I graduated from college in May of 2010, got married 2 days later, and then spent 7 weeks in Alabama with Robert for an AF training. We then took a week long honeymoon cruise, and finally came back to “reality” in sunny Florida.
This was all fun, but I have been working since I was 15, and haven’t had a summer off since then. Not working, even though I was busy, was rough on me. I had to get used to not having my own money. I felt weird even buying a Starbucks without calling Robert because in my mind, it’s his money. After many conversations, he finally convinced me that I don’t have to ask permission to buy things like that. It’s our money. I reluctantly agreed, but still hated the fact that technically, it wasn’t.
I applied to roughly 100 jobs in the area, 75% of them graphic design jobs. No one wanted to hire a fresh out of college, inexperienced designer, even if they could pay me half of what they would pay an average entry level employee. The rejection was really hard on me. I shed a lot of tears. I threw a lot of hissy fits. And I started doubting not only my abilities as a designer, but my worth as a person. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to our marriage, I was putting all of the financial stress on Robert, and felt so helpless and frustrated.
Finally, after doing a few “favors” for family and friends (birthday invitations and a company logo) Robert saw how happy I was to be designing again. He sat me down, and we worked out a big, hairy audacious goal. I was going to start my own business.
I was terrified. I am fresh out of school, and have absolutely no business experience. Luckily, Robert is great with money, and was more than willing to sign on as my “financial advisor” and help me work out everything that wasn’t design related.
I got to work, making templates for Christmas cards, using that as my launching pad for this new venture. I sold a few sets, but nothing major, and I started to feel that doubt creeping in again. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. This fear was really holding me back from throwing myself into the business plans, and I was basically just sitting back and hoping things would happen.
The holidays were a really stressful and expensive time for us. Robert finally decided to have a come to Jesus talk to with me, and I let all my emotions, fears, doubts and frustration rush out. I hadn’t cried that hard in months. (since finals, probably. I cry a lot.) Being the fabulous person that he was, he reassured me that I was good enough, and that the only way to succeed was to face all these fears, and do the best I can do. If I still fail, it’s okay. Because I tried something that not a lot of people have the strength to do. I went for it. I didn’t just go work at Starbucks and call it a day. I wanted to be a designer, I paid $20,000 to be a designer. And dammit, it’s gonna happen.
So now, a few months later, I am officially in business. We emptied the office and made it my own little den, along with a new desk, and office supplies so I feel like it’s a comfortable work environment. I schedule work hours for myself, and have already taken on some pretty big jobs. We registered as an LLC, hired a registered agent, and are getting ourselves in order. I have been working my heart out to make this work. I eat, sleep and breath this business. It’s my baby.
I still have days where I want to curl into a little ball, or go work as a barista and have a simple, scheduled day. But I also have days where I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world to be able to do this at 24. I couldn’t have done it without my husband there to tell me I could. He says he doesn’t deserve the credit, because I’m doing the actual work. But to be honest, doing this would seem impossible if he wasn’t right there next to me, telling me it’s okay to fail.
So that’s what I do, if anyone is curious. I sit in my adorable little office, play Pandora and design. My daily goal is to change out of pajamas by 9am, but usually only results in being in workout clothes instead of fuzzy slippers. And that’s okay. Because I’m my own boss. And unless I really screw up, I’m pretty sure my position is secure.
So if you feel inclined, visit jennlanedesign.com if you ever need invitations, logos or anything else design related. It will give me something to do in between blog posts, and a reason to change my clothes.