Today we’d like to introduce you to Ellen Monen.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ellen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was raised to be practical and follow my heart, as contradicting as that might seem. In college, I started with Management Information Systems. That’s where the geeks hid in the business school. To keep things a little more interesting, I added a double degree in Art Studio along with a concentration in Graphic Design. When I graduated, of course I wanted a design job, so I needed an online portfolio. After hours of searching, I found SeeMeDesign.com.
SeeMeDesign helped me land a design job at a consulting firm where I joined the marketing team for a year and then moved along to outside client design projects. I spent eight years learning everything I needed to know while watching multiple rounds of layoffs and almost as many company name changes. I L-I-V-E-D for jeans Friday… my college self’s nightmare. From time to time, friends and family would ask me to do freelance projects. I never turned them down.
Five years in, I cut my hours to part-time to make a go at something new. I had founded Marcellina G., a line of jewelry designed under the principles of graphic design. Every piece had a history, meaning and story. I networked, made a lot of good friends, got some very cool publicity and sold a little jewelry.
The next thing I knew, people started noticing the Marcellina G. brand. When I told them I designed it, they asked if I could do theirs too. So, I did. When I left my corporate job, it was for SeeMeDesign, not Marcellina G. The jewelry helped me slowly attract a whole group of clients I never dreamed could be mine. I didn’t market myself. I just did the work, and they kept coming. It was like magic.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Taking the first step was my biggest obstacle. Everyone always says, “one day I want to do this…”, but making the decision to actually take the plunge is another story. Cutting my hours to part-time was scary. Quitting my job completely was even scarier. As silly as it might sound, I needed to know that someone else believed in me outside of the 30-ish clients I’d collected. Thankfully my parents gave me that vote of confidence.
My advice to others is to take the baby steps and START NOW. There might be a few bumps, but they won’t knock you too far off path. Every step forward with SeeMeDesign has been a baby step. If I had even set the intention from day one to be where I am today, I probably would have given up thinking — that’s impossible.
We’d love to hear more about SeeMeDesign.
If there were an everyday equivalent to our role for businesses, you might say our clients come to us naked or improperly dressed and in somewhat of an identity crisis. Some handle that feeling better than others, but it’s a pretty cool thing to get them to a point where they can walk away fully-clothed and feeling awesome.
We design strategically creative brands that are thoughtful and different. We work with passionate business owners who have lofty dreams. We sit down, listen to their stories and evaluate their audiences. Then we create a brand that represents their mission, stands apart and speaks to their people. It’s mostly a matter of communicating so that their audience understands the business they have always been looking for already exists.
Our process is custom. No single client is the same. This keeps us designing through authenticity rather than in one particular style, which makes our job much more fun. There’s so much variation… so many different types of clients, so much to learn and even more to evaluate. It’s as much of an art as it is a science.
Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
My parents embraced creative hobbies when we were growing up but didn’t force them. I really only dabbled in art, but I was a big doodler.
In college, I decided to get macro and micro econ out of the way over a summer at Kennesaw State University. While I was there, I added a few drawing classes for fun. Those courses pushed me along to a double degree in Art, which really was my perfect balance. It was much easier to sit through STAT400 when I got to look forward to ARTT430. My parents were always supportive of the “just for fun decisions” in life… as long as I kept it practical.
That practicality (and business education) are what gave me the confidence I needed to go off on my own.
It is so very rare to love what you do, and I am proud to say that I am one of the lucky ones.
- Address: We have spread our hearts further and wider. In 2020, we relocated our office from Southern Dairies at Ponce City Market in Atlanta to the heart of Franklin, TN. Find us right downtown on The Square, just next door to Music City and within a stone’s throw of horse farms and green pastures. While we still maintain a large presence, a remote setup and a boat load of amazing clients in Atlanta, our physical address has changed.
- Website: www.seemedesign.com
- Phone: (404) 806-0869
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seemedesign/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seemedesign
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/seemedesign
Photography by SeeMeDesign & CatMax Photography.