Suzanna Stapler is a former student of mine. She took my Social Media Marketing course in the Fall of 2017, and graduated from Belmont University in May of 2019. Suzanna was gracious enough to share a little of her success story with us. In her previous blog, she spoke about her experience in my class. Today, she tells us about her success with her company, Squillustrate. She was gracious enough to give us a couple of examples of her most recent work.
“I didn’t realize I wanted to start a business until after freshman year of college. I’ve been drawing since I was little, but pursuing art for a living never seemed like a realistic goal. Through sophomore year, I tried to start a couple of businesses, without success, BUT- each time, I learned what parts I did enjoy and what parts I didn’t. The summer after my sophomore year, I was working four jobs, reading and drawing all the time, and doing a lot of thinking and praying over what I was supposed to do with my life. Something finally clicked when I got the chance to draw on an iPad Pro for the first time. It felt like the instrument I’d always wanted, and five minutes of doodling a dinosaur gave me enough of a glimpse to know what was now possible with drawing.
Through bringing it to internships and experimenting after work ended, I spent hours trying different styles on there, and eventually that fall, I started sharing them on social media. Even though I look back now and would say “oh my goodness, these are so bad,” my friends and family kept up the encouragement— and I kept up the practice! Not long after, I got my first client requests, making greeting cards designs, coloring book pages, and custom prints. I absolutely loved the process. By the time spring rolled around, I had done a few more, as well as just doing projects for free and giving them to friends or business owners I knew. That March, I worked hard to build and release a website with a portfolio of different projects I’d done by then and a way to contact me for work.
During my senior year of college, I continued to unpack what the strategy would be for Squillustrate. Squillustrate would become an illustration and branding business specializing in creating artwork to help people with great ideas express their vision. I started making financial projections and business plans, answering questions like: What would I need to make monthly to support myself and keep the business going? What kind of projects do I want to take on? What’s my plan for growing the business?
Now it’s 2020 and I’ve been pursuing Squillustrate full-time since graduating in May, working with a variety of clients on everything from logos and infographics to children’s books and product design. I hadn’t been sending out any kind of regular update to my email list, mostly because I didn’t know what they would care to read! I’m still young, so I felt pretty uncomfortable with sending advice on entrepreneurship, drawing, or anything else, and I didn’t always have client stories I could freely share with others.
But THEN, one day, sitting across from a mentor of mine, I suddenly knew what I could send: a Saturday Morning Cartoon. That’s an update I would want to receive and could get excited to send. As an illustrator, the content would be easy to create, and it would help remind people of what I do while hopefully making them laugh in the process!
Although I miss a week sometimes, I’ve been able to be far more consistent with the Saturday Morning Cartoons than I have with anything else. Writing the blogs comes pretty naturally now, and I’ve gotten great feedback on the content— people seem to enjoy the dorky jokes! I’m so glad to have found a fun way of sending updates, and I’m excited to keep building my email list and sending a little joy bomb on Saturday mornings.”
– Suzanna Stapler, Belmont University, May 2019 Graduate
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