This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Today’s interview is with Samantha Costello, a fellow member of the Female Entrepreneur Association. Samantha runs The Little Green Studio, a boutique design + stationery studio specializing in wedding stationary. I am in love with her work and you will be too.
At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?
My background is originally in marketing, which I loved and still love now but after 4 years in this field, I decided that I needed a new challenge. I started a design & lifestyle blog in 2011 as a creative outlet (as well as a distraction to my then long distance relationship) and completely self-taught myself Photoshop. However, YouTube videos can only get you so far and in 2012, I signed myself up for complete graphic design course at night school and I have never looked back. This was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made and I knew/know that this is the right direction because it feels so right. I read a quote recently that says, "You know you are on the road to success, if you would do your job and not get paid for it". I believe it was Oprah Winfrey who said that and I think she is absolutely right. I wake up every day and I am excited to get to work; whether that is designing wedding stationery for a client or screenprinting in my studio, if feels like a hobby that I also get paid for!
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?
As a completely novice business owner, I have faced every struggle there is; from pricing to time management. There are so many really high highs but an equal amount of lows, especially at the beginning. However, the biggest struggle that I just wasn't prepared for was the amount of time it takes to really get the ball rolling. Clients don't just arrive because you've decided to start a business, you have to really put yourself out there and that takes a lot of time and effort. In our world of social media and always being connected, it is so easy to look at other business owners in your field and think that it looks so effortless for them but you are potentially comparing your beginning to their middle and they had to start somewhere too. Consistency is key, no matter what you do. Make a plan and stick to it.
Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?
Owning a business definitely requires very long hours but it also means that I have the flexibility to decide when I put those hours in. I'm very good at getting up and getting started early in the morning and I also try really hard to do a gym class every day during the week. Evenings are time for me and my husband and I try to be really strict about this. We will both get home from work at about 7pm and then I will cook dinner for us whilst we catch up. This is probably my favourite part of the day. I love to cook and find that it is such a great way to relax and unwind. After dinner we will sometimes take a walk or catch up on a TV series we're watching. I try really hard to leave work at work.
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
Rejection hurts and I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, so I can definitely take things personally, especially when I have spent hours working on something. However, I come from a very positive family and I am a very positive person. I believe that everything happens for good reason and, even if this isn't apparent immediately, it will work itself out for the best in the long run. Bouncing back is tough, especially when confidence has been knocked but I like to take tiny steps in the direction of my dreams to build my confidence back up. Whether this is sending an email to reach out to someone, watching an inspiring video or doing something as simple and easy as getting all of my accounting up-to-date, tiny little steps enable you to move in the right direction, whilst also re-building your confidence.
What do you do when you're having an off day- maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
Being a woman in my 30s, I guess that I have (finally) become used to being on an emotional roller coaster and when I find myself in a dip, I try to remind myself that it will pass and to stay focused on all the things that I have, rather than thinking about all the things that I don't yet have/want. I believe that happiness is created in the mind, so positive thinking can go a very long way to improving a bad mood. Other than that, I will have a chat with my sister, go to a gym class or crack open a bottle of wine!
What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?
Gosh, I really don't know but I would love to find out!! :)
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I'm definitely still learning something new every single day but the biggest thing I've learnt so far is how important it is to get out and meet people. This has had such a positive knock-on affect on my business and it is great to meet link-minded individuals, who are in the same industry. Whether it is a catch up over tea and cake or developing a collaboration; networking and developing friendships in your industry is important to your sanity and happiness (especially when working alone) and is equally important to developing a successful and thriving business.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?
Be prepared for an adventure and be prepared to never stop learning. Running a business takes so much time, energy, commitment, creativity, organisation and thought. You never switch off, whether you're at your desk or away on holiday, you're always thinking of your next business move and inspiration is everywhere. It should be a lifestyle choice. Find something you love doing and then find a way to make money from doing it. In my specific industry, I would recommend networking at local wedding fayres and exhibiting at local events. Attend national stationery events as well, it is so important to get yourself and your brand out there. Speaking of brands, I would highly recommend developing a solid brand and a beautiful, easy-to-use website. Photography is absolutely key, so be sure to employ the skills of the best photographer you can afford and then use these photographs consistently to build your social media following.
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
I honestly feel most inspired when I'm starting a brand new project for a brand new client. After our initial consultation, I will then go away and spend hours researching, developing colour schemes, creating design concepts and moodboards. I will look for the best paper/card stock and give some thought about the best printing method for the job. When it is just me, my Apple Mac, my music, my ideas and of course a cup of tea, I feel happy, inspired and most like me.
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
My dad and my sister are such inspirational, self-made business people and I'm so lucky to have them close-at-hand for tips, advice and general business chat. My dad has been building businesses since the 1980s, so he has an old-school attitude to business, which is really refreshing in this age of online businesses and social media. My sister, on the other hand, has built multiple online businesses, so knows a thing or two about the modern business. Both of these very different influences make for interesting family dinners!
With regards to books, I loved The Secret, The Moses Code and The Alchamist, along with The E-Myth, The 4-Hour Work Week and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Next on my list is It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be.
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
The day I got my first real, completely unrelated client. That was the turning point for me and I knew I was on the right tracks from that moment forward. I also feel lucky to be able to wake up everyday and do something that I absolutely love. I never mind when Monday rolls round and I'm never wishing for the weekend. Life is good and this makes me feel accomplished.
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
Right now, there are lots of very exciting things going on. Wedding season is fast approaching, so that is keeping us busy and we are currently in line for our busiest wedding season ever, which I'm really pleased about.
I am also in the process of finishing up our first line of greetings cards, wrapping paper, gift tags and prints. All of which are going to be screenprinted by hand, photographed and then added to our online shop by the end of the Summer. Along with all of this, our Costello Collection of luxury wedding stationery is also in development and this will consist of 5 unique designs, incorporating beautiful, hand finished elements, such as gold foiling and duplexing. I cannot wait to reveal this new collection at the end of Autumn.
On a personal level, my sister just got engaged, which I am so so happy about and my husband and I have lots of traveling planned for this year, so I'm pretty excited about that too :)
Samantha is the enthusiast behind Little Green, a boutique design & stationery studio specializing in developing & styling beautiful wedding stationery. As a newly-wed herself, she completely understands the what it is like to plan a wedding and finds it easy to connect and work with like-minded individuals. She is constantly grateful for the opportunity and community that her business and blog brings and loves the fact that, whilst not easy, she’s turning her dreams into a reality one day and step at a time.
Samantha launched her blog in 2011 as a way to channel her creativity, love for fashion and design and, if she’s honest, a way to keep her mind occupied and focused on something other than her long-distance relationship! Fast forward 4 years and she is now happily married and focusing her attention on designing beautiful wedding stationery, developing content for her blog and being creative in the kitchen to keep her American other-half satisfied.
Keeping it sweet and simple is Samantha’s philosophy in life and this is also true for her design work; which can be seen throughout this website and also in her shop.
Samantha’s love of design often takes her away from her computer and up into her studio, where she can be found screenprinting for hours on end; developing her line of inspirational quotes, greetings cards and wrapping paper, all of which will be available to purchase very soon!