In this week’s episode we’re joined by the very talented Joanna Fallon, a multi-disciplined designer working from the Cotswolds in the UK. If you follow Design Cuts you may recognise Jo from her weekly vlogs where she’s been documenting the ups and downs of growing her creative business. This week we pick Jo’s brain and dig into the reality of what it really takes to get a design business of the ground.



Show Notes for This Episode:

[1:00] This week we are thrilled to be joined by the very talented Jo Fallon
[1:30] Welcome to the show Jo
[2:00] Ian remembers meeting Jo before one of his talks in Birmingham
[2:50] Jo met Design Cuts at the very beginning when she was doing tutorials for us
[3:20] She has recently moved into chalkboard and hand lettering and thought it would be good idea to start a new business
[3:50] Jo has been recording the aspects of her business in The Creative Journey vlog which we share on Design Cuts website and social media channels
[4:30] She is excited about launching a new digital product with Design Cuts
[5:10] The Creative Journey’s shows a real insight behind the scenes of Jo’s chalkboard business
[6:10] Tom prefers to show the reality of a creative business as it shows a real insight and a steady progress
[6:40] Jo is getting quite busy and got to the point where she needs to think about managing her time better
[7:40] Jo talks about how she got into designing and graduated with a university degree in design
[8:30] From University Jo went on to work in retail and did a bit of design on the side
[9:10] It was a job at a local café that got Jo more into logo design and signage
[10:10] Jo struggled to sell herself as a designer and then Cotswold Chalkboard came to mind and now she uses it to promote herself
[11:10] From there Jo started offering other services such as logo and website design
[11:50] Jo and Dustin agree that meeting face to face with the client is beneficial for building a connection and getting more work
[12:40] Jo feels this approach allows her to have more creative freedom as clients know her already
[13:30] We’ve covered this subject at length in the previous episode of the Honest Designers podcast
[14:15] Tom is impressed with Jo growing her business steadily and putting in the work
[15:00] Tom wants to know the aspects of the early stage of the business
[15:30] Lisa is asking how niching into chalk boarding was for Jo in terms of amount of work
[16:20] Niching down helped Jo in being more creative and finding out who to approach
[17:30] Lisa is wondering if talking about her work has helped Jo with her business
[18:15] Tom asks Jo how is she finding the aspects of working locally
[19:00] Jo tells us that the Cotswold is a very good area for chalk boarding due to the unique characteristics of the area and its bars and cafes
[19:40] Jo’s chalkboards are like a business card for her as potential clients will see them locally or on social media and get in touch with her
[20:50] Dustin asks Jo when she decides to share her work socially with people
[21:30] Jo confirms that she was hesitant about sharing her work which is the main reason the vlog got long to launch
[22:30] Jo confesses that she wouldn’t want her clients watching the Creative Journey vlog
[23:00] Tom thinks sharing the honest side of the business would beneficial – even for clients to see
[23:40] Tom gave Jo one of the best vlogger in the world as an example for how to do her vlog
[24:40] Tom asks Jo how she found the learning experience of the business
[25:20] Jo says that the vlog was an incentive and pushed her to do more stuff to film, examine herself and think of her career
[26:15] Jo is happy to see that her work is inspiring others and it gives her the motivation to be better at what she does
[27:00] Tom suggests that while engagement is important it’s good also not to ignore the silent viewers
[28:00] Lisa is wondering how Jo balances her work and prioritises her tasks
[28:40] She says she is trying to plan her work better and mentions that once she starts her work it gets easier
[30:00] Tom asks Jo what she struggles with the most apart from focus
[30:45] She says that one big struggle is having faith and believing in herself
[32:00] Jo realises how fortunate she is to be doing what she loves
[33:00] Every designer worries about what other people think of their work
[34:00] Jo is happy to be chatting with the Honest Designers podcast as they have all managed to build a name for themselves in their respective fields
[35:40] Lisa confesses she thought she was not very good in the beginning but she could see improvement as time went by
[36:30] She was also insecure about sharing her work with the world
[37:00] Lisa suggest to keep doing what you’re doing, put your work out there and your confidence will also improve and it will get easier
[38:00] Ian remembers Eddie the Eagle and gives him as an example for someone that wasn’t good at what he did but never gave up and this is how he became famous
[38:45] There’s going to be people that love what you do and others that don’t
[39:15] Dustin recently started learning glyphs and has been watching a lot of tutorials
[39:40] He says that he mostly gets the information he needs but doesn’t really remember the person behind it, even if they’re good or bad
[40:30] Jo wonders if there’s ever a design emergency where designers are needed and feel really important
[41:30] Ian gives the example of a building site where there are certain restrictions and imagines how that would work for the design world
[42:30] Jo reiterates that her biggest struggle is time management and finding the motivation when working from home
[43:40] Lisa says that she finds her social plans as a good motivator for getting her design work done as she knows she needs to do it by a certain time
[44:30] Tom suggests finding a way to tie results to motivation
[45:00] Selling stuff on websites like Etsy is a huge motivator for getting stuff done as there is a financial reward coming from the work
[45:40] Tom remembers that the harder he worked for Design Cuts the faster it developed
[47:00] Sometimes people avoid doing the work as a way to avoid being uncomfortable with the results
[48:00] It all comes down to mind set, focus and productivity
[48:50] Dustin gives the example of a music producer that gave the artists a small task when they were stuck – like writing just a word
[49:20] Looking at your to-do list and feeling like the tasks are harder to do then they really are
[50:40] Jo would like to turn the Cotswold Chalkboard into an academy where people would be able to learn hand lettering
[51:40] She hopes the digital product will be a step in this direction as people will use it to try this design style
[52:30] Ian confesses that his goals change weekly and never knows what he will do next
[53:30] Plans change often and you never know where things will take you
[54:40] It’s important to take action and do the things you want to do
[55:30] Jo finds it reassuring watching others do similar things to her
[56:20] Seeing other people struggle too gives you confidence as you remember we’re all human and not perfect
[57:10] Ian gives the example of when people stump into a bit of raised pavement and try to cover it with a run and compares his career to this analogy
[58:00] You don’t plan for certain things to happen but they do
[59:00] Ian is confessing to being really clumsy
[1:00:00] “You can’t steer a parked car!” – Jo Fallon, but moving will give you a sort of direction and will take you somewhere
[1:01:00] Ian agrees with this analogy and finds that this was relevant for him as well
[1:01:30] Success doesn’t come immediately
[1:02:20] Don’t overthink your work, just do it and good things will happen
[1:03:20] You can see more of Jo’s work at the thecotswoldchalkboard.co.uk
[1:03:50] Thank you for listening to this week’s episode


“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD