We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Deb Kelley. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Deb below.
Deb, appreciate you joining us today. Looking back, do you think you started your business at the right time? Do you wish you had started sooner or later?
I had been working on my company for three years before I decided to turn it into my full-time career in 2008. It was something that I did in the evenings after I got home from my full-time marketing job for fun. When my “9-5 job” moved to a new location and several people were laid off, I was one of them. I had a long talk with my husband. My business was increasing rapidly through word of mouth, and I just had a feeling that it would take off if I could dedicate myself to growing it full-time. I was terrified and excited. I was losing a significant salary for the unknown, but it was one of those things – I didn’t want to look back and have regrets about never trying to go out on my own. It was the best decision I have ever made. Nearly seventeen and a half years later, my clients are 99.9 word-of-mouth referrals. I wish I would have had the confidence in my talent to leave the corporate world years before.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I got into the industry by accident. I was a marketing liaison for an aerospace company and when they purchased another company in Germany, I was told I was creating the international newsletter and intranet website, and I knew how to do neither. They sent me to a week-long school and I fell in love with web design and layout design. I requested to go back to college to finish my Bachelor’s degree concentrating on these skills. The company approved – I was the only employee not working towards an engineering degree. I stayed with the company for a few more years, honing my design skills, then moved into a different company before launching my own.
I offer award-winning, full-service branding services. From graphic design – logo, business card, flyer, brochure, postcard – to web design and administration and PR copywriting – business bios, product/service launches, etc. Besides my company, I am also a reporter for several print and online publications. I think being full-service allows the client to breathe. They don’t have to go to multiple people to get their branded message created. I’m a solopreneur, so I’m not sending them to someone else. They work solely with me from vision to realization. I think that helps set me apart. The majority of my clients that have been with me since the early years and have referred me to numerous other customers have become my friends.
What I am most proud of, besides never advertising in 17 years, is the creation of Life Amplified, a variety showcase. On the philanthropical side of my company, I produce a showcase that gives 100% of proceeds to a selected worthy grassroots nonprofit. It has been recognized as Bay News 9’s Everyday Hero and FoxTV’s Hometown Hero. Charities have ranged from military PTSD, and sexual violence prevention to childhood cancer and LGBTQIA mental health services, and everything in between.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
A hard lesson I had to learn was to get a deposit and have a solid contract in place before you do the work. Unfortunately, a gentlemen’s handshake doesn’t cut it in the business world. In my naive early years, I lost a substantial amount of money because a client was fraudulent and I did the work for a year, with the promise that once the company launched, the creative team would be paid. It was an amazing vision and I got caught up and didn’t have a solid contract. One single sentence in the contract allowed the client to legally only pay me $100 for over $30K worth of work of a year. I learned my lesson and have never had any further issues.
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
My mission is to help solopreneurs like myself bring their creative vision to life without having to take out a second mortgage to pay for services. As I am home-based with minimum overhead, I don’t feel the need to overcharge like some other companies. I have raised my prices maybe 10% since 2005. I am affordable because I know starting a new business is daunting and expensive, and I want my clients to be able to see their vision come to life without breaking the bank.
- Website: thewriteonecs.com
- Instagram: thewriteonecs
- Facebook: thewriteonecreativeservices
- Linkedin: thewriteonecs
- Twitter: thewriteonecs
- Yelp: thewriteonecreativeservices
- Other: lifeamplifiedshowcase.com