Wednesday, October 17

Meet Carly!

Meet Carly, my new studio manager (you know I cringe at the word "assistant" so I had to come up with a title we could both stand :) She is in charge of running the studio (stuff like making sure we have canvases, and researching things, and shipping stuff to you!) I met her last year, when she came with Jessica Swift to a Christmas party I threw. I thought of her when I realized that I needed to hire someone, and she eventually made her way here. 

I really wanted to have someone who also had an art business of her own. I figured that it would help her understand my perspective as a tiny business owner in the arts, and also I love the double creative energy. I asked her a few questions about her huge leap from corporate job to making it on her own cuz I thought you guys would want to know more about that. So read on to learn more about Carly. Go ahead, ask her a question if you want to. 

My marms and I on the first day of Printsource.
Hi, I'm Carly. I left the corporate world a couple of weeks ago - September 28 to be exact. Yep.  Holy hell, who leaves a job in this economy and goes out on their own? I do, apparently.

Now, I find myself here living the dream, working for Michelle part time and, getting to do my own thing - surface pattern design, a true passion of mine. This is a huge transition for me. I never saw myself really as a corporate american workaholic. Now, I'm planning out how to make this pattern business a full-fledged success story, and I'll be coming back to share my ups and downs with you too.

What kind of patterns do you make? What are your future business plans?

I've always had a knack for  patterns/textile design and interior design. I decided a couple of years ago that it would be a dream of mine to have my own line of patterns. I guess it was in the cards for me to take this path as I got the opportunity to work side by side with renowned pattern designer, Jessica Swift. She taught me the ins and outs of the pattern biz and helped me get up to gear for my first trade show last July at Printsource in NY. The show was a huge success and that is exactly what gave me the assurance I needed to take the risk of going out on my own. Before that, I wasn't really confident I could make it on my own but I am so happy I did. Now that I'm out of corporate America, I plan on continuing to build on my portofolio and participate in more shows, fulfilling my dream of working for myself, and learning from Michelle as I go along.  

Over the next year, my plan is to triple my inventory of patterns. Having a date and putting the investment into a trade show is something that will not allow for wasting time and keep me on track.  It's also the best way, I think, to market myself and get a feel for what buyers think of my work.
So that’s what’s in the cards for the next 6 months or so – buckling down and doing more patterns. Long term, I’d really like to have my own full-fledged brand focusing my patterns on designs for home textiles. I mean, can I please have some rugs at ABC Carpet or West Elm or something of the sort? I’m focusing this time on putting together a calendar for the next year on how I can better market my work and promote myself to home d├ęcor buyers. 

What made you think "this is time for a change?" 

I've been dreaming of leaving the corporate world forever! I've never thought of myself as a corporate biz lady. Never, ever.  But, of course after graduating college I always thought that was the 'practical' way of making a living. You know? What else are you going to do right out of college? Get experience  - and I did just that. I had many of good and bad experiences out in the real world but there's always been something in me that has been working against my 9-5 routine.  It took oh, ten years of that feeling to finally take the leap. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt though, this is the path I'm meant to go down. Every change is scary and a learning experience but what's the worst that can happen? (as Michelle once quoted!)...I have to go out and get another desk job or work in retail.  Eh, it's not so bad.

The corporate world felt almost suffocating to me. I have some friends that are so focused on their careers in these big companies and I've never really understood it. Something about it feels too rigid for me and I'm not a huge competitor either.  I don't have a drive to be CEO of some huge brand; I have a drive to be doing creative projects and succeed at that. I'm hoping to gain more confidence in my design career and most importantly, to have better peace of mind knowing I'm following my heart once and for all. Don't get me wrong, I'd never take back all that I learned while in it, the corporate world just wasn't who I truly am.  Now, I feel like I'm on the right path, doing what I want and I'm determined to get there, fully supporting myself one day.

Jessica and I on her last day in Atlanta...sniff

Alright, lets talk logistics. HOW did you do it?

