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Check Out Alexandra Cao’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandra Cao.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Most people would probably be surprised to find that I never thought that I would be an artist. I was not artistically inclined growing up, we’re talking stick figures! My original dream was to be a math teacher, which I pursued, lived out, and enjoyed fully. A few years into teaching, I found myself needing a creative outlet and that is when I discovered brush lettering and calligraphy. After a period of practicing in between classes and grading, I developed my skills well enough to start doing some custom wedding projects. In 2017, I noticed that there was a demand for brush lettering classes. This was the perfect opportunity to combine my newfound love of art with my long-time calling of being a teacher. It was a perfect opportunity to host lettering workshops! Continuing down this path allowed me to grow and expand my skillset into watercolor art and punny greeting cards. I began to realize that I was on to something as my side-hustle slowly evolved into a full-fledged business.

I took a bit of a hiatus from the business between 2019-2020 because of some major life changes; marriage to my amazing husband, relocation to sunny Southern California, a new job at another high school, and the birth of our beautiful first child. The past few years have been a bit of a whirlwind and it has been a challenge to navigate motherhood, work, and being a small business owner. Although I loved being a high school teacher, my newfound responsibility of being a mother presented a unique challenge in daycare costs. The cost-benefit of going away to work every day and paying someone else to raise our kids just didn’t add up. Fortunately, I was able to step away from teaching, become a full-time mom, and pursue Cross and Dot. There’s been slow and steady growth and there are many new and exciting things! I am now hosting workshops regularly and have sold out of every workshop year-to-date. Now in 2022, Cross and Dot expanded the catalog to more than 50 products and can be found in 13 stores nationwide.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The highlight reel. That is our online lives. rarely encompasses a complete picture of the mishmash of emotions that fill our days. It’s kind of funny to think that others look at my business and think that I’ve ‘made it’ because on some days, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Life isn’t filled with an abundance of good times tempered by just a hint of well-timed challenges easily overcome. Life can be unexpected, abrupt, and unpredictable.

Some days are low; no orders, a creative block, second-guessing your work, or just pure exhaustion from balancing your day job, side hustle, and two young kids! It can be tough to balance building a business and a family at the same time. It’s a slow growth, but I’m learning to enjoy the process and celebrate every victory—no matter how big or small.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am the artist and designer behind Cross and Dot, a bespoke stationery and design small business. Specializing in watercolor illustrations, I create colorful paper goods that are focused on creating meaningful connections. From greeting cards to notepads, stickers, and other stationery goods, you can expect my products to have a mix of color, florals, and the occasional pun. Along with stationery products, I also offer personalized stationery, custom services for special occasions, and made-to-order illustrations and stamps.

I am extremely proud of all my designs, but currently, my favorites are two new greeting cards designs (that will be released in April) that highlight my Vietnamese heritage. April is a solemn time for many Vietnamese Americans as it marks the collapse of our former homeland. However, it is also a time of hope and promise as many have been able to create new lives living the American dream. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you all soon and can’t wait to create more products that showcase Vietnamese culture.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
It probably sounds silly, but my best childhood memory is not connected to any big event or anything particularly important. Though I am an only child, I come from a large extended family that is very tight-knit. My best childhood memory was just from a time when a few of my closest cousins were young and we were just hanging out talking about nothing and everything. For some reason, at times I felt like an outsider in my own family, but it’s moments like those that helped me remember that I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of those who love me.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alexander Tat, Simply Adri Photography, Kartsie Photography, Victoria Gold Photography, Kayley Driggers Photography

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