This month, Christie Halmick of Jewels Branch shares her secrets to success with us. So  grab a cuppa and settle in for a good read.

Hi Christie. Thanks for joining us for the Success Sessions.

Tell us a little bit about you and your business.

At Jewels Branch I help women with online businesses learn do-it-yourself graphic design, marketing, and content strategy skills. I take a simple step-by-step approach to teaching these skills and provide a lot of personalized feedback in both the membership site, which offers self-paced courses, and in live workshops. I also offer one-on-one consulting and creative services to women who want that level of support in their businesses.

Outside of my business, I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on, garden, and walk/run in my woods. Most importantly, I spend a lot of time with my family: I’m wife, a momma to two, and aunt to 11.

What inspired you to start your business?

I have my daughters and becoming a mom to thank for my business. I didn’t intend to start a business. When I left my magazine art directing job, I planned to find another less stressful job. But life interrupted my plans. I got sick, had surgery, and spent a lot of time recovering. When my daughters came along I planned to be a full time mama.

I didn’t anticipate how conflicted I would feel about being a mom 24/7. I missed being creative, I felt like I was losing all my career skills and my ability for abstract thought. I missed contributing financially to our family. At the same time, I wanted to be at home with my kids. I didn’t want to face a two-hour commute. It felt like a no-win situation. I would have to give up something.

When my daughters were about a year old, I started searching for some kind of creative outlet that would fit all those criteria. I started out really small, doing pro bono marketing and design projects for nonprofits across the U.S. This helped me gain back my confidence in my skills. Once my daughters began sleeping through the night (it took forever!), I took on some really flexible freelance design projects that I could do during their naps. Then, I kept going from there, expanding as they grew. I didn’t have to go back to commuting or working in an office.

How would you describe your journey and how has having your own business changed things for you?

I never felt really comfortable in my traditional jobs. I didn’t really know what was bothering me; I just knew I was stressed out and working really long hours. I wanted to have kids but didn’t know when I would ever have time while I was pursuing my design career.

Having my own business has allowed me to be very flexible. To be able to do work I love around having small kids and at the same time be able to be the kind of mom I wanted. It has allowed me have control over how much I make and how many and what hours I work. It’s allowed me to baby sit for my sister while she was taking classes and spend a lot of time with my parents. It’s allowed me to work side-by-side with my husband.

It’s challenged me to grow and learn new skills, to examine my beliefs about money, and to see myself as a teacher when that was never something I’d planned to be.

What has been your biggest success so far?

Being able to help more women at once. As a solo designer I could only work with so many clients at a time. Since I started offering online courses, I’ve been able to work with so many more women each year. It’s allowed me to connect with people from all over the world. It’s amazing to see and support my clients’ success as they grow their own businesses.

Would you share with us the biggest lesson you learned?

The lesson I keep learning over and over is: to trust myself and not rush. If something I’m planning to do feels off or out of alignment with who I am at my core then I shouldn’t do it. If I have an idea for something new to try out in my business, I should trust myself and give it a try, rather than over analyze the idea. If I feel like I need to sleep on a decision, then I must give myself that time.

What keeps you motivated and engaged with your business?

Seeing women experience those aha moments of creativity when the tech and software skills they’ve been learning match up with the creative vision they have in their head. Then they begin to confidently create all kinds of things for their businesses and it opens up all kinds of opportunities for them.

I’ve been involved in the creative side of design, branding, communication in some way for close to 20 years now. Even in grade school and college my favorite classes involved writing and art. I can’t imagine not doing something creative everyday: developing courses, creating logos, brainstorming with my clients, or picking out perfect photos. When I create I’m happy, I’m confident, and I’m a better mom.

What one piece of advice would you give other small business owners and start-ups?

Find a supportive community to join: other business owners, other moms who are starting businesses, or other people in your own industry. Running your own business can be very lonely and it helps so much to have someone to talk shop with.

What’s next for you and your business?

I’m going to continue to add self-paced courses to the Jewels Branch membership site. We’re at 13 courses and counting! I’ll also be offering more workshops this year covering branding, WordPress, and online course development.

Christie Halmick of Jewels Branch helps women with online businesses learn graphic design skills so they are in the driver’s seat of their business branding. Her step-by-step courses and personalized feedback allow entrepreneurs to relax and play and that’s where the real branding process begins and confidence blooms. She believes that design is a language that opens the doors of possibility for online entrepreneurs. She’s a book reader, Harry Potter addict, magazine junkie, apron wearer, fiction writer, cowbell collector, and most importantly momma to twin girls. 

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