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Meet Trailblazer Jacki Lake

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacki Lake.

Jacki, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a self-taught hand-lettering artist. I’ve loved lettering ever since I could hold a pencil and am still obsessed with all things that contain the alphabet! I was involved in student government in high school and college and always volunteered to make flyers and posters for events at school. After graduation, my lettering took a backseat to the busy-ness of life – marriage, raising kids, sports and being *that* PTA mom. When my kids were in college, I started saying yes to people who needed signs for weddings and events. This was a great way to stretch my creative muscles and get back in the groove of lettering. Fast forward to today. Both my kids have graduated from college and I’m recently divorced after a 29-year marriage. What better time to indulge in my passion and focus on my lettering business – Lake House Designs.

I am also a part-time interior designer/home stager by day and I absolutely love it! It’s a creative outlet which pairs two things I love so much – design and home. Like lettering, designing a space is like having a blank canvas to create something beautiful. I am happiest when I am creating. You can find me choosing accessories at local home stores, lettering with my iPad and practicing chalk art for menu boards. If it involves art and design, I’m in!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For me, it’s been a pretty smooth road. I was lucky to be in a situation where I could work part-time and focus on building my business for a few years. But now, since my divorce, the road is a bit steeper and a little longer. I need to make this business a profitable income stream. This motivates me to do the behind the scenes work I need to move my business forward.

The advice I would give other women or anyone starting their journey is to follow your passion. I know that sounds so cliche, but it’s the truth. When my kids were trying to decide what to study in college, I told them this: “Find something that you love and would do every day for free. The money will follow.” I truly believe this. It’s so important to be passionate about your job. Your career is one of the longest relationships you’ll have in your life, so why not be in love with it? It’s crucial.

The other piece of advice is to find a mentor. There is no reason to go out into this big world without the guidance of someone who’s experience will make your road smoother. I am in a mentoring group right now and I rely on my mentor and my fellow group members for advice, insight and support. And in this world of virtual everything, I don’t have to leave my house to meet with my mentor. He lives in the UK and our group members live all over the world. You can find your people in groups on social media and sites like LinkedIn. Having a mentor and a group to support you will help when you feel like you are stumbling. They will pick you up and serve as guides for your path. And it’s much more enjoyable to take a journey with someone else, right?

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Lake House Designs – what should we know?
I am a self-taught hand-letterer specializing in chalk mural art and design as well as custom wedding and event signage. I’m known for my bold and not-so-perfect lettering and my own handwritten ‘font.’ I love that my art looks like an actual person made it and not computer-generated. I have never taken an art or lettering class and rely heavily on my own eye for design.

I am most proud of the work I’ve done for my clients and the connections I’ve made through my work. Building a community is important to me and I feel like I do that with every client I work with. I want to support them, not just with my signage, but with my patronage and friendship. I love it when I do signs for a wedding and I see the pictures after the event. It makes me so happy to add that dimension to the celebration. It’s exciting for me to see my work on a restaurant menu board, knowing that it adds to the vibe of the establishment. I think that’s what sets me apart. I’ve never met a stranger and my clients become my friends and part of my lettering community. I’m not just a ‘one and done.’ I want to engage with my clients long after they are my clients.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
I feel like there are many opportunities that women are well positioned for. In fact, I think women can position themselves for any opportunity available. If we want something – a job, a client, a place at the table at our current job, a promotion – we need to prove that we are the best pick for that something.

If we want opportunities, we have to do the work to demonstrate we are ready, willing and able to take on responsibilities. Go to work early, stay a little later, be available. Especially when we are starting out in our careers, go the extra mile to display to your employer that you can be trusted and are worthy to take on the next opportunity. Don’t compete with your co-workers. Compete with yourself. Focus on what makes you stand out and stand the fuck out. We don’t deserve an opportunity just because we are women. We deserve opportunities that we earn. Do the work to earn them.

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Image Credit:
Dandelion Dreams Photography

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