Catching up with alumnus: Mandy Quitog
Tell us what youʻve been up?
I run a small business, Hey Mandini, in my spare time. I also work full-time as a content creator for BMW Hawaii. I sell handmade stickers and phone grips. I am currently working on expanding my shop to shirts and handmade macrame products.
What inspired you to start your own small business?
I always knew I wanted to start my own little business. I’ve been an artist my whole life and seeing other people’s reaction towards my artwork made me want to create something specific for them. I would always make things for people and I would get paid for it which eventually inspired me to finally take that leap where I could not only sell to people I knew but to others as well. Although, it took me a long time to actually start my own shop due to fear and acceptance. However after being on social media and seeing all of the opportunities out there, it pushed me to put myself out there. I looked at other creators online thinking if they can do it, why can’t I?
How has earning a degree prepared you for this?
Earning a degree has definitely helped me develop what I already knew and loved. I’ve always had a passion for creating and having a degree guided me to thoroughly process what I wanted to make and how to professionally create. I feel like many of the courses in the program really were training courses for the real world because it taught me how to utilize all of the design programs, how to solve design problems in different scenarios, shortcuts in the design programs that make your work more efficient, and overall how to think like a creative professional. This degree provides us the opportunity to be our own creative even if we are not working under another company’s agency or corporate job and I feel like with that thought, it gave me the idea that since I have all the creative tools in my head and I have it professionally on paper, why shouldn’t I start my own small business.
Are you the artist behind the products?
I am the artist behind everything in my shop. I design each illustration, take all the photos, list the products, and package each item.
What is the most rewarding in terms of selling your products?
The most rewarding part of selling my products is seeing how much people have an interest in them. When creating each product you really don’t know what will work. So you really have to guinea pig an item and see if it will sell. I enjoy packaging the product knowing it’s going to a new home.
What is the most challenging in terms of coming up with ideas?
The most challenging is trying to be different. It’s easy to get inspired off of other shops and create your own rendition of something you like from there; however when you create something totally new, it’s always that thought of how much I should create it of. It’s a gamble of not knowing if people will be interested in it. However, since I do hand make each piece and I don’t outsource it, I have an advantage of creating a few products to test them out.
What advice would you give to our current students looking for their passion?
My advice for those trying to find their passion is to try out whatever it is that you have some sort of interest in and see how much you actually like it. There are a lot of people who don’t think they can do something because they’re not good at that one thing. But you won’t ever know unless you give it a try. If you’re not good at drawing, it doesn’t mean you can’t design. If you don’t have a good camera, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a good photographer. You have to give yourself room for trial and error for you to see if there is a passion in there and if it makes you happy, keep doing it. Furthermore, keep a notepad on you whether its notes on your phone or an actual notebook, and log down every idea you have. You’ll slowly see a list formulate and see that passion written down. I think it helps you a lot with keeping your ideas fresh because inspiration comes randomly and you never wanna lose it especially when you’re at a creative block. There are many times where I feel lost but then when I look at my notes, I see all of the ideas I had and I instantly get re-inspired again.
Another great advice I would love to share with opening my shop this year is how important marketing is. Use up all of the free resources out there on youtube and podcast, and learn how to optimize keywords, SEO, and brand strategy. I am learning that every day and luckily for me, I took this first year of opening my shop to learn all of that and I am finally ready to reinvent my shop for 2021!
Thank you Mandy for sharing this valuable knowledge with our students and community! We wish you success with your business. For those of you interested in the designs, please follow her on instagram at @heymandini