We had the good fortune of connecting with Sophie Ulibarri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sophie, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Certainly. But then I ask myself if I find joy in what I am doing. If the answer is yes, if it “feeds” me, I keep going. Success, just as happiness, looks different for all people + all pursuits. A wise friend of mine once asked me, “shackles on? or shackles off?”. Meaning, do you feel burdened or chained to it? Or does it bring you freedom, joy, or inspiration? I try to weigh most tough decisions with that advice in mind.
Additionally, I’m challenging the words, “give up” as it implies you weren’t enough for the task or you couldn’t measure up. If you do feel you need to pivot away from something, I’d challenge you to reframe the vernacular from “give up” to “move on”. Moving on means you’ve made a conscious decision within yourself to say “this isn’t serving me” + releases you to do something else that will. This mindset is empowering, rather than self-limiting.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a graphic designer who specializes in bespoke, luxurious + high touch event stationery. We primarily find our focus in the niche of weddings + social engagements, but also offer brand consulting + identity collateral for businesses + other creatives. I began post undergrad working for a non profit + one day, was tasked to design a magazine advertisement under a very tight timeline. Somehow I managed to pull it off + even though I fumbled through it blindly for a while, working in these programs made making art (something I always enjoyed) much more streamlined. I began working on some print work + small projects for friends/family. It eventually took off to a level that propelled me to focus on it full time.
As with any small business, there were many long nights, but they didn’t really feel long to me in those moments. Small business is not easy – it is a child that you give birth to, that you raise, that you argue with, that disappoints you, that humbles you, that you delight in, that you are proud of. I encourage anyone considering a life of working for themselves to go at it with gusto. Be prepared for those long nights + lots of elbow grease. Align yourself with people who do what you want to do + then find a way to do it better. Trust yourself + strap in.
For those of you already following this dream, I would encourage you to take on mentees, teach generously + don’t take yourself too seriously. I think that’s what I would want people to know about me + my brand. I’m confident in my abilities, but I can definitely laugh at myself. Mostly, I hope people find me approachable, generous, supportive, + genuine. I view the opportunity to work for myself as a gift + I strive to make that abundantly clear to my clients + partners.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is obviously pre or post pandemic, because let’s face it, right now we’re not doing much of anything! I would definitely want to spend some time in the mountains. Crested Butte is one of my favorite spots, though recently, I went to Telluride with some friends + we had a blast. In the mountains, we’d do some hiking, some apres + rub elbows with the locals over brews. I would want my friend to experience a concert at Red Rocks (because that’s magic!), eat at Uncle (my favorite Denver ramen spot), + get coffee every morning at a new coffee shop. Some of my favorites are: Corvus, Black Eye, Steam, Pablos + Novo. Other favorite food spots are: Denver Biscuit Co/Fat Sully’s, Bar Dough, The Hornet, and The Breakfast King (for some real throwback diner vibes).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Is this my academy awards moment?!? Well, even if it’s not, there are many people to thank for this journey. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my dear friend Jolene Picone of Veil Trends who encouraged me to begin my business + continues to support + cheer me on. She’s an amazing woman entrepreneur who has launched several successful businesses + someone who I admire a great deal for her entrepreneurial spirit as well as her integrity + ethics. My assistant Brittney Ostransky is another one of those pillars to whom I owe a great deal of credit. She has had major influence over the growth of our businesses + has helped revitalize many areas within them. She is a very talented, honest, + hard working woman who has become so much more to me than my work assistant these past 6 years.
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