Ev and Em Talk About How They Help Small Businesses Get a Legit Brand and Website on the AWE Podcast

Evelyn and Emily in the WERA on-air booth.

Evelyn and Emily in the WERA on-air booth.


You can’t tell but…

I didn’t get any sleep the night before and was super nervous for my very first live radio interview and podcast! Thankfully the anxiety passed as we began talking. And, it was surprisingly kinda fun!

I’m also the podcast editor for The AWE Show. After listening and editing all the amazing episodes full of inspirational stories I’m finally on one myself!

Evelyn and I went live on-air at WERA 96.7 FM, a community radio station in Arlington, Virginia to talk about my background and how I became a graphic and website designer.

We also talk all things Design Powers and how we pivoted our core services from doing graphic design for mid-sized organizations to creating legit brands and websites for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Evelyn Powers, is the founder of Design Powers, co-founder of Awesome Women, co-chapter leader of AWE Arlington, and finally the co-host of The AWE Show, a weekly live interview show that features woman business owners who talk about their backstories, their current businesses, challenges, successes and lessons learned.

AWE is a regional social networking group with six chapters throughout the DC area where women business owners connect and collaborate and share a few laughs. Learn more about AWE here.

Click below to listen in on our conversation!

Emily’s first time on live radio and a podcast.

Emily’s first time on live radio and a podcast.


Episode transcription:

Intro: [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to the Awesome Women Podcast. I'm Karen Bate and i'm Evelyn Powers and we're awesome women who talk business. Each episode dives into an awesome woman's background to find out how she is navigating the challenges and successes of running a business.

Intro: [00:00:22] We offer tips and advice for those considering or already taking the leap into entrepreneurship. Before we introduce today's guest, a quick question Are you currently a female founder without a network of supportive fellow women business owners to share the juggle and the struggle of running a business? We invite you to visit awesome women dot org slash chapters to find a chapter near you. Our meeting format fosters an intimate environment where women founders can relax and laugh together, all while gaining new friendships, collaborations, professional knowledge, and high-quality referrals.

Intro: [00:01:04] The following episode, originally aired on Community Radio WERA 96.7 FM reaching over 70,0000 listeners in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. and now awesome women. Today's host is Evelyn Powers.

Evelyn: [00:01:26] Good morning, I'm Evelyn Powers and my guest today is Emily Krause, graphic and web designer and also my niece who works with me at Design Powers. 

Evelyn: [00:01:38] Emily is also the editor of the Awesome Women Podcast or as the last promo said, podcast weirdo's. I was like, I want to go to that. And she does photography for the AWE Arlington chapter and the summit, so. Emily, thank you. Thanks for coming in. 

Emily: [00:01:59] I'm happy to be here.

Evelyn: [00:02:00] Yeah, well, let's start off with sort of an unconventional question. Let's talk about what every kid hates when a grown-up asks them. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Emily: [00:02:14] So as a little kid, I didn't have the slightest clue what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. And I just tended to try to avoid that question. Although it's pretty common. Yeah, it's just stressful when you don't know like that fear of not knowing. But ironically, a little bit ago I was going through the process of decluttering all my stuff and I came across a piece of construction paper from kindergarten with a stick figure drawing of myself holding a paintbrush. And underneath I wrote the word artist. So your dream came true?

Emily: [00:02:50] I guess so. Yeah, it's getting there.

Evelyn: [00:02:52] So where did you grow up and where did you go to high school and college?

Emily: [00:02:57] I grew up in Northern Virginia and went to Annandale high school. And then immediately after graduating high school, I started taking courses at Northern Virginia Community College. Yes. And then, yeah, go NOVA. After graduating from NOVA with an Associate's of Fine Arts degree, I took a year off from studies and got an internship at Design Powers. Right. And then with some pressure and loving encouragement from my grandma to complete my four-year degree, I applied and was accepted into the Art and Visual Technology Program at George Mason University, where I graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design.

Evelyn: [00:03:34] So when you started interning with me and you were still kind of in that transition period, you had originally been thinking, oh, I might want to go more towards the fine arts. And then really how you got the internship with me is I was really busy and I think I was going on vacation and I was like, hey, man, you get some skills on the computer and you're like, yeah I have some skills.

Emily: [00:04:06] I was definitely looking for more career-oriented work. Yeah. 

Evelyn: [00:04:10] And I think it was the Arlington Parks and Rec summer camp catalog. Right. That I used to always do right at Christmas time. And it was kind of a behemoth of a job because I always had to turn it around during the holidays in a three and a half week period. And it's a lot of information that has to, you know, go into 32 pages. And you rocked it. I mean, you were you know, you were into it, too, because there was a lot of illustrative kind of opportunities and things.

Emily: [00:04:43] And I yeah, it was a really good learning experience. And you were definitely my mentor, as I like to say, my design sensei, teaching me the ropes of the industry. Wax on wax off.

