When you ask Emily Wells why she became an entrepreneur, you’ll find she had an early love affair with entrepreneurship. “I fell in love with both design and entrepreneurship at age 18,” said Wells. “I was working as a receptionist, and when I wasn’t answering phones I taught myself Photoshop. I started making myself and my friends stationery, then started selling it.”
Like most self-taught entrepreneurs, once Emily started learning more about branding and design she realized how much she loved it and the budding creative decided to transform her newfound hobby into a business. “I built my first website by myself, entered craft shows, and started selling stationery all over the US, Wells recalls. “There’s a thrill that comes with creating something with your own hands and then someone wanting to purchase it! That’s when I fell in love with both designing and entrepreneurship.”
Today, Emily Wells is the owner and chief designer of Emily Wells Design, a Birmingham, Alabama company that provides artisan brand design to creative entrepreneurs. Since 2013, EWD has been designing brands for clients all over the globe.
She helps entrepreneurs tell their stories through carefully crafted identity development and brand design both digitally and in print. Emily believes that with curated and cohesive branding entrepreneurs can attract their ideal audience and grow their businesses with ease.
Here’s an inside look at how Emily Wells launched her brand design agency while in college and why she loves bringing ideas to life.
|Company:||Emily Wells Design|
|Location:||Birmingham, Alabama USA|
|Industry:||Advertising & Marketing|
|Startup Costs||$600 (For a printer used to print stationery)|
How I Got Started
I decided to quit my receptionist job and go to college full-time to study graphic design. I kept my stationery business until sophomore year of college and then transitioned to doing one-on-one design work with clients creating brands, websites, etc.
My goal was to be able to transition into having my own business upon graduating college. It didn’t come without lots of hard work and all-nighters, as I built a business while doing college work, but I had acquired enough clients to work full-time upon graduation.
My business has changed a lot since those early days, but all of the lessons learned in those beginning stages have led me to where I am today.
My Biggest Success Story
I’ve been blessed to work with several well-known brands and influencers and have had my work shared on some pretty large platforms, and I’m so grateful. I’ve worked with Lydia Millen, Stevie and Sazan Hendrix, Catherine Lowe (from the television show, The Bachelor), as well as companies like American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and more.
I’ve also worked with a few restaurants and breweries, and seeing my work “in the real world” is really fulfilling and such an honor. The biggest compliment I can receive is when my client says “you captured me perfectly in the branding!” This is my goal with every project, so to hear we achieved that means everything to me!
Overcoming Startup Challenges
Branding is a passion of mine because the process is something I went through personally. When I gave my business a brand identity, that’s when I saw the most success.
In the beginning of my business I said “yes” to every project and client that I got. Part of that was necessary just for the learning process, but it wasn’t sustainable. As a result, I quickly became burnt out and noticed that my work wasn’t as good as it could be, because the projects and clients were so scattered.
When I honed in on the work that I really wanted to be doing, and the work that I was best at, and who I wanted to work with, that’s when I saw the most growth in my business. It was scary as I started to say “no” to projects that weren’t the best fit, but it was so worth it.
3 Of My Favorite Apps
I am on Pinterest every single day both sharing my work, and also searching for inspiration not just through design work but through interior design, fashion design, and more. Inspiration can be found through anything!
I will never give up my paper planners, but I also keep my work life organized with Trello.com. It’s great for teams too!
I love SquareSpace for website building. It’s what I use for my personal website, and what I use for my clients. It’s really user friendly, and offers lots of add ons like e-commerce, scheduling, marketing, and more.
Top Tip for Entrepreneurs
Get really specific with what you want to do, who you want to work with, and what you want your brand to look like. What you put out into the world needs to be clear to who you want to reach.
Present yourself as the expert in your field and create a brand that targets exactly who you want to work with and they will find you. Good branding brings clarity and makes your job as a business owner easier. It’s worth it to invest in the process, because it truly helps your business grow.
Bring Ideas To Life
As Emily spends her days bringing creative ideas to life you’ll often find sipping a cappuccino (or 3), surrounded by mood boards, wearing her Beats headphones, and working away on her laptop.
For Emily Wells, her business journey is more than fulfilling her own dreams. “I love that through my work, I am giving business owners, often women and moms, the opportunity to increase their revenue, make their lives easier, and give them more clarity with the branding process.”It’s not just a pretty logo we’re creating, it’s so much more,” she adds.
“I love that I can take someone’s dream, idea, or napkin sketch, and bring it to life. It’s really fulfilling work and I’m really grateful that I am able to do what I do to help others.”
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