6 Motivating Interviews with Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs
Starting your own business is tough stuff! It takes a lot of bravery, commitment, and hard work to get everything going. I found it fascinating to read interviews of other creatives growing up, but never heard much from other women. I felt there’s always been a hefty amount of stiff and nasty competition, but I had questions! How did they start? What’s their biggest challenge? How do they put themselves and their work out there?
Women-owned businesses are rapidly growing five times faster than the national average and continue to rise. I’m glad to see that number increase and have noticed women starting to work together more. I’m all about community over competition and I feel like many others are starting to accept this as well.
And as we should! Sharing knowledge with others is how we can improve upon on our own work and lives. I’m always inspired listening to others’ journeys and decided to reach out to some amazing female entrepreneurs myself. Working for yourself can be lonely at times, so it’s also nice to know you’re not alone in your struggles as a business owner. I hope these interviews will give you insight and inspire you on your journey as well!
The following interviews feature women who are kicking butt in what they do (and are doing it full-time!): Studio Say,Colors Collective,Aww Sam,Sweaty Wisdom, and Erin Summer. I’ve met each of them through Instagram and they’re always inspiring me to be my most colorful, positive self! I’ll also be sharing my two cents as well. 🙂 Let’s get to it!
First off: What’s your name, your business, and what do you do?
Studio Say: My name is Alana, and I run my own independent product photography and videography business called Studio Say.
Colors Collective: My name is Alexis Jesup and my business is Colors Collective. I create colorful content, products, and installations!
Aww Sam: Sam Ushiro, Aww Sam, I’m a DIY/Lifestyle blogger!
Sweaty Wisdom: Chris Emmer, Sweaty Wisdom, social media and branding expert.
Erin Summer: Erin Summer Creative Design, I produce creative visuals for fun and colorful brands!
Amy Shamblen: I’m the Amy of the design and photography studio Amy Shamblen Creative! I create colorful content for fun and quirky brands!
How long have you been on your freelance journey?
Studio Say: I started posting on Instagram about a year ago for fun, and quickly discovered that creating content was something I enjoyed MUCH more than my job at the time. Since then, I have built up a client base and left my job to pursue a freelance career.
Colors Collective: I started Colors Collective just over 2 years ago!
Aww Sam: I started my business full-time 3 years ago after graduating from college.
Sweaty Wisdom: 7 years.
Erin Summer: I’ve been a freelance artist for 7 years but my current content creation business is just over a year old.
Amy Shamblen: I started about a year and a half ago now!
What inspired you to start off on your own?
Studio Say: I have always been a bit of a “take-chances” person, and I really just go where my creativity takes me. I originally studied fashion design in school, which led to a job as a fashion editor and writer, which then led me to marketing, advertising and social media management. I quickly learned that directing other creatives and photographers for photo and video shoots was not my passion, and I liked to be the one doing the creating!
Colors Collective: I was working for a contemporary lighting design company and was feeling very creatively suppressed. I decided to start a project of my own. I wanted it to be different than the work that I was doing at that time and the first thing that came to mind was color. After a few months, my first clients found me on Instagram and after 6 months I was able to leave my job and pursue Colors Collective full time!
Aww Sam: I always jump into things head first and then figure the rest out later. I knew that if I waited for a perfect moment to start full-time, it would probably take me much longer to get my business up and running!
Sweaty Wisdom: My GUT told me. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, I had an amazing job and was getting promoted. But when I saw the lifestyle that my bosses led, I knew I was going down the wrong path for me.
Erin Summer: Truthfully, I struggled a bit with depression and keeping up with the traditional 9–5. My long term boyfriend (now husband) suggested I explore turning my passion for art and design into a business!
Amy Shamblen: I had my dream job of being an art director working from home for a small design agency. It was great because I didn’t have to worry about the business side of things! But after we lost a big client—and being the newest one there—I was the first to go. Absolutely devastated, I made the decision right then and there that I was going to work for myself no matter how difficult it was going to be. I’d already been spoiled with working from home, and after freelancing at larger agencies before that job, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the big agency life. I loved how college pushed me to continually create my best work and I wanted that challenge again, not to take orders from others in a stuffy atmosphere.
What do you do when work is slow?
Studio Say: PANIC! But just a little bit. I think some anxiety comes with the freelance territory, especially if you are stepping out of the stability of a full-time job. I try to make the most of the extra time by teaching myself new skills, finding inspiration online, fangirling over other creatives, and devoting time to my own Instagram page.
Colors Collective: I keep creating new work! If I ever find myself in a slow time, I work on personal projects that I have not been able to get around to, create new content, and brainstorm new ideas!
Aww Sam: It’s rare that I have a slow week, so I personally love when things slow down! It gives me time to recharge creatively and come up with next steps for our brand and our partnerships!
Sweaty Wisdom: Work on content creation and try to enjoy myself, trusting that the ebb will be followed by a flow.
Erin Summer: When work is slow I still love to create just for fun! I truly love brainstorming and learning new skills. I also love to travel, read and hang out in my new (but old) 150 year old house in the country. 😃
Amy Shamblen: More than likely, I’m probably creating! I’ll make more time-intensive photos during this time (usually puppy ones 🙂 ) or I’ll update my website or follow up with past clients. I treasure my slow time so the busy days are that much easier! There’s always something to do to help propel your business forward.
