DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
My name is Darin Michelle (full name Darin Gilliam). I am a Lead Designer for the Symmetry Agency and 19FIFTYTHREE, blogger at darinmichelle.com and foodieannapolis.com, and a lover of music and fresh baked doughnuts. (DCF: She’s also the rock star that designed the DCFunemployment logo and the soon to be revealed logo for As It Happens!!)
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
DM: Being funemployed, to me, means having the ability to truly enjoy your job. My path to being funemployed was realizing that after years of work for others, that I wanted to be in charge of the design style I use and the clients I work with. The path was a rocky one in the beginning but proved to be extremely rewarding as I learned to be more diligent, organized and proactive in my day-to-day design and work life.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
DM: My husband. He is always encouraging me to follow my dreams and when I told him that I wanted to go out on my own was the first one to say “Okay, how can we make this work.” That encouragement is so vital to following your dreams.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
DM: Hmm…Working under both great and poor leadership. I left knowing what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. I saw how a business should and shouldn’t be run and that was helpful. I also believe that my upbringing helped me. Through example, I’ve been taught that if you want change, you gotta go out and make it.
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
DM: Other peoples dreams and hard work are extremely inspiring to me. I get so pumped up by watching someone follow their dreams, that it makes me want to keep moving and do better. As a designer, I also get a ton of visual inspiration from Pinterest.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
DM: Balance is key. As a wife, mother, friend, sibling, full-time designer, etc., finding that balance between creativity and life can be hard but is much needed. I also value the balance of work, life and me-time. I find that when I don’t have time to be by myself, relax, pray…I feel a little off and it affects everything else around me.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
DM: Money and friends! lol. I took a huge drop in pay when I went out on my own and I lost a few friends that didn’t understand that my will to work towards my creative endeavors and funemployment was going to suck time away from my social life. Some of those friendships rekindled and some didn’t.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
DM: There are a lot of creative women in Design and lately I’ve seen a boom of women in Graphic Design which is beautiful!!!! I feel that we still face not being taking seriously as businesswomen and that is hard. Sometimes, your voice isn’t heard as much as it should be and that can be extremely frustrated. It’s always refreshing to work with a group that is motivated by your talent and voice and not threatened.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
DM: To budget my money better. I go myself into debt super quick and it took me years to pay off. I definitely budget A LOT better than I did before!
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
DM: I don’t really count anything as a failure. I think the greatest thing I’ve been learning, is to understand how much work I can actually take on.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
DM: The first time I designed a set of shirts and hoodies (under my previous company LITTLE by Darin Michelle) that I really loved and saw someone that I didn’t know wearing them! That is awesome!
DCF: What’s next?
DM: On September 30 I will be launching 19FIFTYTHREE (19FT) as a brand that collaborates with other local creatives to create clothing and accessories that are geared toward the tomboy in all of us. I look forward to my design career expanding with both 19FT and Symmetry and collaborating more with artists, makers and other creators on everything from products to events.