Finding my way back ~

In the course of being a designer trying to start a business, I have lost my way. When I first started this business, I focused on what I liked. Bright colors. Bold shapes. Happy silhouettes. Fun textures. Things that made me feel welcome in my house and happy to be there. I made everything from quilts to greeting cards to notepads to windbreakers, lunch bags, and more. I put stuff out in the world. I watched. I tested. And I continued to create.

But anyone who has started a business knows that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that while design is part of having a design business, the second word in that phrase is just as crucial. So Cat Schmitz (the human) shifted Cat Schmitz (the brand) to focus on business. Acronyms like D2C and B2B start getting thrown into strategy decks alongside terms like conversion and average order value. Photoshoot planning becomes more of an equation with gaps to fill than it becomes about creatively expressing yourself and following whatever it is that you feel. And while strategic thinking is critical for the long term success of any business, something even more critical is soul.

 



Soul cannot be captured in a strategy nor can it be reduced to an acronym and a number to hit. Soul is about the feel good moments and the giggle that comes from the thought, “I cannot believe I just made this.” Soul comes from the smile that I have when I see people fall in love with my design for the first time. It comes from hearing stories about grief, struggle, new beginnings, and hope ~ all to find out that my simple design can impact how some people cope through their daily lives and how others can create moments of delight.



Cat Schmitz (the human) has been focused a lot lately on the strategy behind Cat Schmitz (the brand). As a result, both the human and the brand have been suffering from a lack of feel good, do whatever sings to you kind of soul that got me here in the first place. Cat Schmitz became a job with repeatable steps, which is admittedly important if you’re starting a business but it’s not the end-all-be-all reason for ripping yourself out of a comfortable life to start a journey as an entrepreneur. But for all that strategy, there needs to be just as many moments of delight. There needs to be conscious decisions to do things differently- if only for the sake of finding joy in the work that makes it into the world.





But this is the beauty in running your own shop and being the captain of your ship. There is always time to course correct- to take a step back and say, “what’s feeling good to me now?” so that the business brains of my operation can take a step back and figure out how to make those big dreams come true.

This is perhaps what 2024 is going to be about for me. It’s going to be about showing up in the world so that I can share my designs but also letting the designer and the human run the show for a bit, so that all that soul can find its way back into new products, updated designs, and fun experiences. It’s going to be about sharing the joy of things that I love and experiences that inspire me.

And most importantly, it’s going to be about falling in love with design again in new ways so that I can recommit to a vision of a world taken over by my designs and patterns, instead of the continuous simplification of design that business demands.

My thoughts on finding the soul of my business are not meant to throw out all strategic thinking and flounder around in the world as a lost artist. But perhaps this is a step towards harmony with the needs of design and the needs of businesses as usual.


Thanks for tagging along in my journey. I can’t wait to see what happens.

 

~ more thoughts from cat ~