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BIZ CRUSH: Snark Studios / The Snark Shop

BIZ crush

I "met" Sara several years ago by being a creep on the internet. I found her shop on Etsy, internet stalked her {just a little} then sent her a totally normal love/like letter via email telling her I thought she was cool & that we should collab on something.

Either she's just as big of an online weirdo, or the feeling was mutual. We've been in touch ever since & what seems like a hundred years later, we've finally joined forces in some respect.

She's currently crushing the coding & greeting card departments + provides your daily intake of wit & humor. Please do yourself a favor & give her a follow. And of course keep reading to find out more about all the wonderful things she's up to.

What kind of kid were you growing up?

My ma says I was “joyful” and eager to please. I think I was a bit of a follower - not shy necessarily, but also not like blazing my own adventurous path through untrodden scary forests. I’ve always been bad at math, but at an early age I decided I wanted to be that lone woman in the IT department who is just as smart or smarter than all the men. That goal ended up shaping my high school and college years pretty definitively, and I was nerdy yet not the smartest, most advanced student. I don’t know. Somehow I ended up being pretty well-rounded in the college application kind of way. Good grades, some sports, some clubs, some friends, with a side of ethnic. I think I was a pretty average sort of American Girl.

How did that affect your path towards graphic design (& web developing)?

I don’t think I would be a web designer + developer if I hadn’t gone after the IT project manager thing so enthusiastically and unquestioningly. I never really explored other career options or paths, with the exception of this one time I took a quiz at career services to find out what profession I should choose + it said I should be a social worker. I did it mostly out of curiosity, and I was honest enough with myself to know I was too into money to choose something as benevolent and self-sacrificing as social work. If I had taken any of these kinds of things more seriously or done more research, I always wonder what I would have discovered + chosen to do instead.

If your story could fit into a 30 second commercial, how would it go down?

The first 10 seconds would probably be a hilarious montage depicting a single-minded girl who really wanted to be something very specific, goes to college [happily!] for that something, then becomes that something...only to discover that it SUCKS. Maybe 4 seconds of some tragic emo music while we watch me commute to work in my best business casual suit separates, yelling at bad drivers on the highway, drinking the first of 6 daily diet cokes. The remaining 16 seconds would be dedicated to me discovering that I love being boss of me, working in my pajamas, sleeping in until 10 on any given weekday, and working towards my goal of 6 hour work days and 4 day work weeks and lots of vacations. Ha.

What ultimately made you decide to do the lovely thing you do?

Step 1 was a complicated + too-long story for here that involved my boss telling me I couldn’t take a vacation (which I had already booked + paid for) and if I tried to take it as unpaid leave, she’d “begin the firing process.” That was The Day I decided that I had a new goal: to not let anyone tell me I couldn’t take a vacation ever again. Step 2 was when I started working as a contractor from home + got a taste for working for myself + making my schedule, and I decided I wanted a business to suit and serve my life, instead of the other way around. It’s more complicated than that, after years of striving for a career + having that kind of “career woman” mindset, and figuring out what the other options look like, feel like, act like.

So anyway, websites were kind of a natural side job slash hobby I took up while I was exploring options. I had the training from college, and I liked it. Eventually circumstances + timing worked out + I just went for it full time and haven’t looked back.

Who’s positively influenced your path the most?

This is hard, because so many people influence in lots of ways. The easiest to point to is probably Marie Forleo, as cliche as that might be. I discovered her while I was still at my cubicle farm job + would listen to her videos + hide the browser window behind spreadsheets and stuff. I was the biggest sponge for her message at that time - her tagline, “the world needs that special something that only you have,” moved me, and so many of her videos were all about exactly what I was experiencing - in a job, hating it, not sure how / where / what to do next. It helped me stay positive and make plans at a time when I could easily have slipped into maybe a more serious depression, funk, unhealthy spiral, and stayed where I was for lack of realizing there was more out there.

Favorite part about working for yourself?

Probably scheduling is my #1. I choose when I get up, how late I stay up, how late I work, how much I work, how many projects, when I work out, when I eat. It’s simple and possibly sounds selfish to some, but it’s my bliss.

#TBT to Sara's first pop up with The Snark Shop

Most challenging thing about working for yourself?

...Probably my schedule LOL. Flexibility is awesome but also terrible! Sometimes I get to a place where I’m SO flexible that I have a hard time choosing what to do or just getting started on something. I have a mastermind group now that I turn to when I’m experiencing this + need a kick in the pants.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

For The Snark Shop, I keep a Trello board of product ideas, and so when I want to design something or make a new product, if I can’t think of anything I just pull up the board + have insta-inspiration from my past self.

For web design, it’s way harder. I have a questionnaire that clients fill out that’s supposed to help me narrow down a style or feel for them, but a lot of times I get on Pinterest or Google random things + scroll for like 7 hours looking at pretty things - websites, paper goods, storefronts, any kind of design collateral - and eventually some kind of spark will light.

If you could be a fly on the wall to anyone’s creative space {dead or alive} who would it be?

