Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in creative design solutions but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with M. Kendall Ludwig, CEO of CurlyRed Inc, located in Oakland, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Since 2007, CurlyRed has provided fresh, captivating, and timeless design, branding, print, and web solutions for numerous companies and non-profits across the country.
Tell us about yourself
I started CurlyRed in 2007 with the desire to create art. Usable art. My vision included the following statement: “..to lay bare the beauty in ordinary things is a great challenge.” I believe that, and it still drives me to create the best work I can. But it has taken me several years to realize that creating “usable art” is only one half of the challenge.
As our business has grown and we’ve developed deeper relationships with more clients, I’ve realized that there is an even more important challenge ahead. I see, over and over again, other design firms and advertising agencies holding work ransom for sums impossible for anyone to afford - except the largest and wealthiest companies. Something seems fundamentally wrong about that. There are far too many small businesses and non-profits with great vision but limited marketing budgets. Don’t they deserve the same access to good design? We think so. We believe in good design for everyone.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think I’m the proudest of the fact that CurlyRed has now fully supported my family for the past six years (when my husband came to work for CurlyRed full-time). Additionally, this past August, CurlyRed purchased a building in downtown Oakland, MD, that also rents space to other organizations.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The buck really does stop with you! There are times when the weight and responsibility that comes with being a business owner can feel overwhelming.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Check your motivations. Do you want to start your own business because you think it will be easier than working for someone else? Or you’ll think you’ll work fewer hours? Because in my experience, neither of those things has turned out to be true. It takes a certain kind of personality to have the motivation and discipline to be your own boss.
- Find mentors, but forget the naysayers. It’s important to find wiser, experienced business professionals to help you navigate starting your own endeavor. But don’t be surprised when even friends and family members are less than supportive. Sometimes you just have to gut with your gut!
- Really define your “why.” Your value system, beliefs, and motivation for beginning your own business will help you clarify what sets you apart from your competitors. Your “why” could also be the reason customers will choose you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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