Each month we feature a woman in business who personifies what it means to be a Business Betty- she is confident, smart, stylish and successful. Do you know a woman that you consider a Betty? Tell us about her by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know that we usually reserve the Featured Betty article as a time to introduce you to women entrepreneurs that you haven’t met before. This month we decided to switch things up a little bit. Here we are, talking up all of these other fantastic ladies, and we realized that you may not know US very well.
Here’s your chance to get to know one-half of Business Betties, the lady who makes everything look polished and shiny, graphic designer, Allison Biggs.
Describe your business for us.
Business Betties works with women entrepreneurs to make their businesses more successful. We do that by using our graphic design and photography superpowers to help them look their best. Our clients are not only left with an authentic brand, a stunning website, or a gorgeous business portrait, but also more confidence, motivation, and direction.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. I went to school for four years, and earned my degree in Graphic Design, convinced that I’d graduate and immediately land a job at a fancy shmancy design firm. But it was 2003, two years post 9/11 and only one year after the tech bubble burst. That fancy shmancy job of my dreams was no where to be found. So I settled, a girl’s gotta keep the bills paid right? I settled for a job that slowly ate away at me. A job that made me dread waking up in the morning, and frequently left me crying in a bathroom stall. And then the best thing ever happened. I was fired. (Technically my position was eliminated, but for the sake of this story we won’t split hairs.)
At that point, I probably should have been worried about money. Or what I was going to DO. But I wasn’t. I actually felt more at peace than I had at any point during this four year rut.
While I was working this soul-sucking job, I had been diligently applying for graphic designer positions to no avail. The places that bothered to give me a call back were only willing to pay me minimum wage. No thank you.
It was then that I decided to take matters into my own hands and go it on my own. If there were any time for me to give it a shot it was right then. I had plenty of time on my hands, a great support system, and when it came right down to it, I was pretty scrappy (and still am).
I had a lot to figure out (I’d never run a business before), which honestly scared the bejeezus out of me. But I did it anyway.
I’d love to tell you it was all rainbows and unicorns from here and I rode into the exceptionally designed sunset, but I’d be lying. It’s been 8 years since I officially claimed the role of entrepreneur, and in that time I’ve done amazing things, met people who have inspired me, and designed hundreds of projects that have lit my heart on fire. I’ve also made mistakes, been on the receiving end of hurtful and vicious comments, worked well into the wee hours of the morning, and carried side jobs just to make ends meet.
Being an entrepreneur is certainly not for the faint of heart. But I do it because it’s who I am. I love having something new and different to work on every day. I love meeting women whose job titles I’d never even imagined existed, and listen to them tell me what they’re passionate about. And I love the hustle. I know that I’m building something that I’ve designed to both sustain and fulfill me, while bringing value to the world.
Business Betties works mainly with women. Tell us why.
Men and women work very differently, and have very different needs when it comes to building professional relationships. Generally men are very focused, direct, and to the point. Everything is business, and emotions or feelings don’t often come into play.
Women on the other hand are more intuitive. They need to be heard and valued as part of the process. In the years that I’ve been an entrepreneur, graphic designer, and all around human being, I’ve discovered that my skills are specially attuned to working with women. Working with women is where my inner Betty comes out and allows me to create authentically beautiful designs and connect with my clients, making it an enjoyable experience for all of us.
Tell us about your creative process.
I recently wrote a little article for the Lady Project that perfectly describes my creative process. Instead of dragging things out here, how about you click on over? (You’ll also find the Lady Project to be an amazing resource for women entrepreneurs.)
What inspires you?
Quite often I’m inspired by the materials. I stay up to date on all of the latest products, printing methods and web trends (a.k.a.: I spend hours on Pinterest). I get all drool-y over things like letterpress printing or pearlescent ink. I go gaga for new technology that can add interest to my web site designs. When a new client project comes up, I can almost immediately envision the materials and methods that I’ve been storing in the recesses of my brain, just waiting for the perfect moment to shine.
What are your favorite type of design projects and why?
I have a couple different types of projects that are close to my heart, each in their own special way.
My first love is branding. Branding allows me to distill the essence of a company, its mission, its clients, and its founder into a single iconic representation. Implementing the brand is half the fun. This is where things get real for me, and for the client. They get to see things that were at one time only ideas in their head, translated into a business card, a website, or a product. This is when people start to see them as being legit.
I also hold a deep, heartfelt love for print design. To me, nothing makes more of an impact than a physical item that you can hold in your hand. Your experience is rounded by adding multiple senses and dimension. The more senses you can engage in an experience, the more memorable it will be.
What is the one tool you couldn’t live without?
My MacBook (though my Iphone 6 is a close runner up). I’m sorry to perpetuate the stereotype of a graphic designer, but it’s true. (And if that wasn’t enough, I also have a large hankering for caffeine and a rather stylish pair of dark rimmed glasses).
My MacBook is home to everything I need for both my professional and personal life: the entire Adobe Creative Suite, a library filled with images and fonts, my jam packed schedule, and access to all of the internets. What more could a girl ask for?
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m an award winning hula-hooper. I’m also a prize winning punner. (Though those close to me are not at all surprised by that fact.)
What’s the nicest compliment you’ve received in your career?
I always love when a client tells me how much they adore whatever I’ve designed for them, but the biggest compliment to me is when someone feels truly understood (often for the first time). When they receive their final product and realize that it’s not only beautiful, but that I listened to every little detail and desire they shared with me, that’s why I’m in this.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs?
There will be people who underestimate you. Focus on your cheerleaders. There will be people who will treat you unkindly and with a lack of respect. Don’t make these people your clients. You’ll be told by a lot of people what you “should be”. Just be YOU. Unique perspectives are often in short supply.
What do you do when you’re having a bad day?
Snuggle with my cat, Sylvie, and watch BBC television. Nothing like a cute kitten and a little Doctor Who or Sherlock to turn the day around.
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Like the photography? Business Betties can bring out your inner Betty. Learn more about un-corporate business portraits that show off your personality.