We had the good fortune of connecting with Kailey Strachan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kailey, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Great question! Not everyone will agree with you but if you believe in it, don’t give up. Take time to reframe your mindset and find ways to look at your ups and downs from a fresh perspective. By seeing “giving up” as more of a pivot than a failure, I have allowed myself the ability to adapt and shift without losing sight of the dream. This past year has not been the first time I have tried to launch my branding studio, but this time I had the knowledge and learnings to do it the right way. I was ready in ways I wasn’t before.. Listen to your instincts and know there is always time to keep going and moving forward.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Absolutely! I call myself a Brand Designer & Art Director, but at the end of the day I end up wearing a multitude of creative hats that span beyond those titles in the traditional sense. I believe in building one-of-a-kind, brand identities and visual experiences that allow my clients to achieve their goals through aesthetic-first, strategic design. What does this really mean? I love to create cool, pretty things that help your brand grow and stand out in your industry.
From a young age, I always knew that my life would be creative in some way or another. This has manifested in many forms in my lifetime, picking up my dad’s video camera and making “movies”, teaching myself photoshop before I was 16, silk screening and selling t-shirts with my friends. Inevitably the hobbies, passions and ideas I felt most drawn to were inherently creative and paved the way towards my future. Looking back, it all makes sense. I still have that same sense of passion I felt throughout my life in my daily work. I love having freedom to work and collaborate with new inspiring individuals and let my wild ideas guide my creativity.
It’s a dream opportunity to be able to make a living pursuing what I love and working with brands big and small to achieve their goals through creativity. This opportunity is something I won’t ever take for granted.
I feel lucky to have been born into a family of artists/entrepreneurs who gave me some great advice at a young age and encouraged me to seek mentorship from others who might be able to share their own experiences. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult; I had to learn a lot about myself along the way to understand that this was truly my path. Before I officially launched my creative studio full time, I worked in-house as a corporate art director for a few different brands. Though I loved my co-workers and was able to learn a lot through these roles, I still couldn’t find that perfect balance between life, creativity and income. I was left feeling overworked, underpaid and unfulfilled by the projects I was working on. I found myself drawn to branding and helping businesses build their visual identity. Slowly but surely I launched my instagram account and was working consistently on my own branding studio by night when corporate life allowed.
But I was spending the least time on the projects I loved the most and it always felt backwards. I wanted to take on projects I could creatively own from end to end without limitations. This past year it finally clicked – I wasn’t going to find the balance I needed without taking a leap and dedicating myself to running my studio full-time. I was nervous, but it’s been the best decision and I haven’t looked back. If I can share one piece of advice it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of success. It is ever evolving and adapts to match where we are at in our lives.
As artists, I think our industry puts an immense amount of weight on hitting “milestones.” Booking high ticket clients, gaining followers, selling a product. It’s easy to let the success of others impact the way you see your work and yourself. I have been guilty of this a time or two but by far the work I am most proud of has always been what feels most authentic to me. Designing what you think people want to see versus what you think is the right approach is the easiest way to lose your vision and design integrity. This carries into my partnerships with brands I work with. I want every project to feel like a collaboration between my client and myself. I have their best interest at heart when working together and I will always advocate for what is best for the brand. In the end, we both walk away feeling successful in our own ways and proud of what we have created.
Be sure to stay true to your authenticity and trust your instincts to take you where you are supposed to be. Right now, I see success as being proud and excited of what I am working on and building my brand. It’s the feeling when a client trusts me fully to execute their vision. It’s booking an amazing new opportunity. It’s being able to mentor younger designers and help them grow in their own work (seriously, hit me up for coffee anytime!). Every brand should be ‘One of a Kind’ and I believe your path and dreams are too.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since I am primarily PNW based these days, this really just feels like an itinerary for my next visit. I miss the city so much and can’t wait to be able to reconnect (hopefully) soon! Architecture, Festivals, Museums–explore it all! Each neighborhood is an alcove of new and old places alike that bring a different experience to the table. For first-timers, I highly recommend a trip up mulholland drive and through the hills. The houses are insane and have some amazing history from the different eras of Hollywood. If you can make it out to the desert for a day trip you can also check out the incredible mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs that looks like it is straight out of the 60s. I’m also always an advocate for a Joshua Tree National Park visit. There is truly nothing like it and getting some space from the LA traffic is always a nice plus. LACMA is also another favorite spot of mine and houses a large collection of modern art from California artists and beyond. The Broad also has an incredible collection of modern art that changes frequently so make sure to take advantage of their special exhibits. If you happen to be there the second sunday of the month don’t miss the Rose Bowl Flea market. You’ll meet some amazing artists and snag a really good deal on vintage. No LA trip is complete without a food tour – with endless food options, it is always hard to choose. Don’t miss Night + Market Song (It’s all about the wine), Kazunori, Home Los Feliz, Hugo’s, Republique, Silverlake Ramen and Urth Cafe. I haven’t had a chance to make my way to Jon & Vinny’s IRL but if the Bon Appetit recreation of the Spicy Fusilli is any indication, the rest of the menu is surely amazing. No good LA adventure is complete without a trip to the pacific ocean. Malibu (Point Dume), Santa Monica, Playa Vista, and Manhattan Beach all have a different vibe with the same stunning views. Make sure to stay for sunset, it’s worth it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a lot of people I should list here. Mentorship has been crucial to my success over the years and I am so thankful for those who have taken time to have a coffee, conversation or just chat about how they got to where they are. Friends, family and past bosses –Thank you. I’d like to send a special shoutout to my Dad. He was the original artist, entrepreneur & mentor in my life and watching him pave his own path has no doubt inspired my own journey. He gave me my first version of photoshop and without him, I don’t know if I would have had the guts and mindset to be where I am now. I’d also like to shout out the extremely hard-working entrepreneurs that I get the opportunity to work and be inspired by each day. I am thankful for our partnerships (and the ones that have turned into friendships) and so proud of the dream brands they are building.
Simone Nieves, Andrew Preston, Chelsea Cooper, Vickie Miao, Hannah Phillips