Women-Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Series // Kathy Thornburg of Imagine Graphic Design

Welcome to our second interview of the new β€œWomen-Owned Small Business Entrepreneur” series on Busy Bee. Today we are featuring Kathy Thornburg of Imagine Graphic Design.
Kathy and I have been connected through the food allergy world for a number of years and many of Kathy’s first clients were those  that she met through food allergies.  
Once you read this interview I believe you’ll feel a connection to Kathy and how it seems like she really has “met her calling,” and how her biggest challenge is one many of us face.  Kathy has a lot to share and if you’re balancing raising young children as she is I’m sure you can relate to her.  
Don’t forget to visit her website – Kathy can really help with many aspects of your business.  You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  And at the end Kathy of this interview Kathy was so gracious to share a coupon code with us!
 (photo courtesy of Kathy Thornburg)
Please tell us a little bit about yourself? 
I am a wife of one and mother of two (a boy- age 6 and a girl age 4). I enjoy baking, blogging, creating videos, being involved in my local church, photography, sign language, organizing, playing with sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles, reading kids’ books, and playing board games. I can’t stay up late or sleep in. I get annoyed by the way neighbors play their music and park their cars. Basically, I am a mixture of a little kid and an old lady.
 (photo courtesy of Kathy Thornburg)
What does your business do? 
Imagine Graphic Design helps make your design ideas a reality. I communicate with my clients to find out exactly what they need for their business, blog, YouTube channel, website, you name it! Some clients need one time help like a logo design or fresh look for business cards while other clients need ongoing weekly help preparing content for their social media sites or with keeping their business website up to date and engaging with their audience.
Who is your target audience or market?
I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes, bloggers, YouTubers, Etsy shops, food companies, schools, and the list continues! I love working with companies and individuals who strive to make a positive impact on the world and love seeing their influence grow.
  (photo courtesy of Kathy Thornburg)
What year did you start your business?
What were you doing before starting your business?
Before starting my business I was a full-time stay at home mom of my two little ones.
Where is your business located? Do you have a dedicated workspace? 
I’m located in North Carolina and primarily work out of my home office. It’s so exciting to connect with my clients who live all over the place!
What would you say your biggest success has been? What was the key action that led to this success?
I consider it a huge success to have clients that stick around or come back for more projects. Knowing that I have their trust and they believe in my abilities as a creator means so much to me. If you don’t stick to your commitments and handle your business practices with integrity, no one will want to do business with you again and you have no reason to truly be proud of your work.
What would you say your biggest failure has been? 
I once agreed to have my children in pictures to showcase a company’s product. They are not professional models and when the client wanted a lot of specific pictures again and again, my children were no longer happy to be involved. In the end, I had to go back on my word to the client and not provide any more photographs beyond the ones I was able to get while my children were willing to participate. I apologized for the situation and lowered my fee to account for any inconvenience this may have caused.
What did you learn from this failure and how have you changed things to prevent this from happening again?
I learned to be more careful with involving my children in my business. They do appear in my blogs and videos when they are interested in hopping in at that moment, but they are never forced to be part of them. Sometimes, they are in pictures for my clients but it’s never something that is required of them, and I always make sure there’s room to make things happen without them. They truly enjoy being part of what I’m doing and have fun spending time with me at work. But it has to be just that- fun and not stressful. So I’m very careful now to guard their involvement in any of my projects to protect them.
What has been your biggest challenge as a small business owner? 
Asking for money and learning my worth! I enjoy my job so much that I almost feel guilty getting paid to do it (almost). It all boils down to this- if I didn’t get paid to do my job, I would have to get a different job. Pretty simple, right? So since I need to charge people for my work, I’m determined to do my absolute best- always. I make it my goal to always help my customers get to an end result that reflects what they envisioned (or maybe even outshines it a bit). My #1 goal is to add value to every client that comes my way.
Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up? If so, why?
Not yet! πŸ˜‰ Sometimes, when you finally find what you were made to do, you never want it to end, and that’s how I feel. Is it always easy to own a business? No. Is it challenging to design for a variety of clients with different styles and needs? You bet! I wouldn’t trade it for any other job.
