My Dad, My Early Mentor and Inspiration
I began my career in graphic design when I was 12 years old – because of golf. My dad was the tournament chairman for the Los Alamitos Men's Golf Club. It was his religion, his second family. I would watch him late into the night lovingly hand-lettering posters for each tournament with all of the headlines and rules neatly written. This was before computers, so you either hand-painted or drew letters, or you purchased rub-off letters to burnish into place. He would measure, rough it out in pencil and do his final in Marks-A-Lot. The entire family room had that thick marker smell at tournament time. He would accent the posters with his colorful illustrations of turkeys for the Turkey Shoot, rifles for Shotgun Starts and other "clever" golf graphics. I was his apprentice, watching, learning and being so proud of how talented my dad was (and being proud of his dedication to the project).
Lesson learned: be dedicated to any project with your name attached.
My first internship was in 8th grade. I ran for class officer and made my own hand-lettered posters in my dad's style with a girlish flair: "Get Ready for Grade 8, It's Roush in '78!" I won and ventured on to my final intern position before I became a professional – a cheerleader in 9th grade for the Walker Jr. High Vikings.
As much as I loved performing, yelling and jumping around, my favorite part of being a cheerleader was making the game and school banners to drive school spirit. Another cheerleader's mom was a real estate agent and brought home a Letraset catalog of font samples for ordering rub-off letters. This was our ticket. We took the 8 x 4" sample fonts and turned them into 15 x 3' banners. We would spend nearly 20 hours each week for nine months making posters. We ran through cases of Marks-A-Lot and earned awards from the principal for our efforts. This sealed it.
My professional career was launched in high school when a friend's mom was running for city council. She needed posters but didn't want to pay to have them printed. She hired me to hand-letter 45 campaign posters to hang around the city – a bit ambitious, based on her budget and my resources. By the fifth poster we both agreed that she needed to just pay a printing company that specialized in this field to produce them.
Early lesson learned: hire professionals when you need to. More to the point: learn to know when you need one.
One of my first real day jobs was for a marine products importer and distributor, Avon Seagull Marine in Irvine. There were flyers involved and pasteups, catalogs, boat shows and posters. They also discovered that I knew how to SELL. I sold anchors, windlasses, inflatable boats, rope and rigging. I was great at it, but I still enjoyed the graphics and – now – the MARKETING end of the business best.
I ended up working for the advertising agency that handled the marine company's advertising campaigns and catalog production. I was home. My boss and new mentor, Jack Mealer, was an amazing man full of integrity and creativity. Although, I ended up marrying someone I met at Avon, married him and took a hiatus from working at the agency to care for his dying mother. I was glad I could care for his mom in those final months of her life; the regret was that I stopped working in a field I loved. This side trip lasted for a few years and involved traveling, antiques and art. He decided he wanted an art gallery in Laguna Beach. I just wanted to get back to the ad agency, but he needed help at the gallery, so I went back to SELLING.
My dad was gone by this point, but my mom hung around the gallery from time to time and one day casually asked me to help her make blankets for unwed mothers. Why not? I hadn't sewn since Home Economics in 1977. (Note to younger people: this was a class taught in school where you learned to cook, sew and balance a checkbook.) It got me started on my next journey and on a solution out of the rut I was in. I launched a non-profit, Binky Patrol, in 1996 with the mission of making and giving blankets to children and teens in need of comfort. I used my GRAPHICS experience to create the logo and sign-up poster to put out in front of the gallery and my MARKETING experience to get the word out to local papers and to secure initial fabric donations. After a 30-second mention on "Oprah," Binky Patrol grew nationally in one day.
Another lesson: if you wait until you have everything perfectly prepared, you may miss an amazing opportunity.
At that moment I knew I needed to leave the gallery and the life that went with it to get back to ADVERTISING, MARKETING and PUBLIC RELATIONS. This was right when the Internet was getting rolling beautifully. Ah, graphics and helping clients promote – SELLING creative solutions in MARKETING. This was to become my career and has led me to where I am today. I worked for a public relations and Internet hosting firm for a couple of years (before my daughter was born), which launched me into my love of web development and online marketing solutions. Creating online campaigns that tied to print, radio, billboards and other venues thrilled me. I started my own company in 2001. We are the sum of our experiences going back as far as we care to remember. I strive to bring those experiences to the present day to create productive solutions for my clients and remove their state of being overwhelmed (thinking they need to do it all themselves).
Are you ready for a change? Take this quiz >>