Evelyn: [00:04:55] So just to step back for a second, you know, with George Mason. I mean, why did you wind up saying local? Did you?

Emily: [00:05:03] There were a couple of reasons. Definitely the main ones being family and finances. At the time, my mom was suffering from pretty severe mental illness and I was really her only trusted caregiver. So just like the thought of leaving her alone and going out-of-state or even in-state, but going far away, it was unsettling and stressful, to say the least. And then the other biggie was finances. I seriously didn't want to take out student loans and be stuck with huge amounts of debt that so many people face in America. So those were the main reasons why I decided to go to NOVA and then transfer to a four-year school. And I totally recommend that path to students out there who don't know what they're going to do. Still trying to figure out what they're going to do. And if they don't have huge savings or scholarships for university, it's definitely a good path to take. 

Evelyn: [00:05:51] I kind of took a similar path just in terms of like I originally went to Prince George's Community College, one, two and probably very similar to you. I didn't exactly know because like my high school didn't really have the great art classes. And so I did a lotta art and drawing on my own. But I didn't really know if I was a good artist. You know, like I needed validation. And so I went to Prince George's Community College and one of having, like this amazing painting teacher, Carolyn Hoff. And she was from South Carolina.

Evelyn: [00:06:28] And I kind of still, like said, you know, I was like, do you think, I'm good? And she was like Evelyn, oh, you're good, like I needed a pro to say, yeah, you're good. And then I remember, seeing like this really weird random poster, I wish that I grabbed it off the wall and saved it. But it was of these three people caked in mud and underneath of it it said Maryland Institute, College of Art. And I was like, I want to go there! Like three people caked in mud looked really good to me.

Emily: [00:07:04] It's just like the community and really throwing yourself in. You just have to throw yourself in it and just do it. And then you learn along the way. And that's exactly what I did.

Evelyn: [00:07:14] And I know you were kind of again, similarly more into the fine arts. So tell me a little bit about that.

Emily: [00:07:22] So I was definitely interested in fine arts. My main passion was everything from drawing to painting, printmaking, film photography was a big one for me, sculpting and constructing things and ceramics. Actually, my first art job was part-time at what used to be a ceramic studio, North Arlington called Creativity on Fire. I loved that place and I would travel to different elementary schools in the county to teach an after school pottery program to a group of about 20 students. And when I was doing that, I thought about getting my master's in art education because I knew I'd be really good at it. I just loved teaching and I loved teaching kids art and skills and that kind of thing. But thanks to you going to two liberal arts schools, I took a lot of psychology classes and I just became I wouldn't say obsessed, but extremely fascinated with human behavior in general.

Emily: [00:08:13] Basically why people do what they do and what makes them do it. And that's why I find design to be so interesting because designers get to shape all the visual communication in the world, sometimes more beautifully than others, but definitely influencing human behavior. And that's why I just love design.

Evelyn: [00:08:30] Well, and not to kind of get ahead of ourselves as we're going to talk about this in a minute. But there is so much psychology in design when it comes to visual communications. You know, what makes people do what they do. And so, so much of what we do just in terms of visual communication is exactly that. It's actually getting people to do things, whether it's signing up for something or, you know, attend an event, you know, or buy a product. I mean, you're kind of psychologically trying to convince them in a visual way that this is better than that or, you know, do this instead of that. So, yeah,.

 Emily: [00:09:16] It's a way of thinking and also unthinking. Yeah.

Evelyn: [00:09:23] I took a couple of psychology classes and I remembered sociology classes to just sort of the whole community and group dynamic, you know, that's all kind of part and parcel of what we do too. Yeah. You know, you're always sort of like who is my target market, you know. And what's this? What's the sociology around this? Who is everywhere? Who is this for? What motivates them? You know how can what we're doing benefit them? Because of so much of what we do now, especially on the Web. And again, I'm getting ahead of myself, is all about talking about the benefits of using one service over another. 

Emily: [00:10:05] And just on a deeply human level, just connecting.

Evelyn: [00:10:08] Yes. Yeah, absolutely.

Emily: [00:10:10] So the other reason I was super motivated to study design was that I wanted to learn skills that would make me employable just to support myself financially. And not that I mean, there are so many fine artists who can do that. But for me, I needed a little bit more structure and like formal training. And thankfully, I can pick up on tech and software pretty easily. And that's a big part of the design.

 Evelyn: [00:10:35] Oh, you're awesome. Yeah. When I was in art school, the same thing, I kind of thought about being a painter, but I realized that I needed the same thing. It was sort of like I kind of felt like I was a good painter, but I wasn't great. And I was like, you got to be great and be really be able to sell yourself and just be completely in like into a passion about it. 

