AIGA Baltimore

Navigating Success and Failure as a Design Entrepreneur: Advice from Alyson Beaton

Alyson Beaton is a successful designer and entrepreneur. For more than a decade, she’s designed and launched several of her own product lines, including Lille Huset, Grow Books Press, and Marketote. On Wednesday, October 21, Alyson joined us for a breakfast talk about her experiences as an entrepreneur and designer, and the processes of defining both success and failure.

As an entrepreneur, the first thing to do is to find your inspiration. Ask yourself what your goal is. Once you’ve defined your success, you’ll be able to evaluate the outcome. When you figure out what is and isn’t working, you’ll learn important lessons about your next steps. Failure is not necessarily something to be afraid of, as it can teach you when something needs to change, or when to just let go. It can, however, be hard to stay focused in the face of failure. But perseverance will pay off with opportunities not otherwise available. In Alyson’s case, she was able to meet her goals on Kickstarter, but the learning curve to get there was huge.

Success is more than just figuring out what not to do. Here are some tips from Alyson to help guide you to successfully designing and selling a product:

  1. Remember to pay yourself. Your time is valuable and should be budgeted for.
  2. Communicate to the intended customer through product packaging. A design that appeals to that person will ensure your message is received.
  3. Research trade shows as much as possible. This research will lead you to the right stores for your product and to important connections with people who can support you.
  4. Test the market for your product. Study the people who you intend to be the consumers to make sure your product fits their needs and desires.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur and designer is no small feat. Some measure of failure along the path is inevitable. As Alyson has learned, failure is not to be avoided, but welcomed as a learning opportunity. Learning from your mistakes and following the right steps will ultimately lead to the success you set out for.


Photos taken by Courtney Glancy

Mitchell Cole is the web sales manager at Service Photo Supply. Most of his free time is spent indulging in some sort of gaming – basking in the glow of a computer screen or the clattering of dice. Critical hit! Find him on Twitter at @mc_mittens.