Today we’d like to introduce you to Giselle Field.
Giselle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Sure thing! In retrospect, it’s been a pretty organic journey with frequent sprinkles of luck.
I landed my first design job as a first-year university student after showing some posters I designed in high school during my interview. I actually didn’t know graphic design was an occupation until then! I fell in love with the job, so I switched majors from Art to Graphic Design to fuel my newfound obsession. Thanks to my work ethic and passion, I was referred throughout campus and I took on all the design jobs I could get to save up for travel and studying abroad in Paris. In my four years at university, I juggled five design positions and a handful of freelance projects.
One of these five jobs was a temp design position that quickly turned into a 3-year employment. I really appreciate my time with this family-run company. This experience opened my eyes to the possibility of owning my own design studio one day, yet the idea seemed too far-fetched back then.
By the time I graduated, I felt burnt-out and craved novel experiences only travel could provide. So I left my job and traveled around Canada and Mexico for four months, supplementing my savings with small freelance projects.
I returned home by Christmas and shortly landed a design job at a website marketing startup in The Valley. It was my first job in which I worked directly with clients and was challenged me every day. I loved it! Once again I entertained the idea of being a business owner.
It didn’t take long for me to get burnt-out and crave the freedom to roam. So I left my job and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail for three months that summer.
When I returned to civilization in the fall, I got an outdoor retail job while I built my freelance clients list and began experience. It was a painfully slow and challenging progression, but when I finally felt I had what it takes to own a design studio, I registered my business name, Wander Design Co.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road! Even as a bright-eyed design student, I sacrificed a lot of free time and missed out on hanging out with friends to work as much as I could. But the most challenging part of my journey was learning how to build a reliable source of income as a freelancer. I think that’s almost every freelancer’s #1 concern.
When I began to actively seek freelance jobs, I used Elance which later became Upwork. I worked at an outdoor store for eight months while building my client list, then moved back home to save money and be near LA for its various opportunities.
I doubted myself and wanted to quit and return to a traditional full-time job over and over again. I was riding the typical feast or famine roller coaster ride not knowing when it would ever end. It was a tiring mental cycle!
What really changed the game for me was when I stopped seeing myself as a freelancer and instead saw myself as a business owner. I invested in courses, networking memberships, books, and a business coach to fill in the gaps of my knowledge as a businesswoman.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Wander Design Co. – what should we know?
Wander Design Co. is a remote boutique design studio that specializes in branding. I am the owner and creative director, I have two junior designers (one for in-house design and one to support our client workload), and a web developer. We work closely with our clients to develop their brand and spearhead them to their long-term vision.
Our work leans more on a minimalist design style, really stripping as much as we can to provide impactful, memorable, and easily digestible visual communications.
What I’m most proud of as a company is the client list that we have. We work with some rad companies and organizations that put their hearts in everything they do. Some in particular are leaders of global change and it blows me out of the water that I get to work closely with them!
I think the main thing that sets us apart from others is that we treat our clients like partners. We are as invested in their mission and aim to provide 5-star customer support. If we’re making our clients lives a little easier, then we know we’re doing a good job. Our clients are pre-screened so we only take on companies that we can really stand behind and give them the support they need.
I mainly work from my home office and my team and clients are all remote, which works great as I continue to wander around the globe. Maybe one day I will have an office and on-site team… we’ll see!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
So many people! My former bosses, clients, family, friends, professors, high school art teacher, business coaches, and especially my husband (he wrote my business dreams into his vows!). I am so grateful for all of the opportunities and encouragement I’ve received from my network, so I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be open to new people in ones life and give more than one ever expects to get back.
The beauty of this day and age is that we can expand our network from our own home offices, too. I continue to make wonderful business friends through social media, have virtual coffee chats, and build meaningful and supportive relationships online. And I always go into a networking opportunity thinking what I can provide for others rather than the other way around.
In fact, I recently co-launched a podcast named “Better: the Brand Designer Podcast” that I co-host with a brand designer I befriended online. We quickly became business best friends and are having a blast producing the show!
All of this leads me to how I finally escaped the feast or famine cycle: a strong referral network. It’s amazing what your network can provide you with – you just have to ask.
Photo of me by Melina Esparza Photography. Photo of me on the glacier in the Peruvian Andes by my husband Derek Field. All other photos by Giselle Field.