I consider myself a founder. Over the past several years you could catch me in the middle of building 1-2 projects at any given time.
I’ve taken an unconventional path, having dropped out of college and gone into self-employment at the start of my career. From the beginning, I juggled a variety of creative businesses which helped develop my design skills and other skills necessary for growing a business. I’ve run an online magazine, a clothing brand, an e-commerce template shop, a design studio, and a bunch of other random things along the way! I then applied my skills in helping to grow other businesses. In the past decade, I’ve published books on branding, created resources that have helped kick-off more than 10,000 businesses, been involved in launching over 3,000 websites, and have produced products that have been sold all over the world.
I became interested in branding when I realized how essential it is to the success of virtually any business or individual. My first foray into brand strategy and development was through building my own brands from the ground up, and continually evolving them over the years based on market response and business changes. Doing so has helped me understand that the heart of any project is essentially the brand identity.
Most of my clients have come through my website, either by discovering me or Acquired Aesthetic on Instagram, blog posts, or my many marketing initiatives. I always try to foster a great working relationship with my clients by going beyond the basic scope of the project and acting as a true partner.
“I stay creative by surrounding myself with good design. I like to browse the art book section and magazine racks of book shops like Taschen, and I can lose track of time strolling around design & decor stores like Herman Miller. I’ve also been a frequent visitor of galleries and museums for my whole life.” – AJ Camara
It gets tricky because as a designer it’s easy to fall into the rhythm of just producing work, but when building a studio it’s important to set aside time for business development. I aim to dedicate at least 25% of my time towards strategizing ways to build new partnerships and work with more businesses.
Google Drive is undefeated when it comes to organizing and managing tasks, goals, and client assets. Google Calendar is also great for keeping track of my meetings.
Form a clear picture of who you want to be years down the line and DESIGN YOUR LIFE. What do you wanna be known for? What’s your style? What companies or people do you want to be working with? Defining that vision definitely helps guide your decisions to get there and avoid wasting any time.
The current state of the country is actually bringing a lot of interesting things to light, in regards to systemic bias, diversity and inclusion, and I recently learned that only about 3% of the design industry is black. That seems crazy to me, so I’m making it a mission to not only excel individually as a black designer but to empower as many others as I can.
"I'm making it a mission to not only excel individually as a Black designer, but to empower as many others as I can." – AJ Camara