Kristin Kembel is the brand designer behind Girlboss Designer. She spent most of her career helping design and grow a women’s travel accessories brand, then left behind the comforts of her dream 9-5 life.
Give this girl a passport, glass of wine, and an ocean view, and she is one happy lady, but most importantly she loves empowering other women to create beautiful and memorable brands.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
My first motivation was the desire to travel internationally for an extended period of time. Not just a week’s trip, but a few months. I was dying to go experience the world, and my finances and work schedule never allowed me to do so in the past.
I decided it was time to get creative and figure out a way; I knew I needed to work remotely along the way to fund my travels and used my background and expertise to do so. In 2016 I went from full-time employee to independent contractor, and traveled around Europe for 3 months alone with a backpack and $600 to my name (and plenty of student loans), working remotely from my laptop.
Since then I’ve never looked back, and Girlboss Designer came to be a year later.
Tell us about your business.
Girlboss Designer offers branding solutions exclusively for women entrepreneurs—including brand development, custom branding (color palette, font selections look/feel, logo design, etc.), and web design for new and existing businesses.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
My BFA is in Visual Art & Graphic Communications, and work with past clients has been seen in O Magazine, BELLA Magazine, on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, BRAVO, and Amazon.
Where is your business based?
I am from the U.S. and am currently living in Australia since 2017; I fell in love with an Aussie! Most of my clients are still located in the U.S.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
My first step was telling my then boss I didn’t envision myself working full-time in an office anymore. I wanted to work remotely, travel, and create my own business.
Being honest and putting myself out there opened up the doors for them to remain my main client while starting to slowly build more relationships and business.
At the time I’d also been speaking with a friend who needed marketing and design help with their real estate company—they became my first official on-going client outside of my past employer.
Talking to people about what you do and your goals opens doors! Also realizing your dreams can be your reality is extremely powerful.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Referrals are my main source of business, which is awesome! People love to work with people they know and trust, so having referrals come to me from past clients (or just friends) means that some connection and trust is already there.
Also being regularly active on social media—with an in-depth website to send them to—has gained me clients completely out of my network.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Taking the leap to let go of my main source of income with my past employer, after I had already gone from full-time to remote contractor. While it was reliable/steady income, it was taking up at least half of my week, leaving less time to get my new business client work done and grow my business (so important).
I was waiting for that sweet-spot time when business would flood my way, so I could feel confident about letting that work go. That time never exactly came, and letting go of that steady work happened months before I was honestly ready. It was definitely scary, but it was also exactly what I needed.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I had to force myself to not focus on the financial side I was losing and fully focus on how to bring in more business. Why waste time stressing about things we can’t change? Focus on solutions, not the problem.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Focus on the good and keep moving.
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster with ups and downs, the more we accept this and know things will turn up if we keep giving it our all, the more peace of mind we can have.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Graphic design is extremely broad, so I knew this was key when creating my business. First, I focused specifically on women entrepreneurs instead of leaving the doors open to anyone and everyone.
I’ve had many male clients in the past and have kept a few select regular clients from that, but when creating my brand name and message I knew I wanted to talk to a specific group.
I also chose to focus on branding in particular instead of just general graphic design services. This makes what I do and who I do it for very clear.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Done is better than perfect (thanks, Jenna Kutcher). It’s easy to overthink design or any work you do. Overanalyzing can keep us from getting things out there and moving forward; it stops the process.
It actually is okay for things not to be 100% perfect. And let’s be honest, nothing really ever is anyways!
I know there are things about my website or marketing that I’d like to improve. I’ll get around to elevating it eventually, but it’s out there, and I am doing what I love and gaining work in the process. Done is better than perfect.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
No more waiting for that perfect moment—little steps everyday are so much better than standing still with zero progress. It’s amazing how much things can change when you start taking action toward your dreams instead of just thinking about them.
I think back to my years of working in an office, hours away from the beach where I always wanted to live, having barely traveled outside of the U.S. That was only two years ago.
Now I’ve been to 12 countries, 4 continents, can bike ride to the beach here in Australia, and I get to do what I love from home… all because I started taking action and calculated risks towards these goals.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My all-time favorite podcast and motivator is the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. That girl is the bomb. I also love social scheduling. For so long I felt I didn’t have time to thoughtfully manage my business’ social media, I was just randomly posting, then I started scheduling.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
A few of my favorite go-to books are She Means Business by Carrie Green (founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association) and Be a Free Range Human by Mariane Cantwell.
I read Be a Free Range Human 5 years ago, way before I was even close to leaving my full-time job or starting my business. It got my mind thinking differently and motivated me to find a way to work remotely.
Since then I’ve read it 2 more times and have shared it with a few friends.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Website coding. I have some go-to developers I outsource to, but I also know a lot of it could be done by me with a little CSS knowledge. My goals are to learn some basic CSS, and then hire my first VA this year.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Creating an online shop with pre-designed branding themes and other editable templates for women business owners. I am still in the creating stages for the shop items; once a few are finalized, I will get the online store set up and prepared for launching.
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