Has anyone ever given you unsolicited advice or left a hurtful comment that you either just couldn’t shake off from your thoughts or made you really second guess yourself?
I remember how little knowledge I had about running a business when I first started freelancing as a graphic designer. I put a lot of effort into getting my portfolio reviewed, speaking to successful pros for guidance, and internalizing and applying all this info to try to do things “right.”
In 2010, I switched my business from an agency-sounding name to my own name (as per a famous Disney artist’s advice––which made a lot of sense based on my goals to grow my business) and branded myself in my own style––y’know, just developing my own vibe.
Somewhere around that time I got a call from a potential client. The consultation call went like this. And I remember it so vividly because it hit me so hard:
Him: Hi, I’m creating an accessories brand geared toward women and someone gave me your contact info. I checked out your site and your work looks really good, but why is there so much pink on your website?
Me: It’s my favorite color, so I want people to associate me with it.
Him: Well, it’s very girly, so if you want people to take you seriously, you should change it. You’ll lose a lot of business––it’ll turn guys away!
Me: I don’t plan on changing it, but thank you.
Him: I mean, I did think you might be a good fit for this project, because it’s FOR women, and your girly style could be good for this…
Me: I’m not sure that I’m right for this project, but thank you for considering me.
This person did not get my vibe or fall anywhere near my ICA bracket, so my gut told me to stay away from him. At least I picked up on the red flags. But for years I questioned the pink because of what this one person said. I didn’t change it though, because it always felt so true and natural for me…but I did doubt myself, nonetheless.
We don’t have control over what stupid things people will say to us, whether it’s during a consultation call, or a nasty comment on social media. But when your “why” and goals are aligned, you start to build a bulletproof wall against the people who bring you down, whether they do it intentionally or through an oblivious remark.
I didn’t even know about the basics of building this wall in 2010. I’ve learned so much more now through experience, and I can’t stress this enough:
When you know your motive, why you get up every day, who specifically you’re serving, and how you help others, the silly comments don’t bother you as much, because you know that your actions are going to get you to your goals. Including designing a pink website. If only I knew to tell myself then, “Michelle, this guy doesn’t get the pink, but the reason you chose this color was because it resonated with you so strongly, and you want your clients to connect to you through something that matters to you! That’s how we establish a connection!”
And for my pink site? It’s been updated many times, but it’s still pink! My clients don’t only not mind the pink in my branding––the general feedback over the years was that it was just so me, and my personality and aura are why they trusted me to brand their business! Even the male clients. Now I get DMs and tags on anything pink and sparkly, because my Instagram followers instantly think of me when they see it! (Literally, a follower I never met sent a DM of a pink Disney handbag because it reminded her of me!)
This is your friendly reminder to stay true to yourself! What do your followers or friends share with you because it made them think of you? That’s how you stay unique in this saturated world of small businesses!