Discover Your Voice, Pursue those Big Dreams, & Find Balance While Doing it with Abigail Dyer
1| Welcome Abigail! Share a little bit about yourself - favorite food, weird habits, unique traits, odd passions, etc. Give us the full scoop on who you are!
I’m Abigail, the owner and creative director at Abigail Dyer Design Studio. I currently reside in my hometown, Knoxville, Tennessee with my sweet husband Jacob and our adorable puppy (and the cutest, fluffiest studio assistant), Nala! My favorite days are spent working with creative, driven women who desperately want their business to look as stunning as their work!
When I’m not designing or educating, you can find me reading the newest NYT bestselling book, searching for the perfect shade of nude lipstick, eating allllll the street tacos, spending some quality time with friends and family (bonus points if we are doing something outside!) attempting to do aqua kickboxing (to work off all those tacos and margs, of course!), and last but definitely not least, planning my next travel adventure with my husband.
I’m known for: my southern accent – you will definitely hear me say y’all; eating a whole watermelon…by myself…throughout the course of a week (I’m still debating if this is something I should be proud of); my slight obsession with Hallmark Channel movies (the sappier and more predictable, the better!); and my “secret” grilled cheese recipe – garlic salt. Just a pinch will do, and trust me, you will be thanking me later!
2| In your beautiful online space, Abigail Dyer Design Studio, you help women with all their branding, web design, and education needs. How did this all start? Have you always been passionate about design?
Oh I love this question because I always love reflecting on the journey that got me where I am today. I have always appreciated my passion for art and my need to be creative. Even at a young age, when my friends wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian or teacher, my big dream was to design greeting cards for Hallmark. But truthfully, I never seriously pursued art and design when I was in high school or college because I compared myself to others and felt like I was never good enough. I went to college, and I struggled with finding something I was passionate about. I decided to major in marketing – something I was great at and knew I could easily find a job in. I graduated early and started working in the corporate world – first a book publishing company and then a local credit union. But I was so bored and lacked motivation so I found myself asking for more graphic design work on top of my marketing work. I got married and my favorite part of the planning process was designing my wedding suite. I loved it so much, I started designing wedding suites for friends and family, and it was the perfect creative outlet I needed for a side-hustle job. But things grew quickly and word got around that I was designing. One thing led to another and I started doing other business design work – branding, website design, graphics, etc. – for female entrepreneurs. It came to the point where I was doing so much work after my day job and barely sleeping that I either needed to step back with the extra work or take the leap of faith toward entrepreneurship. So five quick months after starting my paper goods business (Dearly Dyer Paper Co.), I took the leap of faith, quit my comfy career to pursue my true passion – Abigail Dyer Design Studio – and I haven’t looked back since!
It was a journey that I never would have expected of myself. But when I look back, it’s crazy to see every little detail of my life play a part in this crazy journey. It’s not always been easy, and I definitely know it won’t always be, but I wake up every day thankful I get to pursue my passion and work with the most empowering, beautiful women!
Related: How to Live with Purpose Right NOW
3| In today’s society, leaving the 9-5 schedule and diving into entrepreneurial freedom is constantly praised. How was that transition for you? Was it always smooth sailing?
Yes, it really is isn’t it? My dad owned his own business, and I saw first-hand how hard it is to be self-employed. So to be honest, I never thought I would be brave enough to do this! My goal was to start this side-hustle and get enough clients so by the time my husband graduated from his PhD program, I could maybe (and I mean MAYBE!) have enough courage to take the leap. But like I said, instead of the projected 5 years of building my baby biz, it only took me 5 months. I am a HUGE believer in following your dreams because life is too short to not pursue something you love. I was in a unique situation where I was able to pursue something I loved without the immediate strain of worrying about money. And I will always be thankful for that because without that comfort, I don't think I would have been comfortable enough to take that leap so quickly. So yes, it was an “easy” transition for me, but it definitely hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I wish there was as much talk about the hard (or quite frankly completely UGLY!) times of entrepreneurship as there are about praising self-employment.
My first year of business was spectacular, but my second year was a bunch of “oh crap what the heck am I doing” moments! And let’s be real – I still have those moments every day! I will say that although there are many pros to being self-employed, there are equally just as many negatives. You just have to learn how to approach those negatives headstrong and learn how to grow through them. You will make mistakes (and trust me, a lot of them!), you will learn, and you will dig deep and find things about yourself that you didn’t even know existed. (Seriously, I realize new thoughts and feelings about myself every day, and I never would have uncovered them without this journey I have been on!) I am still learning so much about being self-employed. But in the end, it’s the most rewarding, challenging, and greatest thing I have ever done in my life. I always remind myself that if this journey lasts 1 more year or 30 years, I will cherish these moments I get to create and pursue my passion because this journey has without a doubt shaped me into a better business woman and person.
Related: How to Embrace Slow Progress in Pursuing Your Biggest Dreams
4| What are the top 3 pieces of advice you have for someone who wants to start their own entrepreneurial journey?
Becoming an entrepreneur is easy, but staying an entrepreneur is hard. While you’re hustling at your 9-5, look past how and when you can say goodbye to that job. I’m talking about looking 5-10 years in the future. Focus not only on how you can start your business full-time, but how you can keep your business going long term. I thought I had this figured out. But life happens and things don't work out, and I wish I had a plan C and D to help get me through the hard, slow times in business. That’s right, look even past your plan B, just in case.
