Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deena Boese, owner of Studio 120 Underground, located in Newton, KS, USA
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We offer printable digital designs to make life a little sweeter! From digital artwork for your walls to candy bar wrappers to help celebrate special occasions, we design unique gifts to show love and appreciation to people you love. High-quality digital images with attention to detail and top-notch customer service are what sets us apart. Personalized custom downloads are a favorite with our customers. Receiving a Happy Birthday candy bar wrapper with your name and photo or a personalized campaign poster to help you stand out tends to leave a lasting impression among our customers and keep them coming back.
Our typical clientele ranges from amazing mamas wanting to make a special day even sweeter for someone they love to thoughtful business owners looking to make their customers feel special and appreciated. Our customers definitely have a heart for others! And because of that, I want to make their special event even more special. A lot of customers report back to me that the finished product "was a huge hit!" or "My son won the election!" or "My mom cried when I gave her the gift!". It's amazing to be able to be a tiny part of all of these special moments in people's lives. I will often pray for a customer and their special celebration as I'm sending their finished files.
Tell us about yourself
Although I went to school for business, I discovered early on that my passion was actually design. I worked for a national scrapbook magazine for ten years, working my way up from Contributor to Creative Editor until 2013, when the magazine ceased print publication. Finding myself suddenly without a job, the idea of starting my own business (which I toyed with for several years) was shoved forward into reality. I spent my days designing products and my evenings trying to figure out how to actually sell them online. Creating something from absolutely nothing and seeing that people actually valued and appreciated it made me realize I had found my calling. It prompted me to cultivate my skills and develop my business. I fell in love with the design process, and I fell in love with my awesome customers. This is what continues to motivate me each day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Creating my own business from absolutely nothing and thriving nine years later! I realize how rare that is! I was self-taught and figured things out along the way. (I remember in the early days working 10 hours a day and making $4 for the entire day. Talk about discouraging! Yet something inside me 100% KNEW that I could make this work if I didn't give up!) Making customers my focus has been my #1 priority, and it's brought me over 48,000 sales.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's all up to you. You can't just show up to your computer and be an 8 to 5 designer. In addition to being a designer, you also have to be the CEO, marketing department, IT department, analytics department, finance department, and customer service department. How successful your business will be is 100% determined by how much you are willing to learn and how hard you are willing to work.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Research! While there are amazing business coaching programs you can purchase, there is also a wealth of knowledge for free on YouTube. My advice would be to find several business coaches you love and absorb every video they have for free. Once you've implemented their tips in your own business, find which strategies worked best for you, and then consider purchasing a paid program from that coach when you are financially able.
- How much energy and passion you put into your business is how much success will return to you. You have to want it more than anything and have a strong desire to learn and grow and succeed. You have to be willing to work all day for that measly $4 because you KNOW your hard work will pay off in the future.
- If you wait until you think you're ready to start a business, it will never happen. Here's a secret: No one is ever fully ready and 100% prepared to take that leap. Just do it. Start small. Keep a steady full-time job and work on your business in the evenings and weekends. When you start making consistent income in your business, then you can start reducing your steady job hours.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Studio 120 Underground originally started as a digital wall art business (and not a very successful one, I might add)! Then a customer saw a candy bar wrapper that I created for a family member, and she asked if I could design one for her. Sure thing! I designed a wrapper for her and also put it up in the Studio. It started selling, and customer after a customer requested candy bar wrappers for their special occasions. Who knew? I listened to my customers, filled their needs, and candy bar wrappers have completely taken over as our number one best seller. So my advice would be to tune in and listen to your customers. Don't be afraid to make a shift in your business when you see a need.
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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