Introducing Ask A Creative Founder, a new blog series highlighting creative founders in our community who will share their industry knowledge, challenges and tips.

Ask a Creative Founder - How Did You Find Your Signature Style?


We’ve asked experts in our in community – women we admire and who have so much knowledge to share – to contribute to blog series titled Ask A Creative Founder.

This month’s question is: How did you find your signature style?

When it comes to starting a creative business, we all have been to the end of Google. Our contributors talk below about starting a creative business and the things that helped them. There is some great advice below on starting a creative business–from starting slow and small, to finding your signature style, bootstrapping it, not getting caught up in perfection, hard work, and making money. Read below to learn more about their journey in starting a creative business.

Val McKeehan - Lily & Val - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about your signature style, Valerie: My signature style is created through my hand lettering. This was honed through lots and lots of practice. When I first started out in 2012, the hand-lettering resources of today did not exist. Instead, I looked at computer generated fonts and tried to mimic them on a chalkboard. As I learned more about the shapes and styles of letters, I was able to move beyond re-creating a font and add my own flourishes and nuance. My signature style definitely developed over time this way.

Ask a Creative Founder - Bonnie Bakhtiari - How did you find your signature style?
Bonnie Bakhtiari - -B is for Bonnie Design - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about finding your signature style, Bonnie: I discovered my signature style through a definite series of trial and error! But what proved most helpful for me as I experimented with different styles and aesthetics, was my own personal brand development journey. I found that my signature style directly correlated to the heart of my brand, and my own story as the face behind my brand.

My degree is actually in Journalism with an emphasis in News/Editorial. So I learned the elements of design while laying out the front pages of newspapers in college. To me, the story of every brand I build is what ultimately influences our design decisions and overarching strategy, and I found that I was best able to tell my clients’ stories well through simple, clean, type-inspired design. Which all relates back to my own design journey as I studied the hierarchy of text, the layout of an engaging front page, and more.

Ultimately, I discovered my signature style by discovering more about myself and my own story as a creative. Along the way, I was able to determine what elements of style speak to me, and enable me to do my best, most honest work.

line_divider Caroline Hull - Caroline Creates - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about finding your signature style, Caroline: My original design aesthetic was based on what I thought everyone wanted to see; it was not based on me. Because of this, my brand voice was off and getting clients was hard work. When I started focusing on infusing my personality and what I loved into my designs, I quickly discovered my branding was way off! When I started creating designs that spoke to me, my style started to emerge. Once I started to see patterns in my work, I named them and wrote them down. Now whenever I design something, I look to see if it follows those items that I affiliate with my signature style. It takes time and some self criticism to get there but I love that people recognize my work now as mine! And I love that it speaks so much to my style and personality.

Ask a creative founder - Caroline Hull - How did you find your signature style?
line_divider Jackie Mangiolo - The Everyday Mother and Sincerely Jackie - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about finding your signature style, Jackie: To be honest, I didn’t discover it, my clients did. I found there is a big difference between personal style and the style of work that my clients come to me for. As an individual, I had a huge breadth of styles that I like, and I tried to offer way to much variety when I started my business. Bold and colorful? SURE, let’s do that. Simple and clean? Why not? Simple and clean with a play on subtle colors, find printing, and thoughtful typography? Let’s do it, right now. Over time, both myself and my clients began to shift more towards the latter, which is perfect, because it turns out that is indeed my signature style, and one I’ll never tire of. I am so glad that my clients helped me realize that’s my signature style.

When it came to The Everyday Mother, I carried over my simple, classic style from Sincerely, Jackie but also added touches of fun and practicality, which is inspired by me personally.

Ask a creative founder - Jackie Mangiolo - How did you find your signature style?
line_divider Kelly Parker Smith - Hello World Paper Co - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about finding your signature style, Kelly: My signature style developed over years.  Some people have it right away and it takes more time for others.  I found mine by creating just to create.  I think sometimes we are too focused on creating for other people, that we lose sight of ourselves.  Creating just for me allows me to play around with styles I wouldn’t normally use and discover new designs that fit into my business.

line_divider Kelsey Baldwin - Paper & Oats - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about finding your signature style, Kelsey: I’ve always had a very clean, minimal design style, and I immediately noticed that that style was lacking in the printable planners that were being sold on Etsy. I wanted to keep my designs simple, modern, and gender-neutral – and give equal attention to the function of the product, not just the look of it. The more I created, the more minimal my style became (in business + in my personal life!), and now I always think less is more!

line_divider Paula McCoy - PolkaDot Paper Co - Ask A Creative Founder


Tell us about finding your signature style, Paula: My signature style definitely has been honed in over the years simply by designing. I’m drawn to bright colors, fun patterns, and beautiful typography, and I tend to design that way too. I love combining patterns and colors to create collections that are fun and functional. I can always tell when I am designing within my signature style, because it comes easy and just flows right out of me. When I’m working twice as hard to design something, it’s usually a sign that I am not staying true to myself.line_divider


Thanks so much for sharing about finding your signature style.  Next month, we’ll get their answers on who their ideal clients are and how they found them! In the meantime, keep up with all of our creative founders through the links above.