I recently saw VP of Creative Design for Herman Miller, Steve Frykholm, speak at Hopscotch Design Festival in Raleigh + he was the most inspiring and entertaining speaker. I think I would probably pick him + his team. I love Herman Miller (is it like a rule that designers have to love HM?) + I think it would just the coolest to witness behind-the-scenes of that world.

Talk about a failure you’ve learned from.

Oh man so many failures. One that always sticks out for me is from before I rebranded my greeting card shop to The Snark Shop. I came up with the brilliant idea to do a greeting card subscription service for a whole year. Each season, I’d send out cards for every holiday in that season - including fun holidays like National Hug Day, and would have options for Christian vs. not for Easter and whatnot. It was a whole thing. I spent MONTHS planning and designing and sourcing boxes and and and. I even took a copywriting course for the sale page on my website. It was really good. I was super proud and excited. But I didn’t tell anyone about it. I was nervous, and the couple friends I shared it with (including my then boyfriend, now husband) were skeptical. What? How? Huh? In my head, I was all like, ok just trust me, it’ll be fine. But I didn’t market it ahead of time or get any partners or anything. So of course when I “launched” it (because, what I did doesn’t really qualify), it bombed, no surprise.

The lesson for me was that you can’t work in a silo, and if your closest ally - in my case, my husband - doesn’t get it, then people who don’t know you or what you do will definitely not get it and they definitely will not give you money for it.

Also? I think deep down I wasn’t even on board for it because I didn’t do what I knew I was supposed to be doing - hyping it up, marketing, etc.! If the creator of the product is too shy/nervous/timid/whatever to tell people about it, what does that say? It’s like I knew it needed work, or that it wasn’t quite right or something. Trust your instincts, even if they’re hidden below the blanket of your pride.

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments in business?

Back to Snark Studios: Proudest accomplishment is that I am making it happen. I still wake up floored sometimes that after years of talking about being a web designer and developer, I’m doing it. I even pay quarterly taxes somewhat on time now.

What do you wish you knew when you first started that you know now?

I don’t like this question if only because I’m a firm believer of Everything Happens for a Reason. But ok fine: I wish I had known more about taxes when I started. My first year, I had to write an absolutely ginormous check with fees, and I didn’t save enough + struggled to make up the difference.

How did you land on the name “The Snark Shop”?

Originally my shop was called Sara Does, because when I started it, I wasn’t sure what kinds of products I was going to produce. It’s crazy to think about now but I was going to like, sell lamps that I had refurbished, some prints that I designed, lino stamps that I carved. I had big ideas with how “Sara Does” was going to be an umbrella to cover all manner of whatever. Eventually I got into designing greeting cards and the snarky / sarcastic thing became my trademark product and one day The Snark Shop just happened. Then when I started my web design biz later, I realized that I wanted it to kind of speak for me - I don’t like corporate politics, I don’t have a good poker face, and I’m not good at bullshitting. Snark Studios kind of gives people fair warning about who they’re going to be working with.

What’s next / What are you most excited about?

I’ve finally started adding some new products to The Snark Shop after like 3 years of writing down ideas for more than just greeting cards. I’m excited about making those things real. And simultaneously, I’m excited that I seem to have reached one of my goals which was to run The Snark Shop while also building websites. I never really wanted to do The Snark Shop full time, if only because I couldn’t let go of wanting to have a web design studio, so now I have both + it’s pretty rad.

Time of the day you are most productive: like 4pm right when man-piece is supposed to come home from work, ha.

The app you couldn’t live without: Trello for sure.

Social media outlet you love most: Instagram

Favorite account to follow on this outlet: random: a girl I know from college has a crazy successful doormat company + her posts are pretty specific to her biz, but her insta stories are hilarious and I love watching them. I like following her story because she’s living her life in an alternative way and is super real about it. Plus I kind of know her and it’s fun to see people you know living large.

Favorite Pandora station at the moment: Spotify Young + Free playlist is my jam.

Who would you like to see featured on a postage stamp? Carrie Fisher! A woman with many layers (though, aren’t we all) : talented actress, writer, and producer; struggled with drug addiction and mental health; family complications; outspoken, takes no bullshit kind of gal. Brings awareness and light to a lot of relevant issues.

Go to piece in your wardrobe: I just got a pair of grey stretchy jeans from Old Navy (I know) and they are amazing. I was skeptical but I know I’ll be wearing them nonstop.

Favorite Netflix binge: SO many but let’s go with The Tudors. I love a good sexy show, plus who among us doesn’t love period dramas (serious question), not to mention romanticization of tyrants (sarcasm here). One more because I have to: The Americans. Spy thrillers = my jam.

Most unusual thing sitting on your desk: Glad I answered these now + not a few months ago because I’m a desk purist who just recently started putting things ON the desk. Newest addition is this really cute ceramic fox letter holder thing. I don’t like him to hold letters though because it looks to cluttered.

Favorite place to get work done: a coffee shop anywhere. I love my office and working with friends but I get the most done without question whenever I go sit at a coffee house somewhere.

See more from The Snark Shop: Online | Instagram & Sara: Online | Instagram


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