Can you tell us a little bit about your family and your homeschool experience growing up?
I am a 2004 homeschool graduate and have one younger brother, Tyler. As Deuteronomy 6:6-9 talks about, my parents wanted God’s commandments to be a daily part of our lives – including our educational upbringing. Because my Dad owns his own landscape business, GKI Groundskeepers, our family was able to integrate learning with his business. Some of my memories include handing my Dad flowers to plant, using the blower to clean sidewalks and even mowing a property once! In addition to our regular schoolwork, we were learning about business, about the importance of professionalism, and about working hard.
What aspects of homeschooling did you like the best?
One of the aspects I liked best about homeschooling was the flexibility it allowed us. In the fall/winter, my Dad is less busy with landscape work, so we’ve combined business trips with family vacations and have visited many places in the United States. Although living a flexible lifestyle isn’t always easy, I couldn’t describe how much I’ve enjoyed the benefits of homeschooling and self-employed life. After all, what better way to learn about history than to visit the actual place where it occurred!
When and how did you decide to launch your own design business?
After graduating from Wichita State University in 2008 with a Communication major and Graphic Design minor, I launched my own graphic design/marketing business, called TJ Design. However, I’ve wanted to own my own business for many years. My parents encouraged me to major in communication partly because it was a degree that would give me practical skills that I could use in a number of career areas.
While at WSU, I learned more about career options for communication majors – public relations, marketing, journalism, and more. I still desired to own my own business, but hoped I could work for an organization for several years first. After graduation, I interviewed for an entry-level marketing position for a non-profit. Although it seemed like the perfect job, God had something else for me. That summer, I prayed for direction and God led me to buy a new Mac computer and launch my business. I have already had many blessings from this decision!
What things have you learned from working with your Dad’s business that have been helpful in starting your own?
Flexibility is a key aspect of owning your own business. I’m continuing to develop this in my life, even after working for GKI Groundskeepers for many years!
Relationships are also a key aspect to an effective business. As a business owner, the trust relationship you have with your client is so important. Your job is to nurture that relationship – not in a false, demanding way, but in a genuine, caring way. My parents have modeled this in their client relationships for GKI Groundskeepers.
You are one of the most creative people I know! Do you have any secrets for developing creativity?
Always be a learner. To me, that’s both an important life skill and a vital key for developing creativity. By exposing yourself to new ideas/information, you can follow trends, develop new skills, and so much more. It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to develop creativity, because you must accept the fact that you’ll never be done growing. But isn’t that what our lives as Christians should be here on earth as well?
What are some ways to learn something new?
- Take a class – at a local college, county extension office, art museum, etc
- Visit your library or bookstore frequently
- Take a field trip to a local business
- Try a new restaurant
- Invite friends over and exchange ideas
- Get a notepad and invent your own company, product, and marketing plan
- Start a morgue file – a collection of your favorite ideas
- Research, research, research
Learning shouldn’t just stop at exposure, though. It should influence you and how you act or think – even if what you learn is how not to do something. I think that one of the things that most hinders creativity is fear of failure. It’s also something I can struggle with at times. But without trying – and learning – from your positive and negative experiences, you won’t learn anything new. Thomas Alva Edison once stated about his efforts on the light bulb, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward…”
What are your favorite kinds of projects to work on?
One of the things I enjoyed learning most about at WSU was the psychology of marketing. In other words, what is involved in a consumer’s purchase decision? What is it about the copy and/or design of a product/advertisement that makes people buy the product?
This has been a perfect segue to owning my own business. As a designer, I listen to a client’s needs and then work to find a design solution that meets those needs. In my job, I must not only have the design sensibility to solve the client’s need, but also to have the technical computer skills necessary to execute that solution. As I come up with design ideas, I’m constantly learning how to make that idea happen – how to make the final product (print or web) look the way I want it to. Brainstorming for ideas is probably my favorite part of any project. Finding the technical solution is something that’s exciting and challenging all at the same time…but that’s what keeps my job interesting!
Graphic design is a field that a lot of students seem interested in. What advice would you offer those who want to hone their skills in this area?
The most important thing you can do is to seek the Lord and His direction for your life. After all, He is the Creator of the universe – the original Designer. Exodus 35:30-33 has special meaning for me as a graphic designer. Moses is talking to the Israelites about the tabernacle and says, “…‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship…’ ” (NIV). Clearly, God was the one who gave this man the design skills he needed to help complete the tabernacle. And He can do the same for us today. Pray that God would give you His wisdom, knowledge and skill to use your talents and abilities for His kingdom. He will!!