We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Ray Hobro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had been working as a graphic designer for design studios for about 10 years, when I became pregnant with my second son. I knew once he was born I wanted to start freelancing so that I could have the flexibility needed in raising a young family. So the thought process was really that I wanted to be home more with my three year-old and new baby, but I still needed an income. I didn’t really have much of a plan, but I always had a very good work ethic and felt I could make it work. I was fortunate to have been working in the ever-growing wine industry for some years, designing wine labels and creating brand identities. Because it’s a niche industry where I had many years experience, I felt pretty confident that I could do it, and at that time I thought I would primarily be a design contractor for previous employers. That was in 2000, and within a few years I was getting my own wine clients and no longer needed to design for other studios. The client list grew, my boys grew, and they are now young men!
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’ve had my own business, Lisa Hobro Design, for 21 years. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work in the wine industry, which kind of exploded during that time. I’d say one thing I’m most proud of is that my business was built on word of mouth and repeat clients. I didn’t have a website, and only recently put up a landing page so potential clients could get my contact info. For most of those years you had to get my number through someone else. I kind of liked it that way as I was always as busy as I could possibly be, sometimes too busy! One of my clients, Lede Family Wines, will be celebrating their 20th anniversary next year and asked me to create an anniversary logo. It’s kind of cool to have designed all of their labels & marketing materials from the beginning, and to still be working with them. I feel honored that clients reach out to me to create something for them. Regarding challenges, the biggest one was the work/life balance, being the sole-proprietor of a growing business, and raising a family. In hindsight, I would have established more boundaries between work and home life in the very beginning. Although that is difficult when your children are very young! There were many late night work sessions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wine tasting in Sonoma County would top the list, with so many fabulous wineries in nearby Sonoma, Healdsburg & Sebastopol to choose from, as well as great restaurants for when we got hungry! Here in Santa Rosa we could take a stroll around the South A Street Art District. We could look at the open art studios, and there’s a great little shop that sells beautiful handmade items and jewelry. Then we’d get lunch at The Spinster Sisters at the end of the block. There are also beautiful hikes at Sugarloaf Ridge and Annadel State Parks. For dinner and drinks we could go to Stark’s. It’s in an old part of town, and the bar has a great retro feel, and the food is amazing. Or Bird & The Bottle (another Stark-owned Restaurant)…again, the food and cocktails are the best!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh so many! First of all, I don’t think I would have been able to do this without the help & support of my husband Bill. He was always there to pitch in whether it was picking kids up, grocery shopping, laundry…even delivering something to a client if he was available. We were both working and we truly were a team when it came to the demands of working and raising a family. Also to my mom, Veeda, who was there to help out when the boys were little if I had a meeting to go to, or a big deadline I was trying to meet. Shoutout to my previous employer, Ralph Colonna & John Farrell (Colonna Farrell Design). Back in 1996, after having my first son, they let me work two days in the office and two days at home. That wasn’t done so much back then and they were, in my opinion, really forward thinking. It allowed me to see that I could work at home and freelance someday as the needs of my family grew. And to my dad, Don, who was also an artist and who encouraged me to pursue a career in art & design.
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