1. What is your entrepreneurial story? More specifically, how did you become a boss woman?
I always knew I was capable of doing something on my own. I just didn't know how I was going to translate that into my own business because I hadn't fully believed in my capabilities yet. 3 years ago I designed my sister's invitations for her wedding and they were over the top (fabric lined box, crystal and ribbon adorned invitations, in a box mailer etc ...). Everyone was asking where these invitations were made, they were so impressed. That's when the lightbulb went off and I thought "Hmmm, I can perhaps do this for other people ..." So I busted my ass for a year while I was working at another job. I did bridal shows, connected with other wedding vendors, networked, networked, networked and got my name out there.
I didn't know where this was going to lead but I got so busy that I decided to quit my day job and focus all my energy and attention into making Throne Invitations work for me. And it did!
2. What was the turning point that put you on the work-path you're on today?
The turning point was when I started believing in my own abilities. My family and friends always seemed to know my worth but I had a hard time seeing it myself for a long time. Once I realized that I am capable of being my own boss and turn my passion for design into a business, I went full force into making it a successful one. I have never worked harder in my life but I will also never be able to go back and work for someone else either.
3. For someone who wants to change their work situation but doesn't know where to start; what would you tell them?
Try to eliminate any fear of failure you have that might prohibit you from moving forward. If you are at a tipping point and have found something you are passionate about and thinking about doing your own thing, you have to go for it. You won't have it all figured out from the beginning. You will learn along the way and you will fail at some things. When you do fail, recover from it fast and move on. If what you start doesn't work out you can always go back and find another job. But at least you gave yourself the chance to try it out. A positive support system is also very important. I wouldn't be able to do what I did without my spouse's friends and family's support. They were encouraging and helpful each step of the way.
4. What would you say was your most difficult and proudest boss woman moment?
My most difficult moment was actually also my most proud. I had difficulty saying "no" to projects. I would do design stuff for people that took "a couple minutes" but always ended up being hours of work. So getting out of that pattern was very difficult for me and it didn't happen overnight but I did learn to say "no" and stick to it. So my proudest moment was saying no to something small-when someone asked me to send them a quick logo file for a client I stopped designing for. Even though that would have taken me a couple minutes to send the file, I politely let them know I no longer design for that client anymore and they can request any files needed from them. This may not seem like a big deal but it was a huge step for me because I decided to consciously stop being so accommodating to everyone when it's taking away my valuable time.
5. How do you handle the nuts & bolts of business i.e. paperwork, money, taxes, etc ... Do you hire someone or do you handle it yourself?
I have hired someone to do my taxes because F*#K that s**t! Everything else I manage on my own :)
6. Favorite business apps or sites you're using?
I just started using the Hours app and it's been amazing being able to track my time and really see how much things take to complete instead of guessing. I also use Honeybook for my contracts, estimates and invoicing and it's been a lifesaver.
7. If you could change one business decision from your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?
I wish I could have known how to say "no" to projects a lot sooner than I did! Being able to select what to take on in order to maintain my own well being was a challenge. Since most of us think we can do ALL things ALL the time. I got burnt out, I was irritated and didn't enjoy what I did for a while there. So I adjusted by saying no to the things that didn't fit my brand or that I simply didn't want to do. It changed my whole attitude and got me back on track with my business. I am now able to truly do the projects I enjoy and take on the clients that I truly want to design for.
8. Hiring a graphic designer and/or photographer for branding can be daunting for some. What advice would you give them?
A designer/photographer will elevate your brand. No matter how much you think you can do on your own - don't! You won't be able to see all the things about your brand an outsider sees and those are key, important components. The designer/photographer will help you incorporate things you hadn't thought of before or never would on your own and they are trained to do that, so trust them. I am a graphic designer and all I can say to other designers is this: Hire another graphic designer to do your own branding!!
9. How do you deal with days you're feeling uninspired?
I focus a lot on not thinking that I am uninspired :) I will do things I enjoy: go to the gym, binge watch a tv show, take care of my wellbeing in general, whatever that may be. I know that inspiration always comes back so I just wait for it and not force anything. When you force inspiration or creative thinking it's never as good as it can be. A great way to get inspired again is to hang out/work on a project with other creatives or people in your industry.
Magic happens when a lot of like-mined peeps come together and collaborate like FRESHbash which is happening this Saturday, March 12th!
10. What is the best business advice or money tip you ever came across?
I am not sure if this is business advise but it's something that my grandfather would always tell me since I was a little girl: "Use your "computer" (he meant my brain) to start your own business. When you use the "computer" to your fullest potential, you will find the way to be your own boss and not have to work for anyone else in your life."
Dena is the owner and designer of Throne Invitations, an eclectic soul and lover of all things artistic and aesthetically pleasing. She is a full blooded Greek warrior with a passion for Sacramento coffee, books, authentic relationships and of course, donuts.
All photos by Carmen Salazar Photography