I was recently sent a very beautiful gift by the lovely Carys from LogoVault, a business whose ethos resonates with me on both a creative and a personal level.
A beautiful little package arrived through my letterbox with a golden enamel pin badge with the title Strong Like My Coffee, an initiative created by Carys in response to her own experiences with mental health. Even better – a % of each of her sales is donated to Mind.
As both an advocate for positive mental health and a coffee addict, I wanted to find out more! Carys is a creative female entrepreneur who is starting her own business in the hope to make a difference. I sent over a couple of questions so that she can share her start-up with you, because I want to share her message with you.
What does Strong Like My Coffee mean to you?
Strong like My Coffee was created to remind myself how we can find strength in all the small enjoyable moments we have throughout any given day. I love coffee, and I love art – so what could be more perfect than a latte heart?
I designed the pin badge after suffering from depression since the age of 15. Now in my 30’s I was fed up of having it hang over me like a dark cloud, continuously waiting in the side lines for the next opportunity. After this latest episode, I decided it was time to find a way to accept it, and encourage communication and openness in a way that I felt motivated by.
The aim is to raise money to do free design work for individuals who have had a challenging journey. For instance, a homeless person has taken the first steps to find a way out. They go to a charity with a business idea. They are then referred to me for branding. The money they would have used for this can go back into their business as a way of rewarding them for taking those important first steps, and encouraging them to continue. We’ve all been in a hard place, and it’s important to support each other.
How would you describe your brand in three words?
Empathetic, curious, and thorough. I’m very empathetic which allows me to align and understand a client. My curiosity allows me to research and understand different demographics and ways of thinking, because I also learn for myself. If I can understand what someone’s values are and what’s important to them, I can create an identity that fits them perfectly.
What has your career path been like?
I’m only just starting to gain real confidence as a business person, though I’ve always been confident in my ability to design. I also work in a technical support role which is a great outlet for my empathic skills, while I build my design brand outside of this.
What or who are your biggest creative influences?
I’d have to say I don’t have any one particular favourites. I love amateur work. I love following typographers in particular, and spend a lot of time on Reddit on ‘r/penmanshipporn. There are so many talented people that are like you and me, and I like celebrating those. One notable artist is Greg Coulton. I started following him years ago on Behance, and it’s amazing watching him go from amateur to a real pro.
Are you a perfectionist? If so, how do you manage this as a creative?
I am absolutely a perfectionist. I have an in joke with a design friend who will say ‘just push that red button’. It means it’s not perfect to me, but it’s done. I think you will always be able to find fault in your work when you’re so close to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great, or that it’s not finished.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to those starting out/working as a freelancer in the creative industries?
Take the time to do an unpaid internship for short time if you can afford to. The experience will help and it’s something I regret not doing. Work in an agency for a while to gain more skills and a better understanding of working in the industry. Starting straight out as a freelance is difficult, and I think you miss out on a lot of important learns. As far as working freelance goes, persistence and confidence is key. Don’t undersell yourself and if a client raises red flags, listen to your gut. You will work with some amazing people, but you will also get clients that just want too much, for little money. It’s important to understand that this is a profession, and it should be treated as such. Make sure you have your contracts in place to protect both yourself, and the client you’re working with. The business side is just as important as the creative side.
What is your goal as a creative?
My goal is to be able to support new startups and watch them grow to be successful. I want to design beautiful things that a client can connect with. I want to feel proud of everything I design.
With my #stronglikemycoffee initiative, I’m hoping to start supporting individuals that have come through a challenging journey that have a business idea. I will be working with a local charity for referrals and using my design skills to set them up with some initial branding as a way of rewarding them for having already taken the first steps to improving their lives. The only thing I ask is that when they are successful, they pay this forward in their own way.
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I love what I do. There’s a difficult balance sometimes between choosing security and doing what you love. It’s hard to balance that, and sometimes it takes a risk.
I hope you like Carys’ work as much as I do – if you’d like to find out more about Strong Like My Coffee, check out her Etsy store here!