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- Carrie D’Agostino, as told to Lauren Kubik
- Jul 30, 2018
How Work Burnout Actually Helped Me Start My Own Business
I knew from the time I was a kid that I wanted to run my own business one day. It's a family thing: My dad owned restaurants and my mom had a coffee shop. I’d occasionally help out and always admired their dedication and hard work.
I studied graphic design at a small university close to home. Midway through college, I took a gap year for an internship at Disney World. It was a breath of fresh air — I met people from all over the world. The experience made me crave more opportunities to travel and leave the comforts of home.
After graduating, I moved to Louisiana to work as a graphic designer for a start-up selling makeup products. While makeup wasn’t necessarily my passion, I loved my job. I honed my skills in graphic design and learned photography, videography and social media editing.
But I soon felt stuck. The demands of being at a start-up and my hour-long commute (each way) were draining. I dreamed of traveling and being my own boss.
Around January 2017, I made a plan to start my own business. It was "not the right time" in every way: I had limited free time and felt exhausted every minute. But waiting wasn’t an option — I had to make it happen! Here’s how it all came together.
I FOUND MY NICHE
I spent every night and weekend researching how to start a business and work remotely. Being remote was critical to me so I could travel and be flexible in how, where and when I work.
I decided on my product — clothing! I wanted realistic but stylish pieces for women like me who love to explore and be active. So I started creating nature- and travel-inspired designs for women who want practical clothing: leggings, T-shirts and tote bags.
I LEARNED NEW SKILLS
I relied heavily on my photography and graphic design skills to lay the groundwork. All I needed was the manufacturer. I spent all of my free time Googling “how to start a clothing business” and reading every single “how to” blog under the sun. I finally connected with the right manufacturer for my product.
My niche is young women who love nature, travel and the outdoors, so Instagram is naturally my biggest marketing platform. I'm constantly interacting with Instagram followers on my page. I check my emails frequently and always respond quickly. Genuine engagement has been key to reaching my customers.
I MADE THE TRANSITION GRADUALLY
Six months after sketching out my plan, I launched Wren & Fable. A few months later, I asked my boss if I could work remotely — and got the OK to go in only if I was needed onsite. Ditching that commute allowed me more free time to continue working on my website and designs after logging off for the day.
I now know there’s a world of opportunities outside the traditional 9-to-5.
I finally quit my day job in June 2018. I never told my boss about my plans to take Wren & Fable full-time, but I was grateful to be able to balance a regular job until then. I needed that financial security while I built my business.
I OVERCAME MY DOUBTS
My main goal was to be my own boss. That feeling finally hit me when I did a photo shoot of my products in Iceland last fall. It was amazing to see my idea out in the wild. Although intimidated at first, I now know there’s a world of opportunities outside the traditional 9-to-5.
In a year or so, I would love to take the company over to Bali or Thailand, where there are large communities of digital nomads, and I can continue working on more designs and products. On top of my work with Wren & Fable, I take the occasional freelance graphic design gig, and it's great to have that flexibility. Starting my own business took a leap of faith, but it’s liberating to know that I’m living my dream.
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