This post is part of the series Follow Your Dreams
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This is the first in a series of interviews with featured bloggers, entrepreneurs, and independent ministries. Today I will be chatting with Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.
Welcome, Crystal, to A Heavenly Home. First of all, please tell us a little about yourself.
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! I’m so happy to be here and talk about my life as a graphic designer.
I grew up in Upstate New York, in a town that has more cows than people. I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, so I was in Pathfinders and went to church-run summer camps.
After graduating in 2012 from public school, I wanted to know what it was like to have an Adventist education. So, I packed my bags and headed to Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. There I enrolled in their graphic design program. Before my senior year I married my childhood crush, Anthony Whitlow.
Since college, we have moved around a bit, but we are currently calling Kansas City, Kansas, our home. During the day I work for Champion, the collegiate clothing company, and at night I spend my hours building up my creative profile through my online blog, Etsy shop, and Spoonflower store.
That is pretty impressive! When did you discover your love of design?
I don’t know when I discovered my love of design because I believe I always had it. I love creating something myself whether it be crafts, paints or on the computer. In school, I did well in math and science but those topics didn’t interest me as much as my art classes.
Where would you say you find inspiration for your various graphics and fabric patterns?
How do I find my inspiration? That’s a great question! I am inspired by specific emotions triggered by activities. I really enjoy taking an activity, thinking about all the different parts of that activity, and expressing the moods through color theory.
For example, my Summer Cookout- Kansas City BBQ pattern. I created several items that make me think of a summer cookout. The colors reflect warm days and complementing that with light blues to keep things cool.
Your art encompasses a rather large variety; from branding to fabrics, from hand lettering to patterns, from elegant and beautiful to lively and fun. You are quite versatile! Do you have a favorite aspect of design?
I really think of Graphic Design to be my super power. I love that I can help businesses grow through branding and promotional materials, but I enjoy balancing my creativity with illustrations on surface pattern designs.
Super power! I like that! I have also enjoyed perusing your site and shops. Speaking about that, what inspired you to start your own online business?
I started my own business because I desire the freedom away from the 9-5 work day. Having my own business will open up more opportunities for me to grow in my creativity and expand my capabilities. I want flexible hours to be with family, have an organized home, help my husband and have time to workout.
Everyday I think of new ideas that I could design for fabrics, crafts and more, but it’s hard to work towards these ideas while working for a company.
Naturally, I am very entrepreneurial minded. As a designer, I understand marketing so I know what I need to do to grow my brand and community. I see a load of potential in myself, and every day I’m itching to keep going and keep growing.
Starting and running a business can be time consuming. How do you balance family, work, and your business?
That’s a great question. First off, I have an amazing husband! Anthony is really helpful and understanding. As a Pastor, he is also very busy, so when he is out doing visitations, meetings and other activities, it gives me time to continue working on my projects. Both of our families are in New York, so I don’t have unexpected visitors coming over while I’m hustling.
Finding balance is really difficult for me, so I’m still working on it. After a really long day at work, I’ll come home mentally drained. I often struggle with feeling like I’m not achieving enough, and I’m not making enough progress. However, I hope to transition to working on my business full time within the next few months.
Until then I do the best I can by focusing on my main goal — bring in another stream of stable income — and daily goals of what I can do each day to lead towards the main goal.
I like how you have a main goal and then set daily goals to reach it. It can be tough to put into practice, though. What advice would you give someone who wants to follow their passion but might be nervous to do so?
Just start. I am a strong supporter for entrepreneurs, especially women. God created each individual with talents and He will bless them when they put their talents to use.
There isn’t anything that someone can’t learn how to do. Even though things like accounting, taxes, and legal documents scare me because I’m worried I’ll do something horrible wrong. I can’t let that stop me though. If I don’t know something I’ll ask around or join a Facebook group and look for answers. Truly anything is possible with persistence.
You are absolutely right! Persistence is key. If you don’t mind my asking, how does being a Christian affect or influence your work?
Being a Seventh-day Adventist Christian I am blessed with hope. I do not fear death, the future or the unknown because I trust that God has a plan and is taking care of me. With that hope I have a happy dose of optimism. I try my best to translate that optimism in my branding and the core of how people can identify CW Design.
It has been great chatting with you, Crystal. Before we say farewell, is there a Bible verse or passage that encourages and motivates you that you would like to share?
The Bible verse that encourages me the most is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This verse gives me so much confidence that I have a purpose. As an artist, God has a plan for me. As I begin my freelancing career, I can rest assure that God will provide me the clients and the sales to make a living doing what I love and glorify Him along the way. It’s reassuring that my art work and skill set has purpose.
Amen! Thank you, Crystal, for taking time to be with us today.
Dear friends, you can see more of what Crystal does at her website, stores, and social media channels.
CW Design: https://www.cwdesign.studio/
Continue reading this series:
Lydia Samson of The Unchaotic Life