On Friday night, my one-gal studio was awarded “Best of Show” at the 2018 local AAAwards for the MicroGirl brand identity campaign.
Winning wasn’t something I expected. I’m sure this was obvious by my wide eyes, agape mouth and awkward overall body shaking as I was given this very heavy award and made my acceptance speech. It’s all a blur and I really don’t remember being in that moment, but luckily my ever-thoughtful husband took video of my awkwardness on his phone. Thanks, hon. 😉
I am my own worst critic, but fortunately, rewatching my husband’s video this morning, I felt relieved that my acceptance speech itself didn’t feel overly awkward. It was a total of 45 seconds long… short and sweet.
But a couple of days later, I’ve had some time to let everything that happened at awards night (and the past several years) sink in. If I could give a real, heartfelt acceptance speech with no time limit, these would be the bulletpoints.
The campaign that won was a passion project.
The MicroGirl brand campaign was one that I worked on for the better part of last summer and fall, and I loved every minute of it. MicroGirl is owned by a one-gal small business owner, like myself. Her business startup story is one of luck and being in the right place at the right time. I loved hearing her story and working it into the brand design, copy and overall personality. This was truly a fun project to work on, so much so that sometimes I had a hard time turning away from it or moving onto the next thing. Projects like this one light me up.
Direct client-to-designer communication is important to the success of a project.
Something I thrive on is client-to-designer interaction. My very first design job out of college was all hands-on – I was only an entry-level designer, but I got to go to client meetings with our marketing director and go get the details straight from the client, which gave me the platform to ask questions directly and gain personal investment in their project. Without this experience, I never would have known that this is something would make me tick. In later jobs, that’s something that was at times lacking. When I started my own business full-time five years ago, I made sure that this interaction was a priority. While there is definitely measurable data to consider while working out any campaign, I believe when there is good client-to-designer communication the final result has much more impact and evokes so much more emotion from its audience. The MicroGirl campaign is proof of this for me.
I learned to trust that I can be more than a designer.
If you know me, you know that I have no problem listing my many faults. When I client project calls for something out of my abilities, I have no problem calling up a colleague to help/hire that can better write that copy, do that illustration, or to take that beautiful professional photograph to help complete that project. But the MicroGirl project felt different – a bit out of my comfort zone, but within the realm of possibilty for me. I knew in my heart of hearts that this project NEEDED handdrawn illustrations, and though I don’t tote myself as an illustrator, I pushed myself to try them out anway. Copywriting is not my specialty, but I wrote some nice small bits of copy for the website and packaging. There were a lot of moving pieces with this campaign, and I put on my project coordinator/marketing manager hat again, too. I finished this project feeling more capable than I had before, and have since felt much more confident in incorporating my own illustration into my project work.
No woman (or man) is an island.
I hit on this in my speech – I’m a one gal shop, but I am not alone. I am a business of one, but I cannot function (much less thrive) without the support of the people around me. I have the most amazing and supportive husband in the world. He also works around my late weeknights when I have a huge project load, and also those ‘a-ha’ moments when I just have to head to the laptop for a bit to see how something will play out in layout (it’s got to be annoying at times). I have great parents and in-laws – when I’m up against a deadline they are always willing to watch our little boys for those extra few hours that I need to get the work done. I have a great coffee-meetup group of local designer friends that gets together to talk about life and work – while it’s mostly all fun we get to be sounding board for each others business woes and uncertainties, and this helps keep my sanity. I have some pretty rockstar friends, and we are there to share in each other’s personal successes (and share some afterparty drinks after an awards night like this one!) Also, the Dubuque community of marketing people, our local AAF chapter (and the ADDY awards overall) are a cool thing – not overly competitive and everyone seems to support each other. I’ve lived in other cities where it’s more cutthroat and that’s not the case here. “Community Over Competition” is an amazing thing, and I’m so thankful to have that support in my business life and personal life.
It really hit home that 2018 has been a really great year. Thank you to my client MicroGirl for trusting in me, and to my friends and family for your support this past year. I am so thankful. Much love!