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My Story... so far!

Hey There Tribe!

Ah! It is already November 4th! Where does the time go? I feel like this year has just been a whirlwind of so many emotions. I have to say, this has been a huge year for me.

First off, a little about myself! I am a business owner, wife, and mom.. along with many other things. The reason I chose to go into business for myself was an odd one. My husband is in the Navy, so if anyone knows what that means, he regularly deploys for six or more months at a time.

When my son was five weeks old, my husband left for a five month deployment (he was able to fly out halfway into it —thank you Navy!) I can remember sitting in my guest room on my computer doing our taxes from the prior year running on about two hours of sleep, while my mom watched our son in the living room and I had about an hour and a half until the next feeding (he was exclusively breastfed at the time). At that point in my life, I didn’t know who I was anymore. It was like, I was in survival mode and the only thing that mattered was keeping my baby fed and myself… sane. Out of the blue I got a call from my husband from the ship. It was nice to hear his voice. I uttered a few words out for conversation and then blatantly said, “I will be self-employed in the next five years”. My husband on the other end of the phone was quiet. I’m not sure if it was the exhaustion, hormones, or the taxes but that was the first time I said that out loud and spoke it into existence.

Never in my life had I thought I would be self-employed. I feel like most people (not all), are not raised to think like this. I was raised to go to school, college, and find a career working from 9-5 - M-F and have the weekends to look forward to.

I have to preface this next part with complete and utter appreciation for my husband, because without him working his butt off, I wouldn’t be afforded the opportunity that I have today.

Before I got pregnant, I worked in the dental field. I had a job while I was pregnant, that COMPLETELY drained the life out of me. I hated it, and pregnancy hormones didn’t help the matter. Having our son changed me. In every single way possible. Physically, mentally, emotionally. How could I ever go back to work with a tiny baby that I fed from my body every two hours for the first eight months of his life (NOT EXAGGERATING). I felt like I had to find a job that I could work from home. So, the brainstorming began… what could I do from home? I applied to countless remote and work from home jobs. I heard back from a few, but knew I wouldn’t be happy or feel fulfilled. At the time I was doing graphic design as a hobby, a creative outlet really. Countless videos and practice later, I decided that I would pursue that as a career option. Something that would allow me to create my schedule conducive to my lifestyle while still letting me stay home with my son.

2020 was a big year for us as we had our son, my husband deployed, and then we moved four states away to Florida. Away from all of our family and support system. Exciting times, however, scary at the same time being a tiny new family in a state where we knew practically no one. No one to babysit or grandparents to help out in anyway. And not even to mention… a pandemic.

For close to a year, I did a few side projects for friends here and there. We lived on the naval base for a bit until we found and bought a house in December of 2020. And just like that… a year passes falling short of small goals for myself in my whole “I WANT TO BE MY OWN BOSS” spiel.

Our Realtor, that sold us our house here in Florida, wanted to have some branding/logo design work done for herself. That first project was an amazing experience with a few minor hiccups, of course. After that, I decided…. YES, this is what I am doing. I had so much pride and joy from that project.

Liz Cartolano Designs (I had no idea what to call my business so I just used my name). I created an Instagram, developed a website, shot and planned my content and photos for my website and then a few months later, I went live. The response was actually overwhelming. I booked more clients right away, and was even recruited by a locally owned Real Estate Agency for Marketing. I took that on as a part time job, and while it was a great experience, I no longer had the time to put into my own business. I worked for awhile for them, but this growing anxiety kept nagging at me… “You told yourself you wanted to be your own boss”. Under the right circumstances, I parted ways with the company, no bridges burned, and I do work for them occasionally.

A few months go by - a few projects here and there. I would have to say, one of the biggest rules of branding and owning a business is to pick a name, stick with it, and be consistent. I broke that very rule in the first year of owning my business, BUT for a very good reason. See, when I first started I don’t really think I knew everything that goes into owning a business… I mean how could I have. Liz Cartolano Designs was way more than just designs. It was all-inclusive branding, photography, content creation, social media management, website design and just SO much more. After careful consideration of everything I was diving into in with this business, I decided to re-brand. Willow Root Branding Co. I chose this name because like a Willow tree, a brand has many stems to it. It extends like a deep rooted tree. I picked one the trees with the deepest roots to explain what a brand entails.

Branding is an intangible marketing or business concept that helps people identify a company, product, or individual. It’s not as simple as a logo or a business card, a consistent brand identity creates a key trigger in someones memory of what it's associated with. It’s psychology. And its pretty amazing.

And that’s my story… so far. Thanks for reading! I am looking forward to sharing tips, tutorials and client brand reveals.

Stay tuned my friends, it has only just begun!

Liz Cartolano

Owner of Willow Root Branding Co.

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