Vanessa is one of my friends from DC and I have always admired her tenacity! Today we’re learning from her and I’m so thrilled to share her amazing story.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career
Hey! My name is Vanessa Romrell, mom by day, graphic designer by night (and during baby’s nap times). I am originally from Southern California, received my degree in Utah, moved to Washington D.C after graduation, and moved to Idaho Falls after getting married. I believe life should be fun and full of adventure and my life has been just that! Even my professional world has fit this motto. Over the past decade I have continued to take risks and make big leaps, both in my personal life and professional life- with jobs doing things I never thought I would do, and in places I never thought I would work!
When I was younger, people called me the baby whisperer, and I held the coveted “favorite aunt” title amongst my 15 nieces and nephews. My whole life I dreamt about the day I would get to be a mom and while it came later than I anticipated, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am grateful to be 30, with an 8 month year-old baby, because my 20s were focused on my design career. From digital design, print, being a Spanish Designer (I do not speak Spanish!), to art directing, and being a social media manager, I have been able to take on different job titles that have expanded my skillset in the world of design. I am almost 100% certain none of this would have happened had I got married at a young age and had lots of babies.
I landed my first real design job at Brigham Young University (where I attended college) in the Mathematical and Physical Science Department. This was just 2 weeks after coming back from a mission in Brazil for my church. And from there, my career has taken off going from one job to the next! It led me from working for a small start-up company a block away from the White House, to scoring my dream job at National Geographic, to working for a global wellness company in Idaho Falls.
From east coast to west, digital design to print, small start-up company to a big corporate job, all these experiences have given me the confidence to be a full-time freelancer and stay at home with my baby girl. My freelance work includes working as a social media manager for a local cookie place called “The Cookie Place” (lol). I create and write content for their Facebook and Instagram pages, and take lots of cookie pictures. I also have a steady flow of freelance projects ranging from flyers to logo designs, invitations, brochures, branding, and mailers for a variety of businesses. One day could include branding for a local eyelash artist, designing a 60-page program for a big-city quilting convention, or designing a logo for a local dermatologist.
You can check out my portfolio here. And oh ya, I started my own print boutique business Dot Design with my mom and sister called Dot Design. I do all of this this in between changing lots of diapers. While life keeps me busy, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?
My community of support is all of YOU! Since moving to a new state, I haven’t done my best to reach out and make lots of friends. Whoops. Thank goodness for facetime, 3-way calls and social media!
Facetiming family and friends gives me all the encouragement I need to keep growing, improving and striving to be my best self.
3-way calls are how we get things done with our Dot Design business. These phone calls with my business partners are always supportive. It’s here we share our ideas, look for ways to expand our business and there’s always laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. I feel the most inspired working with my two best friends-in our business, my mom and my sister. It never feels like work, it’s FUN!
And there’s social media, my personal favorite platform, Instagram. I can post a cute picture of my baby and get all the love and heart eye emojis from my inner circle who live far away. Family and friends can feel like they’re a part of my life and watch my Lola grow. I also can get real and give/receive comfort and strength from women I know. (Mom life can be hard!) I can also shoot out any type of question on everything from business to baby talk and get solid advice! I get 75% of my freelance business through social media so that’s a perk too! People feel inspired by my work and the things I post and in return support my freelance business.
How does your work in design fulfill you?
Creativity is in my blood. My Mom is a watercolor artist and all 5 girls in our family were born to create. As a kid, there was no assignment without an added doodle, drawing, or decorative border. All my life I felt like I saw the world with a different lens. I’d drive past a rusty old barn and see the perfect Instagram worthy shot. I’d walk down the aisle of the grocery store and be drawn to certain packaging. I’d see a terrible-looking billboard, and would start reworking the design in my head to make it more effective. When I became a graphic designer, I felt like I was working in a field I was meant to be in! I could geek out over fonts, design, let my creativity run wild and get paid to do it!
