Many people have a creative spirit, but not everyone lets it out. Rachel Allene is someone who couldn’t quiet her passion. After pursuing a degree in health science, she almost immediately ditched her first job and jumped into entrepreneurship, head first. Her story teaches us that just getting started is the most important step. Learning as you grow is the best way to thrive in your business, and Rachel is living proof.
What is your background in art + design? Are you formally educated or self-taught?
Oddly enough, I don’t have any background with art + design! I considered double majoring in art and health science in college but learned it would take me way too long to get a degree, so I dropped the art major and pursued health science. Oh, the irony. Most of my art and design work has been self-taught, but I took an online calligraphy course, and I also have a few friends who I can reach out to when I get stuck working with something in Adobe Illustrator.
What made you want to want to start sharing your talents in an online setting?
I was recently out of college working a job I hated and decided I wanted to do something different. I launched my business that day after I quit my job. However, my primary focus was photography. It didn’t take me too long to learn that I loved design and calligraphy more than portrait photography. So, I slowly made a shift towards that. And it’s grown from there!
Did you have any hesitations or setbacks after you started your business? How did you find solutions and overcome them?
Of course! We all have set backs. In fact, during my first photo session after quitting my job I came in contact with poison oak and was then bedridden for a week. Talk about starting off with a bang! Besides health set backs, I have faced my fair share of failed product launches and unmet expectations. My best advice for overcoming set backs is to call your mom first, and then remember that your worth is not in what you accomplish.
If a product doesn’t sell as well as I anticipated, that doesn’t mean people don’t like me as a person. It could mean people are on vacation and not checking social media. It could mean that people are on a stricter budget and don’t have extra spending money. It could mean the people missed my post because of the new Instagram algorithm. There are always countless reasons for why something doesn’t launch as well as you thought! It is rarely a personal attack. You have to remember that, tell yourself that you are still strong and capable, and move on. Don’t look back.
Can you identify a moment on your journey that felt like a turning point in your business? How did it come to be?
Honestly, I feel the moment I decided to start selling mugs was the turning point for my business. When I began to show more of my story through calligraphy quotes every single day on Instagram, my feed became more dynamic. The combination of the two is really changed things for the direction of my business.
Hand-lettering and brand building
Lettering is super popular right now. How do you set yourself apart from the other creative businesses who have similar brands and who sell competing products?
This is tough! I try to keep my head down and not compare myself to other letterers. I would consider myself successful if someone sees a quote somewhere on Instagram and knows that it is my work without seeing a signature. I have tried to set myself apart by posting black and white brush calligraphy quotes and by also creating my own hashtag (#lesshustlemoregrace). I have created a mantra that others know me by.
You have such a strong brand and social media presence (especially Instagram)! What techniques can you attribute to this success?
That is very sweet for you to consider me successful in branding and social media! There are a few specific things I can attribute this to, and I hope it can be helpful for others. With social media, I try to stick to a few different “themes” for my posts. I don’t post pictures of my family, even though I spend most of my weekends with them. I don’t post many pictures of my husband because he isn’t a part of my brand. I don’t post photos of sunsets or my vacations. Those things don’t fit into my brand. My brand is full of inspiration, empowerment, products, office photos, and some behind the scenes. That’s what I stick to.
People know what to expect from me, and that builds trust. In addition, I try to offer my audience something. We all want to receive things. So, I try to view each post as something I have to give my audience. It can be a quote, or advice, or a new product, or a gift idea, or a dose of humor. I always think about how I can serve them. I also make sure to create a conversation with my audience. I do this by commenting back to people, asking questions in my captions on Instagram, and using Instagram stories to show more of my personality, voice, real life, and struggles. It makes me seem more human, and people love that.
Behind the scenes
How do you manage running a home based business (especially all that shipping)? Any tips for those struggling to do the same?
Oh boy, it is tough! But, one thing I have done to create some sense of management is to have certain days for shipping. I typically package and ship on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So, when an order comes in last on Monday night, I know that it will get shipped on Wednesday. That has helped relieve a lot of stress and frenzy. Setting boundaries and schedules is very helpful!
Can you name a book, podcast, conference, or individual who has had a lasting positive impact on you and your business?
I attended Creative at Heart in July and loved it! I also love listening to The Creative Empire Podcast and having text message conversations with some online friends. It helps so much!
Hopes + dreams
What areas are you still working on becoming better at, as a business owner and a creative individual?
I am working on getting better with time management and setting boundaries. I am also working on setting up sustainable systems for my business.
What do you envision for the future of your business? Do you have any personal dreams that you still have your sights set on?
I am always thinking of new things! I have plans to expand my inventory to more types of products; I want to teach workshops, speak at a conference, and increase my wholesale accounts. There is so much more, but I will stop there!
I know you have some exciting projects in the works! Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately and what we can look forward to:
You can look forward to some brand new products in 2017, some exciting collaborations, and more intentional and helpful blog posts. I can’t wait to share more!