Get Inspired – Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind

During The Hive bloggers conference, there was one very special presentation made possible only via the wonders of technology and the Internet. Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind and Design for MiniKind was being beamed to Berlin via Google Hangout — and while the feed stuttered at times, Erin’s personality and wonderful insights did not.

If you’ve never found your way to Design for Mankind, be sure to at least check out Erin’s “Why I Blog” post — it’s a wonderful insight into her journey as a blogger. Her blog showcases some fascinating and talented designers from around the globe and has been listed as one of The London Time’s top 50 design blogs in the world.

A former ad agency copywriter in Los Angeles, writer Erin Loechner now resides in a sleepy Midwestern town with her husband Ken, daughter Bee and two dogs. And as I sat listening to her talk during the conference, I realized that Erin has a lot of entrepreneurial passion. Thankfully, instead of ignoring that little voice in her head whenever it told her to go in a new direction or start a new venture, she just went full force toward the goal. And she has achieved wild success because of it.

Erin, you have such an amazing spirit and beautiful outlook on life, constantly seeking out those things that inspire and make us appreciate the world around us more. How do you manage to maintain that while balancing your career, being a wife and motherhood?
Oh, that is so kind of you to say – thank you! It takes a lot of mental work, actually, ha. I’m actually a fairly anxious person, so I’m always re-setting my brain, continually reminding myself that I have much to be grateful for. It’s hard to have a ton of bad days when you’re focused on the good, you know?

Also, I’m a big believer in getting enough sleep and taking care of myself. I’ve found that when I have a consistent string of busy, harried, frenzied, bad days, it’s generally b/c I’m not taking the time to prioritize myself and my health. Skipping breakfast and afternoon yoga certainly saves time, but it also makes for a grumpy Erin. :)

 

I definitely agree that taking care of yourself is extremely important for success. The more I let myself go without a break, the more off kilter everything else seems to get in the process. As I was listening to your keynote at The Hive blogging conference, it was clear that you’ve really managed to pinpoint the needs of others and quickly form that into a business. Do you have any tips for others to help them do the same? Or tips on how to find a niche to start a business around?

I think this stems from being a naturally curious people. I love connecting with my readers and have found that listening to their questions and stories are a perfect way to gauge where the market is headed. Conversations with fellow creatives always spark new ideas and inspiring projects, so I try to seek out those intentional conversations whenever possible.

As far as finding a niche to build a business around, I say stick with your passions, no matter how crazy. If you love frozen yogurt, write about it! Photograph it! Make art with it! Never underestimate the power of your passions – there are millions of people out there and we’re all more than alike than we realize.

 

The work you do on your blogs definitely portrays your passions in life — and some of the most successful business people I’ve met have been wildly excited and passionate about their business, whatever it happened to be. Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit and background, or when did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

You know, I’ve never thought about this, but I definitely have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I remember arguing with my mother because I wanted to start a pet-sitting business in sixth grade but didn’t have enough “start-up capital” to print the business cards. And I simply hated the idea of not having business cards! (I ended up settling for handmade flyers and they seemed to do the trick just fine.) But no, I never really had a moment where I set out to become an entrepreneur. Like most good things, it happened very organically with a lot of detours along the way. :)

Do you have a business idol(s)?

My grandfather. He was an incredible businessman, seizing opportunities, taking risks and investing back into his business until he could eventually retire at age 40. Crazy, right? I’d love to retire in ten years! He was also incredibly frugal, living within his means to build a sustainable lifestyle in the long run. It’s a very wise way to live.

 

He sounds like an incredibly wise man and I think we could all learn a lot from his actions. But we all also learn a lot from our failures. What have you learned from failing?

Oh, so much! I’d venture to say that every failure has a pretty significant learning opportunity hidden amidst the tears and frustration. One of my greatest lessons has been to pause and take better care of myself. Most of my failures have stemmed from burning out, working too hard or too fast and sacrificing my personal life along the way.

Failing has taught me not only the kind of work I want to do, but the kind of person I want to be to the people in my life.

 

Are there any books/websites/courses/resources you would recommend to others?

One of my favorite books for creatives is The Renaissance Soul. It does a really good job of teaching us that creativity sometimes looks messy, rather than arriving pre-packaged in a neat and tidy box. I used to give myself a really hard time for bouncing from passion to passion, not realizing that this was simply a smaller part of a larger journey. I mean, you have to jump from A to B if you’re going to get to C, yes?

I think I might need to read that book! I often find myself hopping from one place to the next and going in 4 directions at once. What inspires you to be a better person, blogger, and/or businesswoman?

My daughter for sure. I always keep myself in check to make sure that the time I’m spending away from her is an investment in something worthwhile. Her childhood goes by so quickly and I want to be sure I’m not wasting these precious moments on work that I don’t believe in or projects that aren’t making the world a tiny bit brighter.

What do you think we’ll find you doing one day in the future?

I’d love, love, love to design a clothing line someday. And writing a book is pretty high up on my list, but I’m waiting for the inspiration to hit. I’d have to be pretty passionate about the subject matter to devote that much time to the process!

You revealed a lot to us in your post Things I’m Afraid to Tell You — but what are 3 things we may not know about you?

Fried pickles are my favorite food, I swam competitively for 12 years and I love spending Sunday mornings on a church pew!

 

What is a favorite quote of yours?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato

Note: There is one Amazon link contained in this post and I’ll earn a few pennies if you purchase anything via the link. If I happen to collect enough, I’ll be sure to use it to buy Erin a cup of coffee the next time we find ourselves in the same city together! ;)

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