Soumya is a perfect example of someone finding creative adventure! After a change of direction last year, she has been honing her design and illustration skills to build a whole new career based on her passions.
We talked about how the change came about, rebranding, and the traditional arts of calligraphy and sign painting!
Last year you made the big change from a career in architecture, to graphic design. Was this a difficult move, and looking back would you do anything differently?
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult. When you have invested over a decade in a particular field (both in education and in practice), convinced that was your path set for life, the wake up call is quite the shock to the system. It took a year and half of stewing, deliberating, and ‘figuring out’ in order to redefine myself again.
For me, my career was my identity, and to suddenly lose that and all sense of direction was very unsettling and, quite frankly, terrifying! Graphic design and illustration had always been of huge interest to me and something I’ve dabbled in on the side, so it made sense to switch to that.
I particularly wanted to focus on typography and lettering, bringing in traditional techniques so it wasn’t all digital. I’m quite a hands-on type of gal anyway. So, while it hasn’t been easy making the big career switch, I can now look back with no regrets.
I realised life was way too short to be doing something that no longer fuelled passion in me… in fact, it stifled me completely. And that’s when I knew I had to do something else asap.
Hand lettering, and calligraphy are so popular now. How did you start learning those skills, and is it becoming easier to find this kind of freelance work?
Gosh yes, it’s become really quite big. I did a bit of calligraphy back in primary school and, thanks to my grandmother, I grew up learning cursive writing, which is sadly lost in schools these days.
I’ve had an obsession with all kinds of handwriting/lettering since my teens (I think I’ve adopted many styles since then too!). I’m all about presentation and I feel the way you write represents who you are and what you are creating.
Other than the one modern calligraphy workshop I did last year with Quill London, a lot of what I do is either my own style or self taught. I do want to learn more about typography, so hopefully later this year I’ll have time to invest in some online courses. But yes, with the growing trend for calligraphy and brush lettering, there’s definitely a demand for it, particularly with bespoke stationery, wall art and signage… but it does also mean it’s competitive out there too.
I do want to focus more on sign painting, though, as it’s a tradition I’ve grown to admire over my lifetime, particularly after seeing it in India and the US.
How did you get into wedding planning and design?
Ha, I wish I knew myself! I guess it all started off with me helping friends or family with their wedding stationery, and doing a lot of DIYs too. It wasn’t until our own wedding that I got a good taste of full blown planning, along with all the designing of stationery and decor!
My friend’s wedding last September was probably the only other wedding besides ours, where I’ve done full planning, designing and styling. It’s hardcore doing all that on your own but I do love it. That being said, as a one-gal-band, I’d only ever offer one or the other (planning or designing) unless of course I partner up with someone who would take care of the logistics while I offer the design side of things. So for now, it’s all design and styling for me, that’s my primary focus, and that entails everything from bespoke stationery, signage, installations and handmade decor.
This year you’ve rebranded and reworked your portfolio, what do you hope it will mean for MbM?
Yes, I’ve been busy trying to get my work showcased properly, especially with the new creative path I’ve forged, and that meant rebranding, setting up a new website to represent who I am and the services I offer, and getting a workspace in a shared studio. Your clients need to feel like they can trust you and that you can deliver, and as a start up, it was important to me to have something that looked professional and established, from my online presence, to my stationery!
I must admit the whole process has taken a while and, in all honestly, is still not completely finished. I guess that’s the downside of having to rebrand yourself… you’re your worst client!
So, Made by Molu will continue being a blog for all my creative antics and DIY obsession which I do on the side, while MOLU Designs is where the real grown up stuff happens; services from brand identity, to bespoke stationery, to customised signage and decor.
I’m really hoping the overall makeover and the new website will help the business grow by getting more clients and private commissions, and I’d love to see Molu grow into a brand in a years time. Of course, I do have SO much more to figure out and learn about being self-employed (something I’m completely new to, having always been part of an organisation) but I find challenges, both good and bad, are all stepping stones forward (here’s hoping anyway!).
Oh, I’ve also got a Print Shop in the pipeline too which I’m really hoping to launch by this summer so it’s all go, go, go for me! Eeeeek!
What advice would you give someone looking to change paths and follow their passion full time?
Gosh, I’m not sure if I’m in any position to be giving advice but the one thing I can say is GO FOR IT.
Taking the plunge and starting from scratch is by no means an easy task, but the hard work you put in will be fruitful in the end. Remember that life is ALWAYS full of uncertainties and risks, so if you’ve calculated the risks and weighed all your options, what’s stopping you? Sitting on the fence stewing over “what ifs” isn’t going help at all.
Even in the most certain of scenarios, things can change. The course of your life is constantly changing, so it’s all about conquering your fears, embracing those changes and just going for it.
Another thing I’ve learnt from my own experience of changing paths is to be true to yourself, which can be difficult in a society where you find yourself conforming to one thing or another. There’s a great quote by Ellen de Genres which I’m trying to live by…
“Find out who you are and figure out what you believe in. Even if it’s different from what your neighbours believe in and different from what your parents believe in. Stay true to yourself. Have your own opinion. Don’t worry about what people say about you or think about you. Let the naysayers nay. They will eventually grow tired of naying.”
I honestly couldn’t agree more with that.
Great for all the creative types whose minds aren’t quite wired to numbers, money and general business lingo. She breaks it down into illustrations, explaining ways to make your creativity into a viable business. I have yet to finish it but it’s pretty insightful so far.
App – Headspace
A great app to get you to put aside 10 minutes everyday to meditate and gain control of your mind. It’s perfect for all the busy city-dwellers or folk who tend to get stressed.
Online courses – Atly
Online courses – Skillshare
From learning photoshop, to photography, to surface pattern design – you name it, it’s there.
I do also think it’s essential for folk to go out and physically attend workshops, craft parties, etc, as it really is a great way to network and meet more like-minded people. That is probably one of the biggest benefits I’ve had from blogging, because it if wasn’t for the inspiring people I’ve met and come to call friends, I would probably still been in a creative rut. So get out there and mingle.
Thank you Soumya! Such a multi-talented lady.
You can follow Soumya on her new adventure in the following places online:
Twitter – @madebymolu
Instagram – @sammidodgers
Pinterest – Made by Molu
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