Back to School

I’ve always been an artist, I come from a family of talented artists, I always hung out with the artsy kids in school. Art was my favorite class as a kid. I didn’t want to do anything besides draw. It was an escape, a release, and an expression that I embraced.

One year I took a class in middle school for graphic art. My teacher was so cool and gave us free reign to try whatever we wanted. I learned the art of screen printing, engraving, and how to operate a print press to name a few things. To me it was magic. I was this new magician in training learning how to turn thoughts into products, and from then on I knew that was what I wanted to do as a career.

Years passed and I put art on the back burner. I dipped my feet into other industries that I thought might be easier to get into (and paid the bills), but nothing ever sparked the same passion. They were just jobs, but I wanted a career. Then I became a mom and that gave me purpose. My kids are my world and I felt lucky that I was fortunate enough to be able to be a stay home mom with the three of them. It allowed me to be there for all those important firsts, school performances, weekends, holidays, and sick days. And while I have no regrets about my choices, I admit I envied my friends whose careers were taking off. I felt like I was getting left behind. I started teaching myself Photoshop and found ways I could use those new skills to do something for myself. I joined an online gaming community and together we created a trusted brand for other moms just like us. During my time there we grew over 27,000 new members and I was having the time of my life. I had found my community and was working with a great team of like minded moms who were all excited to see us grow. We hosted family friendly gaming servers (because not every gamer is a 14 year old boy playing FPS), contests, giveaways, monthly events, weekly game nights, and merchandise. Thanks to those events, I developed my skills in logo design and became familiar with social media graphics and engagement. Eventually we decided we needed to expand beyond our admin team and recruited and oversaw over 40 different content creators for our site. It was truly an exciting time. Sadly, creative differences caused a divide between the owner and me and we parted ways. I won’t lie, that was hard for me.

After that I became involved with my daughters’ high school marching band. They were always in need of parent volunteers, and since my kids were older now I had tons of spare time. I found out they didn’t have an official website or real online presence so I spoke with the president of the board and volunteered my skills. Soon we had a website up and running and a social media presence to help draw attention to our events and fundraisers. I began the process of creating a cohesive brand for the band. I created the content for the website, created and released the monthly newsletter through mailchimp. I digitally recreated their logo, made registration forms available online, designed t-shirts for competitions, flyers for fundraisers, and awards for the end of the year banquet. I also helped with inventory, and spoke directly with vendors for ordering. I was having a great time and it kept me really busy. Then the inevitable happened…my kids graduated! It was time for a new set of parents to take over and for us “Senior” parents to retire, so that’s what I did. 

Once again I found myself struggling to find something to occupy my time and engage my mind. I decided to focus more on my crafting business. I taught myself how to make tumblers and use epoxy, I learned how to operate a Cricut machine and heat press to design and make custom t-shirts, I even dabbled in 3D printing. On occasion friends would ask if I could make a logo for them and I’d jump at the opportunity. I loved crafting, but my true passion was always in the design, and creating mockups for clients. Unfortunately I kept hitting a snag…I couldn’t make vectors, and I was running into that obstacle more and more. It was when someone told me they intended to use my logo design on their work vehicle that I started to panic! I warned them “this isn’t going to look good at that size” and I knew if I wanted to go any further in this field, I was going to have to learn Adobe Illustrator.

I tried to teach myself, but after my third or fourth loudly proclaimed expletive, my husband (who works from home) gently suggested that it might be a good idea for me to go back to school. He was right.

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Going back to school at my age is a bit unnerving. I knew I’d be in a class with some people fresh out of high school. Some of whom are younger than my own kids. I was afraid I’d stick out like a sore thumb and not be able to relate to anyone (not completely unlike high school though). Luckily that hasn’t been my experience. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely the oldest in the class, and there are definitely moments when they talk about something from their childhoods I can only recall because my kids watched it too, but as a huge fan of Gen Z I can honestly say I enjoy my classmates and the conversations we have. Besides our passion for graphic design I have found I share other interests with some of them as well. I still talk about my kids, but now they’re not the only thing I have to talk about, and that feels nice.

We’re only 9 weeks into the course, but it’s been great. I took to Illustrator really well and am hoping the other courses come just as easily. I find I love learning new skills, and when we’re actively doing that I work hard to challenge myself with new ideas. I’m actually having a lot of fun. That thrill I’ve been chasing since my middle school class is back! There isn’t an assignment that I dread or haven’t been happy with. Even when we had to design a logo for our personal business. Don’t get me wrong, I love logo design, but I already had a logo I was proud of and didn’t want to change it. Our teacher told us to consider it a “rebranding” and since I’m sure I will come across similar requests in my future professional career I decided “challenge accepted!” It turns out he was right! I actually prefer the new logo and colors I’ve chosen, and as the client I am completely thrilled with my work!
10 out of 10, would totally recommend!

To finish this off, I guess I wanted to reiterate that it’s true, it really is never too late to start over. Sure I’m older now than some of my peers starting out in the same field, and while a lot of my friends are well established in their careers while I’m just starting, I’m still only in my 40s, and don’t they say “life begins at 40”? I was a successful stay home mom when my kids were little, and now I still have time to be successful in the corporate world as well. I bring an element to the table others may not and everyone has a unique style they embrace. All I need now is to be matched with the right employer so that I can take all these skills and my years of experience and finally be paid for them! To produce something that not only makes the client happy, but proves that my time is valuable and appreciated by them (and being able to contribute to my family’s finances). I look forward to developing a new sense of independence while showing my kids that it’s never too late to start over, and most importantly, to never give up on your dreams.

The Future of Torimili Designs

When I started Torimili Designs in 2017 my main focus was crafting as a way to occupy myself as a stay home mom. I heard about the Cricut machine which seemed like the most amazing invention for a hobby crafter like me who wanted to make t-shirts for her son’s totally obscure interests. Soon I started making tumblers too. A few friends saw what I did and I started making things for them. Then it became a way for some friends and me to craft together and learn from each other which eventually led to us doing our first craft fair together. It felt like I was headed down the right path of what I planned to do with my life once my kids had grown up.

Then I had a couple epoxy reactions, and while I totally conceded to the fact that they were due to my own ignorance about not using the proper PPE, there were periods of time I would need to take a break in order to let my skin heal. This is when I started focusing more on the design side of things. I was already doing my own designs, but I was finding that I was enjoying the design part the most.

So what does that mean for the future of Torimili Designs? It means going forward I will be focusing more on graphic design. I’ve been sharpening my skills in photoshop and have become pretty efficient in Illustrator, a program I had hardly even opened until a couple months ago, and I’m not even done. There’s still so much more to learn and I can’t wait!

I’m really excited about this evolution of my business. These new skills I’ve acquired can only help Chris and I with future projects we have in mind, but I’m also thrilled about the idea of working in an office environment with peers doing something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. I admit for so long I was afraid I’d end up taking a job I wasn’t excited about just to feel that I had a purpose. I know that would have been the wrong decision for me, and while I’d have done that I have to say there’s truth in the old adage “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” and I want that feeling!

Don’t get me wrong, I still have some creative passions I want to explore (like screen printing, 3D printing, and making my own silicone molds, but there’s also candle making, soap making, and sandblasting…I know, I’m totally random), but I’m excited to go back to getting into those as a hobby.

For those of you who have supported me and my business over the years. I won’t forget it. If there’s still something you need, you have my number.