In Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, she argues that everyone's "creative DNA" is a mix of our natural born skills and key experiences that add up to become different sources for creativity for each person. Growing up, I was very drawn to creating things with my hands and was a strong visual learner. I always knew that I wanted to do something creative. A series of life experiences confirmed this– from childhood art and music classes, all the way through my first job out of college at an architecture firm– and helped me to hone in on exactly what type of "creating" I was most passionate about.
My move to New York City in 2011, after getting married, was the impetus for me starting my own graphic design business. I started out with designing stationery suites for weddings. This gave me the foundation for learning about paper, printing methods, color matching, and helped me to establish contacts in NYC. Over the last seven years, as I have continued to discover and hone in on my design voice, my business has evolved to primarily focusing on creative branding and graphic styling for businesses and organizations. I am passionate about supporting business ventures and their graphic needs, as well as working with non-profits to help raise support. My background in print has proven to be vital and helped me to become a better and more holistic designer. Yuling Designs today is a culmination of all of my experiences, with one thing building upon another and opening doors to new opportunities.
Yuling Designs is a creative branding and design studio based in the heart of New York City and run under my direction. Founded in 2011, our studio is a place that celebrates and tells the stories of your work, love, and play.
We want to work with businesses and organizations who are doing good work and are passionate about what they are doing. Based on this mission, we have built strong and ongoing relationships with many of our clients, helping them to elevate the language of their offerings and raise support for their products, services and missions. We believe that life’s stories are best told through art and our hope is that the branding, print, and digital presence we create equips companies and individuals to tell their stories uniquely and beautifully.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Being an entrepreneur requires educating yourself on a lot of different things, from writing and negotiating a contract, to technology, to accounting, to being skilled at your craft. An important part of running a business is networking, which can be very demanding for me. Rather than looking at the meetings as business development, I think of it as relationship building and learning about someone's story and journey. Not only does it make the interactions more genuine, but it also makes it less intimidating.
Whenever I feel nervous about something, I take that as a good thing. If you're not challenging yourself, you're not growing.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Thankfully my family and friends have all been very encouraging and supportive. If anything, they have been some of my biggest advocates!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Building strong and genuine relationships with clients has helped me to establish an ongoing client base.
When I first began my business, I wrote down a business plan with reasons for running my business, goals, and the types of clients I wanted to work with. It can be hard to not compare yourself to the path of others around you, but in referring back to my business plan, I am reminded of my business goals and my own definition of success.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
It is so important to value yourself fairly. When I first started my business, I undercut my services in order to land clients. At times it would be very frustrating as I was working so hard, often bending over backwards, for people who did not necessarily value my services. Slowly I started to increase my pricing and the clients that valued my design services stayed. All along I thought that increasing my pricing would turn clients away, but I was pleasantly surprised that it brought a different clientele– one that appreciated design and was willing to pay for it. I have even had clients wait to save up to be able to work together.
Some good advice that I have received, is that your hit rate should not be 100%. If it is, you may not be pricing yourself fairly.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Dive in. Don't be afraid to just get started. Be willing to take risks and change directions as needed. Don’t be afraid to step back and re-evaluate whether something is working or not. Your business may change and evolve through time.