I had the pleasure of chatting with my good friend Carly of Carly Reed Designs. She is your go-to designer for all things wedding! Read on to learn more about her business and client process.
TO KICK THINGS OFF WOULD YOU MIND INTRODUCING YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS TO US?
I’m Carly, designer and paper fanatic, and I run Carly Reed Designs, a freelance design studio specializing in wedding and event stationery in Richmond, Virginia.
FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW, HOW LONG HAS CARLY REED DESIGNS BEEN AROUND?
I’ve been designing on a freelance basis since 2009, but it took me awhile to narrow in on exactly what I wanted to do and wanted to offer clients. I’ve been working full time at Carly Reed Designs since early 2016 and am still working to streamline my business and design process to this day!
HOW DID GET INVOLVED IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY AND IS THAT WHAT YOU ALWAYS SAW YOURSELF DOING?
Over the past few years, I’ve gotten engaged (and married, and pregnant haha) and so many people around me have as well. Family, friends, and even friends of friends asked me to design their wedding invitations, knowing I had a background in design. It didn’t take long before I fell in love with weddings. It’s such a happy time in people’s lives and I really cherish getting to tell a couple’s love story through design. But no, I didn’t intend to become a wedding stationer, I actually thought I’d go into art direction and advertising after graduating college (which is what I studied).
SO WHAT DOES THE DESIGN PROCESS LOOK LIKE WHEN A BRIDE OR GROOM JUMPS ON BOARD?
Ah! The wedding design process is so fun, sometimes I can’t believe I get to do this everyday! Wedding invitations set the tone for the whole wedding, so in my humble opinion, paper really matters. We start with a consultation, either in person or over the phone, so I can get an idea of the couple’s story and vision. Since I work full time for myself (and by myself) at my in-home studio, I really love getting to meet with couples and have meaningful interactions with them. I offer a few levels of design options, so they can be as involved as they’d like in terms of the actual design. Then we pick out paper, colors, typefaces, graphics, illustrations, and printing method - really fun stuff! From there it’s pretty simple - editing, print production, and assembly.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST PROS AND CONS OF RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
There are so many pros! I’m currently in the middle of “The Gratitude Diaries” so I apologize if I sound a little cheesy, but I feel really grateful to get to do something so creative and fun everyday. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of hard work. I love that I get to choose the projects I want to design, which makes them all the more fulfilling. I honestly have a lot of “pinch me” moments when I think about how much I enjoy what I do. The logistics are a huge bonus as well - I make my own schedule and work out of a super cute in-home design studio that’s all mine. That also means spending a lot of time with our dog, Buster, who I’m slightly obsessed with and having the flexibility to stay home with our son, who will arrive any day now!
The cons are also in the logistics. It can be hard to take time off, or even call it a day at 5 pm, when everything falls on you. It’s a ton of work and a real juggling act to be the boss, the designer, the accountant, the assistant, the editor, the janitor… I’m still working to figure it all out and probably will be for awhile!
SO, YOU ARE IN RICHMOND (JUST LIKE THE ROUTINE CREATIVE) AND YOU HAVE BEEN A MENTOR OF SORTS FOR ME. I MEAN WE HAVE BECOME FRIENDS NOW BUT STARTING OFF YOU REALLY SHARED YOUR EXPERIENCE AND SHOWED ME THE ROPES WHEN I NEEDED IT. WHO WOULD YOU SAY HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BUSINESS MENTORS ON YOUR JOURNEY? (IN PERSON OR ONLINE)
Aw, thanks, Alex! I’ve really enjoyed becoming friends and following along on your adventure and am super impressed by you every day! I’m constantly inspired and encouraged by the community of creative entrepreneurs here in Richmond, Courtney Taylor Bowles, Christine Greenberg, Amanda Burnette, Carly Romeo, Stephanie Yonce, Shannon Siriano Greenwood…just to name a few. A few years ago, I got started in stationery design through Minted - and Minted’s CEO Mariam Naficy is incredibly inspirational. Seriously, she’s the epitome of a #bossbabe. The amazing independent designers who are part of the Minted community have all been mentors to me as well.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ADVICE TO SOMEONE JUST GETTING STARTED AS A CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?
Confidence is key. For me, that was financial confidence and stability. My husband and I worked really hard and saved money for years while I worked a 9-5 design job and did freelance on the side. We got out of debt before I started working for myself full time. That’s given me the freedom to work on projects that I really love as opposed to taking every job just to make ends meet. It really depends on what’s important for your lifestyle and business, but find what makes you confident as a creative entrepreneur and make that a priority.
WHEN YOU ARE NOT DESIGNING WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING?
Lately, not a whole lot since I’m 37 weeks pregnant (aside from napping)! But ordinarily I balance my free time between synchronized swimming with the River City Magnolias, yoga, volunteering at the Richmond Animal League, and spending time with (read: binge-watching Netflix with) my husband and our dog, Buster.
LAST BUT MOST CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, AS I ASK EVERYONE WHO AGREES TO THESE INTERVIEWS, IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE SONG TO REPRESENT CARLY REED DESIGNS WHAT SONG WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
This is so hard! I would love to put together an official soundtrack for Carly Reed Designs. It would probably be David Bowie’s “Golden Year” or Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome” just because they’re some of my favorites. Or any Drake song ever.
Of course, a huge thank you to Carly for chatting with me. You can find her on her website, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I hope you enjoyed learning more about Carly Reed Designs. Don't forget to give her a shout down in the comments below and congratulate her on being a mom-to-be.