I get a lot of questions about my background – mostly about how I got started blogging and if I have tips or suggestions for someone just starting out. I’ve always had a hard time coming up with “the answers” because I truly feel like everyone’s path is different. What I can tell you is that one key to my creative little journey has been surrounding myself with insanely talented people to be inspired by. So when La Crema Wines asked me to be a part of their Interview Magazine Statement Makers campaign, I immediately knew I wanted to interview one of the most inspiring and creative people I know – Trina Bentley of Make & Matter.
Everything I know about design, developing an aesthetic, and having a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, I learned from her. While Jack is the person that finishes my sandwiches, Trina is (creatively speaking) the person who finishes my sentences. She’s been my go-to person for everything from logo brainstorms to my wedding dress choice. She’s the person who I trust to tell me that the sky is blue and that Pantone 485 is, in fact, the best red.
A bit about our background: Trina and I first met while working at a local graphic design firm. Eventually, we took a leap and started our own studio where we learned the ropes of creative entrepreneurship. Fast forward a bunch of years and our paths have diverged a bit – I started this here blog, and Trina went on to make a statement by starting Make & Matter, an award winning design studio where she creates gorgeous branding and packaging for natural food brands (like those beautiful Epic bars).
Last weekend, we got together for a glass of wine and a little brainstorm for an upcoming collaboration (more on that soon!). Jack put together a couple of cheese plates (and also snapped these photos)… Trina enjoyed La Crema’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir while I popped open the Chardonnay (which is in fact one of my favorite whites because it’s light, buttery, and also pairs well with most foods).
I realize this isn’t a dinner recipe, or a how-to-blog post, but I’m hoping this little Q & A will at least inspire all of you creative-types out there with some tips to make a statement in your own career. (Keep reading for the interview after the jump).
Jeanine: What made you get the courage to start out on your own and do you have tips for other aspiring creatives?
Trina: I didn’t just take a blind leap. I worked many years for other shops and learned the lay of the land before even considering going it alone. So when I made the decision to “go for it” – it was calculated & I was prepared. I simply did the math, and asked: “How much work would I have to do on my own, to make what I was making in my day job?” The answer was totally attainable. Also, pairing up to share the expenses of forming a company made it a lot less daunting.
My advice for other creatives:
1. Take small calculated steps toward your goal, not big leaps of faith.
2. Speak up. Have opinions. And back them up with expertise, not feelings.
3. Be nice to people. It goes a really long way.
4. Know your worth, then add 20%. (you are most likely underestimating yourself).
5. Focus on the WORK and the quality of it. The creative industry is full of so much talent. To make it, you’ve got to be really good and work really hard. The more I focus on my work (and making it as good as it can possibly be) – the more I find creative projects come my way.
J: What drew you to food packaging and food-related design?
T: So many things. First.. the clients are typically really great, down-to-earth type of people. Doing what they’re passionate about. Their package & their brand is their baby – I love that it means so much to them and that I can play a really important role in making that ‘dream’ happen.
J: What drives you to “make a statement”?
I feel like design MATTERS so much in this space (thus the reason for me naming my company Make & Matter!). There’s no other field of design that allows you to stack up all the competition in a row, in the same shelf space, and then asks a consumer to make a split second decision. Design has so much power in that setting. I love the strategy of gaining that attention & trying to communicate a brand in a split second of time. I love the competition of it all.
J: What are your biggest challenges as a female creative entrepreneur?
T: Balancing it all. Work, life, kids, creativity. It is a fine line to figure out.
J: Who would you want to have a glass of wine with?
T: I would have a glass of red with Louise Fili. And a glass of white with Gaby Brink. I idolize the work they are responsible for.
See how other women are inspiring each other to make statements in their career – check out these Interview Magazine videos – I especially loved one with Dominique Crenn who is the only female chef in the US to be awarded two Michelin stars.
This post is sponsored by La Crema. All images, words and opinions are my own.