Today for Intentionality Spotlight, we talk to Crystal Whitlow about starting a business, resources she uses, and how she stays motivated and preserves balance in her life!
First some easy stuff: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your work, passions and interests?
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! I’m so happy to be here and talk about my life as a graphic designer and creative entrepreneur.
I currently call Kansas City my home and have grown fond of the Midwest culture.
During the day I work for Champion, the collegiate clothing company, and at night I spend my hours building up my creative profile through my online blog CW Design, Etsy shop, and Spoonflower store. I’m excited to turn my side hustle into a full-time adventure in the next few weeks.
I love being a graphic designer. I think of it as my super power! I see how good design as the power to motivate people to buy goods and build organizations. I enjoy studying marketing and how I can help grow my own business and help other businesses with my knowledge.
Outside of business ventures, I love paper crafting. I have a Silhouette Cameo machine that I absolutely love. A Silhouette Cameo is a machine that can read illustration files and cut them out of paper. It saves a bunch of time so that I can make many fun crafts for parties, Sabbath School, holidays and home decor.
Until now I have only made cut files for myself. Starting in June 2018, my mom and I will be opening an Etsy shop together to sell craft files. It is our goal to inspire other people to flex their creative muscles to make their own projects.
You are a talented graphic designer and crafter. Were these always interests of yours and did you always want to go the entrepreneur route? How did you decide to start CW Design?
I definitely feel that I was born to be a creative entrepreneur. I have always enjoyed my art classes more than any other subject, and it’s a skill set that I have always felt more confident in.
I was the type of kid who would sell my holiday candy to my classmates in elementary school... until my dad found out and told me to stop. So, I have always been entrepreneurial minded. I love the thought of having control over my work schedule and finding my own opportunities to grow in my career. I believe that I will feel more satisfaction through running my own business than working for someone else.
As an entrepreneur, I imagine you have to be quite disciplined in certain areas. How do you stay organized and motivated? What are some resources that have helped you with this?
Having discipline is easier some weeks than others. I often struggle with feeling burnt out, and that I’m not achieving enough. What helps me the most is to take my goals and break them down into smaller goals, so I feel like I am moving in the right direction.
For example, when I start freelancing, I will obviously need clients. So, I take the goal of finding clients who would benefit from hiring a graphic designer on a monthly retainer and try to find networking opportunities in my area. I can search on Meetup.com, Chamber of Commerce events, and co-working/office rental buildings. By physically showing up and making connections will lead to this goal. I can use Facebook Groups for Entrepreneurs and Upwork.com for online referrals.
I think giving myself permission, not to overwork is healthy too. It’s easy to get so wrapped into working on tasks and projects that it takes discipline to walk away from it too. I think it’s safe to say that overworking will lead to burn out too.
Most of all I focus on my main goal - Successfully running my own design studio and designing a lifestyle that financially provides for my family and creates new opportunities. Naturally, I’m pretty driven toward making this goal happen.
Tools I use that make my life easier are:
- Tailwind for maintaining my Instagram and Pinterest profile
- MailChimp for emailing and automated emails
- Facebook Groups for learning and networking
- Dreamhost for hosting my website -their customer service is the BEST!
- Wordpress for the back end of my website
- My iPad Pro so I can work remotely - with the Apple Pencil for drawing
- Printful to sell my pattern designs on products
- Etsy to sell other goods such as my Hand-Lettering Workbook with my Free Workshop
I have a pretty cheap budget, so I keep things pretty simple. I would like to invest in Skillshare to learn new skills and other training workshops for small businesses. However, I feel that there is enough free information already available to learn new skills without having to pay for them. I really enjoy spending time in libraries vs paying for an online course.
What is one other specific area in your life you find that intentionality is absolutely critical? How do you exercise mindfulness in it?
Balance. There is a time to work, time to rest, and time to reflect. I think having another hobby that isn’t design related is healthy for my mind. I love fitness, so I enjoy starting off my day with weight training and running in the evening. (On an ideal day.) I recently just signed up for my first half marathon, so that helps me to get moving from my stationary career.
After my morning workout, I love to take a few minutes to write in my prayer journal. Writing my prayers helps me organize all my wandering thoughts, and gives me peace in how I feel and what is going on in my life.
Mindfulness to me is being aware of how I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s impossible to be mindful when running around trying to accomplish the next goal. Within all the noise in my head reminding me of the tasks I need to do and new ideas I should try, I remember that God said in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Therefore, I don’t think that the term “mindfulness” only applied to yogis and Eastern Religions. I believe that God calls everyone to be still. Whether that be in meditation, prayer/ prayer journaling, stretching or nature walks etc., God knows that we need a balance of work and rest for a healthy life.
It’s not always easy, but with God’s grace, I can try my best for Him.
If you could give one piece of advice about [this area of intentionality] to someone who struggles with it, what would you tell them?
My advice for someone who is struggling with intentionality is to find a way they enjoy helping others. When someone understands how they can help someone it gives them a sense of purpose and passion. Everyone has their own skill set that can be used to bless others and be beneficial. If someone doesn’t know what their skill set is, I suggest trying new classes, figure out what you enjoy doing for fun, and think how you can take the joy to help someone else.
For example, I really enjoy hand lettering, but more so, I enjoyed encouraging other people to be creative too. So, I began teaching hand lettering workshops with the focus that, honestly, anyone can hand letter, even if you have bad handwriting!