Lize-Marie Dreyer is the founder of Aurora Creative Studio – a business that grew out of her passion for illustration. You see, Lize-Marie’s dream job was having the freedom to illustrate her heart’s content, without briefs and brand guidelines. Because jobs like this rarely come along in graphic design, she dreamt of a creative illustrative outlet outside of her job. That dream was the beginning of Aurora Home, where the talent at Aurora Creative Studio use their skills in illustration to create the unique patterns you’ll find on all of their proudly South African homeware. She tells Go Hustle all about it…
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Interested? There are many opportunities for women in the graphic design industry
“I recommend you study at one of the amazing art institutions around South Africa first,” says Lize-Marie. “I did my BA in Visual Communication at the Open Window Institute and my Honours at Stellenbosch University. Graphic design interns are in demand across the country and you’re sure to be snapped up for an internship fresh out of college,” she says.
Once you’ve completed your internship, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to continue working for a company, or if you’d prefer to freelance. Lize-Marie jumped straight into freelancing – and never looked back. “Being your own boss isn’t easy, though, and you need to know where to focus your energy and time. Hold yourself accountable and don’t fear asking for help. It takes hard work, commitment and faith in yourself to build a business,” she says.
It took Lize-Marie years to build Aurora Creative Studio, and only once the primary business was self-sustaining, did she decide to invest some of the profits into another branch of the brand – Aurora Home.
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Typical industry challenges – and how to overcome them
When Lize-Marie started as a freelance graphic designer, she only ever needed to depend on herself and her skills. But there were challenges too: managing her time, learning to say “no” when she had too much on her plate, dealing with distractions and managing clients’ expectations. “I soon got these under wraps,” she says, “with self-discipline and organisation.”
Then she embarked on the next step, and faced a whole new set of challenges. “When I started Aurora Home, my challenges were much greater as I suddenly needed to depend on a whole team of people to get the products made.”
And it didn’t always work out so well… “I once hired a new seamstress to sew oven gloves for me, and let me just tell you that I got the oddest looking gloves back – each one a different shape and size!” she exclaims.
In that moment, Lize-Marie was devastated. She had trusted someone and they had not only wasted her time and money, but also her precious fabric and resources. But she persisted. “Perseverance and faith in myself and the brand drove me to continue my search for the right printers, suppliers and seamstresses. It’s rare that things come easily and I often find myself fighting for what I want,” she says.
Lize-Marie’s top life and leadership lessons
Lize-Marie loves this quote by Nora Roberts: “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” It reminds us that we have a role to play in creating the life we desire. “I’d teach my 21-year-old self this lesson: that if you don’t make it happen, it won’t,” she says. “A lot of people out there deal with feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’. It holds so many people back, the second-guessing, the fear. If you know that what you’re doing is worthy, absolutely no one can stop you – not even yourself.”