2017 — the sourest lemon — was a life changer for me. As the new year started, my world came tumbling down. Nothing in my 33 years of living could prepare me for the heartache of separating from my husband, whom I had been with for over 10 years, and married to for four. The challenges I faced just to wake up every day, wondering: is this a mistake? How did we get to this point? In my mind, I knew we could make it through another tough situation. We had been through so many hurdles already in our 10 years together, I believed we were prepared to tackle anything.
However, after months started to go by, I realized that we were both adapting to life without each other. That unbreakable bond we had had been broken, and it was time to figure out what was next for me. With the help of therapy, I worked on filling the enormous hole that was left in my heart. I realized that even though we had been through so many life struggles, I was growing into this confident woman, and what I wanted out of life was becoming different than what my husband wanted. I had to become “okay” with a “failed” marriage—I was raised Catholic—but I knew I had given it my all.
In this time alone, I realized that God wanted me to see that in giving so much to my family, I had lost track of my own goals and aspirations. I now had time to focus and dream again. I went back to that 22-year-old girl, fresh out of undergrad at Howard University, and revisited what she thought she would conquer in this world. I was constantly dreaming, thinking, writing down ideas, wondering how I’d get it all done.
I’ve always wanted to focus on my own design business, but never took the plunge. 2017 had grown my faith in God even more, so I decided that I had to just jump in and do it. After making it through the first six months of the year, I knew I would be okay, that my journey was just starting a new book. In this new book, I had complete control, and the opportunities would come as God saw fit. And alas, the doors have opened!
On a beautiful beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica during a girl’s trip, I realized that it was time to let go of the past. I had to get into motion and started formulating the steps I’d need to take to make my goal possible:
- Think of a business name: I needed a new name that spoke to this new endeavor on which I was about to embark. For the past year, I had been brainstorming different names and finally picked one that described how I see design—as art— my personal form of expression.
- Research, research, research: After picking the name, I checked the state registry to verify that it was actually available. Then I reviewed which website domains and social media handles were available, and did a Google search to see which businesses came up under that name. My name wasn’t taken and I was good to go!
- Branding is key: As a designer, I felt so much pressure to come up with the perfect logo, as my brand and presentation was what I’d be judged by from future clients. I overthought it for weeks! Alas, I finally picked a design that was clean and attractive and moved on.
- Get ready: To fully start the business, I had to get all the assets in place that I would need. I happened to run into a photographer who had shot my photo years ago; we reconnected and had an amazing photo shoot at a studio in Harlem, New York. I also started building out my social media platforms as I worked on redesigning my website and marketing materials.
- Launch it: To let the world know I was in business, I decided to host an event and started marketing my services at various professional events to find clients. Luckily, I have a network of people who are experts and have guided me, as I realized that there are many moving parts when starting your own business. It’s okay to acknowledge that you need support; you can’t do everything yourself!
On January 5th, I’m finally launching my graphic design business, Artfully Made Designs, based here in New York. My business merges artistic design with creative problem-solving to produce original, memorable, and highly effective visual communications for clients, specializing in two areas: “traditional” and “celebrations”. My traditional services include: branding and logo design, flyers and postcards, brochures and annual reports, social media posts, digital and more; the celebrations offerings include: invitations, save-the-dates, programs and menu cards, monograms and favors, tags and more.
Since deciding to work towards making my business a reality, my biggest highlight of 2017 was my best friend’s save-the-date wedding invite ending up in the hands of Oprah! (Check out her video here!) I’ve also been busy developing the “Power to the Polls” campaign for the Women’s March on January 21st in Las Vegas.
After a full year, I can truly say that I’ve made the sweetest lemonade ever and am excited for what’s next to come! I’ve learned to no longer be scared when a door closes, as I truly walk by faith now. As cliché as it sounds, everything does happen for reason and time really does heals all wounds. It’s just tough when you are going through it in the moment. Your support system—whether it’s family, friends, or mentors—is vital through life’s struggles, too. Lean on them! Lastly, and I believe more importantly: believe more than ever in yourself and in your ability.