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Conversations with Brittany Sherman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Sherman.

Hi Brittany, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My name is Brittany and I am a 26-year-old mother of two and a military spouse. I have always loved to create art and it has been a dream of mine since I was little to make a living off my art. In college, I was trying to decide between a Chemistry major which is what people told me was the “right” thing to do and a Graphic Design major which was what I wanted to do. After I married my husband my sophomore year we were restationed to Virginia and college got put on hold. I got a full-time job as an assistant kitchen manager but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

A year later, we decided we were ready to start our family and I got pregnant with our son who was born in August of 2017. We were very lucky to be in a position where I could stay home to raise our son but it reignited my desire to make my dream of making money off my art a reality. I wanted to add to our household income while being able to stay home with the little ones and not worry about where we will move in the future. I also wanted to be able to show my children that they can follow their passions and create the life they dream of.

Around this time was when I first found hand lettering and calligraphy. I had always been a huge fan of inspirational quotes and sayings and I quickly became obsessed with the style and saw a great potential to create a business off of it so after about a year of practice and experimentation I created my first business called BrittanyBee Studios. Things were going pretty well but something was missing. I was creating things based off societal expectations, going with what was popular, creating things for other people. I was trying to meet expectations based of other people’s determination of my worth. As I started to question the path, my business was on and what direction I wanted to take it I got pregnant with our daughter. A few months into the pregnancy, we found out that my husband would be getting deployed. Finding out I would be taking care of our son alone while pregnant as well as giving birth to my daughter while my husband was gone, put everything else in my life on hold. My husband left in July of 2019 and my daughter was born in October. I then spent two more months alone with a newborn and toddler before my husband came back home, which sent everything else to the back burner, including my business.

Shortly after my husband returned, we learned we were going to be moving to Arizona in March of 2019. We were so excited for this move to somewhere new and we were also planning to buy our first home. Then Covid hit and we were pushed back until June and then until October when we were able to move. Through this whole process, I was also struggling to figure out myself, trying to realize who I was, how I fit into my role as a mother. After years of internal struggle, I had finally started to see a licensed counselor in Virginia for my mental health, which was something I struggled with since I was a teenager. That had started to help me a lot and opened my mind, even more the mental health and how important it is and it helped me to erase the stigma against it in my own mind. Once we moved to Arizona, I got established with a therapist and psychiatrist and started taking some medication that has changed my life and the way I see myself. I have become much more confident about who I am and have found things much easier to stick with and that was when I decided to start up my business again but this time I would create a brand that I felt was true to who I was and not just what was expected of me.

That is how still a Lady Designs was born. I was tired of questioning myself based on societal expectations. I had finally learned that who I am, the things I liked, and how I looked had nothing to do with my personal worth as a lady or a mother and I wanted my business to reflect that. I loved calligraphy and hand lettering but I found that they often didn’t fit with my style. I lean towards edgy, grunge, and alternative fashion but I still like pretty things so I wanted to create a place where those things could intersect. My mission is to redefine what it means to be a lady. I want to empower people to break down societal expectations that determine our worth based off what we like and how we look, especially as women and as mothers.

I wear a lot of blacks, dye my hair unnatural colors, have four tattoos including a skull on my forearm, exclusively listen to punk and rock music, am way too into true crime, watch an excessive amount of anime, struggle with my mental health, am medicated for my mental illness, and use cuss words as regular sentence enhancers. I also practice respectful parenting, use Montessori methods, spend hours researching activities based off my kid’s development and interests, and do my best to be a good human being to everyone around me. I define my own worth as a mother, a lady, and a human being and I want to empower others to do the same and become confident in every aspect of who they are without feeling the need to hide anything simply because they are a woman or a mother.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My biggest struggle with creating my business was finding the confidence within myself. The confidence to create the things I wanted to create even if they might not seem appropriate to everyone. Realizing that I don’t have to make everyone happy with what I create. Having to gain the confidence in what I am doing to stick up for myself when those in my life don’t agree.

The other big struggle I had was my mental health. I had to spend years of self-reflection and rewriting thoughts that were placed in my head based on the stigma against mental health that was so prevalent in my life growing up and through my adolescence, both in society and in my personal life. And it didn’t all happen at once. I didn’t have some big revelation and suddenly, I was all in. It happened in small steps. It started with self-help books, then counseling, then therapy, then psychiatry and medication. It took years of growth and hard work but it has changed my life.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I currently specialize in hand lettering and illustration. I have worked with a lot of different mediums and styles of art but this one has stuck with me the longest. I started out with physical calligraphy mediums like specialty pens and markers but now I mostly use my iPad and the app Procreate like many others in my field. I find it so much easier to create and design things when there is no setup or clean-up required.

I specialize in beautiful cuss words. I loved the products in stores that had the beautiful lettering and floral illustrations but they said things like grateful or blessed and that just wasn’t a reflection of my style so I wanted to translate that into something that was more me but still pretty. I also do some merch designs for my favorite anime and manga series. For those I try to incorporate my hand lettering and illustration but also aim for a minimal style that isn’t quite so in your face about it but more of the “if you know, then you know” style.

I am most proud of having finally found my lettering style. When you first get started, you learn by copying others’ styles and then picking out what you like and after three years, I can confidently say I have found my personal “font”, my own style.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
If you are wanting to get into lettering and are looking for a mentor, I would recommend searching for calligraphy and hand lettering classes near you. There are a lot of great artists that offer classes which will teach you the basics of lettering. For networking, I do most of mine through social media. A great way to get seen when you are just getting started is to find challenges. There are a lot of pages that host challenges every month where they will give you some kind of prompt every day or so and you complete it and post it and you are then part of the hashtag. You could also get featured on the main page. It is a great way to find a community and gain some followers.

I would also recommend looking for small businesses in your area that fit your style. Go in and check them out, shop around, and start up a conversation. Mention that you create things that you think could be a great addition to their store and pull up some examples of your work if they are interested in seeing it. Don’t feel discouraged if they aren’t interested because there could be so many reasons they aren’t looking for new products.

The mentality I try to live by that has worked for me is “the worst anyone can say is no”. They won’t shut down your page, they won’t kick you out, they won’t never let you come back, they will just say no and that will be that so never be afraid to ask or offer your services.

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