When you come across someone who is running a creative business and collaborating with the likes of Adidas, NAB and Cotton On, it's only natural to want to know more. So delve deeper I did into the world of the talented Morgan Jamieson (until recently Morgan Connoley - you may have spotted her on the cover of Geelong Bride) - founder of Colours & Skulls.
In less than a year, the Geelong-based creative has teamed up with Dyson and Airbnb on 'THE HIDDEN HOUSE' project; designed a 12 metre 'iconic Melbourne' mural for NAB inside the September Club Marquee at the AFL Grand Final; designed an invitation suite for a feature in White Magazine, along with illustrating a two-page flat lay in the same magazine; designed the creative for Ivory Tribe's Rural Romance Masterclass (I featured this trio in #theladyleaders here!); launched her own range of stationary; curated a large scale mural for Adidas; designed a range of t-shirts for Cotton On; and created the stationary for her friends, the newlyweds Emma and Tom Hawkins.
And that's just a few of the projects Morgan's been involved in... phew! Did I mention she works full time at a creative agency too? Take a read to find out how this go-getter stays on top of work-related stress, the marketing she uses to promote her business and how Morgan makes the most of outsourcing to keep her business on track.
Can you tell us about your journey to get to where you are now?
I work 9-5 as a Senior Designer for a creative agency in Geelong called Paul Kelly Creative, where I have been employed for the past 10 years. It was my first and only job since completing a degree in Visual Arts and I love it. I work with an amazing team and I actually love going to work. Colour & Skulls is what I work on outside of my 9-5 and it has grown slowly over the past 5 years - obviously trying to hold down a full time job and your own business is a bit of a juggling act so I pick up and put down my own business - only working when I feel creative and passionate - I don't ever want it to feel like a chore.
Was is easy to figure out exactly what your niche and offering was or has it evolved over time?
Its definitely evolved over time. In the beginning I was just doing what I loved - drawing, painting and it gained traction naturally. Over time I have made strategic business decisions in order to keep my business sustainable, which included jumping on to trends - but only if it was inline with my brand.
What does your business structure look like - i.e. do you have any help in the business - i.e. outsourcing or subcontractors?
I outsource my printing. I have 3 printers that I use depending on what the job is. I have a company in Melbourne who prints my kidswear and cushion covers and a company in Byron Bay who do all of my stone printing. I guess you could say I'm Australian made! I do all of my own bookkeeping (with help from my Mum here and there) and I deliver my own work where possible and courier or Australia Post the rest.
What has been the most exciting/favourite parts of running Colour & Skulls so far?
I worked on 2 mural projects last year, one for NAB and one for Adidas and they were certainly what you would call 'pinch yourself' moments. My mural for Adidas was in-store during the 2016 Australian Open and was featured on television which was pretty surreal.
Do you think living regionally has had benefits in running your business?
Absolutely, the art world in Geelong is a very tight-knit supportive community. There are so many independent brands and businesses in Geelong and they are all thriving. There's a really strong sense of 'support local' in Geelong, which helps to keep small businesses alive.
How do you deal with work-related stress (or are you immune to it?!)?
Haha I'm definitely NOT immune to it. Naturally I'm a bit of an anxious person, I can't sit still and I ALWAYS have a jam packed calendar. I've gotten a bit better over the years but when the workload gets big I can have a melt down. Luckily I have an extremely calm, relaxed and level-headed husband who helps me through these situations logically and rationally. I also find that complex lists help and more recently yoga and meditation. I also hold a 9-5 job as a designer so work and life gets hectic on a regular basis!
Have you done any marketing that just hasn't worked?
Sometimes giveaways on social media don't always work - it's easy to annoy your audience or to appear non-genuine. When a company wants to collaborate with me it has to align with me, my style of work, the posts that I do or it's so easy for your audience to see through that.
What is the most effective marketing that you have done/do to continue to grow the business?
Definitely 100% hands down social media and digital marketing. I'm lucky in that I work 9-5 for a creative agency. Second to that would be collaboration and networking. Working with other like-minded creatives has been a great way for me to see my art from a different angle but to also broaden my audience. I have collaborated on projects with people from a range of different industries, which allows us to share the end result - and our audiences.
Do you have an 'end goal' for Colour and Skulls or goals you'd like to reach?
Not really. Colour & Skulls has (finally) gotten to the point where its operating as a brand/business and I would like to keep this sustainable by being open to change, evolution, trends and not be set in my ways... which is sometimes hard! I challenge myself to think of new ideas where my art can take me and be open to evolution.