Elsa Vogel Is A Graphic Design Whiz

When you think of Holland, Michigan, what do you think of? Besides the fact that you've probably never heard of Holland, you also aren't thinking about 22-year-old Elsa Vogel, but you should be. A recent graduate of Bowling Green State University, Elsa is an entrepreneur like no other: She runs three creative businesses; Elsa Leigh Designs, Engage Studio, and Pieces of Me. Read on to learn more: Name: Elsa Vogel

Age: 22

Location: Holland, MI

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, Bowling Green State University

What you are doing right now?

Founder of Elsa Leigh Designs, Engage Studio, and Pieces of Me

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What is your passion?

I have a passion for design and entrepreneurship. My love for graphic design stems from a long history for having a passion all things creative. Since I was young, I’ve been a creative type and quite imaginative, always thinking of new ideas, and observing the world just a little bit different than those around me. My work always revolves around communicating an objective message, regardless of the medium used, and this is one of the reasons I love graphic design. I love design’s ability to communicate something objective in a visual way. This is what truly gets me going. I love the aspect of problem solving and I love the challenge that it poses, but what I love most is that graphic design means limitless ways to communicate. I’m a very conceptual designer and see value in design when it is communicating a deeper message effectively.

My other passion is entrepreneurship. I’ve had an entrepreneurial drive from early on starting several small business ventures growing up. I’m committed to becoming a successful entrepreneur. I would describe myself as a creative, hardworking, smart, confident, stubborn, caring individual who is determined to be successful.

How do you live out your passion?

I live out my passion every day. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in May 2015 and right out of school, decided to go into business for myself instead of taking the more traditional route of finding a full time job in the design field.

I started my own design company, Elsa Leigh Designs LLC where I complete a broad range of design work for clients. I specialize in branding for businesses, as that is where my passion lies with graphic design. I’ve also started a business called Engage Studio where I sell products such as custom ceramic mugs, which I’ve developed from my senior thesis project in school, The Me In Coffee. This part of my business is continuing to grow, as well as selling my own designs on phone cases, letter tiles and other home living and décor products. Engage Studio focuses on connecting with others to create meaningful design transferred to standard products that people can purchase.

In addition, I continue to work on my start up Pieces of Me. Pieces of Me is a revolutionary design concept that will change the fashion world. It deals with individuals representing their unique personalities through custom designs. It will be a web based program that allows individuals to select personality traits they see in themselves, allowing their friends and family to select traits as well. Each trait is matched with a pre-designed icon representing that trait. Every individual will have a custom design that will be printed on fashionable apparel and accessories.

Three months out of college I was blessed with the opportunity to acquire my own office downtown Holland, Michigan. My team is also growing; I’ve taken on a couple design interns as well as an administrative assistant, all to help push my entrepreneurial ventures to success.

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

What motivates me to get up in the morning is potential. I thrive on the potential I believe I have for myself and my businesses. Due to the route I’ve decided to take in being an entrepreneur, there are no limits. I’m in charge of my future and the success of my business ventures--no one else. That is the idea that truly motivates.

Even though my businesses aren’t a huge success yet, I feel like I’m already living a dream. I have my own office, I’m making my own products, I’m a manager and a leader mentoring interns that are working for me. Now that I’ve started as an entrepreneur, I can’t see myself doing anything else.

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How do you stay productive amidst so many distractions?

I’m my own worst boss. Being an entrepreneur is tough because you have to be your own boss. I treat myself like I would someone working for me, I give myself deadlines, and make sure I stick to them. It is tough when there is no one else standing over your shoulder but you have to just have a lot of self control and manage yourself. It is easy to stay productive when you are working on something you are truly passionate about.

What have you learned from starting your own businesses?

I’ve learned a lot from starting my own businesses. I’ve learned that starting your own business and selling a product online is not as easy as it looks. I continue to learn how to be a good manager/creative director and overall leader with the team of interns and people I have working for me. I’ve learned how to talk to clients, network with people, take care of billing, and work with vendors, all in a few short months.

