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Meet Kathleen Cummings of 8Six Design in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathleen Cummings.

Kathleen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2009 with a degree in Communication, I was living at home in Maryland, floundering and unsure of what I truly wanted to do post-college. I knew I wanted to pursue something in the creative industry, but wasn’t sure what that entailed or where to begin – I had been doing the occasional art/design project but had no formal design training. I decided to take some graphic design classes at the local community college in the hopes that it would provide the basic skill sets needed to get my foot in the door…

The push I needed to get my life started as a graphic designer came in December of 2010 — a close family friend, Mike Gvozden, gifted me a plane ticket for Christmas to visit Los Angeles. He had been telling me for months that he thought it was the place I was meant to be and that was time to find my creative path in the City of Angels. So, in January 2011, I packed two suitcases thinking I would be there a few weeks to scout out this new city and return to Maryland. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be returning to Maryland for the next 7 months and that Santa Monica would become my new home.

Within a few weeks of being in LA, I had my first job in LA working at The Ave in Venice where I was helping create custom Converse, Vans, and clothing. Mike also helped me secure freelance clients through his friends and lacrosse contacts, which gave me the opportunity to work on websites, logos, packaging, clothing, photo editing… anything and everything I could imagine. in 2014, an opportunity was presented to me to be a full-time graphic designer for a fashion trade show company. That is where I still find myself today, where my role has morphed into leading our email/digital design for the fashion group. During the day I spend my time coding/design emails and at night I get to pursue my own design business with clients in the beauty product, lacrosse, art, and marketing automation industries.

Has it been a smooth road?
Oh no, it has definitely not been a smooth road – Los Angeles is a difficult city to be the new kid in and it tested my will the first few years. It’s a city that is full of people trying to pursue their dreams in every industry, so you have to hustle and keep your eyes on the goal(s) you want to achieve.

The road to get here has involved a variety of jobs like working at a gym, a company that designs balloon bouquets/installments, editing photos for a paparazzi agency, biking 12 miles round trip for an internship because you don’t have a car (anyone who knows LA knows the hazards of biking in LA ha) and so much more.

But, I wouldn’t change any of my experience, because it has been a wild/fantastic adventure both personally and professionally.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Right now, 8Six Design is about fulfilling my need to be creative outside of my day job — the end goal is to take the company full-time in the next 2 years. I have taken on projects that include packaging design for beauty products, creating lifestyle websites, designing lacrosse uniforms and email design, just to name a few. Some people say, you should stick to a few skill sets and master those, but I am a fan of taking on new types of work. It keeps my brain engaged and it’s always fun to try out something new.

Through this whole process, I am most proud of the people I get to work with. I have been unbelievably lucky to have clients that have been with me for a number of years and who have allowed me to grow/learn with them. Los Angeles is full of talented people, so to have clients that stick with and believe in you in this city, is an accomplishment in my book.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a great place for any creative type – there is an endless source of inspiration and creative outlets. Because there is a great number of people in the same field all looking to get their name out there, I would say, anyone new should come to this city knowing it could take some blood, sweat, and tears to achieve their goals. Nothing is impossible, but having realistic expectations as it relates to Los Angeles is the key to making it here.

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