1. What's your entrepreneurial story? More specifically, how did you become a boss woman?
I didn't know it at the time but I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 15 and painted my first mural commission for a woman I babysat for. From there it grew into a small business I ran throughout high school and community college that paid for my travels to Europe and trips to visit my aunt in Virginia until I left to complete college at UC Santa Cruz. Once I graduated from there in 2009 with not many prospects I opened up my first of three Etsy shops and kept learning from each more and more about running a business, branding a business and managing clients. I also learned a lot about project management being a sign artist at Trader Joe's for years after college as well, where deadlines were plentiful & swift. So many of these experiences have helped me with the business I currently run, though at the time I didn't see how any of them connected at all. I felt aimless & aloof for years until it clicked that being a Renaissance woman with a bounty of ideas was not me being flakey- I just needed to learn how to funnel that energy better.
2. What was the turning point that put you on the work-path you're on today?
I'd say a turning point would be when I went to therapy in 2013. I really turned my life around by finding my worth, my voice, my confidence & learning to love myself. I had all the other pieces to running a business prior to going to therapy- but without those key ingredients it was not working for me.
3. For someone who wants to change their work situation but doesn't know where to start; what would you tell them?
Don't be afraid to ask questions and accept help. We live in a DIY climate but there is no shame in accepting help from others. The other half of that answer is to find the conviction to follow through on your ideas even if everyone else doesn't get it yet. You'll know if it's something you really believe in if you can't stop thinking about it.
4. What would you say was your most difficult and proudest boss woman moment?
The most difficult moments used to be handling pushy clients. They didn't happen often but when they did I didn't used to have a backbone. Luckily, I've found it and have also found that taking ownership of my business' policies and how I operate makes most clients respect me and the process more.
I don't know that I've had one proudest moment, but moments that make me feel amazing happen all the time. They happen when I see professional photos of my work and I can't stop staring at them or when I book a client for the same amount I used to earn working hourly in over four months.
Being published in Vogue is what everyone else would pinpoint as Pigment & Parchment's proudest moment. I do have to say doing the stationery for Mary Kate Olsen's secret wedding (I grew up with watching the Olsen Twins) was a pretty epic moment for me.
5. How do you handle the nuts & bolts of business i.e. paperwork, money, taxes, etc ... Do you hire someone or do you handle it yourself?
As of now I handle everything myself. Eventually I will hire someone as an assistant- but I don't ever want to be managing a big team.
6. Favorite business apps or sites you're using?
I really enjoy using an app called 'Hours' that lets you program the main things you do throughout the day and then you can easily track your time throughout the day to see where your day goes. It isn't something you need to use forever but it will give you a really good idea of how much time things really take vs. our perception of how long it takes. An added bonus was that it kept me a bit more aware of staying on top of ONE task at a time rather than doing 8 things at once but not even executing the thing I first set out to do.
7. If you could change one business decision from your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?
I would have set up my minimum price point and raised my prices a long time ago and never taken on free work for 'exposure'. I see so many people in my field who not only are short changing themselves for what their skilled labor deserves but they are also perpetuating the idea that what we do isn't of great value.
8. Hiring a graphic designer and/or photographer for branding can be daunting for some. What advice would you give them?
Do it. It's absolutely a game changer in taking your business seriously. Branding is an especially hard one for people who are themselves designers and artists to want to pass the baton on to someone else for since it seems like something we can do ourselves. It is so much harder to do this work for yourself than it is for another person though and that kept me from branding my business properly for a long time.
9. How do you deal with days you're feeling uninspired?
I do errands and life things. I go grocery shopping and get out of my studio. The benefit of running my own business is setting my own hours. I get to take off in the middle of the day if I'm not in the head space to work and make up for it by working later that night or weekend when I am in the mood.
Sometimes though, that just isn't an option. Deadlines are deadlines and in that case I'm a no nonsense boss with myself and I just get the work done. I would love it if I felt inspired every single time I painted, but that's just not how it is. Sometimes it is just getting the work done because it has to get done right now. That I learned from years making signs at Trader Joe's where it didn't matter if you were inspired it just needed to get done.
10. What is the best business advice you ever came across?
Emily McDowell's quote, "I will stop comparing myself to strangers on the internet."
You don't know other people's situations from the staged information they present on the internet. You do you.
All you can do is your best with whatever you have right now. Don't wait because you aren't already as great as someone else on the internet or you'll never get any better!
Rosaura Unangst is the owner & artist behind Pigment & Parchment, a mecca for couture stationery founded in 2013. Born & raised in the Bay Area, Rosaura has been painting for twenty five years and creating commissioned artwork for fourteen years. A true Renaissance woman, she has devoted her life to finding beauty, creating messes & constantly learning new practices & techniques to add to her tool box as an artist.
When she's not hand illustrating maps or calligraphing envelopes you may find Rosaura teaching workshops, playing board games with her husband, Nathan, or watching an old MGM musical while singing off key to her cat, Elphaba. She's honored that her artwork creates heirlooms for new families & brings personal meaning to their wedding ephemera.
You can find her at: pigmentandparchment.com
All photos by Wild Within Studio