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Olyvia Works: An Interview With Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design

  |   Olyvia Works   |   30 Comments

Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design shares her thoughts on the key skill women entrepreneurs should have today, her top budget-minded branding + marketing tips, and her favorite business resources.


What do you do when the career path you always thought you wanted — and what you spent years preparing for — ends up taking a much different path than you originally intended?


Life has a funny way of revealing our unique talents + passions to us while we’re busy pursuing something else, and that’s where we begin our interview today.


Enter: Julie Harris, self-proclaimed “theatre nerd” turned brand and business designer + strategist at Julie Harris Design.


Full disclosure? Julie is one of my favorite BBFs (business best-friends)…and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve been waiting for this interview for-FREAKING-ever.


She is 100% class, 100% smart, and 100% kind…which, if you’re keeping up here, makes her 300% pure awesome. 😉


Today Julie is going to share:


  • When she realized she loved being a behind-the-scenes director more than an on-stage star


  • Why starting her own business terrified her…and what ultimately kept her going


  • How genuinely encouraging peers in your space benefits your brand, and what simple things you can do for others that make a big impact


  • What motivated her to start her own Facebook Group, and how she’s using it to help creative entrepreneurs make real progress in growing their businesses


  • Her thoughts on work-life balance, and what she does to embrace life beyond the computer screen


  • The top 5 branding + marketing areas to invest in as a new business owner


  • The 4 people + places she relies on for business + blogging tools, resources, and education


Thank you for taking precious time out of your day to inspire us with your journey, Julie. You rock. ❤


1. Your path is a fascinating one: it had you soaring more toward Broadway than business consulting and design! Tell us more about your background and what ultimately happened that caused you to shift directions in life.


I was the total theatre nerd in High School. I performed with all the local theatre companies around my home town in Southern California, I sang the National Anthem at all the local sport events, I was awarded most “musically inclined” by  my senior class in school, and I dreamed of someday becoming a Disney princess at Disneyland. (But really, what little girl doesn’t dream of that?) So, I set my sights for Broadway and ended up at the Conservatory for Musical Theatre at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.


But something changed when I went from theatre only being a hobby to it being my sole focus and future profession. My love for music and entertainment didn’t change but the direction of my focus started shifting from the big stage, to behind the scenes. I was absolutely fascinated in the design, direction, and business side of the entertainment industry.


While my classmates were logging extra time in dance halls and singing up a storm in their dorm rooms, I was meeting with my friends helping them practice their interview skills, organize their music books, design their professional social platforms, and helping better define what kind of a performer they wanted to be. So you could say that life didn’t have Disney Princess on my list of future professions… (See where I’m going here…)


I then made the decision to transfer back to sunny Southern California and finish out my education as an Entertainment Business major, focusing on designing and building events as well as marketing and communication.


Just before graduation, I met my now husband who had just joined the Army and found out he was being stationed in Hawaii. Everyone kept telling me how by marrying an Army boy, I was going to be giving up any kind of professional career of my own. I refused to believe that by marrying my best friend I was going to be limiting my professional potential at all.


So I started really evaluating what it was that I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to work with people. I have always loved working in customer service and education, so combining those two, plus my love for business and design, and my need to have a mobile business that I could do from anywhere in the world, I came up with Julie Harris Design.


An online brand and business design studio focused on helping entrepreneurs and industry professionals better define who they are and what they do.


Olyvia Works: Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design on


2. For EVERYONE I know who has set out on their own to launch a business, the transition is a terrifying one. All of our self-doubts come out to party! Was this true for you, and if so, what practical things did you do to push forward anyway?


Ohh my goodness yes! Launching my own business was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. When you start your own business, you are everything; your boss, manager, employee, HR, accounting department, marketing manager, technical support and more! It’s a lot to handle, and can easily get overwhelming. I looked at people like you, and other successful bloggers and business ladies within our creative community and you all make it look so easy!


