We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Wise and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Samantha, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I first started East + West Designs, I wanted to have a job that allowed me to have freedom—specifically with my time.

I was getting ready to graduate college with a BFA in Graphic Design and all the jobs out there seemed to be extremely grueling with incredibly long hours, no free-time, and zero social life. Just you and your computer all day, every day.

Little did I know that as soon as I decided to start my own business, the whole freedom and work life balance concept was going to be much harder than I even realized.

As soon as I graduated college I got my first “real” graphic design job and I also started my stationery business. During the day, I would go to my nine-to-five and then I would come home to work on my dream job until super late at night. Then, I’d get up and do it all over again the next day. Ironically, it was incredibly grueling.

Now, six years later, I’m full-time at my dream job and I am finally bringing some balance into my life.

Working for myself, especially in my own home, has come with a lot of interesting challenges that I definitely didn’t have before. I’ve had to learn how to “go to work” (or downstairs in my basement, in my case) when I have work to get done and how to “be at home” with my family when I’m done for the day. It’s honestly extremely difficult to keep the two separated day-to-day.

The biggest thing that has helped me create more work life balance has been setting strong boundaries to protect my time. Setting office hours for when I’m working vs at home relaxing. No longer working on the weekends (my personal favorite). Taking time off when I need it to recharge creatively and mentally. These are all things that were incredibly difficult or almost impossible when I was juggling two jobs to build my dream.

Looking at where I am now, I definitely feel there are some things that I’d like to change to help improve the balance. However, I feel that shifting and adjusting how I choose to balance my work and daily life is something that will constantly change forever. Especially, as I continue to grow and evolve both personally and at E+W.

I’m just really grateful for everything I’ve learned in the past six years of balancing work and life and how it’s brought me to where I am now.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
One of my favorite things about my job is getting to tell someone else’s story and show off their personality through my art. Getting to know my clients personally so that I can create a design that truly represents them for such a meaningful and memorable moment in their lives is such an honor and it’s really rewarding.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I started having couples come to me for my design style. I’ve even had some couples book me as their stationer simply because they love the designs I share online. They don’t always have something in mind, they truly just want to work with me and that just blows me away every time!

It’s been an adventure getting to where I am today with my art. It’s such a vulnerable thing to create something you love and share it with the world, whether it’s on Instagram or a blog. Everyone is going to have their own opinions and thoughts about what you create and you have to have really thick skin to continue to show up day after day.

With that, though, I’ve learned a lot not only about my art, but about other aspects of running a creative business. I’ve learned about various printing processes, paper types, how to communicate clearly and efficiently with my clients, how to manage all my projects, etc. The list truly goes on and on when it comes to all the lessons I’ve learned while creating art and managing my own business.

While I’ve learned a lot, I’ve found that I also really enjoy teaching about my art. Educating couples on wedding stationery and how they can design it to be all their own has been so much fun. This is definitely something very new to me and my business, but I’m excited to see where this new avenue takes me.

The biggest thing I want people to know about me and my business is that I truly want to help represent you and tell your story. Your wedding is such a special time in your life and I’m super passionate about creating beautiful designs that are all your own and no one else’s. There are so many incredible, magical, wow-worthy ways that we can create a design that reflects you and your personality. So, let’s tell your story together.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I want to first start by saying that I am very much a homebody (hah!).

So, if my friend was in town and we were going to go out and do fun things around the city, honestly, we would probably go to a coffee shop to chat half of the day. My favorite coffee shop in Kansas City is Monarch—it’s just so beautiful and the coffee is amazing. It’s impossible to go there and not be inspired.

Then, we’d most likely go to a few local shops around town. I personally love Verdant—I’m for sure a plant lady, so I’d have to pick something up while I’m there. I also love candles and Verdant has one of my all time favorites, Anjou Pear.

For lunch, we’d probably grab some sushi, maybe at Prime Sushi in Mid-Town or maybe we’d get some tacos at Mission Taco, also in Mid-Town. Both are amazing.

To end the day, going to Boulevard is always a ton of fun. Drink some delicious beer and play games. It’s just the best.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My biggest supporters have been my family, especially my mom + my husband. Especially in the last year or so, both of them have helped me grow to where I am today.

Covid highly impacted my business and actually caused me to have to stop paying myself for almost a year. My husband was such a huge supporter and truly believed in me and my business. He would always tell me that he knew things would bounce back and truly believed the business would come back stronger than ever—and it did.

When things started to ramp up more than ever before, my mom was right there to help whenever I needed it. She would drive a two hour round trip sometimes two or three times a week to help me get invitations assembled in the mail, or cut paper, or simply run to grab lunch. I truly mean it when I say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom.

These two have helped carry me through this past year and I cannot even begin to express what their love and support means to me. I will be forever grateful for them.

Website: https://eastandwestdesigns.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eastandwestdesigns/

Image Credits
Jillian Bode (@jillianbrookephoto + https://jillianbode.com/) Molly Hoffman (@mxllyhxff + mollyhoffmanphotography.com) Savanna Sturkie (@savannasturkiephoto + savannahsturkie.com)

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