Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing and design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Will Mackey, Founder of W.Mackey CreativArium, located in Spring Hill, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business offers graphic design, illustration & creative branding services for brands who want to differentiate themselves from the competition. I offer a unique creative aesthetic that is not only engaging but strives to emotionally connect with consumers.
Tell us about yourself
After graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute with a major in design & illustration, I eventually found myself in the world of advertising as a creative, working on a handful of both national and international brands that included dog food, sports drinks, and health care, and entertainment. I've done everything from designing printed annuals, animating digital ads, illustrating storyboards, designing logos, icons, web design, art direction, video, and photography.
After about 15 years or so of experience at some notable ad agencies in Kansas City, I struck out on my own (on necessity) near the end of 2019. And this time, to focus more on illustration, graphic design, and branding projects.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is building this all from the ground up. Well, I did have a good network of connections to help get it started, but I also started it just months before 2020, which we all know the effect of (COVID) had on everything. And so, had to pivot and re strategies directions. And patiently keep at it. Eventually, after almost nothing, I got some good clients, and they have been keeping me decently busy since. In fact, I've tripled the work as I'm coming into my 3rd year as a solo creative studio.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I have years of experience and can do the creative part of it. But the business part of it!? I didn't learn that in school or really in the 15 years at other agencies. Might have had an idea from the agency experience I received, but now I have to play a multitude of roles outside of doing the creative work. The self-promotion, marketing, the contracts, the invoicing. All of that as well.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Strategy is important. Research and discover your "why," "how," and "what."
- It's NOT going to be a quick race. It's a marathon. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
- Don't feel you need to do everything. Focus on what you're really good at, and team up with people who are skilled at things you're not. For instance, finding an expert in the logo or full-on brand design to help.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
"Pivot." That's the word of the times. Oh! And mindset. That's a big one. You can't just sit by and watch things happen and be afraid to step out. It is going to be tough, and don't be afraid of failure. Those will be lessons that make you better and stronger to get through it. On your terms.
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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