Name: Elynor Monks / Age: 33 / Location: Wilmington, NC / Education: Bachelors from SMU: Major: Advertising and Minor: Studio Art / Current Title: Owner & Creative Director of Elynor & Co.
On Her Journey
“I started my career at Brand Strategy & Consumer Insights firm where we specialized in consumer research and how to make those findings actionable for big businesses across the world. But we were producing bland pitch decks and discombobulated reports with little regard to design strategy, visual engagement or brand narrative. I asked if I could change my role to “design strategist” (focusing solely on powerpoint and infographic work) and it took off.
Our client base grew and we began producing work that truly inspired our clients to action. It was a dream job, but after I had my first baby I knew I wanted to be able to work from home. So I started my own business, focusing solely on presentation design and pptx-made infographics.
I had no idea how successful I would become given the need for this type of work. I mean, every big business uses PowerPoint! And they are sick of the doldrum templates! Word of mouth travels fast when you treat each project and client with real care and attention to detail. I truly don’t believe powerpoint is given the love it deserves from a visual perspective. It can be custom, editorial and beautiful if you nix everything you’ve been taught about powerpoint.
I now do branding, websites and almost all other graphic design projects through my incredible team of remote female powerhouses who have also taken the leap to start their own business from home. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their dedication to their craft! I hope one day soon we can all get together and learn from each other in a real community setting. Stay tuned for that!”
“TV, magazines, print ads, billboards, company logos, Instagram is a big one these days. Pinterest, Behance, Envato. Even image searches in Shutterstock get me thinking on my computer. But I also really admire editorial design so magazines really help me appreciate layout design and how to strategically pack in a bunch of information into a small space while still having it engage an audience visually.”
On Her Typical Week
“It’s a lot of sweatpants and high buns, running kids to school and working as best I can from 9 – 5 pm. Admittedly, I have been working a lot of nights (after dinner, baths and baby bedtimes) to finish it all in time. But that’s because I have been pretty dedicated to growing Elynor & Co this year and that takes time; more time than I thought!”
“Notice what your strengths are. Notice what people compliment you on. Notice WHY you like the cover of a magazine. Notice how others are succeeding in a space similar to where you want to be.”
- iCal sharing keeps our family to-dos in order.
- Instagram for modest in-house marketing, research, potential designers to subcontract for me, inspiration.
- Shutterstock for vector images and photos
- Unsplash for the really beautiful real-life photos
- Envato for awesome fonts, patterns, template ideas and graphics
- Asana for teamwork and asset sharing
- DropBox for client content sharing
- PPTX & Illustrator are really the two programs I work in – and Illustrator is only for those vector files I want to customize for client needs.
- Squarespace is my go-to website platform – both my business and my client websites
- Quickbooks has been a life saver for all invoicing and money management!
- Color Story is great for mobile photo editing
- Unfold & Canva are great for stories and Instagram posts
- Later is my go-to social planner.
“I think just being able to make a living from my bedroom and supporting my family of 5 with an incredible stay at home hubby is the most I could ever dream of. I truly believe anyone can achieve a solid work/life balance if you are organized, smart, dedicated to your craft and passionate about each and every project. The mission of my company internally is to support women all over the country/world to find this balance. I am working towards that more and more after 5 years on my own. It will take some time to get there and grow, but the need is so big, and there is so much talent out there!”
On Finding Balance
“As an entrepreneur, it is hard to find balance. When you’re running the show, there are endless possibilities and opportunities to grow and improve. I could work all day every day, and sometimes I have to do that. But I am learning that time management and compartmentalizing time is super important, and setting expectations with clients and subcontractors is a part of that.
For now, I just do my best to keep a 9 – 5 day on the weekdays and “gear up” for a couple hours on Sunday to feel prepared for the week ahead. For me, it’s all about quality. Enjoying each moment you get with your family and dedicating yourself whole-heartedly to your client’s success. Caring. You have to care and be in each moment and gobble it up with a real hunger to enjoy all life throws at you!”
“It’s funny when you have kids how much everything changes. Their happiness is your happiness and everything I do is for them. Even if that means working long hours and not seeing them as much as I want to sometimes, I know they are proud of me for working hard to build a life we love by the beach.”
On Finding Your Passion
“Notice more! Notice what your strengths are. Notice what people compliment you on. Notice WHY you like the cover of a magazine. Notice how others are succeeding in a space similar to where you want to be. When you take account of all these things with eyes wide open, you’ll find your niche. But talent means always being open to learning more and evolving so keeping your ear to the ground will get you further than touting your own successes.”
“I am finding it harder and harder to find good within the US this year. I am kind of devastated by our country politically, economically and socially. The divide is really apparent here in the bible belt, but you can always find good. The most positive cultural shifts I have been able to be a part of include branding a food pantry for free and creating engaging designs for a project dedicated to childhood empathy and service. These projects mean the world to me and I am so fulfilled knowing I had a small part in growing a community food pantry and teaching little ones what a refugee really is, and what they can do to help them.”
“Honestly? Disney World was a wild experience. I still can’t believe I am old enough to take my own kids there when I remember like it was yesterday being the kid!! But watching their little eyes light up at every turn made my heart burst. It’s funny when you have kids how much everything changes. Their happiness is your happiness and everything I do is for them. Even if that means working long hours and not seeing them as much as I want to sometimes, I know they are proud of me for working hard to build a life we love by the beach. At least I hope they are!”
“Talent means always being open to learning more and evolving so keeping your ear to the ground will get you further than touting your own successes.”
On Being a Business Owner
“[My favorite part is] the flexibility of it all. Sleeping in if I need to, pausing to make grilled cheeses for the kids at lunch, taking a hair appointment in the middle of a weekday and of course, not commuting! [My least favorite part is] the constant awareness that you could be doing more. It can be daunting to have big dreams.”