Shero Spotlight: Sophie Fleetwood

I am so excited to have Sophie Fleetwood of Simply Sophie Designs on for today’s Shero Spotlight! I found Sophie’s Instagram through mutual followers and immediately fell in love with her artwork and illustrations. Sophie is so inspiring to me in the way that she is pursuing her passion as a side business and is so dedicated to staying true to herself, her vision and her artwork throughout the entire process. 

How did you get involved in illustrating and design?
I have always been a creative person and I used to sketch a lot, draw a lot, paint a lot with watercolors and colored pencils and in my junior year of college I started getting into the digital side of illustration, and I bought a subscription to Adobe Illustrator and just started doing it. Pretty soon, I had one of my friends that I was living with, she was like, could I pay you to do a portrait for me and I was like, yeah! So, then I started doing a couple of portraits and my first orders were for my roommates and then I just kept getting more orders from there and then really within the last two to three months, things have started really picking up and I think that was kind of more stemming from when I finally got an iPad. So, I got on Procreate and I really enjoyed that because I’m not clicking around and making my illustrations that way, I’m actually drawing them.

Is this your full-time job?
I am a content marketing strategist, full time and then on the side, this is what I do. So I’m trying to grow my business on the side and it’s a creative outlet for me and also a way to make some extra money, but it’s really just a way to make some art for people. I just love the idea that some of my art is hanging in people’s homes and it’s just so relaxing for me, it’s really fun for me to get home from work and be able to express myself in my creativity But, as much as I love doing stuff for commission, I also think it’s important as an illustrator to create some things just for yourself too and take a break from like filling orders at times to just draw something for yourself.How do you balance a full-time job and a side business?
Fortunately, I get an hour lunch break and so a lot of the times I’m going out to my car and whipping out my iPad and trying to fill some orders at work and then I usually get home around 5:30 and I’ll make dinner and then sometimes the rest of my evening is just filling orders. But, I am a fairly organized person and I think organization is what keeps it manageable.

How do you balance work life and home life?
It’s something I’m definitely still learning because there’s a lot of nights where I’m like, I’m just gonna watch Netflix, and then I totally don’t do that and so it’s just like finding those boundaries. I think something that I’m like trying to do and going to start trying to do a little more is just having a certain time where I just put my phone away … Typically I eat dinner with my boyfriend and I try to not have my phone out during that so that we can just talk about our days and then a lot of times since the weather has been warming up a little bit more, we’ve been going for walks in the evenings, which is really nice, because I don’t have my phone out during that usually and so that’s just time to be out in nature and kind of relax and not be focusing on my business … So it’s really just like budgeting your time.

As a female entrepreneur, what has been the hardest part about kickstarting your brand and how did you overcome it?
Well, I think something I’m still trying to overcome right now is just that I struggle with being super open about my business outside of the Instagram community because I’m starting to realize that I think there are a lot of people that are following me that actually really are supportive of what I’m doing, which is super cool. But, I rarely share this with many other people. I mean, I share it with my family and my friends, but it would be something that would be perfectly fine to share as a fun fact about myself, but I usually don’t because I feel weird saying I’m an illustrator on the side, because I feel like people don’t take it seriously. So that’s something that I’ve had to kind of work through. 

What sort of impact do you hope to make with your brand?
The thing that I take pride in with my work is just the uniqueness of the design. Most of the demand with my illustrations is from custom portraits of people, and I love doing that because it ends up usually being a gift for somebody and I’ve had the opportunity to do some more sentimental portraits recently … And so hearing that people can actually get emotional over something I’m creating and making a connection with them I think is really special. 

What are your long-term goals for your brand?
I mean, I feel like it’s a bit of a stretch sometimes when I think about, oh, maybe I could pursue this full time one day, but also I’m like, there’s so many people out there that do that. So, why not? I think a lot of people tend to count themselves out of things and I think it’s just something I’m learning to say to myself. It’s like, why not me? I would love it. If one day my business could be full time … But beyond just sales and making enough money to go full time, I really want to build a little tight-knit community with people that are supporting me and I’m able to support them too … So, I would love to just keep adding to that and keep having more conversations with people. Also, part of my goal as a small business owner and as an illustrator, I really love Jesus and I want to spread positivity and joy and I want to be able to glorify God in all that I do and I want to have my page be a place that can point people to Him too. So, sometimes I share a little bit about my faith or share a bible verse or something or a quote relating to the Lord because my faith in Jesus is what gets me through and I just would love to share that with other people too.

What advice would you give young female artists who may be nervous to pursue art as a career?
Don’t be afraid to just go for it. I think sometimes when you’re beginning to post things at first, you’re like, Oh my gosh, what are my friends gonna think about this and I think at the end of the day, their opinion shouldn’t matter to you. If it’s something that you love, you should do it. I also think that as an illustrator, there’s so much going on in that industry with other people’s artwork and things that other people are doing and I think it can get really easy to get caught up in what other illustrators are doing or it can be easy to want to make your stuff look like somebody else’s … And I think the most important thing and the thing that’s going to make you successful in the end is finding your own unique style and not falling into that trap of wanting to be like people that you look up to. I think it’s great to take inspiration from other people, but ultimately, I think people want to see your work and people are going to connect with your stuff, not like a copy of somebody else’s. 

Be sure to check my Instagram to enter Sophie’s giveaway!

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As a senior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University and a passionate feminist, I created Freely Femme as a way to use my love for storytelling to highlight some of the most inspirational women in my personal life and beyond.

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