What advice would you give to other girls who want to pursue their passion?

I would say go for it. It is an incredible experience. That being said, I’d also add to make sure you are extremely passionate about it. It isn’t easy by any means. Being an entrepreneur is not a “get rich quick” scheme either. It takes a lot of hardwork and dedication. I would say to not sweat the small stuff. When you start your own business or truly go after your passion, things aren’t always going to go right but you can’t let them get you down. It is how someone picks themselves up and keeps going that I think makes them strong and determined to live out their passion.

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What does your typical day look like?

I wake up in the morning around 7:30 AM, grab some coffee and a bagel, and head out the door. I typically arrive at my office around 9 AM. I set my stuff down, turn on my computer with my coffee in hand, and get started. Each day is completely different, which is the beauty of being an entrepreneur. Never have I ever been “bored at work”.

I start by checking my emails, writing responses to a variety of inquiries, clients, meetings etc. Then I check LinkedIn, making sure to connect with new people each day. From there, my days completely change depending on the day.

I could be working on media posts for Engage Studio, working on custom orders for the mugs, or reviewing photographs my interns have shot. I could be working on logo design or research for a client’s branding I’m working on. I could be having an internal review with the team on our progress with icon designs for Pieces of Me or for a client project.

I take a short break for lunch, walk down the street, and grab a quick salad and sandwich.

I stay at my office until around 7 PM then head home, have a nice dinner, and retreat to the couch with my laptop in hand.

I work on emails or type up job briefs for my team, always updating my planner for the next day and rest of the week as things constantly change and get shifted around.

I head to bed at around 11:30-12:00, then wake up the next morning and do it all over again!

Every week and every day is completely different, which is one of the things I truly love about my job.

What does your favorite day look like?

My favorite day would be one where I get A LOT accomplished. Where I actually finish my to-do list/tasks for that day. There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish what you wish to so my favorite day would probably be one where I’d be able to do that. I would also say my favorite day would include networking or meeting someone that I know could be a huge connection and step forward with my start up, Pieces of Me.

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Who was your first girl crush? Who is your current girl crush? Why?

I can’t say I had a first girl crush however, when I was young, I would say one of my first inspirations as an artist was Georgia O’ Keefe. I loved how bold her color palette was, and how her flower and skull paintings took on an abstract beauty.

My current inspiration is Melanie Duncan. She is a young female entrepreneur who started her own business, Luxury Monograms, that has been a huge success. She grew her business through Pinterest, and now teaches and speaks to other small business owners on how they can do the same. She works from all over, always travelling the world and being inspired by everything around her.

What online resources have you turned to become a better version of yourself?

I’ve used a lot of online resources that have helped myself grow as an entrepreneur and a business owner. One of my absolute favorites is EverNote, an application I stand by and would recommend to practically anyone. It is online, and allows you to screenshot and save articles to different notebooks, all while keeping the URL within the note. Goodbye hundreds of bookmarks, word documents with random notes, and “things to remember” folders on my desktop of inspiration! Now I have everything in one place, which is much more efficient and is super helpful when it comes to research or anything related to my businesses. Other online resources I follow are Dream Job Shop, who help female entrepreneurs with a variety of online resources, as well as Create & Cultivate, whose blog posts I enjoy reading.

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What have you read or watched that has been the most transformational for you? (i.e. a book, a magazine, a movie, etc.)

I wouldn’t define it as transformational by any means, but I just recently watched the movie “The Intern”, which really resonated with me. It was not only a very funny movie and had one of my favorite actresses, Anne Hathaway, but it also was a small glimpse into what my ultimate dream would be. The movie features Anne as a young CEO of a fashion company that was a huge success. You get to know the personal side of her throughout the movie, and how that affects her leadership and management in her business. It was a very neat movie to see them feature such a young, woman entrepreneur.