What do you love MOST about being an entrepreneur?
I have the flexibility to set my own schedule. If I have a kid home sick from school, I can rearrange my week to focus on what they need instead of scrambling to find a sitter or cancel plans with my employer.
What do you love LEAST about being an entrepreneur?
Keeping track of the boring bookkeeping, for sure! πŸ™‚ Thankfully, I have a financially savvy spouse who is happy to take care of my taxes and help with any financial decisions that need to be made.
How have you funded your business? How long has it taken you to see a profit? 
I was able to start my business using only software, cameras, and equipment that I already owned working after my kids were in bed to save on childcare. Over the years as my business has grown and I have taken on more hours (and have sent the kids off to school), I have been able to invest in new and better lighting, tripods, and trainings to become even more valuable to my clients.
Did you always see yourself owning a business? If so, is this the business that you thought you would be owning? If not, what did you think you’d be doing?
No. Now looking back, it seems like the perfect fit. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before. I’m doing what my dad says he told me I should do when I was still in high school (although I’m sure I don’t remember that conversation). haha
Where do you see your business in the next 3 to 5 years?
Hopefully retaining the amazing ongoing clients I currently have and branching out to add in more clients I can help grow and improve. I’d love to keep adding to the list of services I can provide for those who need them.
What advice would you give to other women that are interested in starting their own business?
Go for it! This is the only life you get, and you shouldn’t let fear hold you back. If you don’t succeed, life isn’t over and new dreams will take the place of old ones. I would also say, don’t be concerned about the success of others or compare where you are to where they are now. Cheer on those around you in their successes and celebrate their growth with them instead of competing with them. When you get too focused on how you don’t measure up, you’ll stop moving forward.
What is one program, tool or app that you can’t live without for your business? (If you have more than one, please feel free to share more!)
Photoshop is my best friend…and my camera…and my overhead tripod. Keeping track of my hours would be so much harder if I didn’t have the HoursTracker app on my phone. It makes it so easy for me to clock in and out throughout the day and to be able to look back later to confirm when I worked for which client.
What does your day to day in your business look like? 
My schedule revolves around what my clients need and when they need them done. For instance, I work for a couple of large food companies where I primarily photograph their products, create recipe videos using their products, write tweets for their Twitter account, and brainstorm new ideas for their social media marketing. For another client, I create Pinterest images to go along with their blog posts, create quotes to post on Facebook, and help take their great ideas and turn them into beautiful printables they can sell. Sometimes, people contact me and need a pretty quick turnaround on a project and I have to see where I can fit that in to my ongoing assignments. A lot of my work day is at the computer or filming somewhere in my home.
As a business owner it can often be hard to find time for ourselves. What are your favorite hobbies and what do you like to do when you are not working?
Honestly, if I’m not working and am trying to relax, I just want to be with my husband and my kids. Whatever adventures we go on together, that’s where I am happy. Of course, if I’m on my own, I love a good snack and some YouTube.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you or your business?
I upload content to YouTube and you can find my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/kathythornburg
Any other comments? 
All of my social media pages are mostly personal accounts / blog accounts. I no longer keep separate business accounts. I have found that since what I offer is a service, what helps most is for people to be able to have a glimpse at who I am more than to see the work I’ve done. I have a password protected page on my website that I use to show interested people my previous work.
  (photo courtesy of Kathy Thornburg)
Kathy has also been so gracious to share with us a coupon code.  You can use code: BBKATE20% for 20% off your first design job with Imagine Graphic Design (you can input the code in the form found here.)
Also, if you’re looking for some great printables, Kathy has an online shop as well, and you can use code: BUSYBEEKATE for $1 off *code expires March 31, 2018

Thank you so much to Kathy for taking the time to share her story and more about her business with us.  Remember to check out her website (which is designed so sleek and easy to navigate,) and also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Are you a small business owner?  Do you have a story to share?  Help others discover, learn, and support your business too!  Contact Katie at: kate (at) busybeekate.com for details or through our contact page.
Be sure to stop back next week for another interview and don’t forget to check out our past interviews here.
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  1. Reply

    What a cool series! πŸ™‚

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