Welcome to our featured creative interview of the month! This month we are talking to club member, brand specialist and owner of Struck by Violet, Alicia Grady
Tell us a little about yourself (e.g., where you’re from, hobbies, fun facts etc.).
I grew up in Mt.Nebo, a small community in the mountains just outside of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. My childhood involved a lot of imaginative play in nature. I am now based in Brisbane but have spent many years living in Melbourne and a year and a half travelling in the Northern Hemisphere, including cycling with my partner for 2.5 months in California. I love to hula hoop, dance and make collages with cut out limbs.
After high school I was working towards being a musical theatre performer but decided to study graphic design so I had a bread and butter career. Graphic design engulfed me! After uni I started working in a branding studio in Melbourne and I fell in love with the job. I have now been working in the industry for 8 years and I absolutely love it!
What is your business called and what is it that you do?
My business is called Struck by Violet. I am a brand specialist helping businesses build or evolve their brand so it feels and looks in complete alignment with their message and business essence. Empowering their business with a strong foundation and visuals that truly communicate who they are and what they stand for.
I love to work collaboratively with my clients and really support their vision. I pour my heart into my work and become their biggest brand ambassador along their business journey.
What is the vision behind your business? What inspired you to start it?
It was a combination of a few things at once. I started to feel in my heart that it was really important to me to use my creative energy on projects that aligned with my values. This lead me to consider running my own business. I have almost always been freelancing on top of a full time job and really enjoyed building relationships with my own clients and working on projects I loved. Then, my partner and I decided to move to Brisbane to be closer to my family as my Mum was very sick. I realised I wanted to spend time with my family and prioritise this and it just didn’t feel compatible with working full time in a design studio.
So I thought I would take the opportunity and I would start my own business… in two weeks!!! Hahahaha this did not happen in two weeks and I quickly realised I needed to really get clear on my vision and what I was building, what I was offering and my audience. This turned into what am I doing here on Earth? How do I want my life to look? What do I have to give? How can I contribute and best help others with my skills?
This brought forward the perfectionist in me and turned into some paralysing fear and I have had to learn a lot about myself and really believe in myself (and loosen up!) to keep moving forward.
I launched my business just over a year from the initial two week goal. My vision is to help businesses build and foster powerful brands, creating meaningful visuals and amplifying their message.
Who inspires you?
The Surrealists and Dadaists who used art and play to break constraints of reality and convention. I have a book of surrealist games and they are really fun. Their techniques of enquiry and discovery allow you to see the world completely differently and in such a playful way.
Jo at The Darling Tree. She is an unofficial mentor on my business journey. I have done a few of her courses and they really helped me focus and keep moving (unfortunately they are no longer available as her business has evolved a lot since I first met her, which I have found very inspiring in itself).
I also can’t leave out my mum, partner, sister and dad. Each incredibly creative in their own way and constantly inspiring me with their strength and approach to life.
What was your first paid job?
First paid job in the business? Designing posters and poster templates for QPASTT (Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma). The staff were spending a lot of time designing a new poster for each event or regular program so they wanted a Word template to make this process faster and easier. They also wanted the posters to be easily recognisable as QPASTT (using shades of green and leaves) yet still create a distinct style for each program.
The following poster was for their Ucan2! Youth Program which was a stand alone program that didn’t have to look on brand like the others (although we still used green and incorporated a few leaves). It needed to feel playful, attractive and express the excitement of the program while also feeling accessible, like they could do it too. The program supported youth in many ways including exploring their own identity, creating connections and pathways which inspired the poster art.
I imagine each day probably looks very different to you, but can you take us through what an average day in your business looks like? Do you have morning, daily or evening rituals?
I always enjoy a sleep in as the morning is my favourite time to snooze and I love not setting an alarm. Then I usually slowly make breakfast and get dressed for work. I’ve found ‘dressing for work’ really helps me work at home. Even if it’s just putting on some big ear rings, it seems to help me get into productive mode. I would like to start adding some daily self care into the morning, as I know this is when I’m least productive (and I need to schedule more self care). Then I work all afternoon. If I’m working on my business rather than client work I usually block out 1-2 hours working on each task (such as blog post, website or admin). Having this time constraint helps me stay on task. Then I often get distracted when my partner arrives home and sometimes decide to do another short stint of work around 8:30pm.
What’s your favourite piece of work you have created and why?
I absolutely love the work I have done for MET. Matthew, the founder and director, approached me with the idea to design t-shirts with a half finished quote (from popular literature) written on them. The t-shirts aim to spark conversation while putting money into raising the literacy and numeracy standards in Australia. The t-shirts needed to stand out and appeal to creative individuals. My solution was designing a drop cap inspired by the book’s style, storyline and era to start each quote.
He also needed to start building a brand to take these t-shirts to the world. I worked with him to design his logo, colour palette and distinct style and still work with him today! I think this is my favourite piece of work because I love typography and really enjoyed designing the drop caps. Plus it’s been so exciting seeing them out in the world and their growing success.
We all have highs and lows in our lives and business, what helps you to keep going when the going gets tough?
Knowing that I am building what works for me and building something sustainable. Remembering that this is a process not a result. This Chinese Proverb also helps
“Be not afraid of moving slowly, be only afraid of standing still”
“Be not afraid of moving slowly, be only afraid of standing still”
Being a creative, you must have a lot of ideas for fun projects, how do you try to keep your focus?
Well the easiest way I have found is being rational… I think of a great idea and then think how much energy I have and how much it will take to do the idea. Then I think about my priorities and then I usually realise the business is far more than enough to focus on. Within the business, I have found your help, Sarah, with goals, the best way to keep focused. Oh and my accountability partner. But I know I also need to focus on keeping up my hobbies. As I find the business easily takes over my life and that is not the balance I am after!
What do you want to learn from your community of peers?
I would love to learn from the community – What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to your brand? What do you struggle most with?
And as we are the Happy Boss Club, let’s end on a moment of happiness – what makes you happiest?
Right now it’s dancing to great music.
Alicia Grady is a brand specialist helping businesses build or evolve their brand so it feels and looks in complete alignment with their message and business essence.
Drop her comment below or if you are a Clubhouse member you can drop her DM here: Alicia Grady
You can find Alicia and all the details about working with her in our business directory.
If you’d like to become a member of The Clubhouse and hang out with inspiring women like Alicia, you can read more here.