We had the good fortune of connecting with Diane Lieu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diane, how do you think about risk?
Risk is a huge part of being your own boss, starting your own business, and doing things your way. I think of risk as a necessary thrill, a shadow friend, and a lottery ticket that you buy every time you take on a new client or project. It’s constant and you learn to befriend it. Every month that passes, risk becomes less of the dodgy shadow in your peripherals and more of that reset that can kick off explosive growth or inspiring projects. It’s all about confidence and perspective.
I see risk rear itself most when I’m offered a full-time position at an agency or in-house. I am forced to evaluate where I am in my career and what I value the most – security or freedom. Do I give up making my own schedule and being my own fate decider for the security of a bi-weekly paycheck and benefits? Or do I stick to my guns and forge ahead, choosing only to take on clients and projects that excite me? Every time I’ve had to make that decision (and it happens more often than I had expected) I feel like my decision NOT to do something has defined my career as much as the decisions to do things.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I was laid off after two years working in-house at a brand that I loved. To be honest, it was a tailspin. But I looked at it as an opportunity to hone in on doing only the stuff that I loved, the stuff that thrilled me and didn’t feel like work. This brought me to branding and copywriting. I found that I loved delving deep into founder stories, consumer insights, archetyping, and strategic storytelling. I had always had a passion for writing but had never seriously considered doing it for a living prior to 2016, but the more I did it and the more well-received it was, the more my confidence was bolstered. I decided to stick with freelancing as an independent copywriter and strategist, choosing to only work with mission-driven brands that perpetuated good in the world, brands with unique stories and passionate leaders. It was challenging at first but through delivering consistent results, a steady supply of referrals from incredible colleagues, and honestly, sheer luck, I was able to make it stick. I learned that if you really, really give a sh*t and work hard, people notice and you are rewarded for it. I listened to my gut and grew more confident with every job done and continued to hone my skills and over-deliver where I could. It allowed for repeat business and referrals that have continued to grow my business.
The most important thing you bring to your business is you. Nobody else has your particular skillset and experiences and I feel like that’s my magic power – taking everything I have and bringing it to the finish line for each and every client. I am so grateful to be able to do what I do and I know every step I’ve taken along the way has brought me to this particular place to do this particular thing. It’s humbling.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A hike in Altadena, then Belle’s Bagels for breakfast. Definitely grab some Szechuan food in San Gabriel Valley (SGV), and a visit to Avenue 26 for late night street tacos.
A visit to Descanso Gardens or the Norton Simon Museum. A stop at the South Pasadena Farmers Market on a Thursday afternoon. Heritage Square Museum is a must for lovers of historical homes! A cruise up through Angeles Crest Highway if you’re in a convertible or on a motorcycle and the weather is good! Stroll through the Arts District and grab coffee or ice cream or brats. Venture into Downtown for a visit to the Bradbury Building and the best hand rolls at Kazu Nori!
Roller skate at the retro chic Moonlight Rollerway and try to catch Organ music Night on Tuesday’s.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Gin Chen, my mentor and a kick*ss art director and designer who is based in NYC. Lehrick Leung, my ever-grounded yet wildly optimistic partner who works in a world so very different from mine.
Photography: Jack Strutz, Designers: Priyanka Krishnamohan, Erin Fleiner