Another one of the most common questions that comes through to my inbox is “how did you get your start?” and “what should I major in to do what you do?”
I always knew that I wanted to start my own business, but I had no idea that this would be it. I did have a blog back in high school, but I never set out to be a “blogger” and Instagram didn’t even exist, so there was no way to know that the platform would eventually contribute so heavily to my future career. I feel like my career is still evolving, constantly adapting to fit the needs of my clients and to morph into what I want it to look like too. BUT I’ll start at the beginning and give you the details of how I got here.
College – Virginia Tech – 2010-2013
I always said that if I could major in art in college and “make money” after graduation, then I totally would have, but I felt a practical pull towards business, more specifically marketing, because I knew that it was the most creative part of business. I played on the club tennis team, was director of programming for residence life, and was super focused on building my resume with activities and internships to get a job in the advertising industry. I had started a fashion blog in high school called “lishylishy” and was writing (without much of an audience) about arts, culture & celebrities.
The summer after my junior year, I landed an unpaid internship at a small Pittsburgh branding agency and learned that working hard at unpaid positions can really pay off sometimes. That role quickly turned into my first “real” job as a part time copywriter. I continued to work for them throughout college & for years afterward too.
Post Grad – 2014
I chose to graduate a semester early because I was so eager to start my career. My dream at this time was to become a creative director in the advertising industry and I was looking for an entry-level position on the creative side of an agency to get me there. I filled out more than 250 applications, went on more than 40 interviews, and although I was offered two jobs in the process, I continued to hold out for something more creative where I could make more of an impact.
I had no real photography training at all, and I got serious about Instagram as an experiment. I thought that If I could work to build a brand, agencies would hire me to do the same for the clients. The plan worked, and I was soon working as a social media manager and then as a creative strategist for global brands in the advertising industry.
But I ended up hating it. I wanted the chance to be more creative and to develop my own point of view. I turned to Instagram once again and it quickly became my creative outlet. I shared the colors and things around me that brought me joy and people started to notice. Brands asked me if I could take photos for their Instagram accounts, so I bought a camera, learned how to use it through an online course, and went to work.
I hustled every night and weekend, creating content and building a client base. I would take conference calls on my 9-5 lunch break and meet potential clients at coffee shops near my office. When I had to start turning away clients because of my 9-5, I knew it was time to make a change. So at the age of 23, I left the advertising industry to focus on LISH creative full-time.
The start of LISH creative – January 2016
In the nearly 4 years since starting my agency, a lot has changed. I went from styling photos by myself in my parent’s spare bedroom in Pittsburgh, to moving into a Los Angeles Studio and hiring a team to help. And now, I manage a remote team from our new home in the midwest. I’m proud to say that we’ve experienced continous growth and have started working with more big name brands than ever before. From the outside, everything looks amazing, but I’m still learning from mistakes and working to avoid burnout – it’s a constant battle.
I’m excited to see how the business evolves and changes as time goes on, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about taking a leap to start your own business!