creativity. Before I resigned from my 9-5 job, I looked forward to the WEEKENDS (hence my blog’s name) so that I could dive into my creative passions and document them on my own blog for others to be inspired as well. I quickly launched my blog, The Weekend Gypsy, (www.weekend-gypsy.com) as the main hub and umbrella under which all of my creative weekend projects and soon-to-be business(es) would live.
How would you describe your blogging style?
I like to say my blog is like the Chinese fried rice of blogs. It’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that. But hopefully, it all comes together in the end to create a cohesive dish full of complimentary flavors! I like to think that I’m not TOO serious about blogging, and write as if I’m just talking to a friend.
Is blogging your profession or hobby?
Although I don’t make a full-time income solely from my blog, I still consider it part of my profession. This day and age, if you have a brand or business, you simply MUST have a blog to go alongside it. I see my blog as a complimentary addition to my brand, with fun content that my current and potential clients can enjoy and take some value out of. It’s also a creative outlet for me to share other passions aside from just my digital artwork for TWG Designs (www.twgdesigns.etsy.com) . I get to play with fashion and styling, special effects makeup during halloween, and even sprinkle in a few DIY craft projects when inspiration hits!
What has been your most successful blog post?
My most successful post was my Euro Trip Travel Diary. In this post, I talk all about a 16 day itinerary to Greece, and Italy. It’s an in depth post with tons of details about where we stayed, how we got around, where we ate, and I even shared some tips on packing everything in just a carry-on.
Where and how do you work best?
I have 2 work modes:
Solo, in my home office, on a sunny day, with some good background music, and a hot cup of coffee at arms reach
Solo, in my home office, at 3am, in complete and utter silence, and a chocolate cookie at arms reach
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Not at this time, but I do have a monthly “best seller sale” where one of my most popular artwork collections is 25% off during the last few days of the month. I also have a VIP club where you receive a coupon code upon sign up that you can use unlimited times in the shop!
Where is your business based?
My business is based in sunny Miami, FL
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Because my parents are also entrepreneurs, they advised me to lay the groundwork and and start by taking care of all the official business-y things first: incorporate with the state, set up a small biz bank account, purchase domains, etc. From there, I developed my branding, and then, I got to work on designing and creating content.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and attracting new customers?
Instagram has been a great platform for me to grow my business. Because it’s so visual in nature, it goes hand in hand with the products I create! I post consistently and vary my content between products and inspiration. I also make sure to reply to everyone as best as I possibly can, and have created lasting friendships over time within my instagram community. Daily Pinterest activity (another highly visual platform) has also helped me grow a following by linking back to many of my blog posts, product pages, and websites - a great way to increase traffic and get your brand noticed.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
For a while, I was creating content, designing products and artwork for my business, while also taking on small freelance gigs, AND designing custom commissioned artwork for other small businesses. Not to mention wearing all of the other hats a solopreneur wears on a daily basis. It became a challenge when I realized I was completely burnt out, and spread way too thin - leaving myself with a lack of new creative ideas and inspiration. My work/life balance was completely off and I began to loose my joy for design.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I had to be brutally honest with myself, and determine that my sanity was more important than taking on all the jobs or opportunities that presented themselves to me. I gave myself a max limit of projects per month, and established strict boundaries between work and play. This not only helped me feel excited about design again, but it helped me level up the quality of my work as I was able to dedicate more time and headspace to each project and collection. I will continue to follow this workflow until I am ready and able to hire on some help and expand my business into a team! :)
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Apart from developing and embracing my own personal design aesthetic (as most creatives do!), I try to constantly evolve my brand by developing a new product category, service, or membership club. I also think my blog helps to distinguish myself, because it allows me to connect with my clients on a more personal level. I aim to be relatable, approachable, and easy-going with everything that I post, create, or sell.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
This advice comes from my husband: It’s OK to say NO. As a chronic people-pleaser, I literally dread ever having to say no to someones request, proposal, or favor. Over time, I have realized that doing TOO much is worse than not doing anything at all, because nothing get’s done to its full potential, and you risk that dreaded burnout.
What do you wish you had known when you started your business?
When I started my business and really dove head first into full-time solopreneurship, I had this little grey cloud of doubt and fear constantly lingering over my head. I wish I had known that my motivation and drive would be the perfect propellors to get my business’ momentum going, and that as long as I was following my true passion and enjoying myself along the way, there was nothing to fear and things would fall into place when the timing was right.
What do you wish you had known when you started your blog?
I wish I had taken a bit more time to learn about SEO, coding, and the backend part of blogging. I’m still learning about all of that now, but I’ve had to backtrack and do a lot of admin work on older posts to get them up to speed. But, at the same time, I don’t regret starting before being 100% “ready” because I’m a true believer that done is better than perfect… and there will never be an ideal moment to take the plunge and start something that excites/scares you. You just have to go for it, and figure it out along the way.
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
My biggest influences always circle back to fashion. From the OG magazines (Vogue, WWD, etc.) to the newer fashion + lifestyle brands with amazing aesthetics that are killing it (both on the ‘gram AND in their industry). But, overall, I am mostly inspired by the way a brand makes me FEEL through their marketing and visuals - ie. Rifle Paper Co., Harlow & Grey, and Anthropologie, to name a few.
What advice would you give to other bloggers and entrepreneurs?
Stay true to your passion, be consistent, and have an organized (but flexible) plan of action.
What blogging and business tools/resources could you not work without?
I love my iPad and apple pencil, all Adobe Creative Cloud programs, and Squarespace. Oh, and Instagram! Duh!
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned that the best work happens when you are happy and well taken care of (self-love is a real thing we all need to prioritize). I’ve learned that sometimes planning an intentional day “off” to do something completely out of your routine sparks inspiration, which in turn leads to new opportunities for growth. I’ve learned that there is no perfect path to reach your goal, and it’s ok to go with the flow when things take an unexpected turn. Trust your intuition and follow your bliss.
Where would you like your business to be 5 years from now?
I would like to evolve and grow into a lifestyle brand and creative community. I’d love to be able to give back to those who might need a bit of a push or motivation to start living and creating their own dream life through resources, classes, and an online networking platform for introverted creatives to work together in a supportive, inspiring, and positive space!
Where can we find you?