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Life and Work with Leah Bisch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Bisch.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Leah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m a self-employed artist/graphic designer who specializes in lettering, illustration, painting, and design. I create invitations, greeting and holiday cards, and art prints and sell them through various online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

Motherhood pushed me into an entrepreneurial role that I never really knew I wanted. Up until the birth of my daughter in 2013, I had been working at branding agency in Santa Monica. Like so many new parents I felt torn between my new role as a mother and returning full-time to the job I loved. My decision was made easier when I found out the company I was working for had moved to a new city. I left my position and decided to spend the next few months of maternity leave trying to figure out my next move. As luck would have it, I soon received a baby shower invitation in the mail and when I turned it over I noticed it was created by a company called Minted. I looked them up online and found that independent designers all over the world were submitting their work to various Minted design competitions as well as giving each other helpful feedback in the process. I was completely intrigued. I’d love to say that I entered my first challenge and won big right away, but that’s definitely not what happened. At first, I submitted to a number of challenges and didn’t get anything selected by Minted. I kept at it and eventually, my work started getting picked up. Once I began gaining some traction with Minted, I started branching out and working with other online retailers to sell my artwork and design. Over time, my business has grown into something I love and that helps me support my family while also getting to stay at home with my daughter.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I didn’t graduate from college knowing that I wanted to get into the arts—far from it. I got my degree in Physical Geography: studying natural disasters and weather patterns. I thought it was an interesting course of study in college but I lacked focus and a real plan for what I intended to do with that degree (sorry, parents). I went through a number of corporate roles in my early 20s that never felt quite right, but each one seemed to move me closer to figuring out what I wanted to do with my career. I started out in project management in the home development industry, but longed for more creativity in my job and decided to seek out something in marketing. I managed to land a role as a marketing assistant with a winery in southern California. It was there that I first uncovered my passion for design through working on creating brochures and other marketing materials to promote our products. I had always loved art and illustration as a child, but it had never occurred to me that I could actually make a living in a creative field. I saved some money and eventually took a calculated risk and left my job to go back to school to learn the fundamentals of design. Toward the end of my studies, I began sending my portfolio out to agencies around LA to try and find an internship. To say I was intimidated by the large pool of talent I was competing with is an understatement. But serendipity stepped in and I got a call back from a local design agency that was looking to start up a division specializing in wine label design; and luckily, there aren’t a ton of designers who have worked in the wine industry around LA.

I hope my story can help other women out there who might feel lost in their careers know that they are not alone. I’d also say the single most helpful tip I’ve found for finding your next career step is a daily writing exercise called “The Morning Pages”. I was first introduced to this practice in the midst of deciding whether to leave my career in marketing that I had been working at for years and go back to school. Author Julia Cameron describes the morning pages in her book “The Artist’s Way” as a daily practice of writing three pages, longhand, first thing upon waking in the morning. Don’t edit and don’t stop writing until you’ve reached the end of the third page. That’s it. “The Artist’s Way” is geared toward creatives primarily, but I find the exercise of doing the morning pages to be helpful to anyone who is trying to find motivation, develop their creativity and problem-solving abilities, or simply just understand themselves better. It sounds deceptively simple, but I was amazed at what spilled out of my mind first thing in the morning. Somehow the daily practice of writing it all down helped me to gain immense clarity and focus and most importantly, it helped me to overcome the uncertainty and anxiety I felt over changing careers as I headed into my 30s.

Please tell us about Leah Bisch Studio.
When I entered the stationery world in 2013, I quickly discovered that there was a large pool of extremely talented people out there and I wanted to find ways to differentiate my work. Over the years, I’ve expanded my skill set to include hand-lettering, illustration, and watercolor painting which has allowed me to create work that is unique and feels more true to myself and my brand. I try to share my process as much as I can through Instagram and I often get asked where or how I learned to do certain things. For those who are interested, I have a resources section on my website (http://leahbischstudio.com/resources) where I share my favorite classes I’ve taken as well as the supplies I use every day.

Through my work, I’m very proud to have partnered with some amazing companies over the years. Minted supports independent artists and gives us a great platform to sell our work and reach millions of customers. Additionally, through my relationship with Minted, I’ve been able to see my work sold in large brick-and-mortar retailers like Pottery Barn and Target. This has been a highlight of my career and something I could only dream about years ago. I’m also very proud to have partnered with Greenvelope whose mission is to save trees and resources through their eco-friendly online invitation format.

Who have you been inspired by?
My first role model was my mother who taught me that it’s never too late to change course and chase your dreams at any age. She had started a family at a young age and didn’t finish college. Later in life, she made the bold decision to go after the career she wanted and went back to school to obtain her bachelor’s degree, all while raising five kids. She then eventually went on to receive her masters and run her own special education therapist business. She has always been living proof to me that no matter where you’re at in life, it’s possible to chase after your dreams.

Another inspiration that comes to mind is someone that I don’t know on a personal level, but her book “#Girlboss” taught me that success doesn’t always have to come in the form of the conventional corporate career package. The author of #Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso, started out selling thrift vintage clothing on e-bay and through hard work and determination, she built her business into a multi-million dollar empire. I tend to get caught up in feeling like I need everything just perfect before I can make a move or a big decision, but reading Amoruso’s book taught me that sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got and go for it. As she says in her book, “Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up.”

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Image Credit:

Colette Peri

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