It would be my second David vs. Goliath battle. A non-compete agreement would prevent any new designs in the bridal stationers market. But that document didn’t say I couldn’t open up a design shop for other things.
How did this battle even begin?
The Quest for Equality in Exchange for 10 Years
In a quest of searching for a marketing plan sheet for a product line, my eyes had swooped over the desk owned by male co-worker. His paycheck stub was out in the open for all to see. We were equals, yet he was paid around 23% more than me. For the same work, number of hours, and same expectations.
The document I sold my designer soul for barred its blood-barer from even flirting with the idea of poking the giant, in exchange for a handsome promotion. No websites under construction, no “designing for fun”, le zéro. It’s what this designer and writer had to do just to get a promotional raise equivalent to the male co-workers. Back then, making pay inequalities public and shaming your employer wasn’t a thing. If only there had been TikTok back then…
When I started KerrieLegend.com, I was finishing up a 10-year non-compete agreement I had made with my former employer, one of the largest bridal stationery companies in the nation. You know those wedding invitation binders that your event planner whips out and thuds the table when it’s opened? Yes, those same giant binders hold hundreds of my designs from when I used to work as a stationery designer.
I may have even been the designer behind your wedding invitations, if you got married in the last 20 years. Perhaps you spent an ungodly amount of money on wedding invites and thank you notes from one of those sparkly white or purple binders. Funny how small the world is, right?!
The Middle Finger Got Whipped Out
Eventually, the corporate design job was given the middle finger.
Time off was well spent–I had a bunch of babies–six boys! Reveling in motherhood for those crucial first years paid off; they’re becoming beautiful, respectful, and insightful human beings.
And after about seven years of waiting for the non-compete to expire, I realized something odd. I didn’t have the desire to design wedding stationery. It just wasn’t in me anymore.
You know when you feel burned out yet ready for something new, even if it’s scary?
A risky plunge into the cold, harsh waters of small business was taken.
There was no solid plan or strategy. It’s a mistake so many new bloggers make; I was no exception. When you make this kind of mistake, you’re still figuring things out and finding a groove. Over time, you settle in and eventually master a strategic plan.
The desire to design was there. But I didn’t want my days hunting down new clients. The idea of designing something, posting it online for purchase, and inspiring others while helping them achieve a goal with design was appealing to me. But you have to start somewhere to develop a name for yourself.
You, the Main Character in this Big Story
Website design is what started kerrielegend.com to propel forward. Designing and installing websites within a matter of hours thanks to a degree in graphic design and a minor in computer science came easy. One of my first clients was Michael Maloof and my website design job for him is still up and running.
In recent years, working with people like Dena Burton on providing copywriting and design have solidified my decision further.
It’s people, just like you, who saw value and talent in my work, and you’ve let me become a part of your design and writing process. For that, I’m grateful you’re part of this journey. You keep inspiring me to challenge myself through design and the study of copywriting, and you honor me whenever you make a purchase in my shop.
An Original Gangster
You may even know me from way back when, and have been with me this whole time [yes! I still have people with me after five years!] Back in early 2017, I had also started designing templates that didn’t include wedding invites [barred until 2019]. My brand needed a bunch of marketing gear for daily anyway, so why not help others out who weren’t so design-inclined or strapped for time?
I became one of the original gangsters of Canva templates. Which is shocking, because I’m a Photoshop and InDesign kind of creator. A secret? Canva’s not my first choice! But still, I had firmed up my place in the market as the go-to designer for practically every need, want, or solution. I was the very first creator to put together a large bundle with multiple types of formats. Also, I was the first to offer a Canva template membership to access all the designs in my shop.
In 2018, my quest to conquer Pinterest was completed. Traffic started really flying in and a course was launched. I then started a 3-year-long journey to work on copywriting and marketing skills, sharing my insight along the way (along with the good, bad, and the meh).
And you waited with bated breath for each and every email… [ok, that’s wildly embellished]. But I do enjoy seeing that you open my emails, honestly.
In 2021, I spent the entire year focusing on studying storytelling. And the amount of knowledge I’ve amassed from that year of intense study is mind-boggling.
But another Goliath problem was bubbling to the surface.
Goliath Challenges Emerge
Many new template shops emerged in 2019 on Etsy and several of their owners tried to copy my ideas, my shop; even steal my designs to resell them. A battle with Etsy to sanction and close shops of these new rip-off-artists started, DMCAs and copyrights were being thrown out from my inbox left and right every week.
Yet another battle against a Goliath, but that’s a story for another time. The short lesson to be learned, though, is to not mess with original gangsters. Of anything.
But behind the scenes in my spare time, I was crafting a plan. I wanted to leave Etsy and focus on only one shop.
An Escape Plan was Hatched
In some ways, you may have helped me became a Goliath on Etsy. And then you helped me leave. There were orange stickers on many of my Etsy shop listings. You helped make many of the new launches bestsellers. Many of my customers, probably even you, followed me from Etsy onto my own website, where I’m able to actually talk to my customers and let you know about new releases, send you notes of thanks and freebies every so often, and personally connect with you.
Anyone who understands Etsy knows that being able to safely walk away from them is a feat by itself. Many Etsy shop owners do not have their own website, or don’t have any traffic, and run the risk of Etsy closing their source of income at any given moment.
I feel like you and I together, won the war.
David vs. Goliath – The Takeaway Lessons
Sometimes in life you get into those big David vs. Goliath battles, and you realize you’re okay with being the underdog. After my 10-year non-compete was up, I didn’t feel the need to ramp up a bridal design company and compete with my former employer. Even if I was treated unfairly. Goliath wasn’t worth it.
At other times, you’re going to find yourself BEING the Goliath; untouchable by others in terms of quality, rank, and ability. And you soon realize, you may not even want it anymore… because it got too easy.
And then there are other times where you can walk away from a Goliath battle, knowing you’re better off without relying on the hands that once fed you. The same hands that kept smacking you repeatedly and using you for each revenue stream decision and focus on shareholders.
The Journey Forward – What’s Next?
So here we are, you and I together. On this journey, forging our way through small business, and challenging ourselves for better storytelling, designing for our brands, and mirroring our audiences’ goals, needs, wants, and challenges in whatever ways you and I were intended to serve. I’m glad you’re along for the ride.
What’s next? Some epic new design releases. I thought perhaps Lady Coach could not be outdone. I proved myself wrong. And storytelling through email sequences, which is a whole new kind of art and science you’ll definitely be interested in. So keep your clam shell phone on or your ear near the floorboards. Keep opening up my emails because you know each time I send an email, there’s always something interesting inside.