The Design Business Show 149: Making Passion Projects a Reality with Laura Stewart

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | July 20, 2021

Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Laura Stewart recognized her love for drawing and painting at an early age. A high school art class assignment to write and illustrate a children’s book inspired her dream to make a “real” book. Luckily, she had many wonderful art teachers and professors who helped shape her into the successful design professional she is today. Eyelash Wishes is her first published book; she plans to create more, as her sons provide her with daily inspiration.

When not spending her free time creating art and designs, she is a full-time Assistant Art Director by day and juggling a busy baseball schedule for both sons, by night.

In May 2020, Laura and her husband Josh became grandparents to their first grandson. “Grandma and Grandpa” have been replaced by “Lolli and Pop” which served as the inspiration for Laura’s publishing business name, LolliPop Stories.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

How Laura Got Started in Design + Jobs She’s Had Along the Way

  • How Laura and I have known each other since high school, went to college together and how or families have been involved in the same activities
  • Laura shares that she has always been into art and tells us that in high school during a career fair, she met Denny Kaven, who was leading the graphic design program at Grand View University which inspired her to do graphic design as a major
  • When Laura started at Grand View University she double majored in graphic design and secondary art education, but later dropped her second major to focus on graphic design
  • When Laura was in college she met and became close with a girl who was a year older, and when her friend graduated, she went and worked for an agricultural publication, which is where Laura also ended up working after she graduated
  • While working for the agricultural publication, Laura had been getting ads from other ad agencies to be in their magazine and she saw one agency was hiring so she applied and got the job, she started working from home and learned a lot more skills
  • About two years into the job, Laura thought she didn’t want to work from home anymore, so she took a chance and applied at Two Rivers Marketing, a local marketing agency and spent the last 9 years there, and says she gained most of her experience there
  • In January, Laura stopped working at Two Rivers Marketing because of Covid, but says she took it as an opportunity to take a break and decided to make her book, that has been on the back burner for years, a reality
  • Laura explains the processes for getting each of her jobs and explains for the agricultural publication, she didn’t have to do much, for her second one she had to send in some of the ad work she had been doing and for Two Rivers Marketing, she did multiple interviews and shares she didn’t have an online portfolio but brought in samples of her other projects to present
  • Why networking in this industry is so important — Laura says that’s how she’s been able to get her foot in the door with all of the companies she’s worked at
  • After Laura lost her job, she spent two straight weeks rewriting her resume and creating an online portfolio and then put out on LinkedIn that she had lost her job and was looking for one — that post was seen by 1,000 people
  • How someone saw her post and shared it with a guy who used to work with Laura at Two Rivers, he reached out to her and said they were looking to create a position at Mittera, a local advertising agency and they could use someone at her level, so she started working for them
  • Laura talks about how she created Mary Kay websites for consultants and says they were bright and bold, but says it was nice to have something outside of cattle
  • Laura explains her role at Mittera, which she says is different for her because at Two Rivers Marketing she was a very hands on art director, and at Mittera she leads a group of 3 designers, says she gets to draw more, and help out with different in-house projects that are different than anything else she’s done

Making Her Dream Book a Reality

  • How Laura used her sons as inspiration for her book and in 2017 she got the idea for Eyelash Wishes from her son Ryne, and says the book is all about kid wishes that were made from wishing on eyelashes
  • When Laura started her book, she didn’t tell anyone about it until around Christmas, where she shared it with 5 other people who told her she should finish it — she convinced herself to just do it and has sold over 200 copies on Amazon, where you can still get it today
  • How Eyelash Wishes has sparked a fire in Laura to write other books and made her realize how many stories are all around her that she could use as inspiration
  • Laura shares that she illustrated all of Eyelash Wishes on her own by taking pictures of Ryne and then drawing them, she says that her drawing skills and graphic design skills helped her create this book all on her own
  • If anyone has a passion project they’ve been wanting to do, Laura says just do it, because it’s really cool to say you did it in the end and if you want to write a children’s book but have questions, she’s happy to answer them
  • Laura explains a lot of the little things you need to know when creating a book and says she found most of the information she needed online, so you can too
  • The best piece of advice Laura wants to give is to purchase multiple ISBN numbers because they can be kind of expensive, but you get a discount if you buy multiple and adds, once you get one book under your belt, you’ll probably want to do another
  • How Laura found the original book she wrote in high school that inspired her to write a children’s book and how she might revive that book and publish it
  • In the future, Laura might have her son Ryne illustrate a book because he has that artistic ability and thinks it would be fun to collaborate with him
  • Buy Eyelash Wishes on Amazon, check out her website, https://lollipopstories.com or connect with Laura on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter
  • Laura talks about how she did weigh the option of doing freelance full-time and says it’s not out of the question for the future, but she has always just stuck to doing side projects while working her full-time jobs for security

 

Links mentioned:

Eyelash Wishes on Amazon 

LolliPop Stories Publishing

Connect with Laura on Instagram 

Connect with Laura on Facebook

Connect with Laura on Twitter

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