We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Bryl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Being a creative extrovert stuck at home during the pandemic, I had a lot of energy that needed an outlet. So, I channeled it into making cute, funny things that I hoped would make people smile. Community had just been added on Netflix, and we decided to re-watch it. I made a “This is the Darkest Timeline” sticker inspired by the show that reflected my feelings on current events. Luckily, all of my friends really enjoyed it. Because of their positive feedback, I decided to take things a step further. Starting my own small business was something I always wanted to do, but I never felt it was the right time or energy to dedicate to it. Then 2020 brought me the time, the energy, and the drive to finally make it happen.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For my day job, I work as an in-house graphic designer. I’ve worked in flooring, healthcare, banking, and financial audit. Working in-house for corporate brands is great – you get to really learn the ins and outs of a company’s brand and work on collateral solving problems and communicating the business’s core offerings to their clients on a pretty consistent schedule. Shortly after college, where I was working on any number of different projects at a time, I realized that working on one brand left my desire for variety in creative outlets wanting. This caused me to join AIGA to meet and network with other creatives and put myself out there for freelance projects. What started as a small influx of freelance projects after college, only one a year or so, has slowly grown over the years. The addition of my own personal project of the pins and stickers to those freelance projects has turned into something bigger than I could have guessed back when I created the Brylliant Design branding in 2014. In that sense, I suppose it was kind of easy. However, it still isn’t easy to come to terms with the fact that yes, I’m here and I’m actually doing this! The hardest part is dealing with imposter syndrome and not feeling worthy. I think many designers deal with these insecurities and have a hard time pricing our work appropriately – I know I do, and I still struggle with saying no to projects that I don’t feel are a good fit. So, there’s definitely some growth I need to do on a personal level as a small business owner.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite things about Atlanta are the food and all of the outdoor spaces. This would be my pre/post-covid itinerary. One day would definitely include playing a little tennis after breakfast at Petit Chou or croissants from Little Tart. For dinner, we’d get a Detroit pizza at Nina & Rafi’s one day and Korean Fried Chicken at Gaja in EAV another. I’d pick up a new book to read from A Cappella books, and take the dogs to Piedmont Park to play while reading outside, sipping on bubble tea from Sweet Hut or Tea Top! Another day would include a walk on Path400 or the beltline and tea from Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. We’d also have to take a bike ride, visit the Museum of Design Atlanta or the HIGH Museum and finish up the week by meeting my friends at Three Taverns for a glass of something sour! I don’t mind driving all over the city for the best snacks, meals and shops – it’s a great way to introduce visiting friends and family to all the awesome sides of ATL. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
AIGA Atlanta has been a huge part of my early career as a graphic designer. From my time with the organization and serving on the board I’ve learned to write budgets and proposals, delegation, and management of a team. Because serving on the AIGA Board is a volunteer position, I’ve learned over the years to effectively manage my time to complete my AIGA duties between my day job and other responsibilities, which made making time for my small business a much easier task. AIGA has allowed me to interact regularly with other creatives who inspire me and lend encouragement and guidance so that taking on a new venture isn’t so scary. In a similar way, I have many friends from my time at SCAD who have been there for me since college. Being professional designers themselves, they have valueable insight and feedback they’re always willing to share. Some of my SCAD friends also run their own small businesses so it is nice to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and even run giveaways together. My husband, Taylor, has been a huge support in many ways – from helping me pack and ship items and dealing with the emotional highs and lows that come with starting a small business. He’s been a true champion and is always encouraging me. My sister Kelly is always hyping me up and promoting my projects. Not to mention all of the friends and family who have posted, shared, and purchased products from me – none of it would be possible without them being my very first customers.