Since it's been a couple of months, I thought I'd take a moment to introduce myself. In the process of networking and learning by example, I've been inspired by the small business owners who truly put themselves and their personalities into their work. In an effort to make new friends, I want to let you know some things about myself and why I started this little labor of love.
My name is Brittany and as of this writing I am 25 years old. Every birthday someone asks you "Do you feel older?", until it's no longer appropriate to ask that question. This year, I did not feel older, but I did feel that some day I may feel older- a concept I had yet to fully grasp. I'm trying my best to make time count, as it's going by at such a pace these days.
Geography: I was raised in the north side of Chicago, eatin' hot dogs and swimming away the summer. I am grateful to have been too young to be made to shovel snow. Though I do remember my little play table and chairs being used to reserve a shoveled out parking spot. Really had to stake the claim. In 2002, my family bought a house in Las Vegas, so we'd left what we'd known of the flat lands of the mid-west in favor of BIG mountains, a hot ass valley, and a pool in our backyard. I spent my middle and high school years getting into trouble, and being inspired by the unique landscapes of the desert. My dad, lil Sean Patrick, and I hiked a lot. I left Las Vegas to attend a super small private art college in Washington state and I now live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. I think where people physically come from is important in who they become.
Creative Origins: I was a creative child with a penchant for drawing. Something about my brain is wired that way- I'm not great at abstract math. People nurtured in me what they saw as talent. My mom was the most fun. We'd play play-doh for hours, making little play-doh foods (I love food) and guessing games out of abstract sculptures. One time for Easter, we made a huge paper cut-out mural on our cabinets. My dad was a puzzle guy. He was a museum guy. Chicago has some of the best in the world. I was lucky to have grown up in a place with such accessible culture. He was the kind of guy who was more excited about his kid's school projects than we were. I have a brother who's a year above me in school. In the 4th grade, we had a project to build a replica Native American structure. Conor was assigned a Pawnee Earth Lodge, and I an Iraquois Long House. Two years in a row that school got the best damn replicas a 4th grade class had ever seen, complete with authentic sticks foraged from nearby woodlands. I remember as a child, while my brothers got gadgets and techy boy things, I always got paper. Somehow I've always had an amass of paper.
Going to College: High school was a weird time (as it is for most malleable teenagers). My art instructor, Lisa Hinricksen was such a huge source of inspiration- she really deserves a medal. She was acquainted with the Chairman of a tiny private college outside Seattle called the Northwest College of Art (now the Northwest College of Art and Design). So I met him and applied. I was accepted (as nearly everyone is, it's not a competitive school) and they require an on-site interview as a qualification for entering the program, probably so you have to see for yourself how small the place is. I was also accepted to Columbia College of the Arts in Chicago, and offered in-state tuition at New Mexico State University (who has a great art program), I opted for the northwest. I remember that time in my life seeing all these "signs" and falling in love with the tall trees and mountains right on the water. I have plenty of complaints about the school I chose, but if I had the opportunity to do it again, I'd be VERY hard-pressed to see what was behind door 2. The reality is, we don't know what's ahead, and if you're not making the best of what you have right now- you're doing it wrong. Anyway, I got a BFA in visual communication.
Out of College- Leaving school was kind of bizarre. If you're like me, and you're not planning on going back, leaving school for good is actually a HUGE landmark. My parents had gotten divorced while I was in college, so I didn't feel like I really had any place to go back to. I was living with my boyfriend at the time, and really had no reason to leave Washington. I don't have any family up here, so being a satellite, I had a hard time establishing goals for myself, simply for the fact that I didn't have a lot of resources or really know how to identify opportunities. You probably don't know this about me, but I worked at Dairy Queen for 3 years during college (love my DQ fam). My first real job out of college was working for a (actually amazing) company called Legal Presentation Graphics. It was a small, self-made business out of Eagle Harbor on the Island. Being so young, I felt really empowered having what I felt like was a big responsibility. I was the production artist for courtroom presentations for pretty high profile stuff. My boss was a serious but really interesting fiery haired woman. I didn't feel particularly interested in what I what I was doing, but felt important doing it. Long story short- I was going through some really difficult life stuff, a self imposed break up, drinking an awful lot, didn't really have a place to call home, definitely not prioritizing my life- and big secret: I got FIRED from that job. Well, not so much "fired" as "not asked to come back" (I was fired)- I was freelance.
After Getting Fired: I really took a HUGE hit to my self esteem when I realized that what I was doing to myself made me physically unable to be productive at work. Let me tell you- I learned my weaknesses. I'm not a great editor as is, and when I drink a lot, stay up all night, don't eat, and have to work around a rural public transit system where I arrive to work 2 hours before we open- I wasn't setting myself up for success. Still, I'm not one to lie down- even in a depressive state. I made a big move to the city (Seattle), and without a car, that was a big deal. I moved with my boyfriend to Pioneer Square. I'd had an internship throughout college at a super little new letterpress company in Seattle called Pike Street Press . On a whim, I contacted Sean to see if he needed any work done and he did! And I had a job again! I was only out of work for 4 days- (that was the last time I ate McDonald's. McDonald's is giving-up food).
A New Career: After having contributed to Pike Street Press on and off for a couple of years, this was the first time I would be there (nearly) full time. I was on production for an apparel line inspired by the "12th man" thing. Something about football (I don't care). After almost no time at all, a position opened in client+design services. I filled that position and really quickly became Project Manager. It was so rewarding to find a niche where I felt appreciated, and competent, and had the opportunity to not only design really pretty things- but to produce them as well. Now I manage all of the projects that come in, do custom design for clients and internal projects, materials ordering, and manage sales and leads. It's a lot of hats for a small company, but I really believe in the dynamics of small business. In less than 3 full years, I've worked with Filson, Pike Place Market Foundation, Amazon, Nordstrom, and the Nordstrom pop-in shops associated with Warby Parker and Nike, along with so many others.
Starting My Own Business: Working in the letterpress world, we do SO MANY wedding invitations- as you know. Calligraphy wasn't a service that was offered at the Press. I'd wanted to make some extra money and offered my services for a fair cut of the list cost under the Pike Street Press business license. Really, the biggest reason I got my own business license was to have a bigger control of taxes and make opportunities to work for myself outside of my day job. I'm still learning how to operate a business (and how to operate legally) because man, they really do not make that shit transparent. But, if I have any advice, it's that you can accomplish whatever you can invest yourself in. Nothing happens all at once. You're not going to do everything right away. You're not going to do everything RIGHT right away. Give yourself some grace, and be realistic about your goals.
What Now: It's exciting to make a place for yourself. It's exciting to have personal goals and a standard that you alone measure yourself. I don't think any labor of love was ever pursued out of want of fortune or fame. There's something so intrinsic and tangible about the internal satisfaction we gain from turning our passions into fruition. It may seem so small to some, but to us it's extraordinary. Making steps to a future more bright is my biggest goal. I have plans to teach workshops, release a line of paper accessories, and start a campaign for 500 envelopes for charity. 100% of proceeds will go to a charity up to 500 envelopes. It's only $1250, but I'm only 1 person and that's realistic for me. I just have to figure out the legal tax garbage. No good deed goes unpunished.
I sure hope you've learned enough about me to never have to do this again! In conclusion, be BIG. Dream BIG. There's so many labels around what's appropriate, what's a real job, what's meaningful. I'm happy to own my roots and contribute to this little artsy community. I may not be a big tree, but I'm growing, and I hope you do too. Life gets tough, and then it doesn't- make the most out of opportunities when the time is right.
If you've stuck around this far- thanks for hangin' out!