The Brand of Women’s Business
In this interview we talk with Manon van der Weegen about her own graphic and web design agency "Brand It Up", as well as her life and work.
Tiffany studied Language and Economics, and now likes to write about business topics and conduct interviews with interesting people. She spends her free time looking after her plants and with her dog.
During her childhood, Manon van der Weegen was not sure whether she wanted to become a detective or a designer. In the end, due to the financial crisis in 2006, she found herself working in insurance. As a designer at heart, Manon has always loved colors and contrasts, and limited her creativity to just a hobby. After burning out in the insurance field, she decided to make her passion her profession. Today, Manon runs her own graphic and web design agency "Brand It Up" and specializes in working with female entrepreneurs. We're excited that she's with us today, so we have the chance to learn more about her life and her business.
Manon, thanks for taking the time for this interview today! It’s a pleasure having you as a part of our #mailbutlerstories. Let’s talk about you, your work and of course, your company “Brand It Up“. To start with, I’ll ask you to fill in the following blanks:
I couldn’t get through the day without…?
...my phone and email! I love to interact and be able to act fast whenever I get an idea.
The person I would like to change jobs with for one day is …?
...someone who is really (and I mean REALLY) smart at marketing. Just so I could borrow their brain for a day and steal all the good stuff that is in there and use it to grow my business more.
If I could have one superpower for a day it would be…?
For me, it is super important to balance…. and …
...work and personal life. I love to work but I also love my family and friends
I should put my phone away more often and invest time in…?
...me! I am always busy and do not take enough time to truly unwind and relax with just myself.
Thank you so much for your responses, Manon! Now, let’s dive into your work life. You are the founder and owner of Brand It Up, a graphic and web design agency. Please tell us, what services do you offer, exactly?
I build websites, webshops and academies as well as branding packages, which include creating a whole new visual brand for businesses.
If that does not keep me busy enough, I also have a couple of online courses running.
Your company specializes in working with female entrepreneurs. Why is that, and has it always been this way?
It has always been that way. Funny enough, I do not have a lot of female friends but I do love to work with female entrepreneurs. I love their spirit and passion for what they do. Women do business a bit differently than men (not always of course, but generally speaking). Most women start their business out of passion (not saying men don't) and it is that passion that I want them to show throughout their branding and websites.
Also: women think they can do it themselves. I agree and encourage that, on a lot of parts so I help them build their websites and academies through online courses.
Okay, let’s say I’m a photographer who just started their business, and I come to you to create a complete brand for my website. Which steps do you take when building a brand from scratch?
First, we start with input and inspiration: I will give you a lot of questions to answer and a couple of assignments to go all out with on Pinterest. That way you give me a little peek at what is going on inside your head, who you are, where your passion comes from, and what your business is about. After that, we work together to make the connection from you to your ideal customer. You have a say in every step and all steps lead to the end goal: a logo and visual branding that tells about you and a top-notch website for your customers to explore and read about you and what you do.
When talking about logos, which aspects are involved in the creation of a logo?
I work in reverse order of what they taught me at school. I start with every aspect of branding and end with the logo. Every choice you make says something about you and what your vision for your business is. So we start with a mood board, then a color palette and we top it off with a logo and fonts that tell it all.
Sounds like you really love what you're doing, Manon. Is there anything, in particular, you enjoy most about your work? Creativity? The possibility to work with many different clients?
Creating stuff! But most of all I enjoy the passion and motivation business owners have for their company. I love the way each and every entrepreneur makes me think outside the box. Helping them grow makes me grow as a person and as a designer.
And you're so good at what you're doing! I’ve seen your portfolio on your website and was really impressed by the fact that all your projects are super unique but your signature seems to always be there. You’ve got your very own style, which is great! Is there one project you worked on that you’re particularly fond of?
This is an impossible question! Every project has a piece of me. And to be honest, my portfolio is currently missing half a year of projects. The last half-year has been crazy. So many projects, so little time. As a mom (I have a 4-year-old) Covid made it extremely difficult to keep all the balls in the air, and my portfolio has not been a priority.
I think that the last project I worked on is always my favorite. At this specific moment that is the branding and website for Monday is a state of mind (www.mondayisastateofmind.nl)
It is not online yet but I love the vibe of this brand!
We're looking forward to seeing it finished! Manon, you also offer online courses on, for instance, WordPress and Pinterest. Is this an idea that emerged during the Covid crisis? What is special about those courses and who are the participants?
I was working on the WordPress course before the Covid crisis. It did make me speed things up. I wanted the course to be perfect but Covid made me think: Never mind, I need to get this online NOW.
The "build your own academy" is a Covid-idea. I saw all these entrepreneurs struggling to make the shift from offline to online and I knew I could never help everyone. So I cleared my schedule for a week and built this course so an academy is in reach for literally everyone.
Both courses are easy to follow, step by step, courses that let entrepreneurs with little to no knowledge build their own website or academy. The academy course gives you the possibility to literally follow me in every step of building your own academy and courses. Seeing is doing and both courses are available as "reference book" in case you get stuck.
My "students" are entrepreneurs that want to build an academy or website themselves or want to understand how it works and how they can make changes.
This is a really good possibility to help people carry on with their business during the pandemic. But you haven’t always worked as a designer -- there was a time when you were an insurance advisor. That’s the total opposite of the creative field of design! Why were you working in insurance?
To be honest: I don't know. I started in that field because I needed a job and in the 2006/2008 financial crisis there were no jobs for starting graphic designers.
It paid well so I stuck with that job for way too long. It ended with a really bad burnout a couple of years ago. The best thing that happened to me!
It helped you find out what you really wanted to spend on, right? Today you need all your time to fully focus on your creative workflow. In order to keep the administrative work as easy and smooth as possible, you’re using Mailbutler. How does Mailbutler help you organize your work?
In so many ways! It helps me send emails in my own branding, I can set default emails or templates for parts of my emails. I can set to-dos and make notes. This saves me so much time, it is brilliant and I wished I met Mailbutler sooner!
We're so happy to hear that you enjoy using Mailbutler! Last question, Manon, as I’m really curious: I read that as a teenager, you weren’t sure whether you wanted to become a designer or a detective. The only reason that you decided on design was ultimately because detectives have to start as policemen. Would you say today that you made the right choice in the end?
Absolutely! I still think I would be a great detective because I love the puzzle of whodunit and I always am the first to figure out who the bad guy or girl is but I am not that great on the fit test and I think that I would shoot first and ask questions later if someone was stupid enough to hand me a gun ?.
Haha, so we're all lucky you've become a designer! Thanks so much for your time, Manon. We wish you all the best for the future!
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