I saw a SUPER cute Instagram post a while back from someone who broke down their career in terms of cat lives. 😸 As a crazy cat lady, I loved this and I started thinking about the “nine lives” of my own career. I quickly realized that my career has had way more than nine lives already!
Here’s the not-so-straight timeline of my life (so far) that have shaped my career:
2000 - I started my first “business” selling illegally burned CDs. Not the most glamorous, but it gave me enough money to fuel my shopping habit in high school!
2007 - I graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in Graphic Design. During college, I worked as a front desk assistant at my university, which taught me how to be less awkward when talking to people – a skill that still benefits me to this day!
2008 - I moved to Knoxville TN, to get "a couple of years of experience” at a media company called Scripps Networks Interactive, which is the parent company of channels like HGTV, Food Network, and the Travel Channel.
2009 - I started an Etsy shop out of part necessity and part creative freedom. I enjoyed playing shop and learning about online selling and customer service.
2018 - Whoops! A “couple of years” turned into a decade working at Scripps because honestly, it was the most amazing corporate job. Unfortunately, I was laid off after Discovery acquired the company.
2019 - After the layoff, we moved to Connecticut and I started working at a small agency. I also served on the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) board. I was trying to get my footing back after being laid off but after just a year, I was laid off (again!) due to COVID.
2020 - Feeling defeated, I decided to go back to my hometown in Mexico to quarantine with my parents. Sadly, my dad passed away two months after I arrived. I feel so fortunate that I got the gift of spending that precious time with him.
2021 - I started interviewing for design jobs again, but I just couldn't do it. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of being in the corporate world after having location and time freedom. This was the year I committed to going full-time on my own… and I made $100k in my first year!
2022 - This was my second full year of being self-employed! I grew so much this year and learned SO much about business thanks to some incredible courses and mentors I invested in. I grew my business by 50% and I felt more secure in myself and my skills.
2023 - Here we are in my third year in business. I’m continuing to invest in myself and my business and I’m so excited for the future! This was the year I also decided to build out a mentorship side to my business so I could share what I know about brand design with others!
If you’ve been curious about my career or curious about what owning your own business can look like, I hope it’s helpful to see my squiggly career path. It was fun for me to take a look back and actually see the progression of my career laid out like this!
Over the past 23 years, I’ve had a lot of different jobs and there’s been a lot of personal and professional growth, although sometimes when I was in the thick of it, I didn’t always feel like I was growing (or growing fast enough). But looking back on it now, I feel so proud. I found a career that makes me feel successful and gives me the freedom to live life on my own terms.
So, as you can see, my career has had WAY more than nine lives, but I finally feel like I’ve hit my stride. 😺 And this year, my hard work was validated when I was chosen as one of the “People To Watch in 2023” by GDUSA magazine. I shared my feelings in this post if you’re curious to read them!
I’d love to know what your first “career” was. Can you top my illegal CD burning business? Leave a comment below and let me know the very first thing you did to make money!
Karla is an award-winning designer, branding expert and mentor. She has designed for brands including BRIT+CO, Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, Facebook, and more.