I'm Kristin Kembel
What's up Girlfriend!
Owner of Girlboss Designer. We help brave women combine design and marketing to build meaningful brands online, so they can make an incredible living doing what they love.
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Hey there! I’m Kristin, the owner of The Girlboss Designer. I felt it was fitting to make the first official GBD blog post be an introduction so you can learn a little more about me. We all have our own unique path leading us through life and it’s all determined by decisions… OUR decisions. Decisions about how we choose to spend our time, how we choose to shape our present and our future. Once you realize your life is YOUR choice amazing things can happen. This is my story. I’ll try to keep it short…ish.
A PASSION FOR PRETTY THINGS
I’ve been creative my entire life. Visual aestheitcs is a true passion of mine and has transformed over the years. I first wanted to be a fashion designer, back in middle school I made a woman’s body outline in Paint (remember Paint!?), printed it out and I would sketch dresses on them. From there it transformed into designing my space, I would decorate my room and still to this day am obsessed with making the space around me feel just right and inspiring. My path kept growing into fine arts and painting which led me to graphic design – the perfect combination for being the daughter of an artist and an engineer. In a way graphic design is like creating digital beauty- which I must say, is pretty cool.
A DRIVE FOR MORE
My first official graphic design job after college was for a big corporate company, their brand guidelines were so strict and so boring. Basically it allowed for no creativity, I felt like so many of my talents weren’t being used. I decided I didn’t want to be a graphic designer forever, I wanted to be that person at the top making the decisions about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. I even considered going back to school for an MBA to gain the business experience I knew I needed- but that only meant more student loans and I definitely didn’t need more of that. So what’s better than classroom education? Real life experience education.
I then moved on to work for a family owned women’s accessories brand, which came with the typical small business struggles but it offered something the big companies don’t. The experience, knowledge and exposure I received about the ins and outs of running a business made it one of the best decisions I could have made. I took what started as a graphic design job and turned it into art directing a team, elevating the entire look and feel of the brand, developing new products, choosing fabrics for future collections and designing custom patterns. Eventually I traveled with the owner to China where the products are manufactured to work directly with the suppliers and source new fabrics at the crazy (and I mean crazy) fabric markets. I learned what to do when running a business, and what NOT to do. I got to see all the behind the scenes happenings you would never experience at a large company.
A DECISION FOR BIG CHANGE
I don’t remember the exact moment I was bit by the major travel bug and the desire to work out of the office, but all of a sudden it was a feeling I couldn’t ignore. I started immersing myself in books related to working out of an office in non-traditional ways, following people on social media who were traveling and working at the same time, learning about this lifestyle that’s possible when you leave the confines of a 9-5 office job. I was dying to travel internationally- to see foreign countries and experience new cultures. Unfortunately supporting myself since I was 18 and through college didn’t allow for an international travel budget, so it just never happened all those years. I was tired of waiting- waiting to have enough money, waiting to have the time off work. So when I was approaching another yearly review at my job I made the decision that changed everything.
I told my boss I didn’t see myself working in an office or staying in Atlanta in the future. It wasn’t fair for us to continue building this team with me being the leader if it wasn’t what I wanted long term. I wanted to travel, to work remotely and eventually fulfill my lifelong goal of moving to the beach. She respected my honesty and wanted to continue working together even if it was on a remote basis. This openness on both sides is what allowed me to make my next big leap of faith- Europe.
SOLO TRAVEL & A LAPTOP
In early 2016 I booked a 3 month solo trip to Europe for the summer. I worked out if I got rid of my apartment I could spend that money on renting airbnbs each month around Europe. I had the commitment from my past boss to be one of my regular clients and one of my friends became another client of mine. Between the two small streams of income I was able to travel internationally for months, with no added debt, despite barely having any savings, just paying my way along the way. So with just a backpack and a laptop as my income, I made my way through Spain, France, Dublin, Amsterdam, London and Italy. I visited a few friends along the way and my Aussie boyfriend who I met just a few months prior to this trip (more on this later) came to meet me in France for a week.
It was an experience I will cherish forever. The idea I carried around for years that you have to have a lot of money to travel abroad was wrong- you just have to make the decision to find a way. Get creative, get resourceful- there are ways to go after what you truly want. Yes it came with sacrifices, but they were 100% worth it. It added a richness to my life valued beyond money or anything a job could give me.
THE BIGGEST MOVE OF ALL
So back to this whole Aussie boyfriend thing. Stephen and I met right around time I was about to tell my full-time job I didn’t want an office job anymore. He came from Australia to live in Atlanta for a few years for work. In the past he lived in London for years and has traveled all over the world- he understood my need for travel and was fully supportive of me traveling to Europe even though we had only just started dating. He saw me go from a regular employee to starting an official business with clients. Our relationship remained strong while I was away and continued growing after I returned. In early 2017 he found out he had to move back to Australia later that year, and I ended up making another life changing decision- I decided to move with him.
I arrived at the airport with 4 suitcases (yes 4) and moved my life across the world to Australia. This decision was not an easy one to make, but I am SO thankful for it. Remember my lifelong dream of moving to the beach I mentioned? We now live just an 8 minute bike ride from multiple beaches. I work 100% remotely with clients from my home office, and it was here where the idea for creating The Girlboss Designer came to be. The morning commutes I once dreaded are now homemade cappuccinos on the balcony and a long walk around the neighborhood with our dog before opening my computer.
It’s hard to believe how drastically my life has changed in the past few years, but I hate saying I am lucky. Luck has nothing to do with it- it’s been a combination of hard work, lots of risk taking, and a lot of time spent pushing myself out of my comfort zone to make all of this happen. This attitude, of pushing yourself to go after your dreams, or to even just start believing they’re possible, is what I strive to bring to the Girlboss Designer community, along with some pretty sweet branding solutions for my fellow girlbosses of course. I hope this post has given you a glimpse into my path and I can’t wait to get to know you and learn about your dreams next!