Growing up I really wanted to be
An animal whisperer
My most-used emojiis are
The laugh-crying smiley face and the ‘hallelujah’ hands raised to the sky
My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Decaf iced vanilla latte
I don’t know how I ever lived without
One thing people don’t know about me is
I am a closet introvert and petrified of public speaking.
My real life hero is
My dad. He started his own screen-printing business out of our tiny garage when my sisters and I were babies (and he was just 22). He worked hard and provided us with everything we needed. He had a ton on his plate but made us feel like we were the most important thing. I now have an even deeper respect for that as I try to navigate my role as a mother and business owner. He coached every sports team I was on, attended every art show… he taught me to dream big, work hard and have confidence in who I am.
What I love about my work is
That it’s something that I truly enjoy. I’ve always loved to create. My job allows me to utilize my creativity everyday.
The hardest thing about my work is
It never shuts off. My mind is always thinking about what to do next (and there is always something when you own your own business). Deadlines also often force the creative process, and it’s challenging to pump out good work when you are not feeling inspired.
How I got started with my current career
My first love was fashion and I worked as a fashion merchandiser and graphic designer for a clothing company straight out of college. I fell into illustration while trying to expand my portfolio in graphic design. It quickly grew to be a passion and eventually led me to quit my job and focus on my art as a freelance career. When I had my daughter in 2011, I had a hard time finding baby clothes that spoke to my aesthetic. I started a collection of my own — Rylee & Cru — hoping to fill a gap in the market.
My typical day looks like
I have “work” days and “mama” days (as my daughter calls them). My work days start around 6:30 when the kids get up. We make breakfast, watch cartoons / play outside / dance in our underwear until the nanny comes at 10. I work from a home studio, so I am available if the kids need me. I have 10am – 5pm, 2 days a week, to pump out as much work as possible.
My work includes creating new art patterns, designing silhouettes, communicating with our factory, directing photo shoots, and posting to social media. I also manage my etsy shop, which offers invitation designs and art prints, and do sponsored collaborations for my personal blog and social media accounts. A typical day involves a lot of juggling!
My mama days are my favorite and usually involve the beach or frozen yogurt! My husband owns a retail store called Lone Flag, so there’s a lot going on. We treasure the time we have together, though it’s often hard to come by.
I used to think success meant
Making money, having things.
My current definition of success is
Being happy, finding your purpose.
An example of when I had to push through my fear was when
The overall process of launching Rylee & Cru was really scary. It was a huge upfront investment, and I had major doubts about whether people would respond. I was already a freelance artist, but starting a brand was different… the clothing line was completely my own. I designed it. I put my blood, sweat and tears into creating it. There was something vulnerable about that. I had to look past my insecurities about the brand’s success and do it because I believed in it.
I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I know I need to step back for a minute when I start to get agitated or impatient with my family. This usually bubbles up when I am overwhelmed by a project and can’t find time to get it done. It’s funny how a little time for myself — something as simple as getting outside and exercising or going on a date with my husband — can reset my mind. Having grace with myself is a key component to my sanity.
The last time I created something I was proud of was
I just finished a painting for a good friend. It was a commissioned piece with a lot of creative freedom, two concepts that don’t often go together. It felt really good to get paint on a canvas again, and create something out of the normal context of work.
I wish I could tell my younger self
Following the crowd won’t get you anywhere. Don’t be afraid to be you. You’re enough.
The legacy I hope to leave is
More than anything else, that I loved people.