If I had to use one word to describe 2023, it would be “transformation”. ✨
So much happened, and the first six months look drastically different from the last six. In a great way, thankfully. 😉
3 big milestones that I’m proud of…
1) In May, I finally took the leap and became a full-time artist. 👩🏻🎨
I worked full-time in tech as a program manager for close to a decade. For 3 years in business operations, and for the remainder in design operations. I loved being a Design Program Manager. But truthfully, my experience at my last company wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. So after months of planning my finances and preparing myself mentally, I finally took the leap and decided to take my creative career more seriously for a change.
2) In August, I updated my portfolio. 👩🏻💻
For the first 3 months of my transition, I focused on updating my portfolio. My goal was to revamp my website so it reflected my current style and type of work I wanted to get hired for — lettering, illustrations, and murals for brands who share the same passions for simple living and the outdoors. I made a lot of personal work by participating in drawing challenges, artist showcases, and markets to develop a body of work that I was proud to share with my community.
3) In September, I started laying the foundation for wholesale. 🛍
When I quit my job, I initially planned to go straight into freelancing. But as I was developing my portfolio, I was also having fun designing my own products. I ended up taking a class on wholesale, and it’s helped me learn strategies to build my brand and develop partnerships with retailers who can help me scale and distribute my products through their storefronts. I’ll be launching my wholesale line in 2024 and I’m so excited!
🍎 LESSONS LEARNED
3 big lessons that I’ve learned to never do again…
1) Don’t sacrifice your health over money 💸
For majority of 2022 and beginning of 2023, my mental health was in a terrible place. I was stuck in a constant state of anxiety and negative self-talk (mostly due to work), and that negativity ruminated into all parts of my personal life. I lost all motivation to do anything fun or creative, including planning my own wedding. 😢
Looking back, I realize I was being stubborn and not listening to my body that was telling me to move on. Mainly because I had two major fears: 1) losing a stable high-paying income, and 2) losing my identity and “status” of being a successful tech employee.
But my family and closest friends could see I was losing touch with myself. And thanks to their support and encouragement, I was finally able to muster up the courage to cut ties and free myself from the golden handcuffs.
2) The best things are on the other side of fear and discomfort 🏔
Fear is a funny thing. It’s mostly all made up in our heads. And usually when you overcome those fears, you’re presented with new opportunities that make you stronger and happier.
The idea of leaving the corporate world was so scary to me. And for good reasons — from a young age, we’re socialized to believe the 9-5 is the path to success and having a consistent paycheck is “normal”. So leaving that path sounds absurd to a lot of people.
But once I left and gave myself time to adjust, I started feeling more at peace and regaining my confidence.
I realized I actually know a lot of successful friends outside of tech that don’t follow the typical 9-5 schedule (e.g. nurses, producers, artists, real estate investors, physical therapists, etc.).
I also realized that saying “no” to working 40hrs/week for a company has given me more freedom and time to create opportunities and build relationships that are in my best interest. Not for execs. Not for investors. Just me, my family, and the people I care about most. 🥰
3) You have the power to create the community you’re looking for 👯♀️
I spent close to a decade in the Bay Area before coming back to LA. And one of the fears I had was not having the same creative community that I was lucky enough to be a part of while I was building out my lettering career.
But as soon as I moved down, I got out of my comfort zone and attended creative meetups and scheduled lunch dates with a few artists I knew through the internet. Slowly I began to build a community for myself that I love being a part of. And these people played a significant role in my happiness and confidence, especially during this critical transition period.
For example, if it wasn’t for Joanna (aka @winkandwonder) texting me in May to see if I was interested in sharing a booth at Unique Markets in the summer, who knows if I would’ve even known about the event or done all the holiday markets this year?
And if it wasn’t for Mélanie Johnsson hosting the #thepatternchallengebymel in August, who knows when I would’ve learned how to make proper patterns in Illustrator, and if I would’ve made my holiday gift wrap that ended up selling out twice this month?!
You never know. 🤷♀️
I get inspiration from my surroundings all the time, especially the people around me. That’s why community is something I cherish and will continue to nurture. 🌱
🙋🏻♀️ PERSONAL UPDATES
3 things that happened outside of my business that I want to share…
1) Wes and I got married! 💍
Speaking of transformations, this fall Wes and I became a married couple! We had a beautiful city hall ceremony in San Francisco, celebrated with family in Sacramento, and hosted a non-wedding wedding party in Los Angeles. If you or your friends are planning a non-traditional ceremony in the future, I’m happy to share recs/tips!
2) I traveled to Japan. 🇯🇵
In March, I went to Japan with Wes and my family to visit relatives and explore new cities like Hiroshima. We did a cycling excursion in Shimanamikaido and visited the World War II Peace Memorial Museum.
3) I got new teeth! 😁
After a year of doing invisalign, I finally got a full transofrmation on my smile. This might sound like a silly update but it’s something I always wanted to do for health reasons and boosting my confidence while on camera. So I'm happy I got to do it before I got cut off from corporate health insurance. 😅
🔮 LOOKING FORWARD
Finally, here are 3 things I’m looking forward to in 2024…
1) Scaling wholesale: Expect to see my greeting cards and products in retail shops next year. 🛍
2) Working on client projects: If you know any businesses that need custom lettering/illustrations or brands that do artist collabs, please send them my way. 🙏
3) Creating systems to have a sustainable business: I’m all about having systems and processes that help me be a smoooooth operator. Planning to share these best practices with my community too. 😉
If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading and supporting me on this journey. I’m grateful for you and hope this gave you an idea or inspiration to do something creative!
Stay strong and I’ll see you next year! 👋