I was so scared that no one would like me or the content I shared. I was scared that I wasn’t prepared enough to do this. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to afford running my own business. I was afraid that I wasn’t “experienced” enough to start my own business….


So I made friends. Not the Facebook version of “Friends” but real relationships with other bloggers and business owners like you, Erika, who provided me with the guidance, support, advice, encouragement, and most of all the friendship I needed to brave this crazy adventure. I shared a post about how I get by with a little help from my friends, and I meant every word of it.


Community is by far the most important asset someone can have when starting a business. (Tweet it!)



A creative community of people who care about you and genuinely want to see you succeed. These people will be there to celebrate with you when you do well, help you get through the tough parts, and provide you with the guidance you need to grow.


I have a very tight-knit group of girlfriends back in California where I’m from. I am blessed with an amazingly supportive family who would have been proud of me even if I had continued on with my Disney Princess dreams. And I have the most amazing, loving, and caring husband anyone could ever ask for who is so patient with me every step of the way.


But having a group of people within your industry who really understand what it is you are going through, is truly invaluable. I am so grateful for everyone of those people and the role they play in my life daily.


Olyvia Works: Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design on


3. Since we first met online, I’ve known you to be a sincere + tremendous encourager of others. Why is this such a key skill to have as women entrepreneurs today, and what specific things can other women trying to gain traction with their brands do to support the peers in their space?


I never really thought of it as an entrepreneurial skill, but more as a life choice to live by. I have always believed in empowering others to demand more from themselves and help motivate them to live a life with purpose. It’s the promise I make in my brand and business. I don’t simply want to entertain and educate my readers, but I want to empower them to pursue what it is they want most in life.


I am always repeating to my clients, “people will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Feelings are everything in business. Feelings are the building blocks for passion and passion is contagious. As women entrepreneurs today, trying to gain traction with your brands, providing an opportunity to create and promote others is what builds that passionate and loyal following you are working for.


People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. - Julie Harris of Julie Harris Designs on (+ inspiration by Maya Angelou)


You know how amazing it feels when someone new comes to your site and leaves a really great comment on your new blog post? It feels just as amazing to them when you leave a comment too. If you are looking for ways to support your creative peers, make an effort to go “beyond the ‘LIKE,” and leave a personal comment. Use social media in the way it was intended to be used, to BE social. Ask questions to those bloggers you’ve been following from the shadows and have been too afraid to reach out. Trust me, they want to hear from you, too.


When you see someone sharing great new content, let them know why you think it’s so great. I may not remember exactly what it was you said about my blog or website, but I’ll remember how you made me feel when we connected and that will stick with me forever.


Olyvia Works: Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design on


4. Tell us about your Facebook group, The Creative’s Corner. You post so many helpful things there! Why did you start it, what do you hope to see it become, and how can people join in?


I had just started Nathalie Lussier’s 30 Day List Building Challenge. On day 5 of the challenge, Nathalie has you focus on developing an opt-in offer for your newsletter. I knew that I wanted to provide an incentive for people to subscribe to my newsletter that was more than just a valuable love note from me each month, or a workbook that they might-or-might-not print and fill out. I wanted something with lasting value that would grow and expand just as they did in their brand and business.


So I founded The Creative’s Corner. A special space dedicated to the cultivation and preservation of the entrepreneurial spirit. This community is all about providing creative support and guidance for the modern creative entrepreneur. Here, you can ask questions, get suggestions, make special announcements, reach out for guidance and meet new incredible people just like you making lists and taking names in the digital world of business and design.


The Creative's Corner Facebook group


You get access to our brilliant little group by subscribing to my Creative Genius Monthly Newsletter. I have broken down the year into quarters and each quarter, I’ll be hosting a new creative challenge in the Creative’s Corner with the goal of helping inspire new creative ideas, provide organizational support, educational opportunities for growth, and the accountability to help you accomplish your own personal blogging and business goals.