I know everyone wants to know ‘how did you do it? How are you managing being on your own?’. This decision was a hard one for me but it almost happened in a way that I was literally just about pushed out the door of my full time job and I really was just kind of led here. It felt like the universe was trying to tell me something. Last summer my job asked me to move to LA. I was absolutely torn. I had a great opportunity to go live and work in Santa Monica but I was soooo unhappy with my work. How many people can relate? Do I move cross country and live on the West Coast like I’ve dreamed of or lose my job and start working part time while trying to grow my own business which I’ve also dreamed of? I literally thought about what to do for a month. Sometime in between then (timing is crazy, right?) I connected with Michelle and this opportunity arose. Of course I wanted to work for her, but I knew I was giving up an opportunity to live in Cali, not to mention a steady job with benefits. So, I sat down and figured out exactly how much I would need to make and how much my own health insurance would cost me. I knew I was scared to death of declining a full time job in this economy, but a bigger voice in me told me it's time to get out...and get on with your life…and take care of myself and my happiness/health! And that is how it happened. I told them I wouldn't move and the minute I did, I was anxious but also extremely, extremely relieved. 

Since I declined to move to LA, I had 2 months left of working with this firm and then it was time to get started with Michelle and my pattern biz. I had friends who were entrepreneurs and making their way living happily throughout the past few years and I knew there must be a way to do that myself. I knew I could do this and I'm slowly figuring it out as I go. Obviously the best advice I received from family and friends was to save, save, save your money. Since I knew 2 months ago that I was leaving my job, I started saving up as much as I possibly could. Just in these past two weeks though, I've learned that you really don't need that much to get by. Yes, I truly miss retail therapy. It's hard. It's sort of a like a major withdrawal but I know I'm not permanently banned from shopping. I’m doing just fine without that old direct deposit so far and I know I’ll be hitting up Nordy’s again one day soon!

Painting a pattern inspired by Madeline Weinrib.

Yes, yes. But how does it feeeeel?

So far I feel like it's not even fair what I'm doing because I'm so happy to be free of my desk job and doing things that I love every day. I love that I'm able to take care of myself again by going to the gym super early, getting better sleep and eating so much healthier. It's amazing how stress can sabotage your health and the habits that come along with it. There certainly are those thrilling moments I know it’s been totally worth the risk - when I’m driving across town to Michelle’s a 11:30 in the morning and I’ve had a great workout and time to relax in the morning and a good night of sleep where I wasn’t up at 2:30 am checking my phone for emails from our firm’s offices on the other side of the world. Those days are over. Then I get to come home and work on planning my next pattern show.
Of course, I don’t think change – especially one like this – comes without fear. I do fear not being able to make it financially and that is probably what holds most of us back. Let me take this moment to mention that I have anotherpart time job pending in the corporate world that I may take for some time to hold me over for awhile. So while I may sound like I’ve had this all planned out and it will be smooth sailing from here, I know there will be some financial strain until the patterns start really taking off (and I’m confident they will.) 

My 3-legged love, Peggy.

I love this quote by Steve Jobs:  

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” 

Mmmhmm. I lovee my patterns, and that 3-legged chihuahua.


  1. WOW! This Michelle + Carly combination sounds fantastic. And Carly, I'm in awe of your designs. Wishing you all sorts of success...including a spot in ABC Home (!)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Carly LawrenceOctober 19, 2012

      Hi Ashley,

      Thanks you so much! I dream of ABC Home. I'll be keeping you all posted in the near future!


  2. This post is so awesome. I really like interviews where I can find out everyones personal story of trying to make it in the creative field. And what a nice job Carly has! :) Good luck!

    1. Carly LawrenceOctober 19, 2012

      Hi Natsumi,

      Thanks. I LOVE interviews as well and learning how others are making it too. I'm so excited I get to be the one to share my own story now. More to come...


  3. Love anybody who loves a three-legged chihuahua. Great prints too!

    1. Carly LawrenceOctober 19, 2012


      How could you not love a three-legged chi!? Thanks and I hope to have many more prints to show off soon!


  4. How fabulous. Carly, good for you. You will make it work, as you obviously already know!! Plus, Michelle and you seem like a good match up!

  5. Judy WilliamsNovember 16, 2012

    Carly - WOW! I'm so proud of you and your patterns - WOW again!- but, more importantly that you have faith in yourself to go after life the way you want it! I'm sooo happy for you - I love you and your 3 legged dog! You will do great!
    We should have a few bottles of beer to celebrate soon!


    1. Karen DrillotNovember 17, 2012

      Carly I am so impressed with your talent and creativity... but equally in awe of your desire to seek out your lifes dream. You cannot fail when you follow your heart. Love you girl!! KK


Yay! Your gonna reach out to me! I am so excited. I have tried to make commenting here easy for both of us. So please try your hardest to read the squiggly letters so I can chat with you.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Popular Posts