From Architecture to Creating an Art-Inspired Clothing and Accessories

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Aline Cervo Varanda
Team Size

Me +  technical support

Revenue

Not disclosed

Location

Braga, Portugal

STart Date

August 2019

Today my interview is with amazing artist Aline Cervo, who started her career as architect and made the move to become a full-time artist and now creates an art-inspired clothing and accessories. 

It was a great pleasure meeting another impressive and inspiring Female Entrepreneur.

INTRODUCTION

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED?

Aline Cervo VarandaHi, I’m Aline, an artist and illustrator. Art and design are passions that I carry since I was very young but, for a number of reasons, I ended up in a more technical side of it. I graduated in Architecture and Urban Planning almost a decade ago. 

I worked as an architect, urban designer, urban planner, interior designer, landscape architect, well, I tried it all. But it was only after two years getting my master’s degree abroad that I realized that I was not satisfied with the path I had chosen. At that moment I knew I was ready to listen to my heart and embrace art.

I’m an expat, a Brazilian that moved to Germany and is now living in Portugal. In these past years moving around I learned a lot about other cultures, about myself, about friendships, about distances, about departures. And my art reflects all this diversity of emotions, feelings and knowledge.

The artworks are based on a concept, they usually have a meaning, an underlying message that reflects my view and some topics I care about. Nowadays I have been creating clean vector and hand-drawn illustrations and some watercolor paintings, and sometimes I mix them all. 

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THE JOURNEY SO FAR

PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.

I started by adding more practice hours to my routine, reestablishing the connection with brushes and inks. It ended up evolving to a website, where I make some of my arts available through print-on-demand services. At that time it was – and I believe it still is – the best way to put my art out there with the budget I had. I aimed to offer quality products and the possibility to deliver them fast and efficiently around the globe. 

To choose the POD company I also took into consideration the portfolio of eco, bio and organic products available, as well as the kind of ink being used, always looking for eco-friendly solutions. So, it was all about research, about testing products and learning how to market them, how to set up the online store and manage social network profiles.

Besides some technical support from my husband, I did it all by myself. I always had this willingness to get involved in all the steps of my projects as an architect and urban planner, it’s the same with the art, but now the scale is more manageable and I don’t get overwhelmed trying to keep up. Yay!

I’m taking it slow, experimenting a lot, testing new techniques, reading about other artists and their paths. I’ve been investing in some online courses as well, I love to learn, and this opens new possibilities and opportunities. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know like-minded people and share experiences.


The word “VARANDA”, spelled with “a” instead of “e”, is from Portuguese, my native language, but the meaning is about the same: a roofed, open-air gallery or porch, attached to the outside of a building. It reflects all these aspects I have been talking about.

VARANDA is neither outside nor inside, it’s the space in-between. It’s the space of transition, between what we were and what we are going to be, as individuals, as artists, as professionals. A kind of place I find myself in, always learning and evolving to something new. Plus, the word defines an architecture element, thus, it also represents my past, it’s part of what I am, of what my art is and will be in the future. 

 

WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?

Since I’m always adding something different to my routine, it has been difficult to keep it straight. But creative processes usually are a little messy, so, my main task is to trust the process.

I try to stay on plan as much as possible. I have a bullet journal and a huge strategy graphic that I try to follow. I usually start my day with meditation, a practice that has been helping me a lot with this professional shift and to overcome anxiety, the fears and insecurities attached to it. After a healthy breakfast, I jump in, going through the tasks I set for myself on my bullet journal the day before.

When possible, I reserve mornings for creative tasks, afternoons for boring and must-do tasks plus a gym, and evenings for relaxing, readings and some eventual work. 

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?

Biggest Achievement: My biggest achievement so far was to start and get my first client. Between accepting it was time to change profession, embracing art and start a business, I put a lot of research, thought and time. This first step was a big one for me. And getting my first client was the cherry on top.

Biggest Challenge: Some weeks ago, I faced one of my biggest challenges so far. Attempting to solve a technical issue on my website I ended up messing with the code. VARANDA was down for two days |o|. Lesson learned: for some things is better to ask for help instead of trying to solve it alone. There are plenty of small challenges every day, but I believe they’re a sign that I’m taking the risks, that I’m trying and I’m okay with it. Actually, I even made art for it. 🙂

 

WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?

At first, I was just sensing where the art and VARANDA could take me, learning the ropes, etc. Then I started to diversify, to open new channels to spread my art out there.

I’m currently on Society6, Spreadshirt, Colab55 and soon I’ll make the products available on Redbubble as well.

Delegating some tasks to an assistant will probably be one of the next steps, allowing myself more time to create and increase production.

 

WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?

I want to explore other markets and industries. I’m about to start a surface pattern design course and I’m pretty excited. I hope to be able to delegate some tasks, making more time to create art and explore new techniques.

I don’t have a fixed idea for the future, I prefer to be open to whatever opportunity this journey brings. I have some goals in which I’m working and getting positive results. At this stage, I’m satisfied with that.

RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS

PLEASE RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES AND TOOLS THAT YOU USE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS.

Skillshare: there is a class for anything you want to learn there, but in the creative field it’s a paradise. Excellent instructors and information that you usually don’t find just by googling or browsing around.

Podcasts have helped me in all sorts of ways. If you are struggling with something or feeling insecure, there are plenty of shows with creative people and artists for that “you are not alone” feeling.
I have been using Later to schedule some of my Instagram and Facebook posts, it’s quite handy. 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BUSINESS BOOKS, PODCASTS OR BLOGS?

Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés is one of my favorite books, even though it is not about business, it tells us a lot about being a woman and standing up for ourselves. 

For podcasts, I definitely need to mention Mind Love with Melissa Monte and The Jealous Curator: Art for your Ear

For those starting in the art or design field, there’s also Bonnie Christine, a surface designer and amazing instructor I got to know through Skillshare. She has all sorts of channels for you to connect and her story is really inspiring, as well as the community she was able to build. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?

Just take that first step.

It can be a small one but do it. And hold on to everything that you think is useful along the way, people willing to help, podcasts, books, even an inspirational quote. If it keeps you on track, hold on to it. And keep in mind that if you don’t try it, you’ll never know. If you don’t take that first step, you’ll stay where you are, nothing will happen, that big idea of yours will be forever that, just an idea.

Also, research a lot and take the time needed to mature and elaborate your business model, this will save you time and money. 

Violeta Semenova

Violeta Semenova
Founder
theBizLadies

Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!

If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.

By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.

If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!