For the first quarter of the new year, we’ve been focusing on building our own eCourses (or workbooks, opt-ins, and other creative resources) to help open up new opportunities for growth in our business. I created a “Create Your Own eCourse Workbook” that I shared in my newsletter. My followers had the option to do it independently on their own, or to bring it in and collaborate with the rest of the Creative’s Corner community.


Next quarter we’ll be focusing on business organization and creating materials to help streamline our client processes, our time management, and our content organization. I’m finishing up a new workbook specifically for my newsletter followers called the “Online Business Workout Workbook” that reads like your traditional fitness routine but focuses on strengthening your brand and business “muscles”. That releases in April right after we finish our eCourse challenge.


The Creative’s Corner is a fairly new group, and it’s still pretty small in size, but I absolutely love that almost every member actively engages with each other and is constantly asking new questions and sharing incredible new resources that truly benefit the whole group.


I have big dreams of it growing and turning into a fully educational resource center where I can bring in guest speakers and artists to create educational content specifically for the community to have access to and use it to grow their brand and business. I’d love to grow it into Google+ and start hosting live Google+ Hangouts with other inspiring professionals and have them host a discussion on whatever challenge we are working on at the moment. So many opportunities for growth! I am really proud of it.


Olyvia Works: Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design on


5. Most solo business owners will admit that their work tends to run their life. How important is it to get away from business and recharge, and what do you love to do in your “time off?”


Off time? HA! Just kidding 🙂 But really… This is probably one of the hardest parts about being my own boss and running my own business. I am constantly working on keeping a strong work-life balance, which is easier said than done.


Being able to log out, shut down, and separate from my work life is incredibly important to me. Even though I get to do what I love, and I absolutely love what I do, I have an amazing life outside of my business that I refuse to compromise just so I get that extra Tweet in or Pin that extra pin.


So, this year I made the resolution to put more energy into my work-life balance and make it a priority to focus on taking better care of me and my body. This includes reading more books (offline), getting outside daily, working out, investing in expanding my creative skills, and spending more personal time with my husband.


One of my favorite ways to spend my time off is cooking. I absolutely love food! I got a pasta roller over the summer and a new cookbook full of homemade pasta recipes for Christmas so I am seriously into rolling my own pasta right now. I make everyone pasta who visits us in Hawaii. My new favorite recipe is Lobster Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce. LEGEN-wait for it-DARY! If you are a fellow food lover, try this. It’s life-changing.


I currently live in Hawaii. We’re only going to be here for a few more months so my husband and I make a point to get out and enjoy the Island as much as we can while we’re here. This includes hiking, beach-going, local restaurants and we even went sky diving over the Island last year. Such an amazing rush!


Olyvia Works: Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design on


6. If someone has a limited budget to spend on branding and marketing as they prepare to launch a business (or business-minded blog), what are the 3-5 crucial things they need to focus on?


Before anyone jumps into the exciting colorful design work, make sure to really define your brand. Who are you, what do you do, who do you serve, how to do serve them and why it’s important. Once you define all those key elements, then you’ll be able to start constructing the kind of brand experience you want to provide for your clients. The clarity and confidence from really knowing who you are and what you do will save you so much time and money on all the other developmental processes like visual branding, marketing materials, and web design.


Running your own business isn’t cheap, and when you have a limited amount of finances, you have to be really smart about what you spend your money on. But don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.


Ok my list of crucial things to focus on..


1. Your Brand Experience. This is defined with in your brand mission and vision and personal core values. Create a Brand Style Guide for your business that documents everything from your business goals, tone, mood, perspective, content strategy, and engagement strategy. The most important element of your brand is your people. Knowing who you’re talking to and how you want to be perceived by them is crucial.


2. Your Business Plan. Creating a plan of action to execute your brand experience to your target audience. Break down everything from your mission and vision to your goals for platform expansion. This helps narrow down the things you are really ready for and the areas of your business that still need work. It also helps you discover the weak spots in your business skills and where you might need to reach out and invest in professional assistance. Regina has an amazing DIY free resource for this.


