ImagiNation with Allie Laing



Occupation: Graphic Designer, owner of Allie Laing Design

Favorite Productivity Tool: Coffee & my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. If I want to be productive, caffeine and good tunes are required!

Most Recommended App: HOPPER! As someone who loves to travel and is the queen of scoring good deals, it's the absolute best way to find killer prices for flights. You can find round-trip tickets to just about anywhere for like $99 as long as your dates are flexible.

Last Thing You Read: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

How did you get your start in the industry?

I actually began my design career when I was 14. I joined the journalism department in high school, and if I'm being honest, I became obsessed with design. I spent hours every day and a majority of my AP U.S. History classes learning Adobe programs, studying the grid system, and learning more about typography. From there on out I started freelancing by the time I turned 16, and then started my own business when I went to college.

What's your favorite marketing platform to connect with your customers ?

I mainly use Instagram to connect with my customers. I've been pretty lucky so far to have like 80% of my referrals come through there and the other 20% through my website. It's easy for me as a designer to use my account as a current portfolio while also connecting with people to show who I am as both a designer and a person. I think there's a lot of negatives that can come from social media, but the business benefits are amazing!

Favorite recent marketing trend?

I think the shift in focusing from millennials to Gen Z. We're a new class of creators, not to mention we make up $44 million of the world's spending power each year. Zs are openly passionate about gender equality, LGBTQ equality, and are the most accepting than any other previous generation. Businesses are seeing this and I think it's causing everyone to talk about issues that used to be unspoken. It's pushing our communities forward and these conversations are bringing real change. Whether it's being more inclusive in marketing campaigns, creating gender neutral lines, or even just having equal pay for both men and women, Gen Z has way more power than I think any of us realize.

Where do you turn for marketing news, tips, and resources?

AIGA is an awesome resource for designers and marketers! It's how I find out about local events, kickass projects that are worth attention and admiration, and interviews with designers that have inspired me for years. It's actually how I found out about a panel which I attended that landed me a job for where I'm at now! Most states have a local organization, so whether you're in marketing or design, the subscription is 100% worth it.

How do you stay inspired?

I think the best way to stay inspired is to go walk around and look for things that most people would just walk passed. I spend a ridiculous number of hours each week in front of a screen, and that's something I can't necessarily change because it's my job. That being said, it's so important to just turn off the computer and Instagram for a weekend and walk around a new town or place. Study old store signage, take photos, look at restaurant menu designs, take more photos, see if you can name 10 fonts you see on a block, and just spend time away from your routine to do something different. Sure, I could go on Pinterest for color palette inspiration. But for me, going to the Farmer's Market early on a Saturday and taking photos of a flowers to draw my colors from is so much more personal and inspiring.

What current marketing tool/platform do you think will go away in ten years? What do you think will take its place?

I feel like I'm destined to say Instagram just because social media platforms are always in a vicious cycle to stay relevant. When one app seems like it's taking over society, another one replaces it. I think odds are another social media app will take its place within the next five years.

What’s one element of marketing that will never go out of style and why?

YouTube! Even after years and years, people rely on YouTube for literally everything, myself included! When I was first learning programs, it's how I learned to do pretty much all things graphic design related. But, it's also how I find basic information when I have random curiosities. People are always looking to learn more, and as a visual person, I hope YouTube always stays relevant.

What is the most valuable piece of marketing advice you’ve ever received?

Every single day you should want to make connections. As someone who owns their own business, every person I talk to has the potential to either need or know someone who needs a design service. I don't think I could count the number of people who even from five years ago have played a role in a new client. It's so important to carry yourself highly, be kind and genuine, and be confident with who you are. You never know where a random bump in at a Target will take you. (Oh, and always carry business cards!)

What does imagining more mean to you and the business?

I've never been someone who wanted to wait around to start something. I set my goals and dreams high because I never want to feel like I'm finished accomplishing things. I think it's important to set goals that don't take a long time to accomplish which keep me moving forward on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, I think it's equally important to set goals that I see myself accomplishing in 10-20 years to keep myself inspired. In design, imagination is vital for reaching a level of success - and each of us have our own definition of what that success is! But regardless of how far you dream, your imagination should always stretch further.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started in the industry?

Age truly is just a number. I kid you not, if I could go back to my 16 year old self and tell her to have more confidence in your talents and yourself, I could have saved myself a lot of social anxiety and self doubt. It's hard to feel like you can justify pitching yourself, and your price, to a company owned by a 50 year old guy when you're only 19 years old. I had a hard time even walking in to meetings because I was always telling myself there's no way they'll trust me or want to pay me because I'm so young. The day I realized it's okay to acknowledge that I am worth the time and good at what I do, my attitude was contagious to my clients and that's when things took off for me. You can be 21 or 61 - if you believe in yourself other people will too. And if they don't see it, they're not the people you want to be doing work for anyways!