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Not Meant for the Cubicle – Why I Started My Own Business

Posted by on March 21, 2014 in A Designer's Life | 2 comments

Not Meant for the Cubicle – Why I Started My Own Business

Not Meant for the Cubicle - Why I started my own business

I’ve always known I wasn’t meant for the cubicle.

From a photo lab in suburban Cleveland, Ohio to my own home office in beautiful Devon, England, I’ve had quite the journey to becoming a solopreneur. It’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t change my choice of career for the world.

It began when I was around 19 or 20, working part-time in a photo lab. I was studying Photography and Graphic Design in college with hopes that I would land a job in a design firm or photography studio. Working my way (full-time) in the lab through the rest of college allowed me the chance to find out what I really wanted to do: Start my own Web & Graphic Design business.

Photography Days!

Photography Days!

I graduated with a degree in Digital Communication and E-Marketing, which is really just a fancy way of saying Web Design, Graphic Design, a bit of Marketing and a touch of Business Management. This collection of different skills helped me start out as a freelance designer for a number of yoga professionals and holistic wellness practitioners.

Formal education in design and technology is great…for awhile. Things change so fast. Every designer, coder and computer programmer needs to self-educate. So after college, I read the blogs, looked for good articles on Twitter, experimented with the capabilities of social networking, and practiced practiced practiced until I could Photoshop and code in my sleep. I think YouTube is better than any college course you can take when it comes to technical stuff! I tried to learn something new every day. Photoshop and Illustrator were always open on my computer, and if I wasn’t working on a client’s branding or a website mockup, then I was tinkering with my own designs or digital artwork.

For the past 8 years I’ve been my own boss.

Trying my first scone in England!

Trying my first scone in England!

I’ve moved long-distance 3 times.

I’ve traveled across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – the Atlantic many times.

I even moved across the Atlantic!

I managed to keep my freelance work thriving through a very difficult few years, and was able to take time off after suffering a great personal loss.

I’ve worked with a number of amazing clients, mostly women business owners like me who have given me the opportunity to grow as a designer.

I’ve learned from some amazing mentors who first introduced me to CSS, Dreamweaver and other design tools.

I belong to some wonderful communities of business women who are teaching me so much about the current needs of my client base.

I grew to the point where I could fully focus on my own website and branding when I set up business here in the UK, after years of part-time freelancing.

I sometimes wonder if I would have had these experiences and opportunities if I was working in a cubicle.

Probably not.

Why did I start my own business?

So I could do the work I’ve always wanted to do.

Weather the storms of turbulent experiences not in my control, without fear of losing my job.

Have the freedom to work anywhere. My little office, the living room, outside, in the US, in the UK…

Have the flexibility to take on the projects I want to work on most.

To let my creativity thrive.

Is your dream to start your own business?

Do it. The resources are out there, many of them are free. There are so many people doing this now that you could talk to; business coaches, online communities & planning tools, in-person seminars and networking groups.

I also share some of my own tips for getting your website up and running and I have very affordable rates for my website & business branding packages. You can do this while still working full time – I did, and many of my clients have, eventually leaving their full time jobs when their businesses grew!

What are you passionate about that you could turn into a dream job for yourself? Tell me about it!

I’d love to help you reach your dream, like I’ve reached mine.



  1. Great article, Catherine!

    I can definitely relate to the desire to be flexible and move around. I love the freedom that entrepreneurship offers. I’ve lived all over the UK and in Portugal, and plan a move to Australia within the next year or so. I love that I can take my work with me wherever I go. Definitely not possible from a cubicle! I tried that for a while, and it didn’t work. At all.

    Big love to you!

    • Sounds exciting! The cubicle didn’t work for me, either, for the time that I spent working in offices. The photo lab was kind of a fun job, I do miss it sometimes! But yeah, I like being able to move my work with me 🙂


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