This week Vanessa Bucceri Creative is celebrating 3 years in business! As business owners, it’s important to share our brand origin story so that others can understand and relate to them. We all start our crafts at the bottom. Our business ideas are born somewhere, someway.
Today, I’m sharing how I made the leap from corporate analyst to self-employed web designer. Here’s my brand origin story:
Shortly after my son’s first birthday, I returned to work from a year-long maternity leave. It turns out, work had changed along with my place in it. I’d take the bus and train on cold rainy west coast days during rush hour with crowds of other commuters. I spent 3 hours a day traveling and 8 hours working just for a paycheque. I missed my baby who I was finally blessed with after 4 years of infertility struggles. Is this what life is? I was miserable and it just didn’t feel worth it anymore.
I’d spend all those commuting hours binge listening to business podcasts wishing for a business idea of my own. I tried a few things that led to nowhere. I had a calling to work for myself as I come from a family of entrepreneurs but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.
This went on for years, and things at work went from bad to worse. So I started to list out all the things I like to do for me, the things that fill me up. As I made my list, I also started to reflect on the things that brought me joy when I was younger. Things like hand drawing letters, scrapbooking, photography, or devouring a great magazine on a Sunday afternoon.
Then one day at work, I had my ah-ha moment. I was sitting at my desk and peeked over at my coworker’s computer. On her screen was a sales page for an online coding & visual design program, Skillcrush. I immediately felt this urge to go for it, and with my incredible husband’s support, I did!
Fast forward nine months, I worked relentlessly in the evening hours and on weekends. I now had 3 coding & design boot camps under my belt, a couple of completed projects for friends in my portfolio, and an exit plan from my full-time corporate gig. I finally felt in control of my life for the first time in years.
Days after my 39th birthday, I gave my notice. In some ways, it was the easiest decision but it was also really difficult – after 12 years in the same place you establish deep roots. Someone told me I’d made a brave and bold decision. These words struck me as I didn’t feel brave or bold. I felt desperate, relieved but also scared. I had no clue how to get clients and build a business but I believed in myself that I would figure it all out. I had to – there was no plan B.
And then, 2 days after officially putting my resignation into a formal email, my department was pulled into a small meeting room. Everyone was being offered a buy-out package to leave the company, well everyone except me. With all my years factored in, my buy-out would have been about $90,000… but I had already given my notice.
There are so many words I can use to describe those last few weeks at work. I had a little money saved up but was also fully aware I was taking a big risk and our little family would need to make a lot of sacrifices for me to follow my dream. Waiting for years and planning my leave so carefully to only miss that kind of opportunity by days was a big punch to the gut. I felt sick and mad and frankly really pissed off.
Do you know what got me through and what I’ve held on to ever since? My colleague Nate (who is also an extraordinary photographer) gave me this sage advice that I will never forget – he said, at least when you succeed you’ll know it was because you did it yourself, not because of some handout.
And he was completely right. Years have passed since that time and who knows if I would have the same success I do now if I had received that money. When you want something bad enough, you’ll do all the hard things to make it happen. Maybe having that money would have made the first years of small business ownership easier, but then maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today? Maybe I wouldn’t have learned all the difficult lessons and pushed myself to get over my personal fears. Maybe I wouldn’t have worked through my mindset issues of being good enough or deserving of money for my skills as a self-taught designer. Maybe?
What I do know for certain is that small business ownership is one of the hardest things but also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.
Well, it’s taken me time and space to accept what happened and be at peace with it. For a while, I also didn’t know if all of this would work out regardless of how badly I wanted it to. Going after what you want in life is really, really hard sometimes. But I want you to know that you are more than capable. You deserve to find your passion and follow your dreams. If I can do it, you can too.
You are braver than you realize. And your actions no matter how small and insignificant they may seem can lead to big, bold, amazing things. I know it and believe it because I’ve lived it and witnessed it first hand.
A single tag on a Facebook post led me to a multiple 5 figure project at the start of the COVID pandemic. A roundtable at a conference my first week as a self-employed designer led me to a relationship that has provided multiple clients & ongoing referrals. One post on Pinterest helped me land a website project and one hashtag I use on Instagram provides ongoing leads in my business. One comment on a Facebook post led to a contract almost 3 years later!
Take a step, any step. You don’t have to have everything figured out, I certainly didn’t and still don’t! Live boldly with me – I promise, once you start you won’t want to stop! Ready to be unstoppable? As you navigate your own brand origin story, know I’m here cheering you on.
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© 2024 Vanessa Bucceri Creative
Vanessa Bucceri Creative wishes to acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded native Coast Salish territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Tsawwassen, and Semiahmoo First Nations.