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By Kathryn Wheeler / December 30, 2018 / 0 Comment

I’m sure that everyone says something along the lines of, “if you told me three years ago that I’d be starting my own business, I wouldn’t believe it.” However, that sentence does ring entirely true in this scenario.

In 2014, I graduated college with a B.F.A. in Visual Communications and ended up taking the first position that I was offered: an in-house graphic designer for a marketing agency.

Little did I know that job would lead me to my current position as designer and marketing specialist for a logistics and IT company. Now, don’t get me wrong, my day job is pretty undemanding, and I don’t have any quarrels with my co-workers. But, as I continue working at the traditional 9–5 desk jobs, I’ve learned a few things about myself.

The most important of those being the following: I hate commuting, I waste too much money going out to eat for lunch, I want a job with growth opportunities, and I really, really — I can’t stress this point enough — prefer working at home, on my own schedule, and in my own space. Whether it’s because of my social anxiety, chronic health issues, or the fact that I don’t like to be micromanaged (but who actually does?), I’ve realized that I work better when I can complete tasks at home versus at the office.

All these realizations led me to the decision to look for a new job.

Unfortunately, changing jobs isn’t always a smooth and simple process. Below are the trials and tribulations I went through to end up where I am today: owner of Kathryn’s Design Shop, a person working to make a living, not living for work.


My first attempt at starting my own business was “The Paper Studio,” a (very) short-lived Etsy shop venture that turned into getting more freelance graphic design work, than actually selling work on Etsy. While The Paper Studio was making money via design work, it wasn’t becoming the successful Etsy store business I had in mind.

As The Paper Studio was failing, fear starting settling in; I had no idea what to do next.

What was I thinking? I can’t run a business. I don’t have the time or extra money to invest. I should quit. I tried, right? I had the store up and sold one or two things, but it just isn’t working – I’m not cut out for this.

I have a habit of starting things, but never following through to finish them – but I was determined  that this was not going to be one of those times. So, in lieu of quitting The Paper Studio all together, I decided to revisit my original business plan.


Going into the second round of trying to start a business, I knew I had to revisit each step I took with The Paper Studio and figure out what I need to do differently to ensure Kathryn’s Design Shop reaches the goals I set for it.

Here’s a brief rundown of where I went wrong the first time:

  • – I rushed into what I wanted to do, not realizing the amount of work it really takes
  • – I jumped into social media marketing without a plan
  • – I didn’t test out or survey what my target audience wants/needs
  • – I didn’t create a website
  • – I wasn’t utilizing my email to its fullest potential (or at all)

Now, if I was really passionate about crafting and selling on Etsy, I could have fixed each of these issues over time. However, decided it was time to start a business focused on what I do best (and went to school for). So, this is the knowledge/experience I used to start establishing Kathryn’s Design Shop: 

  • – Freelance graphic design projects were 99.99% the source of my profits
  • – Word of mouth marketing (a.k.a. referrals) was more effective than social media
  • – Email communication was effective
  • – Upwork job invitations were piling up
  • – An online portfolio is needed for all job applications, and an Etsy shop did not suffice

Based on this information, my new business plan focuses solely on offering freelance graphic design and content writing via its own website, not a third-party site like Etsy. I’m also taking much more time on each step of this business, rather than diving all in at once.

First, I created a new logo and started to spread the word on The Paper Studio’s social media. Then, as I got closer to creating the website for Kathryn’s Design Shop, I re-branded all the social media accounts to the new business, and advertised the re-branding some more.

As of March 10, Kathryn’s Design Shop is finally done being stuck in “under construction” mode! Although, my marketing experience has taught me that a business is never done. It’s a constant process of keeping track of your customers and the current trends, and continuously evolving to meet those needs.

Now, my next step is to get more traffic to my site. I’ve created business cards and am working on strengthening my social media presence. In time, I’ll be adding more blogs and resources to my site, and (hopefully) get enough emails to launch a monthly/bi-monthly newsletter.

Additionally, I’m working on print advertising (such as business cards, brochures, flyers, etc.)

Essentially, this second attempt is all about launching slowly, through lots of trial and error. Unlike The Paper Studio, this approach takes into consideration the chance for multiple failures, allowing Kathryn’s Design Shop to change and evolve as it launches and grows. My business plan is always open to change, as is my services and how I go about marketing my brand.

In my (limited) experience, creating one path to achieve one goal will just set you up to fail. As technology and trends are changing so rapidly, businesses now have to constantly adapt to consumers’ ever-evolving needs.


Stick with me and follow Kathryn’s Design Shop’s ever-evolving brand. I can’t wait to see what the first year in business brings.

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