In this week’s Designer Moment, we’re chatting with Maddy Hague of SplendidSupplyCo!
Tell us about yourself! Where is your hometown? Where do you live now? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of design? Any fun facts about yourself?
I’m originally from New York (both Queens and Long Island), but currently live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with my husband, our daughter, and our three kitties. I work full time as an art director, graphic designer and stylist (yes, I wear a LOT of hats!) but it keeps my days interesting. I originally moved out here to work as an art director and graphic designer for Target, thinking we’d only be in Minnesota for three years (or five, tops), but we fell in love with it. This summer, we’ll have been here 10 years! My husband and I met at Rhode Island School of Design on Orientation Day, and we both studied Graphic Design there. He comes from a creative family (his father is children’s book illustrator Michael Hague, his mother is an amazing painter in her own right, and both of his sisters went to RISD and are extremely talented). I, on the other hand, came from a decidedly UNcreative family, but my parents were always incredibly supportive and encouraging of my desire to pursue art as a career.
Tell us about the space where you do your work. Do you have an official studio or have your carved out a nook in your home? Both are equally wonderful and we’re excited to learn more!
I have an official studio in my basement that I work in for my photography and styling work, but for my design work, my office is my couch! I’m constantly designing new stuff for Zazzle, but I don’t want to miss out on family time. Not having a formal office allows me to stay present and interact with my daughter even when I’m working, and I don’t want to give that up.
What is your background in art/design? What got you started creating?
I’ve been interested in creating since I was little – I took classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art as a young child. I decided as a freshman in high school that I wanted to commit to art as a career, but at the time thought I would go into apparel design. I took pre-college classes as a sophomore at Parsons School of Design, but after a rocky internship that revealed that most of the stereotypes of the fashion industry were true, I realized with my personality, I was not cut out for fashion. At that point, I seriously started considering graphic design. At the time, there was a community of teenage web and graphic designers creating their own web spaces called the “Teen Domain Scene”. I had become one of them, after teaching myself to code and use Photoshop at age 12 (that’s 20 years ago now!). I had been designing in the community for about 4 years when I shifted my focus and realized that I was actually pretty passionate about graphic design. Once I decided that was the route I wanted to take, Rhode Island School of Design became my top choice school, and I was accepted in early admissions.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I used to be a professional wedding and party blogger, so I use the curation and trend-spotting skills I developed during those years to determine what types of things I should be working on – for example, my blush pink and rose gold marble suite. I tend to find inspiration in random pins on Pinterest (usually things totally unrelated to graphic design at all) that spark an idea for something later.
When do you feel your most creative? Your least?
My best ideas tend to come when I’m not thinking too hard on something. For example, I end up working on holiday cards super early because I find it’s way easier to come up with interesting design ideas when I don’t feel the pressure of a self-imposed deadline. I keep several sketchbooks, organized by invitation category (holiday, baby, wedding, etc), and I just keep them handy for when I suddenly think of something I want to execute later. I’m my least creative when I’m really stressed out and have too much on my plate. I’ve gotten really good at knowing when I’m close to needing some break time, so that doesn’t happen super often.
What are your favorite products to design on Zazzle?
I love invitations, but currently my favorite products are the expanding line of party supplies Zazzle offers, particularly the party cups and party hats. They’re a little more difficult to design for, but the challenge is totally worth it. When I saw how my Under the Sea Mermaid party hats and cups turned out, I actually “squee!”d.
If you could wish for one new product on Zazzle, what would it be and why?
I would LOVE to see foil options available since so much of my design work and brand currently use faux foil. Party cups, party hats, and bunting were all on my list but you guys have recently added those!
What was the very first Zazzle product that you sold?
My Peach Watercolor Heart postage stamps. I had thrown them up on Zazzle without a ton of thought after my friend Jen from Blush Paper Co. repeatedly encouraged me to try out Zazzle. She thought I was a great fit, but I honestly didn’t have a ton of confidence about standing out on such a massive platform. Fast forward a few months, and it’s not only one of my top performing products, but I’m Pro, making enough royalties to warrant me focusing on it for 10-20 hours a week, and I’ve been fortunate to have several prominent features on the website and in email marketing.
What are your favorite product types to design on Zazzle?
I usually stay in the party supplies and invitation sphere because that’s always been my niche – even back when I was blogging. I was even in charge of art direction for Target’s party line packaging before I left the company. I have recently stepped out of my comfort zone to design some home goods and gifts on my new shop, SplendidSupplyHome.
What Are Your 4 Favorite Products in Your Store?
Do you have any advice for new Zazzle Designers?
Don’t be discouraged or feel overwhelmed by how vast Zazzle is. I’m grateful Jen from Blush Paper Co. encouraged me (relentlessly, hah!) to get a store going despite my reservations and lack of confidence, because I learned quickly that quality is noticed and rewarded, even if it takes a little while. Spend some time really focusing on your SEO (I spend a ton of time writing my descriptions, titles and tags, maybe more than I need to), and promote your products on social media even if it’s only once in a while, and you’ll start to see traction.