• Grady Connolly

Rustic Entrepreneur Spotlight - Luckythirteen Design

Rustic Entrepreneur is thrilled to have had the opportunity to connect with Jill Paisley, founder of Luckythirteen Design. Check out her startup story and tips for success!

Who YOU are and how you got started with this venture?

"I grew up on my family’s dairy farm in rural Northeast Iowa. Even as a kid I daydreamed about a career that would allow me to be creative – and a growing love of color, typography, advertising and using both my hands and a computer to create something brand-new led me to study graphic design in college and do it professionally. For the decade that followed I worked in small creative shops, in-house marketing offices and ad agencies across the state. I had also climbed to a creative director-level position (where many dream to go and what I thought I wanted too) but I wasn’t happy there. I decided it was time for a change. I got a couple of job offers, but nothing felt right. Then I had a crazy thought – what if I started my own business (something I had also daydreamed about?) I had so many reservations at first – could I make it work AND support myself, my husband and our two young kiddos? I realized that a decade of being in the industry – working in that little creative shop, being all-hands-on-deck as an art director at an ad agency, and managing a creative team gave me a great all-around experience. I had skills in many different project types and could manage priorities and deadlines. I learned I loved working directly with clients, building good relationships, helping others succeed. Also doing work to make my local community a better, more vibrant place was very important to me. I decided to pull each of these aspects and focus on them in my own business, and took the plunge to start Luckythirteen Design full-time in 2014."

What your company does and what exciting things you have coming up?

"I’m a one-gal brand design studio, working mainly with small business and nonprofit clients to create thoughtfully-crafted design that’s authentic to their brand. I believe power of good design is amazing – a professional and authentic identity can bring such awesome energy to a brand and give a small business owner so much added confidence! But while design is a focus here, nothing is created without intent and strategy. I help clients develop a strong and meaningful concept so that they can really connect with their audience, then I help them roll it out in projects such as logo design, print and packaging design, and web design and more. Many of my clients are local, which I absolutely love because it both gives me the opportunity to support my community and allows us to meet up in-person – often at a local coffee shop sharing a cup of coffee. One of my most recent projects is helping an entrepreneur kick-off her new business with branding, logo design and marketing materials. While she's very busy thinking through the bazillion things a new business owner needs to consider, branding is at the top of her list because she knows that considering it from the start is so important. No business owner wants to "halfway" do their logo or collateral for example, only have to redo (and repay) to have it done more effectively/professionally later. We are creating something professional, meaningful and effective to make big impact from the very start. I’m so excited for her and her new business venture, and cannot wait to share the good stuff in the works!"

What does rural entrepreneurship mean to you?

"I believe fate is a real thing. Right around the time I started my business, my husband and I had just purchased land and built our new home on his family’s farmland – just a few miles down the same rural road where I grew up. Living in big cities around the state and eventually moving back to our rural home area was a very conscious decision. Our small-town community surrounds my family in a wonderful support system, and we are involved in our community and causes. It’s where we choose to raise our family, and it’s the area I want my business to serve. As someone who works out of my in-home studio, and I truly feel my business is meant to be here. Growing up in rural Iowa (and on that dairy farm) has taught me honesty, hard work and integrity – and those are all qualities that reflect in my business."

Any tips you might have for starting a business in rural areas?

"I would encourage anyone looking to start a business in a rural area to connect. Technology literally connects us to anyone on earth, which can be an amazing tool for a rural entrepreneur. We can share our hearts out on social media daily and develop our professional skills with a bazillion how-to videos, but I think connection needs to extend beyond that. We need to reach people on a more personal, authentic level. You could consider meeting connections face-to face. Get involved in a community cause or event that you care about. Take a class to develop a skill and meet other like-minded people in the process (even if it’s a drive to get there). Have coffee with someone in the same industry (community over competition.) Connections build connections, and I believe that in-turn builds new business. I believe people want to work with people – authentic, passionate people that are invested in both what their selling and their clients. And when you’re sharing what you do in your business, never be afraid to share WHY you do what you – personal stories make a lasting impression too."

Located in Northeast Iowa – the rolling hills just north of Dubuque, Iowa

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