Emily: [00:11:02] And just that's all you want to do and all your effort goes into that.

Evelyn: [00:11:05] It's hard to be a fine artist in a lot of the people that I went to school with did actually one of going into graphic design and illustration. But so you started with me at the end of 2015 and you're still with me. Did you ever think it would last this long?

Emily: [00:11:23] I didn't know what I was getting myself. I don't know how long it would last, but I've gained so much experience and I don't regret it. 

Evelyn: [00:11:33] Well, thank God. Me neither.

Evelyn: [00:11:36] So how has your position changed since when you first started? Obviously you were. You've gone from intern to full time and then we've gone from print to Web.

Emily: [00:11:46] Yeah. So making a jump from intern to part-time to full time was pretty smooth. Probably because it happened over a couple of years. It wasn't just over a couple of months. So when I first started, I had a couple of specific tasks I did mostly at work that you didn't want to do or didn't have the time to do mainly. And then when I was in college and worked part-time, I had a few more responsibilities and was completing more client work. And now that I worked full time, I work completely on client projects. And like you said, the kind of work we did a couple of years ago was mainly print design and now we're doing a lot more digital design. So we also did a lot more work for mid to large scale organizations and now we're focusing on one to three-person service-based small businesses. So we've niched some and shifted from print to digital, although we still do graphic design work. 

Evelyn: [00:12:36] Definitely, yeah, we still have some print design for bigger corporations. And but you're right. I mean, now that we've kind of shifted more towards doing web design and the platform that we've decided to use, it just is much better suited to the entrepreneur in smaller businesses. And that was you know, that was sort of intentional and why we changed our focus. And then, you know, where we're going. 

Emily: [00:13:09] So we're definitely going towards helping small businesses get a professional Web presence. And that's what we're focusing on for now.

Evelyn: [00:13:18] For me, I wanted to you know, I had worked on graphic design and I graduated art school in 1988. So the computer was just sort of getting into the field. It was really just almost like a tool to output, you know, typography. And then, of course, it really got so integral into the process of print. But really by I'm gonna say, you know, 2010, 2011, after I'd already been in it for, you know, 20 years, I you know, everyone was always saying to me, hey, put up a site, put up a site, but you know, it really is believe it or not, graphic design and web design are distinctly very, very different fields and two different beasts. Yeah, people don't necessarily realize that. And so you think, oh, I'm a designer, I can, you know, definitely just translate to web. And I had to do, I've really spent the last seven years educating myself really on how to pivot my career and, you know, our business. And then when you started full time with me in January, so my background had always been doing WordPress sites. So then, you know, and you had been helping with me with it. So we did the whole branding thing. We kind of came up with this whole sort of lead generation funnel. We were going to do, you know, web sites in five days, blah, blah, blah. And we realized after about two months that we didn't want to use WordPress.

Emily: [00:14:57] Yeah, two to three months in. We had built a whole new site, completely rebranded and then realized this just wasn't going to work for us and shifted to Squarespace. Yeah.

Evelyn: [00:15:07] And there's definitely nothing wrong with WordPress because I still use it a lot in, you know, other capacities. But I think when we decided that our target market was going to be one to three-person service businesses, you know, we just felt like Squarespace might be a much better fit for that client.

Emily: [00:15:26] Yeah, it's definitely not for everyone, but.

Evelyn: [00:15:28] Yeah, and there's no question there are some limitations. But interestingly enough too, I sometimes feel like the limitations are a good thing because it's one thing I can get overwhelmed with is when there are too many endless customization features. 

Evelyn: [00:15:45] And of course, WordPress, you can do pretty much anything you want to and which is cool. But.

Emily: [00:15:50] So now we've got a whole new client process with Squarespace and we're loving it and it's going great. Yeah, it starts with a 15-minute phone call or video call so we can get to know our client. And then from there, we built a really efficient step-by-step process that we use with everyone. We want to understand your business goals and needs. And we do that with our Power Plan. It's a 90-minute meeting to define what you're offering, who you're offering it to. What makes you different? And then we take all that info, do industry and market research and give you a written actionable plan with next steps.

Evelyn: [00:16:25] And then what?

Emily: [00:16:28] So the Power Plan is a standalone service next. You can take it elsewhere or if you want to work with us. Step two is one of our Power Launch packages. And depending on your specific business needs, we strategize and develop a distinctive brand and easy to edit secure web site that will make you look legit and get you ready to proudly market your business.

Evelyn: [00:16:48] Nice. And so how did we come up with that?

Emily: [00:16:55] Haha, lots of pain.

Evelyn: [00:16:57] Yeah well, we did a six-month mastermind. And that was really, really helpful. And really understood creating a lead product. And just really trying to streamline our process and services. Yeah. And the understanding of the client, too, because again, a lot of small business people are really overwhelmed with all the things that they have to do. And interestingly enough, too, it seems like a lot of our clients, they've tried doing it themselves a couple of times like they're there. You know, I just got an email this morning. Somebody said I've tried two different web sites. I'm totally frustrated. You know, I just want someone to take it over. And we had that conversation with somebody yesterday.