3. Your Self Hosted Website and Domain Name. Investing financially in the reality of your business is a great way to keep you accountable to your business goals. When money is on the table, I find people take it more seriously and the ownership in the content is stronger. Plus, these expenses aren’t too huge with domains often coming with a hosting subscription and really great wordpress themes reaching maybe $50-$60 dollars at most. I swear by Bluehost for both my domain and webhosting. #hostwiththemost!


4. Great Photos of YOU. You are your business. Your business is you. So show us who you are. A great photos not only make you look your absolute best, but really helps provide a visual identity to who you are professionally and personally. It also helps us take your business more seriously.


5. Business Cards. I don’t care if you are still “just a blogger”. Whether you are a blogger, freelancer, entrepreneur, or established business owner, you need business cards. You never know who you are going to meet and what opportunities might be presented to you. Seriously! My car died the other week and I had to call a tow truck to get me to the mechanic. He had just started his own towing business and wanted to really create a luxury towing experience, eliminating the stress and pressure off people in need of roadside assistance. By the time we got to the auto shop, he was asking for my card and wondering when we could set up a time to discuss my branding services.


Having that tiny little slip of paper with all your crucial information on where to find you, engage with you, and learn more about you is so worth the investment right up front. Even if you are still in startup-mode, a business card established a sense of professionalism and authority that you take yourself seriously and everyone else should too. Vistaprint and Moo both have amazing really reasonable prices for your business card and business stationery needs.


Olyvia Works: Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design on


7. Lastly, share with us the people, places, or resources you use to grow and sharpen your professional skills!


The first blog I ever started following was Marianne’s Design Your Own {Lovely} Blog, where she shares some of the most amazing digital and web design resources for bloggers and small businesses. She is always bringing in different designers and guest bloggers to share their knowledge with her readers bring with it a wealth of experience to learn from. Marianne also just released her first eBook, “Blog Beautiful,” that has an amazing collection of resources and worksheets to help you DIY the best online brand to support your blog or business.


Secondly, the online University that is I know I’m not the first person to share how incredibly brilliant that lady is. She has some of the best resources on the web for DIY online businesses and bloggers looking to empower their online business and marketing abilities. Her “You Are Your Content” posts are some of my all time favorite posts, and I refer people to her “Blogger Love Languages” post all the time. I purchased and participated in Regina’s Grow Your Blog With Social Media eKit and the exercises and resources she shares in that eKit are worth a million times more than she’s charging for it. Seriously a steal! Plus the private Google+ creative community you get included in through the course is worth the investment alone.


I’m serious when I say your “How Do I Get Noticed Online” video series are some of the best resources I’ve ever found on how to really create a personal brand experience through social media. The live-real-time demonstrations of how you engage online and how you experience how other brands engage online was so truly enlightening to me. It completely redefined how I saw branding on Social Media. I think I’ve pinned those posts at least 10 times each on all my boards haha I just want to make sure everyone sees them! And I refer to your resources page all the time. That’s where I found the link to the theme I now use for my own website.


Aside from bloggers and other businesses I follow, I subscribe to where I am constantly taking new courses on web design, digital design, branding, business development, social media marketing and more. I love how easy it is to take their courses and fit them into the time I have to learn. I have so many “playlists” of courses I want to take so I am never at a loss for educational resources. Most of the teachers are awesome and not only are they brilliant designers, but they actually know HOW TO TEACH! Which is a skill unto itself.


I am constantly looking for new amazing educational resources to grow my own entrepreneurial skills as well as to share with my creative community. So if anyone here has any other great bloggers or resources, please let me know!





If you want Julie as your BBF, too (and trust me — you do!)…I know she’d be delighted to meet you via any of her online spaces below:















And here’s a Pin for you!