How do you market yourself?
Studio Say: Instagram has been HUGE in helping me grow my business. I was amazed at how I was finding clients purely through my Instagram feed before I even had a website. I plan to look into more advertising options in the future.
Colors Collective: To be honest, Instagram has been a very valuable marketing tool. Almost all of my clients have found me on Instagram. It’s a little scary because I feel that Instagram is not a long term solution, so I am now working on reaching out in different ways!
Aww Sam: We started out by figuring out our audience and what we wanted our brand to become. From there, we built a community and shared our brand across social platforms.
Sweaty Wisdom: Social media! Word-of-mouth.
Erin Summer: Truthfully other than posting to my Instagram account, I don’t really market myself. I have always had a hard time mustering up the courage to “put myself out there.” Luckily Instagram is an amazing showcase and the majority of my clients find me there.
Amy Shamblen: Instagram has been such a game changer for me! I think around 80% of my clients come from there. But I’m also looking to expand my marketing in other ways as well.
How do you overcome creative block?
Studio Say: I am definitely inspired by the endless amount of creativity on Instagram, but I sometimes find it overwhelming when I find myself in a very un-creative head space. I usually go back to my roots as a creative writer and think of how I would describe the subject of my photo in words, or how I would spin it into a story, and that usually sparks an idea.
Colors Collective: When I have a creative block, I like to go to a museum, look at my favorite design blogs, talk to other creatives, and sometimes just take a break and do something that has nothing to do with design. I usually end up coming back, feeling refreshed and full of ideas!
Aww Sam: This is always a tough one for me! I suffer from depression and anxiety, and it always seems like my depression is at its worst when I have creative block. I try to take things slow and do something for myself. Focusing on things outside of work usually helps me to get out of my funk, but sometimes I just have to wait it out and remember that my creativity will always come back!
Sweaty Wisdom: Log off. I like to do influencer detoxes, where I stop opting in for everything everyone else is doing. This helps me get back to myself and find inspiration.
Erin Summer: I have to put away the visual stimuli. If I spend too much time looking at Instagram, Pinterest, magazines, etc., I find it clogs the natural flow of ideas. I had a big imagination as I child and I try to nurture that still. It helps to disconnect from the world and spend more time within.
Amy Shamblen: I always try my best to prevent it by jotting ideas down whenever they come to me! I’ll also take a break and change my surroundings, or meditate to clear my mind. In fact, there’s a whole post here of how I overcome creative block! I have issues with anxiety and always need to calm myself so I can think from a relaxed mind with clarity.
What’s your best piece of advice for anyone starting out?
Studio Say: Be patient, be brave, and work really, really hard. There’s no question that freelance life is stressful and uncertain, but spending every day doing something you love is a pretty incredible trade-off.
Colors Collective: Create something new every day and put it out into the world, no matter how big or small!
Aww Sam: It’s always the hardest thing to do, but don’t compare yourself to someone else. It’s so easy to see someone doing twice as much work as you and forget that you’re still new at what you’re doing and that there’s going to be a learning curve! You’re amazing, don’t let it get you down!
Sweaty Wisdom: Be you. People sniff out a phony from a mile away. Share your genuine self and you’ll attract the right tribe.
Erin Summer: It’s never too late! If you have a passion, you must explore it. Even if you have an incredibly hectic life, devote 20 min a day to learning new skills. Take some photos, watch tutorials on Youtube. Break out a paint brush and some paper. Don’t be afraid to fail. It takes practice and dedication. You’ve got this!!!
Amy Shamblen: I had this horrible habit of comparing myself to others which KILLED my motivation. Avoid that toxic behavior and remind yourself that everyone grows at their own pace! And if your work isn’t where you want it to be, that’s great—because it means you’re improving and are clear with your goals! Don’t be so tough on yourself and remember that your hard work will always pay off. Have confidence in yourself because you’re amazing at being YOU!
And of course, what’s your favorite dessert?
Studio Say: Ooh, tough one! I have such a sweet tooth. If I had to pick one, it would be confetti cupcakes with vanilla icing and lots of sprinkles!
Colors Collective: This is probably unexpected—and a little boring—but I LOVE pumpkin pie!
Aww Sam: Tate’s chocolate chip cookies forever!
Sweaty Wisdom: Whipped cream!
Erin Summer: Cinnabon always and forever 😋
Amy Shamblen: This is always a tough one. I guess it depends on my mood, but give me chocolate anything and I’m a happy camper. Especially dark chocolate chewy brownies, mmmm! 🙂
A BIG thanks to you lovely ladies for taking the time to answer these questions! You’re all so wonderful and I truly appreciate it!
Whether you’re already far into your business or even just thinking about starting off on your own, the freelance life can get lonely. It’s always comforting to know you’re not alone in your journey and there’s others who understand what you’re going through.
Sparking conversations and learning about others, to me, is the best way to learn something new. I hope by talking more openly about the freelance life that it’ll inspire you, too! Being your own boss isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come without lots of anxiety and problem solving, but girl—you are capable of so much more than you can imagine.
What about you, do you have some awesome answers you’d like to share? Or any questions?! Chat away below!