1.Tell us some background information,your education,what you do, how long you’ve been doing it.
10 years ago if you would have told me I would have a marketing company and design thousands of business cards and flyers, help people launch in businesses, and motivate them to find their “IT”then design effective marketing material around their “IT”.. I would have told you that you were crazy!! I did what my parents told me.. I went to college and got a good job.. Over 7 years ago, I started hosting a poetry read.. so I had to do the flyers.. then all of a sudden people started offering to pay me for flyers and cards.. the rest is.. history!!
2.What made you become an artist /designer /marketer?
I fell into it.. it was just words on paper.. first.. then it was a hobby.. it then grew to a pretty lucrative side hustle.. and in 2005 I quit my close to six figure job to do this full time.. Now I live, breathe and sleep marketing.. “I DON’T GO TO WORK.. I AM WORK”..
3.In the beginning of your career how did you market yourself?
After the poetry reads and a couple club owners asking me to do flyers and cards..
I went to the barbershops..
I would walk in with this big portfolio filled with cards I had done .. I’d say, hey I’m MaReesa and I do business cards
and they gave me a shot (that’s why I love my barbers to this day)
Keep in mind that I would do the design and then go to a copy place where they would print the cards and cut them..
I did about 4 or 5 cards a week..
I called myself the business card chick in the beginning
and I had the slogan..
Crushing the competition with innovative out of the box business cards..
Then I stated doing raised letter cards.. and the business grew.. (I do between 50 and 100 cards or flyers a week)
To this day.. every barber in this city (Richmond, VA) sends me referrals..
sooo.. long story short..
I built my business on barbers,stylists and other small business owners
I call myself the queen of marketing.. because it you don’t believe in you.. no one will..
And my never wavering mantra is: THE WORST THING YOU CAN BE IN BUSINESS IS… INVISIBLE
4.What tools do you use, software and hardware?
Now… Adobe Photoshop on my purple Dell 1525 laptop –
Clueless how to use illustrator.. Never turned on an Apple!!!
I’ve evolved from printing a copy of the card design and getting it scanned off the paper
to learning how to make pdf’s to finally using Photoshop..
But don’t ask me how to use most of the features.. CLUELESS!!
I have to again add this disclaimer: I AM NOT A GRAPHIC ARTIST.. they wouldn’t even allow me to play one on TV!
5.How do you manage the business side?
I’m crazy.. as for the daily pay-in and pay out.. my darling mom handles the books.
And I have an accountant..
Really I make money, I pay bills.. does that count as managing??
My monetary goal has always been $10,000 a month.. am I there.. nope.. WILL I get there.. YUP!!
6.Where and how do you get inspiration to design?
Where, laying in the bed on the laptop, all hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning.
Like right now for example: I’m on my laptop in my friends bar and grill.. all around me people are talking and drinking, and I’m typing my business story!!
That’s just me…. I AM WORK!!
INSPIRATION: I just love putting words and images on pieces of paper..
and even more than that I love the pride that my customers have in passing their flyers or cards out..
I really enjoy thinking up slogans or concepts for example on of my friend has a huge ladies night at his venue..
and he wanted to do something for his male customers.. NO slogan sounded.. umm right..
so I though of AL BUNDY NIGHT..
I put the little rascals (He Man woman haters on one side.. and Al bundy with a bunch of video vixens on the other) it’s at the printer now..
I am so not a graphic artist..
I so respect those who are,,
I see ad campaigns or other peoples flyers and websites…I say.. now that’s art!!
But, sad to say.. sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night.. and roll over,
cut the laptop on and design business card or flyer..
And some times it takes me days to get an image
I never do the same thing twice.. even the black and white cards that I only charge $25 for..
I find new fonts, new pictures or something so each person feels like the card is theirs and theirs alone
I’m honestly getting better with designing flyers..
I am really bad about putting EVERYTHING on a flyer.. it will tell a story, BIG TIME..
as I grow I’m TRYING to learn to K.I.S.S keep it simple stupid!! I know my problem I just have to work on it!!
7. What is some advice you can give to people just starting out?
Have set prices and be FIRM.. don’t wavier.. THE PRICE IS THE PRICE!!
You have to have a strong professional delivery when it comes to prices.. and the WHY (reason) behind the prices
People love to talk about what VISTA PRINT does..
I used to argue the point.. now I just say..
YOU HAVE TO LOOK LIKE MONEY, TO BE LIKE MONEY, TO MAKE MONEY
now look at your cookies cutter Vista Print card: at least 2 million other people have that design..
Does that look like money??? end of discussion
Regardless, just know that EVERYONE is your customer
I’m know all over my city as a business woman.. The whole back window of my truck says U NEED A BUSINESS CARD in huge white letters..
It’s about your drive.. your hustle, your willingness to pound the pavement..
NO ONE IS going to come to you..
You have to go out and let people know you’re open for businesses
Now for me I’ve stayed away from the corporate customers or big firms business.. I don’t ever want to get paid on a net 30 or 60..
I’m cash and carry I don’t PRINT anything until I get my money UP FRONT.. .. When you pay, I Print… period, nothing personal, just business!
Honestly, I don’t charge for design work, because I can not own that title as ‘graphic artist’
I have a hard time charging for logo designs because sometimes it only takes me a second to throw something together..
Look, I just do flyers and cards.. for me and my business the design is included..
Grant it.. I’ll spend hours design a card that nets me a $15 profit.. but I don’t care cause I love it..
My company business cards and flyers are all over my city..
there’s no salon or shop, restaurant or coffee shop, gas station, laundry room, media board that I don’t have my card in..I distribute about 1000 personal flyers/cards a week..
One of my new business focuses is tackling the online market.
Social networking sites have become increasingly more important to me!!
I am facebook addicted.. But I’m really deliberate with my sites.. basically they are JUST business.. every status update I do have a business undertone.. the photos: my work along with how much each one costs and I tag my customer with their card.. so they become my marketing team!!
And honestly I’ve transitioned from raised letter business cards which yield such a small profit
to full color flyers and business card and the second transition is to working online..
emailing proofs and getting paid by paypal.. and shipping to my customers directly!! Ohh so much easier!!
I used to run all over this city to show proofs.. collect deposits and deliver cards.. All with a one day turn-a-round..
I’m TIRED of that grind. So honestly as my business grows..
some of my initial customers are not that accepting of the NEW me..
I hear comments like:.. Well you used to do this or that, now you so big time, you forgot about the little people
My response is.. I used to be able to.___________ Now my timelines are much tighter, but I’ll never forget where I started.
Man, I can talk all day.. so I’ll end here.. just know my story is NOT your story.. you have to find YOUR niche.. your target market and work it Blessing and success to you THANKS FOR ASKING ME to do this Caleb!!!!
Thank you MaReesa for taking the time to do the interview.