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A little less than two years ago, after leaving her previous career in higher education, founder and designer behind Euni + Co. Clara Kim started the creative studio and stationery brand based in Seattle, WA. During a time of being burnt out, tired of the politics, and deeply needing a creative outlet, she realized dabbling in calligraphy as a hobby could be something bigger.

How did you get your start and what influenced you to pursue creating paper goods?

I’ve always loved stationery – I love spending hours in the card aisles, have collected pens/pencils ever since I can remember, and hoard all the paper. So in some sense, my desire to pursue something paper-related seems like a no-brainer and seems so natural. I was never encouraged to pursue art/design, so I don’t think it ever crossed my mind. But now as an adult, when I look back, I feel like life’s come full circle.

Most of our business inquiries come through Instagram since that’s where it all began – I use it to share our new products, encouragement, updates, etc. I’ve met so many sweet friends through social media, and for the most part, love it. I’d be lying if I said it was all candy and rainbows though – with constant changes in the algorithm/apps, it’s really hard to keep up sometimes and definitely can become a burden. I try not to get discouraged and do my best to just post my best work and then put my phone down for a while, so that I don’t get sucked in!

What kind of approach do you take with design?

When I look back at some of the things I put out in the world when I first started designing, I can’t help but cringe a little. I’m the person who impulse buys a planner/notebook because it’s so cute and then uses it maybe 3-4 weeks and moves on to the next planner/notebook because I’m sick of the cover design. I’ve slowly become a “less is more” kind of person and have started to appreciate simple, minimal design. As I’ve changed as a person, the things I create and the aesthetic I find myself drawn to has changed as well. I think now, I’m in a place where I feel about 85% happy with the things I create. My desire is to learn to embrace all the white space – the voids, the lack of, the emptiness. It’s so challenging with “minimal design” because you’re constantly tempted to fill spaces with “something more” – but just as we need all of the empty space in our lives, I’m learning not to fill my designs with noise, just for the sake of filling space.

Euni + Co for Merrymen Magazine volume 4

How did you make the transition into the creative industry?

I worked in higher education prior to transitioning into the creative field – I was a student advisor at a local college for a couple years after graduating from grad school. I was never encouraged to seek design/art as a career option – it was labeled a “hobby” ever since I was little, and coming from a low-income family, I knew that I had to do meaningful work in a meaningful field while making a decent amount of money to help support my family. I realize now how narrow minded that sounds, but at the time, that was my only goal – to make my parents proud, to do something that contributes positively to society, and to be able to afford my payments.

After grad school, a few years of work, and after marriage, my emotional health and well-being became far more important to me than the other things.

I realized I needed an outlet, and that’s when I started doing more creative things. I started sharing my work on Instagram, and little by little, people started taking notice. I got requests to do commissions, projects, and I thought to myself “maybe this is something I can do when we decide to start a family so that I can continue working from home” – what I didn’t know was that it would happen a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

“The leap happened fairly quickly, over that next year, and now, here we are – in it full-time, not making nearly as much money, perhaps not contributing to society in the way I imagined, but feeling so extremely full and right in place.”

How does your work translate to your health and vitality?

When you’re a one-person show, it’s far too easy to find yourself overworked and tired, even when you’re doing something you love and feel so passionate about. The hardest thing is finding balance – when I first started Euni + Co., I was on my phone constantly, checking/replying to comments, emails, inquiries. I was working late hours, taking on work I shouldn’t have taken on, and saying “YES!” to all the things. But now, I know better (sometimes). I write out my schedule for the entire week, try not to work when my husband is home, carve out time for friends, and run through my to-do lists to make sure I get x,y,z done when I need them done. All of this has helped me to find more peace with my work and with my mental health.

As a creative, there are roller coaster moments throughout the week, and even throughout a day. When someone steals your designs or when a client is not completely satisfied, it’s hard not to take it personally since whatever we create is ultimately a reflection of ourselves – but this, again, after time, becomes easier.

It’s almost impossible to separate work from my daily life since I operate in our home and work primarily alone, but it’s been a good learning experience so far and I’ve been learning to find different methods to make it productive and positive.

Can you speak more about the community you’re a part of and why it’s important to be involved?

The creative industry is filled with amazing people. People who have all sorts of different experiences. People who, like myself, have decided to leave their careers to pursue something that makes them feel good. People who are ambitious, wild, and excited about design. Being an introvert, I don’t attend so many events and tend to keep to myself, but I love meeting with friends in the creative industry in small groups, and have found so much comfort and encouragement through them.

It’s important to have these creative friends for the same reasons we have like-minded friends in our lives. “You are who you hang out with” is a popular phrase we’ve all heard as kids, and it’s true! There are unique aspects about being a “creative” that not everyone can understand – and having friends in the same industry and having people to talk about these issues with is so necessary.

It’s also necessary just to have the community of people to bounce ideas off of – little can come from working alone in this field – a lot more can be achieved together!

A little less than two years ago, after leaving her previous career in higher education, founder and designer behind Euni + Co. Clara Kim started the creative studio and stationery brand based in Seattle, WA. During a time of being burnt out, tired of the politics, and deeply needing a creative outlet, she realized dabbling in calligraphy as a hobby could be something bigger.

Design | Vol.4

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