Welcome to our newest series on the BBS Blog: #GirlBoss. In this segment, we will feature the incredible, hard-working entrepreneurs that make up our community. Here we will chat with them about the life of a girl boss, building a business and local connections in YEG. As you know, we love all things local and we love badass women, this feature combines these two loves and showcases all of the amazing brands, businesses and bosses that are a part of our BBS Tribe.
You know (and love love love) our first spotlight, as she is not only a #GirlBoss but also a #BarreBoss. Kristin is a freelance graphic designer who started up her own business, Kristin Gibson Design, in December of 2014. Read all about what she has to say about the design industry in Edmonton, maintaining a work/life balance as a young entrepreneur and all about the amazing community connections that she has built in the past few years!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the field in which you specialize.
I am a graphic designer who has been in the field for over 10 years. I graduated from the Visual Communication program at MacEwan University, specializing in Design & Illustration. I have worked throughout the field, spending time working in-house at a large company, at a small advertising agency, and at a design studio. I finally decided to strike out on my own at the end of 2014, starting my new year with a new adventure.
How did you get your design business started?
The great thing about being a designer is that I was always able to do freelance work while I was employed full-time. This allowed me to establish client relationships that were all my own while still having the security of a steady pay cheque. At my last job, I was also blessed with an employer who was incredibly open to how she ran her business and what things cost. She also allowed me to have direct connections with our clients which taught me how to interact with people and sell my work.
As soon as I made the decision to go on my own, I reached out to everyone I could think of within the design community that worked for themselves and might have some insight into what to do to find business. Everyone was so willing to share information and a few even sent business my way which got me through the first tight months.
Maintaining a work/life balance as an entrepreneur is unquestionably a challenging task, especially with a family. How do you make time to run your business, design, teach barre, be a rockstar mom and maintain your own sanity?
I am terrible at saying no to people, so work/life balance is a bit of a work in progress! I always see the potential and the possibilities in every project that comes my way. I don’t ever want to turn down projects because I have a definite fear of missing out on something amazing. What I am getting better at is pushing for reasonable time frames. What I do takes time, great ideas don’t come overnight, and the clients that really want to work with me respect that and give me the time I need.
I also have a really supportive husband who gives me time to work in the evening while he spends time with our son, so I can work at my best time of day.
Now tell us about your brand, what is it exactly that you specialize in?
Within the field of design, I specialize in branding design and print design, so posters, brochures, stationery, anything that can be printed, I love to make! I also recently have started designing apps, which is such an interesting expansion on what I already do. Thinking about how an app flows adds an extra level of complexity which I find fascinating.
One thing that we love to follow, specifically through your social media, is the process leading up to the finished product. Can you explain the creative process that you go through to create your work?
What I think sets me apart as a designer is that everything I create begins with a sketch. Taking the time to draw things out by hand really works out the problems and helps me arrive at more creative and original end products. It also saves me time in the end because I’m not spending hours pushing things around on a computer, waiting for ideas to come!
What do you love about your job? Share with us the benefits of entrepreneurship and the design industry!
I love the freedom of my job. I can work wherever and whenever best fits my schedule, which allows me to spend time during the day with my son and work when the ideas hit, versus sitting at a computer from 9-5. The variety in what I do is also amazing. I never am working on the same project twice, all clients are different and they all have different needs within their brand.
Now lets talk community. What connection do you have with the community in Edmonton? What connections do you have with other local businesses?
The Edmonton community is so supportive when it comes to helping you generate business. If you are good at what you do, word of mouth is the absolute best way to generate business and some of my best clients have come from referrals by other clients I have, who like working with me and have spread the word.
My brand is all about building brands, especially local brands! Designers are the behind the scenes people. You don’t really know who creates the logos unless you go looking or asking. I have created so many logos that can be seen throughout the Edmonton community leaving a lasting legacy I have been able to infuse into my community. I love thinking that I have played a small role in growing our community through the designs I create, helping these business owners grow, and developing their brands.
I work with other local designers, printers, marketing companies, digital developers and so many local businesses are my clients.
Finally, could you speak on the lifestyle that comes with entrepreneurship? Any advice for other #GirlBosses just starting out?
My life is… CRAZY! In the past 8 months, my business has grown so much, and I couldn’t be more excited, but it has meant my life is a bit more hectic. I work at odd hours to get my projects done, often working late into the evening when I tend to be the most creative.
I think life as an entrepreneur can be a bit lonely if you don’t have employees or coworkers (which I don’t) so I am very fortunate to be able to teach barre as a way to build a community. Those regular interactions with the other barre beauties has definitely kept me from going stir crazy :)