Kelli Riley grew up in Baltimore, MD. She has a BS degree from Skidmore College with a major in Studio Art and a MA degree from the University of Baltimore in Publications Design. Since she was a little girl she has been drawing and painting and loved art classes throughout school. She was an art major in high school and went to college to study art as well. She began in painting and fiber arts but stumbled into graphic design while in college. It intrigued her that you could still be creative while having a stable career. Every company needs a graphic/web designer! Her mentors are definitely other women entrepreneurs. She looks up to women like Kathy Korman Frey. She was the keynote speaker at a Women Grow Business event Kelli attended a couple months ago. Kathy was so inspirational and she really gave Kelli concrete advice of how to be successful in business. We interviewed Kelli for this special women entrepreneur edition and she shed light upon how views on life and how she developed her successful web design company Studio Art 101. Here are her responses:
Please list a quote or motto you live by and state why.
“Life shouldn’t be measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.” I live by that motto because I’m always striving to get the most out of life by setting new goals to conquer.
Describe your business. List location, phone number, website.
My business is a full service creative studio offering print and web design services located in Baltimore, MD. We cater to startup businesses and most of our clients are entrepreneurs. The best way to reach us is by email: [email protected]
What motivated you to open your own business?
I didn’t initially start out to have my own business. I was approached about doing some freelance web work and it kind of snowballed from there. Through word of mouth I was contacted by others who needed help with their print and web needs. I continue to focus on my core group of clients, while marketing the business and gaining new business to grow my business.
Did you have any initial fears or concerns that you had to overcome when opening your business?
My initial fears had to do with keeping track of the business finances. I am an artist and I’ve never been good with math so that was kind of daunting for me in the beginning. After getting suggestions from other business owners I invested in Quickbooks and it really keeps me organized and on top of everything.
How did you develop your concept?
I just thought about what I love doing, it’s creating work in my studio. My studio is my favorite place in the world! It’s where I am the most creative. I have my easel for visual art and I have my Mac for digital art, it is the best of both worlds. I feel that because of my art background I strive to create something new and different every time I encounter a new project. That’s why I stress the importance of custom work and go back to the drawing board every time for my clients.
How much capital did you need to get started? Did you use any creative funding sources?
I definitely used savings for my initial startup costs.
How do you market your business? Do you use any creative marketing strategies?
I market my business at events that I go to by simply talking to people about what I do. I get involved with arts based nonprofits and volunteer. I also market my business through social media.
Are you or your business on Facebook? Twitter? Linked In? Please list.
How do you manage employees if any?
Sometimes I work with vendors to help complete projects. In this industry you can work with people across the globe without ever having to meet face to face which is so cool. I find that having constant communication is vital to the business.
What are some of your day to day struggles as a business owner?
I definitely struggle with time management, so I make lists of to dos and just keep marking each item off. You have to have a plan of action for each day to make sure you get everything accomplished that you need to.
What brings you the most joy from your work?
I love when I finish a project, the client is happy, and I can add it to my portfolio. It is definitely seeing the finished product that is my biggest joy.
How do you balance work life and family? Do your work demands affect your relationships?
It is often hard to balance life and work. Especially having a home office and being in this line of work where you are constantly connected with your cell phone, netbook, desktop computer, etc. It’s often hard to turn it all off but you have to set out a clear schedule of when you will work, what hours per week, and stick to that. My husband is definitely my biggest fan and he sees what it takes to run a business. He is really understanding of my work. If one night I have to pull an all nighter to finish a project he supports me. Or on the other hand if he sees I’m stressing over a task he will make me get away from my computer and take a break and we’ll walk our dog or watch a movie. Having a good support system is key.
Any advice you’d like to offer to anyone interested in your line of work?
Anyone interested in the design field I would say definitely partner with those people that may have strengths that you lack. If you’re not a good coder find a reliable programmer. If you have no marketing experience partner with a marketing person. The more you collaborate the better your work will be for it and the more you can offer your clients.
Would you like to offer a promotion to the readers?
If so, please list.
Contact Studio Art 101 for your website development and receive a free year of hosting!
If you can think of any information that would be helpful, please share.
The most important knowledge I’ve gained this year is from Kathy Korman Frey’s Sisterhood of Success presentation. It’s the idea that to be the most successful in business you have to have your party of five. It’s a fact that those people with 5 or more mentors have greater success, happiness, and self-confidence. These people should be those you can go to for information, support, and advice.
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