I have been a creative for as long back as I can remember. My career path has traversed various roles – entrepreneur, merchandiser, graphic artist, Textile trend consultant, business owner and mother. But through every journey of mine, I have been fortunate to have Design Thinking as the common element.
Another takeaway – irrespective of what I did yesterday, where I am today and where I will be tomorrow, there are certain career lessons that I have accumulated, that will stand the test of time or even transcend it.
Despite popular myths, creatives can be very logical. This blend of logic and visual capability makes us analyze daily interactions and create something more out of them.
Here are my takeaways – 5 Success mantras from my career in design:
Much like any other endeavor that we undertake, a design process is better, faster, even richer when the end objective is clear.
When I design a logo, I work with my client to identify the message and target audience rather than start from a name. This ensures that the end result is not only a unique, attractive and compelling visual, but also a relevant one.
If my brief is to compile a trend board on happening wall colors – I still pause to question the why? Is it for Millennials, Baby Boomers, or just because you want to sell blue furniture?
Having your final purpose in mind makes it easy to work backwards. It helps you narrow down your focus and efforts to what’s pertinent.
A focussed action is what maintains momentum and drives results in career and business.
Think Results – Attractive, Relevant, Tangible (ART)
Creativity has no limit and designers are notorious for getting carried away.
Working up close with marketing and sales professionals has given me a crash course in the all-round aspects of mixing design with business.
Can you step away from your work and ask – Is it viable? Is it useful ? Where is this taking the business and me, personally?
As professionals working across industries, time is of essence. You cannot churn out one masterpiece where 5 were expected and an entire team is let down. This gets me to efficiency in delivering.
Oftentimes, done is better than perfect.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
Design outcome is rarely a solo journey.
At a firm that I work with, I am responsible for trend forecasting. It’s an exercise we do almost a year in advance with all the research, resources and tools available to us, and then cross our fingers and hope for the best (much like stockbrokers). There is no crystal ball.
But I seldom work in isolation. There’s a team of merchandisers who analyse customer sell-through and sales professionals out on the field, who constantly receive and transmit customer feedback.
And for all the pieces to work effectively towards a common goal, you need to be a relationship builder. An effective team player shows respect for others views, talent and contributions.
Feedback amidst/despite Vanity
Designers are vain. You fall in love so easily with your own work that it’s not easy to submit your work to be picked apart. If we can swallow it once, can we do it again?
But there’s a bigger life lesson here.
The ability to receive feedback signifies that you prioritize learning before validation.
Whatever your chosen field , feedback is a gift and one must actively seek it out from discerning eyes. Constructive feedback helps us climb out of our bubble and iterate for a better outcome.
A Learner’s Mindset
I might be in the business of design, but I cannot just be a designer.
Sales person, Communicator, Accountant, Manager, Scheduler – I instinctively switch between varied roles in the course of a day, as the situation demands.Do I do equal justice to each one? Definitely not.
Continuous Learning provides an unparalleled competitive edge in your career. Irrespective of your career stream, avail the wide range of learning opportunities on offer for free or through professional networking.
Design is better simple and much like life, every woman’s career journey imparts some basic common learnings. Share yours.
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You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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