Ownr Success Story: Illustration Artist Lauren Pearson
Lauren Pearson is a Toronto-based freelance Illustrator whose designs have graced magazines, weddings, events and more. Lauren registered her business, By Lauren P, using Ownr in 2019 and has successfully built a strong demand for her art in the city. In this edition of Ownr Success Stories, we chat with Lauren about how she created a business out of what she loves.
Ownr: Introduce us to By Lauren P?
Lauren: My company By Lauren P (By Lauren Pearson) is a boutique illustration and design company that specializes in custom art commissions, brand collaborations, live illustration, and wedding design. It all started when a handful of friends got engaged at the end of 2017 and I would create framed illustrations as a thoughtful gift alternative to buying something from the registry. Since then I have completed over 500 custom commissions and have worked with over 30 companies worldwide on various projects ranging from PR product launches to live events.
Ownr: Give us insight into your background in arts and the early days of By Lauren P.
Lauren: I was always interested in art and illustration, making sure to visit every gallery wherever I travelled, and enrolling in related courses during my education. After studying fashion design, life took me off course and I completed a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at Ryerson University that would later serve me well as an entrepreneur.
My degree led me to intern for an editor at Rogers Media, and then for a buyer at Target and Holt Renfrew, eventually landing a job in sales that I remained in for four years. After having frequent “is this all there is to life?” moments throughout my time there, I started an Instagram account where I started posting illustrations that I had created in my spare time. After being up and running for only two weeks, the editor at Dauphine Magazine reached out and asked if I would like to be an online contributor. I can’t begin to describe my excitement and gained so much confidence in that moment when I realized I could be paid to do the thing that I loved more than anything.
The power of social media and consistency propelled my career far beyond what I had thought possible. After landing my first paid gig creating an editorial illustration layout for the magazine, people started reaching out to ask if I would create custom commissions for them. My life completely changed after that day.
Lauren Pearson, Founder and Designer, By Lauren P Illustration & Design
“The power of social media and consistency propelled my career far beyond what I had thought possible.”
Ownr: What are your biggest challenges as a business owner?
Lauren: My work is mostly commission based and I have tons of materials that make it challenging to work anywhere other than home. Like any other entrepreneur that is starting out, my goal is to minimize initial expenses. But constantly working from home can feel isolating. I am fortunate to have many friends that are entrepreneurs or that work close by, so I have found a balance where I meet friends or clients for lunch during the heavy commission days, and I will aim to book face-to-face meetings rather than calls. This allows me to get to know my clients and their objectives better, and also helps to develop more meaningful relationships that have evolved into many other opportunities.
The other challenge would be managing every part of the business myself – from order processing, customer service, creating the work, shipping, managing the website and social handles, as well as accounting. I’ve gained so much respect for entrepreneurs that do not yet have a team. You see all of the beautiful content they put out on social media, but behind it is endless work and thought required to keep it going.
Ownr: What do you love about being an entrepreneur and being your own boss?
Lauren: One of the best parts about this career other than getting to do what you love every day, is meeting like-minded entrepreneurs on a similar journey and learning from them. It takes courage and energy to leave a secure job, and I get so inspired by others that truly love working to make a difference by turning their vision into a career. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that you are building something you believe in and get to do work that is truly bringing happiness to your clients lives.
Entrepreneurs always talk about flexibility as a selling point, but the reality is that you never stop working. I could take a day off, but I know my output directly affects my momentum and bottom line. Being in sales was the best career decision I could have made early on, it taught me how to prioritize my time, and focus on activities that create the largest impact.
“Being in sales was the best career decision I could have made early on, it taught me how to prioritize my time, and focus on activities that create the largest impact.”Lauren Pearson, Founder and Designer, By Lauren P Illustration & Design
Ownr: What has been your earliest win or biggest success with the business thus far?
Lauren: The earliest win was landing the editorial spread as my first commission. Some highlights from this year were being the illustrator for the Rogers Media Product of the Year Awards and creating all of the branding (logo, business cards, space renderings, etc) for a new co working space called The Collective Workspace.
Ownr: What can you share about your experience of using Ownr to register By Lauren P?
Lauren: Using Ownr was a no brainer! I had many friends that referred me to the platform and the process was very straightforward and user friendly. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to register their business.
Ownr: What is that one business or life lesson that keeps you motivated and inspired as an entrepreneur?
Lauren: Similar to all entrepreneurial journeys, there are days, situations, and clients that will leave you feeling defeated. I always keep track of my favourite projects and will refer to those to keep me motivated and grounded. I operate each day knowing that everything has a solution and that my business has little to do with me and everything to do with my clients.
Ownr: What would you like to say to others artists who want to turn entrepreneurs?
Lauren: While the artistic field requires talent, creating a successful career in art requires just as much business acumen. I have had the opportunity to meet many entrepreneurs that are at different stages in their careers from beginning to exiting the entrepreneurial world.
A common theme that I have found has been those operating from a place of financial and emotional power tend to outlast those that jumped into their business without a plan and enough savings. It seems obvious, but if you are operating from a place of power you will have more room to learn quickly from mistakes, thoughtfully accept clients that will expand your brand, and make decisions that can positively shape your business.
I have certainly not done everything correctly but after speaking to many entrepreneurs prior to leaving my full-time job, I set a specific level of savings and took the leap soon after hitting that mark. It was one of the best decisions I made that helped to create a strong foundation for my business.
Another important factor that helped to grow my brand was partnering with other businesses and constantly networking to create awareness. There is nothing more powerful than word of mouth and it currently accounts for about 70% of my business.