We had the good fortune of connecting with Phillis Stacy-Brooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Phillis, how do you think about risk?

Life is full of risks. Starting your own business is up there with the biggies. I wanted to be able to drive my twins to school, pick them up, take them to their baseball games. Being a Creative Director for a major auto manufacturer was not going to allow me to do that. Being a full-time single mom was my driving force in creating a successful branding and design studio. That’s how Main Street Graphics began. I had $5000 in the bank, an outdated Mac, and only one client. But somehow, I knew I could do it. I’d get up at 3 am, work on my branding, learn WordPress, and designed a postcard (which was the only piece of print collater I could afford besides my business card). Wake the boys up at 6 for a half-day at Montessori school and back to learning WordPress till I picked them up. I wouldn’t say I like networking groups, so I started volunteering with local nonprofits. It was a win-win, I love to give back, and they always seem to require my services. That’s how Main Street Graphics grew. I made sure my customer service was the very best, and soon referrals started rolling in. The next significant risk I took was branching away from being a “graphic designer” and marketing Main Street as a branding, marketing, and web studio. It was then that I worked on defining my ideal client and started saying no thank you to small jobs that had no future. Every day I wake up eager to begin working. Every day for the last 12 years, I’ve had client projects. Every day I’ve been able to take my boys to school, watch their baseball games, and be there for them. Was it scary, oh yes, but the rewards far outweighed the risks.

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.
I know this sounds a little crazy, but I consider what I do art. I believe this is what sets me apart from other designers. I combine art along with the business side of branding. I’ve never used clip art, free fonts, or copied another designer. I don’t consider other designer competition. They can’t do what I do, and I can’t do what they do. I’m unique in how I design. Thinking this way is so very freeing. I’m most proud of my clients. I tend to keep them for years, and I mean years! Often when a client moves to another company, they somehow manage to bring me on board with their new company. My biggest hurdle was understanding that I’m am not for everyone. For the first few years, I kept saying I can design for everyone. But that’s not true. I now target a specific client, one who understands the importance of branding, one who is willing to pay what I charge for my services, and one who is in the long-term.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Southern California. My first stop would be PCH. The drive along the Pacific is truly amazing and should not be missed. We’d get there by taking Topanga Canyon because it’s so cool, and the first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean is breathtaking. We’d stop for lunch at Malibu Seafood before finding the perfect spot to stop, relax, enjoy lunch, and talk. If there were time, we’d head to Venture and take a walk down Main Street and visit The Calico Cat Bookshop, which has an excellent selection of vintage books. The next day we’d visit the Getty Museum and lunch on the patio, that evening we’d wander over to the Skirball Cultural Center for an evening of summer music outside in the quad. I’m so fortunate to near Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Ojai, Ventura, I could go on… there is always something going on somewhere near.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The biggest shout out goes to DaAnne Smith, Past Executive Director at Single Mothers Outreach in Santa Clarita, California. Her continued support kept me going. I will always be internally grateful. It’s been 14 years, and they are still a client.

Image Credits
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