Emily: [00:17:44] Yeah. Last month I wrote a blog post. If you're debating DIYing or hiring a pro, check that out. Yeah, it's got some pros and cons in there. 

Evelyn: [00:17:51] Great post. And yeah, because so much of it is about time and learning and the new. So now once somebody does the Power Plan and then they want to do the Power Launch, you know what? What's that entail?

Emily: [00:18:07] So typically the timeline varies depending on how much content the client has in hand. But we try to complete every project in under two months. So usually small businesses need six core things. It's usually always the same. They need copywriting and brand messaging, custom photography or videography. Or both. Yeah. Branding, usually including a logo design or a logo refresh. The website design and development. Any supporting graphic design and marketing materials. And finally, like tech assistance and website training, which we do at the end of every project to make sure that you're empowered to edit your own website whenever you want.

Evelyn: [00:18:46] And also actually do tech assistance kind of starts right at the very beginning because again, a lot of the clients don't really have an understanding of the tech. And we totally educate all our clients. Yeah.

Emily: [00:19:03] And just some of the inner workings of all the small minor details, details like hosting, domain, setting up your Google business page, Google Analytics, search console, syncing your calendar, getting Google reviews. Yeah.

Emily: [00:19:19] Then things like when it comes to uploading content like using proper web headings and image optimization and adding alt text. So all of those little things can be incredibly overwhelming for small business owners who just have so much stuff already on their plate that they need to do that. It's, in my opinion, hugely beneficial to have a professional help guide you in the whole website process.

Evelyn: [00:19:46] While it is, I mean, you figure you're looking at design the site map, which is the organization of the information. Yeah. Which is pretty difficult for somebody who you know, that's not what they do like that. That is a skill. And then figuring out how much content you actually write. And then even, you know, with SEO now involved, there are keywords and you know, there's only a certain amount of words that you want. But you know, and but it varies depending upon where it is on this site. So there's definitely a lot of nuances that are involved. And as I said, you know, we've spent now the last me seven, eight years. And then really you in just the last couple years really trying to understand it and learn it. And why would a small business owner want to have to go through that, you know, just to get something that's really, really nice up when they can hire us to help you?

Emily: [00:20:45] And we love it.

Evelyn: [00:20:46] We love it. I mean, that is the thing.

Evelyn: [00:20:48] It's really, really exciting to work with the different kinds of clients.

Emily: [00:20:53] And my favorite part is just like the end result and seeing the huge relief wash over them that this is done and they are so proud to show it off to the world. 

Evelyn: [00:21:03] Right. 

Emily: [00:21:03] And just like seeing that smile on their face and it's like, man, I actually made a difference and helped out. And that just feels great. I love designing things that matter.

Evelyn: [00:21:12] And yeah, me too. So what are our goals for the next few months?

Emily: [00:21:20] We're definitely working to grow our marketing. We started blogging about a year ago and we're trying to build our email list. So if you want graphic design and website tips directly in your inbox, please subscribe.

Evelyn: [00:21:33] We say let us delight you. So we were trying to figure out how to do that. 

Emily: [00:21:38] We're getting there. 

Evelyn: [00:21:39] Yeah, we are. I mean, you know, we're a small business, too, and we have struggles as well. And you know, of course, for me, my biggest, Emily is way better at it. But my biggest struggle is always systems and processes.

Emily: [00:21:55] It's a habit thing.

Evelyn: [00:21:56] It's a habit. Yeah. And I definitely have bad ones, but that's a conversation for another episode of Evelyn and her bad habits.

Evelyn: [00:22:10] So. All right. So tell people how they can reach us.

Emily: [00:22:14] So our website is designpowers.com. And you can connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at Design Powers. Pretty easy to find. 

Evelyn: [00:22:24] Thank you, Emily, for coming in.

Emily: [00:22:26] Thank you.

Evelyn: [00:22:28] You did great, by the way. I was so excited to be able to schedule you. Because I get to sit next to you every day and you're just a total joy to work with. And of course, I love you. So. Thanks. Thank you for listening. Now go be awesome!

Outro: [00:22:49] You've been listening to the Awesome Women Podcast with your host Evelyn Powers. Never miss an episode by subscribing on i-Tunes. We also share these interviews wherever you get your podcasts. And at awesomewomen.org. If you enjoy our show, please give us a review and share it with a friend.

Outro: [00:23:07] Check out awesomewomen.org to become part of our growing community and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are or know an awesome business woman who should be on the show, go to awesomewomen.org/podcast. Thanks for listening and let us be awesome together.