1984. The music. The fashion. The hair. You may not see it now, but oh, I had some great hair then.
As I reflect back on my college years, I realize how much I have grown and how much I have accomplished since then. I remember feeling both excited and nervous about starting my freshman year at Drake University. It was a new beginning, a chance to start fresh and explore new opportunities.
One of those opportunities came in the form of a Drake marketing campaign called "Future Movers and Shakers". The campaign was designed to showcase the aspirations of first year students and their vision for the future. As part of the campaign, we took part in a professional photoshoot and was asked to share what our audacious future professional goals were.
I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the task at hand. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I had never really put it into words before. After some reflection and brainstorming, I finally came up with my statement: "I want to own my own corporate identity company."
At the time, it felt like a lofty goal. Pretty brazen. I had no clue how I was going to achieve it, but I knew it was something I was passionate about. I was fascinated by the power of branding and all the design surrounding it, and I knew that I wanted to make a career out of it. (I designed my first logo when I was 10!)
After graduating from Drake, I landed my first job at a small print design agency in Des Moines. I was eager to learn and soak up as much knowledge as I could.
Keep in mind, this was an era where "cut and paste" were literally a part of the job, and actual, functional floppy disks were used to save files to. Now, it has been relegated as a "save" icon in software interfaces today.
Over the years, I grew my resume as I worked under some really talented art directors and managers who taught me the ins and outs of the graphic design industry. Fortunately, many projects came with branding nuances that I was organically drawn to and I learned how to understand and craft a brand identity, how to design websites, and how to create effective marketing materials, all tied together with consistent and cohesive brand elements.
I worked my way up the ladder and became an art director, and then a creative director myself at a design and magazine publishing company that had a wide range of clients from microbreweries to the local professional sports teams. Each of these and everything in between offered opportunities to create original visual identities, innovative package designs and eye-catching magazine covers, and my confidence grew.
I eventually landed a job at a large corporate in-house marketing agency. It was here that I really honed my skills and learned how to work on a global level in the healthcare world. I worked on projects ranging from creating an iconographic libraries, product logos to packaging and advertising campaigns. It was challenging work, but I loved every minute of it.
And then, after years of hard work and dedication, (along with a healthy dose of several fiery personal trials and a global pandemic beyond my control) I finally decided to pursue and make my dream come true. I started my own corporate identity company, Factus Creative. It was a scary and exciting time, but I knew it was the right move at that time for me.
Today, I am proud to say that Factus Creative is a growing business venture. I've learned to wear so many more hats and I work with clients from all over, helping them to create memorable and effective branding and design solutions derived from a smart strategy workshop. It's been a long and challenging journey, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
It has not always been easy going, to say the least. I have to do so much more beyond just being the designer. The vulnerability is real. The imposter syndrome (and its intrusive cousin, Perfectionism) messes with my confidence. My introversion can be crippling.
But there are moments when I can feel accomplished that I have networked, met and nurtured clients who trust me, and successfully navigated being a business owner to create memorable, credible and beautiful identities. Knowing I have helped businesses look and feel good about who they are and attract and engage their ideal clients is the most satisfying feeling.
Looking back on my time at Drake University, I realize how much that marketing campaign meant to me. It gave me the opportunity to put my dreams into words and set a goal for myself. And while it took me more years than I'd hoped to achieve that goal, I am incredibly grateful (and humbled) for the journey, lessons learned, and the people and friends I've met along the way.
Follow your dreams.