I love how design constantly stretches me. It’s problem solving. Give me lots of data, facts and I can create an infographic in a visually appealing way where a viewer can dissect and understand every bit of that information. That’s what I do with every project. I get to take words on a paper and bring their ideas to life, give it color and make it sing.
Design is continually challenging me. You never want to design the same thing twice. Styles, and trends are constantly changing, but great design is always great design. It’s my job to stay current with what’s on trend, but continually push myself to think outside the box. My client needs to feel like the work I create for them is a masterpiece. No matter how big or small the project, I want them to feel like they hit the lottery in hiring me to bring their vision to life, to make their business successful, to create some buzz, cause someone to stop and think, get an important message across, and make jaws drop.
Beauty is all around us, and I love being able to give my contribution to this world one creative project at a time.
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?
You were hired for a reason and worth their investment even if you don’t know everything.
I remember many times in my career feeling inadequate, insecure about my abilities, and afraid to make a mistake. I felt like I couldn’t ask questions and had to have the answer for everything. I couldn’t appear weak, after all, my education must have taught me everything I needed to know, right?? I spent way too much time googling for answers instead of opening my mouth for help. My question could’ve been answered in seconds and given another person an opportunity to connect and share their talent.
If I could go back, I would’ve told myself that not knowing every answer does not take away from my creative talent. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I believe we are all in the world to work together, make connections and be inspired by each other. How much more fulfilling would my days have been if I opened my mouth more, stepped outside of my design bubble and reached out to others for help.
What is your career-related mantra?
“You go girl. You got this!”
Not to be arrogant or anything, but every job interview I’ve had has resulted in a job offer. Was it because I was the most skilled in my craft? Did I have the most experience? Was my portfolio pure perfection? No, no, and no. I went in with confidence, believed I was best for the job and convinced them all to offer me a job! But in all seriousness, I think I went into those interviews with confidence, truly believing I had everything they were looking for and was the best fit for the job.
What’s funny is a lot of the times these jobs were stacked up against me. I got my first design job on Brigham Young University campus shortly after I lived in Brazil for 18 months. This job was necessary for me to graduate that semester. Not only was I under a 2 week deadline to land a job, but my design skills were rusty! I hadn’t touched design programs in a long time let alone use a computer on a day to day basis. But by walking in with confidence, telling myself “I got this” I landed that job and was able to graduate.
Shortly after that I thought “well shoot, I am graduating and I don’t even know where I’m going to work!” I had always wanted to live on the east coast for a period of time and when a job opportunity showed up to live in Washington DC for a summer I jumped on that bandwagon. About a month before I graduated, and one Skype interview later, Washington DC was my next move. I only had one design class that last semester and didn’t have tons of time to do design on the side, so I would say my design skills were still rusty! And the job was very political and I was very uneducated in that topic at the time! My head was still very much in Brazil, not the United States. But I told myself. “You go girl. You got this!”
And then the summer was ending. What was I to do? Should I leave DC, a city I fell in love with and head back to my roots out west, or see if there was more for me to do in the nation’s capital. I decided to stay and applied for a job at National Geographic. Me and thousands of other people around the world were trying to get the same job. No joke, the woman over human resources told me that months after I got hired. I was applying to be a digital designer, but wait- I had never done digital design in my life! Instagram was developed and released in the United States when I lived in Brazil and here I was just trying to figure out what a hashtag was! Were my design skills better than the thousands of people across the globe applying? No. But I walked up those steps and entered National Geographic’s headquarters wide eyed at the opportunity I had just gotten. “I got this!”
Fastforward to my latest job. I was hired as a Spanish Designer. Do I speak Spanish? No! I speak Portuguese, but that’s different! I was marrying a guy from Idaho which also meant marrying Idaho. I moved to a small town where jobs are very limited and received a job offer on my honeymoon. Go me! My self confidence and belief in oneself landed me yet another job!
I think sometimes our biggest setback can be ourselves. So believe in yourself, focus on your strengths, recognize you are more than good enough, and the sky is the limit!