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Conversations with Destini Richlin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Destini Richlin.

Hi Destini, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I went to school in Pennsylvania for graphic design, and my now-extinct for-profit college offered me a job in a Staples copy center as my post-grad placement. Having worked in retail part-time while going to college full-time, more retail wasn’t the step I wanted to make. So I left my retail job and started visual.destini, a design studio (primarily virtual), and started using freelance sites to find projects, gigs, jobs – anything that would let me turn a profit and hone my skills. My projects then were simple – an image for a website’s slide show, a social media cover, a book cover, or a poster design. One-and-done projects that lasted a few days. Eventually, I started gaining long-term clients – social media management and design, then building their businesses up in the virtual space from just a single social media account to designing their website, their online presence – even the products on their shelves.

This year I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary as a self-employed small business doing graphic design, photography, and traditional art for over two dozen clients.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t been a smooth road, though I feel very fortunate in how my business has evolved and grown. I attribute this somewhat to having excellent time management skills, learning to prioritize projects and clients based on their needs and deadlines, and, most importantly, being willing to work late/extended hours to complete something when needed. The hardest part of working the way I do – from a home office and mostly virtually – is networking. Using the freelance websites worked well early on, but I don’t always use them, which means my profiles aren’t always current, and now they’re flooded with people trying to avoid traditional day jobs post-COVID.

Clients come and go, and the needs of the clients I have ebb and flow. Most of the time, I find myself swamped, while occasionally, I’m taking the initiative and seeking ways to make hours and improve my client’s businesses. Word of mouth is amazing but unreliable, so the hardest challenge is getting new leads.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Professionally I make most of my income from graphic design – logos and branding, websites, packaging, book layouts and covers, billboards, documents, video editing, and brochures. While my business’s “official” tagline is “design, art, and photography,” I’m a creative jack-of-all-trades and never back down from a creative challenge. If you’ve seen it, I’ve probably designed a version of it somewhere in my career.

Photography has always been a huge part of my design work, i.e., taking exactly the photo of the product I need for a catalog or the perfect photo for a book jacket. However, since I’ve been working with CATHIS Farm (a small family meat farm in Lillington, NC) to grow and expand their events business, I’ve done much more photography work for events, portraits, family sessions, and weddings. Art is where I started from a very young age, and building my business, became more of a hobby until recent years. Now can find my work on chalkboards, murals, and signage, plus selling my paintings, stickers, and prints. While these three more traditional fields make up most of my business, there are some stranger ones – SFX makeup, prop design (as Final Wyrd SFX online), and generally making physical objects for my clients using a lot of different techniques.

I think combining these skills and techniques – traditional art, digital art, graphic design, and hands-on making- allows me to see a project’s possibilities and translate it into more than one medium. For example, I can create a sculpture and photograph it for a unique book cove or use my digital skills to create complicated stencils for a perfectly patterned, hand-painted sign.

What do you think about luck?
Fate has a hand in my business – turns out, visual.destini was an appropriate name choice. I’ve gotten lucky in finding long-term clients and colleagues who work well with me and are genuinely lovely people who help spread the word about my business with good recommendations and reviews. In one case, I just happened to see a post from an acquaintance asking for help, so I went and helped – it turned into a wonderful friendship and client, and I ended up being Creative Director for their major event. While luck has had her part to play, I think so does try to see everything as an opportunity – that’s where the “visual” part comes in. You never know when some offhand comment from a friend turns into a fully-fledged idea for a project or business, or just lending a hand lands you with a valuable client.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
My own photo was taken by Tim of Never the Norm. The portfolio examples are mine!

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