The next phase of Madz Design

freelance life

When I first started Madz Design, I didn’t really know what I wanted it to be. After quitting my full-time job, things started out slow. I was taking on any freelance work that came my way, and eagerly working with any small businesses or startups that needed some extra design help or branding. Somewhere along the way, I started creating products. First, it was artwork, then it was greeting cards, then gift tags, wine labels etc. It had never been a goal of mine to start an online shop, but I was having so much fun doing it. I was creating something entirely my own, and watching it actually sell! Shop Madz was such a fun escape from some of the monotonous freelance work I was doing at the time. Before I knew it, that became my new focus. I was so excited to package up every single order that was sold, and to have the opportunity to keep creating new things. The surge of orders I would get after a feature in a HuffPost article, reading the positive reviews, or the craziness of the holiday season was all so thrilling. I loved designing my booth space at craft shows and actually getting to interact with my customer's face to face and seeing their reactions. Before I knew it, I was selling wholesale, with my cards being sold in over 25 stores across the US. I couldn’t believe my cards were actually being carried in freaking stores! At that time, I was convinced that this was where I wanted my career to head.

After about 2 years of doing this, my mindset really started to shift. I was getting drained. Packaging up orders, responding to customers questions, and posting new products went from exciting to exhausting. After a while though, those little tasks began to lose their luster. When people would ask, I kept telling them how much I loved it, or how lucky I was to have such freedom. It was a while before I realized I was not only lying to them but lying to myself. Those orders kept me chained to a desk, near my inventory, in my apartment for most of the day. Some weeks, my only interactions with the outside world were Chipotle and the Post Office. I visited co-working spaces less and less because I needed to be near my inventory and printer to keep up with the growing orders, especially around the Christmas/Valentines rush. When I would go on vacation, I couldn’t bring myself to click that little “vacation mode” button, because I didn’t want to miss out on any potential sales. So, I would spend what should’ve been relaxing time, stressing about all the emails I would get asking when something would ship out. (Admittedly that was my fault… but you try saying no to more sales and more money. Not easy).

Now there are fixes to these problems. I know that. Hiring help. Getting an actual studio space that isn’t 15 feet from your bed. Outsourcing some of your work. Clicking that damn Vacation Mode button. But all of those things cost money. And as my business continued to grow, so did my expenses. Suddenly I was calculating the ten thousand plus dollars I needed to budget for the upcoming National Stationery Show when it all just hit me… I don’t want to do this anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I loved creating some of those products, and I had so much fun with it. Who doesn’t love putting their extensive knowledge of Drake lyrics and Gossip Girl quotes to good use? But 2 or so years down the road, when the excitement wore off, and the expenses got too high for a twenty-five-year-old with a less than consistent bank account, I decided it was time to shift my focus. Aside from all the previously listed hurdles I had to jump, I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself creatively. Sure my cards were cute and fun, but I wasn’t going to be winning any design awards anytime soon for them. On the other side, my freelance work was growing, but I didn’t have time to chase the kinds of projects I really wanted. I was being pulled in two opposite directions, and not really doing either all that well (at least for my own personal standards). Something had to give. So I made a choice and I officially put a stop on Shop Madz. Que exhale.

For the past 8 months, I’ve been focusing solely on the client side of my business. I’ve increased my freelance work and started working with a bunch of new clients that I’m so excited to design for. I’ve gotten back to where my talent truly lies and been able to create some really kickass work that I can be proud of. A weight was lifted, and I already feel so much happier. It wasn’t an easy choice though. I was scared to say goodbye to this store I had spent so much time and money creating. I was worried about how this decision would be perceived by other people too. I didn’t want anyone to think I had stopped because it was a failure. Truthfully, it wasn’t. I’m crazy proud of myself for what I was able to build in a short time, but at the end of the day, it just wasn’t for me. And that’s okay. It took me a while to realize that, but I’m happy I have now.

Now, I’m looking forward, more excited than ever about my business. I’m feeling completely inspired again. I’m getting to focus more on the type of design that I love. I’ve been working on my hand lettering again, getting back in to illustrations and all things vector. Most importantly I’ve had more time to really focus on branding, my favorite part about what I do. I’m excited to relaunch my website soon, reflecting the new changes I’ve made. Also, I’m excited to share more of my day to day on the ‘gram. It’s a relief to not feel like I have to be selling a product constantly anymore. Instead, I can create things just for the fun of it, and feel a lot more authentic in the content I’m posting. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of color, pop culture art and nostalgic 90’s references. Just because my business goals have changed, it doesn’t mean I have.