Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Hukari.
Amber, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I come from an odd corporate background stemming from a variety of industries including a Korean tire company, Pet Insurance, a Boston based engineering firm, and finally, a San Francisco based Architectural firm.
When I was young, I had mixed interests. I was obsessed with art (I was always drawing, painting or doing some craft or DIY projects) and alternately I was always glued to medical tv shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy (still obsessed with Grey’s). Knowing how difficult it would be if I tried to pursue a career in art, I had always intended on taking the practical route and decided on pursuing a career in the medical field when I grew up. I started my path to medicine in college, and after spending a bit of time in school, I quickly realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I was good at the science, but did I really want to spend my whole life in a lab somewhere? Nope. So I left school to do the cliche thing of trying to “find myself” and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
After I left school, I started working full time in various office settings. I got my first office job as an Executive Assistant at a tire company and quickly figured out that I had a knack for admin work. While it felt like I was slowly but surely losing a piece of my soul every day, I made good money, and it was easy to work. So I did what most people do and got comfortable. About a year or so at the tire company, I decided to see what else was out there and got a job at the pet insurance firm. While the pet insurance firm was still an admin type position, it allowed me for a lot more freedom and creativity, and it wasn’t long before I was placed on committees to plan events for the office, help with out of the box projects, and get to have fun at work.
It was at the pet insurance company that I decided to go back to school. I applied for the Art Institute of CA – Orange County and was accepted into their Graphic Design program. I figured if I was going to pursue my love of art, I might as well do it in a way that could actually make me money. So I started the program and went through everything with ease. I loved being surrounded by other creatives all the time, loved my homework assignments, and got inspired by all of the designers making their own way and living life on their own terms. After about four years at the pet insurance company, it was time to move on. So while finishing up my final quarters at school, I got a job at the engineering firm.
Again, I had the freedom to kind of make my own rules as well as the ability to get my creative juices going with planning numerous events and just keeping the staff entertained but it wasn’t long before I realized that if I intended to move up in the company and be able to use the degree I was working on, I would need to move to the Boston office to do it. Have you been to Boston? Have you seen those winters? Again – no thank you. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to be moving up within this company, I still had it pretty good and didn’t want to jump ship until I knew it was time. So I stayed for three years and in that time managed to get a second degree in Integrated Marketing Communications (which is just a fancy way of saying Social Media Marketing).
That’s when the opportunity with the architectural firm presented itself. Ironically, the firm I went to was on the same campus as the engineering firm I was currently working at. The HR manager found my resume on LinkedIn and reached out to see if I would be interested in interviewing for a project manager role. I had always looked in the window of the office, and it looked like such a fun place to work at that I figured I might as well hear them out. So I scheduled the interview and was presented with an offer on the spot. Knowing that I didn’t really have a future at my current job, I took the opportunity and started out on what I thought was going to be a new adventure.
In my interview, I was extremely transparent about the degrees I had and my desire to be able to utilize those degrees at whatever job I was working at. The firm I was working at had an in house marketing and branding department at all of their offices, and I was assured that I would be able to move up within the company and join the marketing team at the office I was being interviewed at. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize at the time that I was being fed a line of poop in order to entice me to accept the offer I was being given. At that particular firm, if you weren’t an interior designer or architect, you definitely didn’t move anywhere.
While I was initially really disappointed in this fact, I didn’t want to just immediately jump ship. I had bills to pay like everyone else so I decided to stick it out and see if it would be something I would be happy with. About six months into working there, I decided I really needed to have a creative outlet. Something that could scratch the itch and bring in some extra money. That’s when I started freelancing. I registered on the freelance platform Upwork and started picking up some clients and build up my portfolio. Then, after about two years of freelancing while working at the architectural firm, I started to have some health problems and went on a medical leave of absence for three months.
Which also meant I was taking a SIGNIFICANT cut in pay. In that time, I decided to see if I could turn lemons into lemonade and used the opportunity to see if I could make a freelance hobby become my full-time source of income. And you know what? It worked! I picked up some regular clients and refined my process and discovered the people I wanted to work with, and three years later, I could not be happier with how far I have come! I now work full time for myself, have the portfolio of my dreams, and am continuing to have the opportunity to work with my ideal clients over and over again.
I offer full-service branding and website solutions as well as social media management and growth services. In addition to my designs and social management, I also offer consulting services and train clients in different systems and programs that make people’s lives easier. It’s the combination of my corporate background and analytical skills plus my eye for design and making things pretty that has helped me to create the business I have today!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not! In my early days, I was accepting jobs that I would never dream of accepting today. I basically was taking work just to get the money and in the process wanted to pull my hair out more often than not. It took time for me to figure out how to price myself and my work fairly as well as to have the backbone to turn down a project that would ultimately end up in my wanting to jump off a bridge. I have fired numerous clients along the way, and luckily I don’t come across those issues anymore.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
Amber Hukari Creative is a boutique agency that specializes in design, branding and social media growth for lifestyle brands and female entrepreneurs. I strive to make you and your business sparkle online! From branding development, graphic and web design, and social media growth and strategy… I’ve got you covered!
Freelancers have a reputation. We march to the beat of our own drum, make our own hours, and live like free spirits. Those may be true, but what is often underlooked is our love of service. I am a creative individual, and though much of my efforts are focused on social media management and/or web design, at the end of the day I care a whole lot about my clients and the quality of work produced!
The reason I do what I do is simple… I love it! It allows me freedom and success and most importantly, happiness. Who else can say that they actually love what they do for a living? Not many. And it is my goal to use the love of what I do to help my clients create something great! I would love to help you achieve your web and social goals, so let’s combine our talents and make magic happen!
My approach is designed to take you through the design process a piece at a time in an easy to follow and digestible way. Over the years I have gone through enough bouts of trial and error to finally have a system that is easy to follow and gets you inspired to create something amazing.
Whether you’re looking for something pretty and only want a visual brand, or want something high tech with all the bells and whistles in a new web presence; I welcome the opportunity to join you on this journey and help you create something amazing!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I want to incorporate a more passive stream of income to my business so that I’m not always in hustle mode or 100% working 1:1 with clients. I am in the process of planning my wedding which also means a honeymoon and *fingers crossed* starting a family. I’d like to get to a point in my business that I can step away from time to time and not have everything completely fall apart without me.
That being said, I’ve had enough requests from past clients about some of the same needs for training elements so I plan on releasing a series of paid trainings as well as develop website and branding templates and themes so that if someone can’t necessarily afford a whole brand and web presence that’s custom, they can still have something beautiful and affordable.
- Brand Foundation: $1,500
- Custom Websites: begins at $5,000 for up to 8 Pages
- e-Commerce & Membership sites: begins at $7,000
- Website: http://amberhukaricreative.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amberhukari/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amberhukaricreative/
Angel Sheree Photography & Katrina Jayne Photo