I've said it before but I'll say it again (and probably again after that)- Instagram has allowed me to meet some the coolest, most creative ladies (across the country!), that I otherwise would probably have never met. There's something so bonding about meeting others who are walking similar paths, working in a creative field and trying to figure out their way.
It was through Instagram that I met Brianna of Little Arrow Studio. Like me, she is a one-woman show who turned her love of design into a business. Even better, she too makes stationery (and lots of other cool stuff too)! Sassy, fun, not-your-average-card stationery & gifts- I mean, she did invent the uni-cone!!
Other cool facts about Brianna? She lives in Portland (where she and I will be doing a pop-up shop in November, at Darling Distraction!), she loves Nirvana (I MEAN...!!!) and she agreed to share a little bit more about herself and her work...
1) WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Brianna Bulski and I am the owner, illustrator & designer for my stationery & gift business, Little Arrow. The name for my business actually came to me in a dream. As crazy as that sounds, many of my best ideas have presented themselves that way. When I started Little Arrow I was in transition from a job that I had worked at for many years. I had been very ready for a change, and was excited about branching out on my own. But I was also very freaked out about taking the risk, both financially and personally. The name Little Arrow means to always follow that little arrow inside your heart, even if you're scared.
2) WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I started out in the stationery industry when I was 21. I had just quit community college after a few short months. I had planned to get a degree in Graphic Design and was taking the beginners classes when I realized I hated every second of it and decided school wasn't for me. So I quit knowing that I needed to find a job. I was hired at a local greeting card company to package product, ship orders and answer the phones. One of the owners illustrated all the art for their cards, and I expressed an interest in learning from her. Over the years I worked my way up to Graphic Designer, and then when she retired I took her place as Art Director. Although the job paid well and I kicked major ass at it, for the most part it made me miserable, however everything I learned there helped prepare me for where I am now.
3) WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
To be quite honest, I like being in charge lol. Seriously though, I am a passionate person and a hard worker. It only made sense for me to work for myself. At past jobs I always treated the work at hand as if it were my own company. I always went the extra mile and really gave them my all. While that's great for job security, the reality is I wasn't an owner and therefore couldn't make executive decisions or reap any of the true benefits of being in charge. I was often frustrated with having to follow through on someone else's orders that I didn't fully agree with. Also, my parents are both self employed. Over the years my sister and I have watched them run successful small businesses and I guess it rubbed off because my sister and I each run our own gigs. It must run in our blood or something.
4) WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
Right now the most challenging thing is time management. Many people just assume running a creative business is lollipops and rainbows, all day long every day. I can assure you it's not - sadly, I find it a constant struggle to make time for illustration and design - an integral part of the business, that without it Little Arrow wouldn't exist. For a small business it's important the owner wear as many hats as possible, for as long as possible. That means you're in charge of making sure everything gets done - product creation, packaging, customer service, order fulfillment & shipping, book keeping, business strategy, marketing, email communications, the list goes on forever. Recently I discovered an amazing book called The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The book points out there is a direct connection with the way you work, the choices you make and the type of results you get from those actions. Time management is a big topic and they discuss ways you can be more focused throughout your day. They believe that by focusing on one thing you can accomplish more by doing less. I know that sounds sorta backwards but I found the book extremely helpful and inspirational and totally recommend it if you're struggling to find solace within chaos. I often find myself going back to the book and asking myself their one question: what’s the ONE Thing you can do right now such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
5) WHAT INSPIRES YOU CREATIVELY?
It's constantly changing, but right now I'm in love with anything from my childhood or from my angsty teenage years. I've had Nirvana pretty much on constant rotation lately, and I'm obsessed with anything iridescent. I guess that might seem like a weird combo, but I've always sorta liked what I liked and to hell with anyone that had an opinion. I've always been pretty good at marching to the beat of my own drum and not caring what others thought. I'm really inspired by that in other's, too. I love it when someone follows their creative instincts and pushes the envelope.
6) WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?
I'd really like to see Little Arrow grow to a point where I can work with a crew of awesome talented people. While I enjoy working by myself I do miss working with others, especially creatively. It will also be nice to delegate some of the parts of the business that I don't enjoy as much.
7) WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I try to be really transparent yet I'm a total introvert and very private about my personal life. I think some people are surprised when they find out I'm kind of a hermit lol. Don't get me wrong, I definitely had my partying days in my teens & 20s, but as I've passed my mid thirties I'm comfortable with dedicating most of my time to what I'm passionate about. On social media I really push myself to be as extroverted as possible because I know that's what people want, and it's good for business. When I was younger I suffered from pretty severe social anxiety, to the point where I wouldn't ever want to go out. Owning a business has challenged me to be more outgoing, and in tandem it's given me the self confidence to put myself out there more.
8) WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT ON THEIR CREATIVE JOURNEY?
To not be afraid to make mistakes. I tend to be very hard on myself, which on one hand drives me to be the very best I can be, but if I'm not careful it can also prevent me from doing something that could have turned out amazing. You've just got to set your worries aside and not care what others will think - making mistakes is an integral way of learning what works and what doesn't. Little failures along your path are bound to happen, no need to let them paralyze you. Pick yourself up, take note of what went wrong, and carry on. All you can do is make the best decision with the information you have on hand. Making a mistake is not the say-all, end-all. It's all about your mental attitude, and if you tell yourself to stay positive and learn from your mishaps then you enable yourself to keep going.
I can't tell you how much I relate to her advice of just allowing yourself to make mistakes- it's so common to hold off on doing something for fear of it not being totally "perfect"... but the only way to get better is to do the work! And um, as for that future group of creatives she wants to work with? Sign me up!!! I'll even bring donuts. :)
Thanks Brianna!! I can't wait to see all of the big things to come for Little Arrow!
If you want more Brianna, or feel a Little Arrow shopping-spree coming on (yesssss), you can find more here: