A Meow in the Making - Part 2

Hello friends! It's Monday!!! If you're still following from last Monday's post, I left off right after I got FIRED from my design job. Need the whole back story? Check it out here.

So anyway I was told I wasn't working out, quickly packed up my desk on the verge of tears, and ran my totally embarrassed butt out the door. I couldn't believe it. I excelled at pretty much everything I put my mind to in life and was totally heartbroken and defeated. The worst part was having to tell my parents the news and thinking they would be disappointed in me and worried about my well being. As always, they were really supportive and offered any help I might need.

I did what any newly unemployed person does and sat on the phone for hours to claim unemployment. They really make you work to get that free money, and I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was ashamed to take it. Of course I wasn't smart enough to save any money, even with all the money I was making, so I really had no option. I searched high and low for design jobs in the Las Vegas area. My resume and portfolio were sent out to every advertising agency, newspaper, magazine, and (insert random company here). I went on interviews but nothing was a win. While I did a little freelancing here and there I honestly didn't have the confidence to put myself out there more for freelancing projects. A friend hired me to do her wedding invites and they turned out great, but I didn't have the motivation to pursue it further. It's amazing how much motivation you don't have when you have all the time in the world, but are feeling pretty crappy about yourself.

After almost FIVE MONTHS of job searching I was offered a job (cue hallelujah chorus!) Not as much money as I was making before, but it was a design job with a company that had a mission for positive social change. Win win. There was no doubt I was grateful for any job at that point.

Things were going well with the new gig and it wasn't long before I was promoted to senior designer. While that might sound nice on paper, I felt uninspired, under utilized and really bored. In my downtime I decided to open an Etsy shop. I knew I would call it Kitty Meow but thought the name needed a little extra somethin’ somethin’. Kitty Meow: A Creative Boutique was born.

For the longest time I had only one lonely invitation listed in my shop. It was a vintage owl baby shower invite that I had designed for a friend with multiple layers of paper and ribbons tied all around it. A cute little design no doubt, but a lot of work! I would work all day at my design job and then come home to my little apartment and craft away. Cutting each piece of paper by hand, tying each little ribbon, gluing paper to more paper for added thickness. This was all after I waited in line at Office Max while they printed my designs at the speed of Corona Lite. After I subtracted the cost of printing and supplies and my time spent I was pretty much making peanuts. Doing work for family and friends was a good way to get experience, but not exactly a money maker. I knew there had to be a better way, and I was determined to find it.

The invite that started it all...

The invite that started it all...

So, I was working my day job but continuing to build Kitty Meow on the side. At this point I had already met Nate and we immediately fell madly in love. He was so supportive of my vision and knew it was only a matter of time before I started asking to quit my job. I got better about working smarter, not harder. I started using a professional printer to outsource my printing and experimented with my business model.

When Nate gave me the green light to quit my day job I put in my two weeks and felt a total sense of relief. I was so scared to have to rely on someone financially, but knew in my heart I could make it happen. For once in my adult life, my debt was paid off and I had money in the bank. It was GO time.

It wasn't long after I took Kitty Meow full time that Nate got promoted and we relocated to AZ. We got engaged and had plans to marry the next year. I was spending all day long at the computer, grinding away on designs, but not seeing any big changes to my business. It was so frustrating to be working so hard but not really making any money. I had no friends in AZ and spent lots of days and nights alone as Nate was away on business trips. There were times when I felt like giving up and going out and getting a “real job”. I was in search of something more...women to connect to, people who “got it”. 

First time ever showing at a Bridal Expo! 

First time ever showing at a Bridal Expo! 

After a little social media research I decided to roll the dice and check out a creative conference. Who knew these existed?! I attended the Creative At Heart Conference in Roanoke, VA and it honestly changed my life. To be surrounded with other entrepreneurs who felt as lonely as I was, spinning in circles, yearning for more connections and more from their business was a liberating feeling. For once in my business, I was not alone. 

Roommate from the Creative @ Heart Conference and Business Strategist powerhouse  Nevica! 

Roommate from the Creative @ Heart Conference and Business Strategist powerhouse Nevica! 

At that point I totally changed my business model and decided to actually work with confidence. For the longest time I couldn't even describe to someone else what I did for a living. It was about time I started owning what I did and what I was about.

No more DIY printable files was a huge one for me. I was capping my profit at $20 for a digital file when I could have been making 5-10 times that much for printed invitations! The more I designed, the more confidence I got, and the more I learned about myself and my business. I can’t lie, I’ve made a handful of investments in my business that didn’t end up being the best fit, but I’ve learned from those mistakes and I’m glad I made them. Advertising gone wrong, virtual assistants gone MIA, ideas never coming to fruition.  I’ve also learned that sometimes things are what you put into them. Don’t invest the money when you don’t have the TIME to see it through.

Since moving from NV to AZ, then to CA, and now WA it’s been a roller coaster. I’ve always had the passion to work and be creative, and I’m grateful that no matter where Nate’s job decides to take us, I can always bring Kitty Meow with me. Home is where the Kitty Meow is, or something like that!  With the baby being born in 2016 I didn’t expect to bring in that much money, but it’s been my best year to date. I know I don’t have 12 hours a day to sit at my computer so I’m a little more selective about how I spend my time. When that baby is crying in the background I tend to hustle a little bit more. Because DONE is better than perfect.

Hiring some help has also been life changing for me. My Virtual Assistant, Angela of Wonderland Design & Creative, is my right hand woman and helps keep me on track. She’s all the way in Texas, but in this virtual era that makes no difference at all on our working relationship. She’s great at doing all the things that I don’t have the mental space for, and I appreciate her SO MUCH. When I moved to WA, my lovely, fiery neighbor, Natalya and I hit it off immediately. I was in search of actual help inside my home studio and she’s the one who approached ME! I tend to be an introvert and the thought of having someone in my home was kind of scary to me. However she’s been such an asset in helping me package orders, take pics of my work, brainstorm, and do a bunch of other random stuff I don’t have the time to do. There is no doubt I wouldn’t be able to function if Natalya didn’t pop into my house every day at 2:30pm. Next to Ava James snuggle fest sessions, it’s one of the highlights of my day. Oh! And I broke down and got a nanny once a week. The mom guilt is REAL, but just having one day a week to myself is a breath of fresh air.

I know I'm not the best and I truly have done much to learn, but I genuinely do every project with so much love. I hope my clients continue to grow with me as I learn to perfect my craft. I want everyone I work with to be over the moon EXCITED about the paper products coming their way. And if emotions and all that gushy stuff are not your jam that's ok; I'll be excited enough for the both of us.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this crazy KittyMeow adventure! I have clients who have been with me consistently since that very first owl invite, and I'm making new client friendships every day. For that I’m so very very grateful! I PROMISE there are more exciting things to come.


Catherine Hildner1 Comment