Nicole Yang

CREATIVE DIRECTOR, NICOLE A YANG, THE DESIGN LAB

I'm a graphic designer and creative director who believes that visual and interactive experiences make people feel more alive and connected to the world around them. My business aims to make other business owners and their customers feel represented and powerful, so that raving fans will champion the issues our businesses represent.

What inspired you to start your business?

Is it bad to say I didn't mean to start my business? I knew I had something to offer -- so many of the business owners I knew from my previous job had brilliant ideas that never made it very far because they didn't have thoughtful and user-friendly presentation to make an impression. I saw so many other designers who were doing beautiful logo work, but couldn't support the everyday needs of a business. While I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next with my job, I started this business as a trial. It took off and I realized so many MORE people than I thought were facing the same struggles I saw in my friends, and once I dug into the dirty work -- the everyday behind-the-scenes work of helping someone run and promote their business -- I saw so many opportunities for teaching and improving that would enable business owners to be better advocates for themselves and their business design even if they weren't working with me.

What is something you would say to someone who is struggling in their first few years of business? Is there something you struggled with and learned from in those first few years?

I would tell anyone in their first few years of business that their brains are more capable than they think. It can be overwhelming and frustrating to be new in business and constantly seeking or being bombarded with advice, systems, courses, and formulas. If you're ready for more information, seek it out. But if you're not there yet, it doesn't mean you're a failure. Your business priorities and your business philosophy can be different, and that's a beautiful thing. Remember that your brain is capable of forming creative solutions as long as you have the confidence to listen to the connections it's making. When I first started my business, I felt so much pressure to follow the formulas that business coaches and mentors were providing me. It was all amazing information, but it didn't feel right. I went into business to solve problems that weren't being met, not to adopt the same workflows that others were using. I had to take a step back and give myself permission to try it my way first. Developing that intuition and developing a workflow that's unique to my process and the way I treat my clients is the best gift I could have given my business-self, and NOW I'm able to discern what type of advice or mentorship I need to further things along.

What hobbies, causes, or activities are you passionate about aside from your work?

Netflix! I fully believe that watching a good show should be seen as equally accomplished as reading a good book (which I also love). I think it's the coolest thing in the world to watch shows plant seeds of thought in viewers, and to employ new ways to tell stories. I'm passionate about women's rights, immigration and refugee resettlement -- empowering both groups is something that I deeply believe can change our world positively, quickly. On a lighter note, I am also deeply passionate about eating food and snuggling with my dog.

Image Credit: Headshot: Amy Ellis Photography (http://amyellisphotography.com/) (@amyellisphoto)