Being an entrepreneur is easier said than done. And it gets even harder because you see all of these amazing people around you kicking butt and taking names. Focus on you and your business. Stay in your lane and keep yourself accountable on where you are in your business right now. Stop comparing your year 1 or 2 in business to their year 3, 5, 10, etc. And when the going gets tough (because it definitely will!), never forget why you started this journey in the first place. Having that why will keep you going through the darkest, most confusing days.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you, your work, and your desire to become a full-time entrepreneur. You need those people and their support more than you need water (Okay, maybe not THAT much, but pretty darn close!). These people – a significant other, parents, siblings, close friends – are going to be your backbone when the going gets tough. They will be your cheerleaders when you don’t believe in yourself or doubt your work. But even more than that, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs that you relate with. The majority of my clients come from word of mouth from other entrepreneurs and my best launches were so successful with the help of my biz friends spreading the word via their social media channels. I spend about as much time on my business as I do cultivating these friendships. Honestly, I owe 99% of my success to my supporting friends and family because without them I would have failed or given up a long time ago. Yes, they are that important! So go getcha some friends, girl!
5| How do you balance fun, relationships, life, and your biz? I know for me, it’s a constant balancing act. Do you have any advice for someone facing overwhelm?
Ugh. I am definitely not great at this, but I am significantly better at this than when I first started my entrepreneurship journey. If you’re anything like me, you live, eat, drink, and sleep business. It’s always on my mind. What can I do next? How can I improve? Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and some more Instagram. And because it’s always on my mind, it’s hard to set boundaries, but you seriously HAVE to. You probably loved the thought of entrepreneurship because of the freedom it gave you, but it’s funny how your business can quickly take away from your life if you let it. So here are a few things I make myself do to keep my life, relationship, and business balanced:
I have a zero phone policy when I am riding in the car with my husband or friends. Even though the trip could be a quick 5 minutes, it gives me 5 minutes to connect with them, hear about their day, or get a life update instead of scrolling through Instagram or finding inspo on Pinterest. I also have a zero phone policy on date nights too.
I don’t look at my phone or computer in the mornings until about 10am. This gives me time to really focus on myself by eating a wholesome breakfast, reading my daily devotional, exercising, and then showering and getting ready for the day. Before I did this, I was overwhelmed with catching up on my Instagram feed, commenting on friend’s posts, replying to client emails, etc. before I even got out of bed! I have realized that when I focus on my needs and myself in the morning, I am more productive throughout the day.
I take time for myself and give myself grace. I never want my work to rule my life so I have set these boundaries for rest: I don’t work on the weekends and I wrap up my work every day when my husband gets home from work/school. For the longest time, I thought rest meant being a weak business owner, but that’s not the case at all! In fact, giving myself grace to be lazy on the couch with a book or spend an extra hour playing with my pup gave me more energy and clarity when I was working.
I am a huge believer in batch working. And doing this keeps my work on schedule and timelines met. I also devote Fridays to working solely on my own business to write blogs, schedule social media posts, do accounting, create new educational courses, etc. When I dedicate a day every week to my own work, I realized I was less overwhelmed throughout the week and was able to focus more on my clients’ projects.
At the end of the day, I have learned to ask myself if something “urgent” in my business can wait. Usually it can wait until the next day. And asking myself that question has given me the opportunity to say yes to more things that give me life and bring me happiness. It is a constant balancing act, but it’s important to get in mindset that rest and grace are great things and in the end can truly benefit your business! Here are a couple things I do to keep these boundaries in place:
- Write out these boundaries. It will help keep you accountable when they are written out versus. just being thought in your mind.
-Tell someone who is around you a lot about your boundaries. They can help keep you accountable too!
6| As a designer with a beautifully curated brand, what advice could you offer to anyone who is trying to find their creative voice? Anything you have learned along the way?
The biggest piece of advice I tell my clients who are struggling with their voice and who and what they want their business to be like is to just be themselves! Yep, just be YOU. For the longest time, I compared myself to other successful designers. I tried to match their style, and I always ended up frustrated with my work. It wasn’t until I was about a year into business that I finally found my own voice. And it was the day I said I was tired of being something and doing things that weren’t my style. I thought I needed to always speak professionally, but I didn’t realize that being myself – horrible puns and all – was actually more relatable and personal! I thought I needed to market to every entrepreneur so I could make more money, but I realized that working with women was what I truly needed to be doing (no matter if it cut out 50% of potential customers).
There is only one you. And the more unique you are, the more rememberable you will be. Being different isn’t bad. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It means you are one-of-a-kind and can stand apart from a crowd. Be brave, bold, and brilliantly you and the voice and style of your business will naturally flow into place.
Related: How to Stand Out: The Power of Tapping into Your Strengths
7| Lastly, how do you want to impact society? What do you want people to always remember about who you are and what you did?
I have so much pride in my work and get so much joy out of working with women to create a brand and website they feel proud to authentically and confidently share with the world. And there is nothing better than when a client becomes a dear friend. At the end of the day, I hope each person I work with or come in contact with feels like I inspired them, boldly cheered them on toward their goals, and bonus points if my silly jokes bring joy to their life. The world and life are beautiful, cherished things to me. I believe that kind words cost nothing, and I want others to see me as a genuine and nice person. I want to be the person I wish I had in my life when I was younger. I want my story to encourage others to chase their crazy, beautiful dreams. I want to be the change I wish to see in the world. Because I believe at the end of the day, when I’m the best version of myself, I have the power to truly and authentically impact society.
Abigail Dyer is the owner and creative director at Abigail Dyer Design Studio, where she passionately provides heartfelt branding, intentional website design, and valuable education to creative women in business. Abigail had goals to become a full-time, freelance designer in 5 years, but in 5 quick months she said adios to her comfy 9-5 career. She's known to shed some tears when hearing a client's story, gets giddy about curating mood boards, simply can't function without a calendar or to-do list, and believes in wholeheartedly chasing your biggest, wildest dreams. When she's not dreaming up big things for her business, she's adventuring with her husband and puppy, searching for the best taco spot in town, and indulging in the newest NYT Bestseller.
Connect with Abigail HERE!