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Hey friends! We are continuing with the Artist Showcase series after five years of hiatus. I’m thrilled to restart this series to interview and showcase amazing creatives that I’ve found influential for me and are willing to share information about themselves. It’s 2020 and I enjoy having a space to showcase creatives without having to do so many things or even pay to be featured. It’s a bit of the old-school blog vibes that I miss.
Today’s guest is my friend! I met Melissa via Twitter after attempting to work with two other bloggers to get all of the Florida Bloggers together on one site. (RIP to that idea.) Melissa lived in the same town as I did and we spent many an hour in our local Starbucks bonding over coffee, business, and all of the nerd things! Melissa has an amazing company Jelly Design Studio and has been working on a fun new venture JDS Creative Studio. She is a delight and the nicest human. She bakes all of the amazing things. I am so thankful for everything Melissa does and I’m thrilled to share her work and story here on the blog.
Melissa is the owner and designer of Jelly Design Studio — specializing in WordPress website design and development for creatives and other small businesses. She recently started a new venture, JDS Creative Studio, where she offers Squarespace Templates for creatives. When she’s not working, you can find her reading the latest YA book next to her sweet puppy Luna.
What are your favorite ways to create?
I always start the design process for any website project on paper. I love to just jot down my ideas and do some rough sketches. My sketches are definitely messy and don’t think anyone will make much sense of them — but this helps the ideas flow for me. I then tidy up the sketches a bit and move on to converting my ideas into a digital design.
How did you start Jelly Design Studio?
I started Jelly Design Studio back in 2012 after wanting to learn a bit more about design and development. I had a lifestyle blog that I always wanted to customize and as it was just a hobby I figured I could learn how to make those changes myself.
Blog friends would eventually reach out asking for assistance on their blog — and slowly it turned into referral clients. From bloggers to boutiques, my client base started to grow.
What started out as just wanting to learn a few more skills here and there — eventually turned into a full-time career that I created for myself where I would work with so many creative and inspiring small business owners.
Where do you often find inspiration?
This may sound cheesy but I do believe that inspiration is everywhere that you look. One of my creative outlets, when I’m in need of inspiration, is the kitchen. I love to bake and make all the pretty sweet treats. The process of combining raw ingredients and then using different flavors, textures, and colors to create something fun for others to enjoy is a process that I love when I need a change from sitting in front of a computer.
How have you navigated challenges as we navigate COVID-19 and all of the other things affecting our country?
This year has been a curveball for us all. The year started with a lot of plans and honestly, most of my goals have completely shifted. This year has taught me that sometimes our business needs us to pivot towards a new path and we shouldn’t fight against it.
For my business, I realized that I needed to offer different solutions that can help small businesses in all stages. I expanded my offerings so it can work with a business that is just getting their foot in the door or for a business that has been around for over 10 years.
How do you find your voice among all of the design trends?
As most of my design work is custom I always focus on what my client needs, not trends. My main goal for any project is to create a website that my clients will love and their target market will be able to easily navigate.
What has been your biggest challenge as a creative?
Investing time to learn a new skill or improve on a current skill is something that is a bit of a challenge for me. As a creative that runs a business, it’s sometimes easy to just fall into this cycle where I don’t take the extra time to try something new because there is always something else that is waiting for me on my to-do list. Whether it’s trying out a new process for designing a website mockup or learning a new skill that can be converted into a new offering for my clients.
I do my best not to fall into that cycle and I am constantly adding to my “things to learn” list and creating the time to work on it. A recent example of this was learning how to make Instagram filters for Stories. I made time to learn this new skill and I am now in the works of designing a new filter for a client.
What advice would you give other creatives who are thinking about opening their own business?
Don’t wait to get started. If you have an idea for a business that you are passionate about — go for it. We sometimes get stuck in this cycle of waiting for the right time or having to make something perfect before it launches. This is just a way that we postpone moving forward.
I look back at some of my work from when I first started and it makes me cringe a little, but that is part of the process. We grow our skillset, improve our craft, and continue to discover our voice throughout the years. So don’t hold back.