If you are a 20 something, it would be very unlikely to have not heard the name — Alicia Souza. If the name sounds familiar and you can’t recall where exactly you have seen this name, think quirky and humorous illustrations on your social news feed.
Alicia is not just an artist who creates funny posters on social media. She is an entrepreneur who runs a profitable online store and a freelance illustrator.
Her online store manufactures gifting and artist merchandise under her label. Currently, the store employs 6 people other than Alicia and her cofounder Saurabh Sharma.
To give you some background, lets briefly run through Alicia’s life. Alicia was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi. After her schooling, she moved to Melbourne to study Communication Design and stayed on for five years.
She then moved to Bangalore. This was the time when the eCommerce boom hadn’t hit India yet, there was this tiny company which was started out of this love for fridge magnets. Chumbak.
Yes, those little beautiful things which we look for on our trips abroad.
And at the back-end of it all was the illustrator extraordinaire Alicia Souza. After co-founding the company with Shubhra, Alicia transitioned out of Chumbak after a year to pursue something on her own.
Without much ado, let’s jump into the interview.
1. About yourself, your background, the work that you do.
My name is Alicia Souza, I’m an illustrator based out of Bangalore. And I illustrate as well as run a company that manufactures artist merchandise.
I was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi but have been in Bangalore for about 7 odd years now and it’s been wonderful!
2. You have said earlier that you getting into freelancing was an accident. Can you run through the story?
I moved to Bangalore to work on a company but when we parted ways just over a year after moving here, I had to freelance almost immediately. I didn’t plan on things falling through because I didn’t have a Plan B. Luckily, I got my first little job as a freelancer and I’ve not looked back since! I never thought freelancing would be something that would suit how I work but in a turn of events, it’s perfect!
3. Why did you switch from freelancing(working for clients) to aliciasouza.com(working for yourself )? What made you do it?
I still freelance and run the company too. I do, of course, have the most wonderful partner who does most of the running though. It’s like having two jobs but I’d rather be extra hardworking when I can afford to! I like to know that I’ve taken all the opportunities that have presented themselves to me, which is why I try to do at least a few scary things in a year.
4. What is your daily routine like? And generally, where do you work from?
I start really early, usually 5, but since the sun started rising later, it’s become 5.30. I walk Charlie and then start work by around 6–15ish. I’m at my desk till about 4. The time in between is uninterrupted work time, of either researching, drawing, mailing, tending to clients, work arrangements, online meetings, etc. By 4, it’s time for another walk and then I spend the rest of the time till about 8 doing household work, making dinner etc. At 8 I am back at my desk again most of the days just to do a little drawing or maybe a little personal work. I’m in bed by 10 or 10.30. Most of my days are quite regulated like that except one day a week, when I spend my working hours at the studio for face-to-face catch ups, discussions and meetings.
5. What was the biggest low in your journey so far? What are the dark sides of jumping the ship into entrepreneurship/freelancing?
I guess starting out was really hard. I couldn’t see it working out and in those times, I actually found it more useful to see short term than long term> I only looked at one month at a time. Doing one new thing at a time. It’s quite a stark difference to now when I have to look 2 years ahead. Starting off was harder for me because I didn’t know anyone in the state, let alone the field. I was also rather shy, which didn’t help. I think what helps is making the effort to get out of your comfort zone.
6. Would you like to say anything to the people who are looking to take the leap.
Do things that scare you!
7. Book recommendations for our readers.
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Bonus: Also watch the Alicia’s talk on designing products that spread joy.
Also published on Medium.