 5 top tips for your new business or blog! From Julie Harris Design +



Before you go, I’d like to hear from you: Can you relate to Julie’s career path shift? What did she say that encouraged you most? Will you do anything different now that you’ve read this interview? Do you have other awesome blogs + resources for Julie? Add your thoughts, fabulous people! 🙂



Erika Madden

(Chief Olyvia)


The free 21 day ecourse that creates pro online impressions for business owners!

  • I am so excited to see Julie’s sweet smile gracing your blog today Erika! She is by far one of the most genuine people ever! I’m happy to be part of The Creative’s Corner. Julie is brilliant at combining education with personality - she truly cares about every person she helps and it shows in her work.

    I admire the fact that she listened to her heart and took the path less traveled. It’s amazing what happens when we cast our fears aside and just go for it! Great interview Erika! Both of you ladies rock my socks 🙂

    • Julie Harris

      So yes. Kirsten, you and Erika are definitely two of my top favorite BBF’S. You both have brought so much support and confidence into my life and my business and I will FOREVER be grateful for your friendships. You make the struggle of being a start up less of a struggle, because I know I have amazing friends who have been there before and have thrived! You inspire me every day, Kirsten! As a mother, wife, blogger, entrepreneurer and friend. Your energy is contagious and your spirit in the Creative’s Corner is part of what makes it such an amazing place.

      We both have Erika to thank for introducing us. It was right here with your Olyvia Works interview that I knew we had to be friends! 🙂 This is PROOF that 1. Erika is a magnet for amazing people and 2. Community can come from anywhere.

      • It thrills me to no end that you two were able to connect through here. I love that.

    • She really IS one of the most genuine people ever! And I totally agree that it shows in everything she does. <3 Thank you for being such an encouragement, Kirsten!

  • SOOO happy to see Julie sharing her wisdom! I couldn’t agree more, especially regarding community. That is what all of us should be focusing on when we are building our businesses, from our lists to our blog posts and Facebook groups, everything really is built upon tribe building.

    • Julie Harris

      Yes! Love that, Elizabeth, “tribe building”. Being apart of a community surrounded by support, growth, and love. Pulling from my theatrical history, there is a quote by Shakespeare that says, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” I have my own rendition of this for small businesses and entrepreneurs, “Though we be but little, WE are FIERCE!” As an individual we can only do so much, but together in a powerful community, we can do SO MUCH MORE!

      Thank you so much Elizabeth for taking the time to read Erika’s amazing interview. I always appreciate your support and friendship!

    • It absolutely is, I agree Elizabeth. It really makes ALL the difference. 🙂

  • This post was so wonderful in so many ways! First and foremost, I can really relate to Julie’s career transition. I went from a high school English teacher to a Marketing Consultant (and blogger/creative entrepreneur) and it was SCARY. Even though it can be so tough to make a drastic change like that, it’s always worth it. I also squealed inside when I read that she initially attended school in my beautiful city of Pittsburgh 🙂

    I am so encouraged by Julie’s drive to never compromise her professional integrity and dreams and her caring and lovely personality makes her such a joy to read and work with. I immediately signed up for her newsletter and can’t wait to be a part of The Creative’s Corner! I feel as though I have so much to learn from her and the other entrepreneurs.

    In the end, all of this blogging and creating and crafting and designing and business-ing comes down to community. Julie (and you, Erika) nailed it and that’s why she (and you) are so successful. The best part? It’s genuine.

    Thanks for the enlightening interview, Erika! I am feeling encouraged and motivated today.

    • Julie Harris

      Awww Marissa! Thank you so so much for all your wonderful words! You seriously just made my morning. I am so excited to welcome you into the Creative’s Corner! It really is an incredible place and I can’t wait to share your genuine spirit with the rest of the brilliant ladies who hangout there with me. As the interview mentioned (just a few times 😉 ) I am all about community, and I can tell that you are going to be an incredible addition to my creative community.

      I love how Pittsburgh has become something that has tied me to so many different people! I loved my time in the Burg. I had never seen falling snow before living there. Such an amazing city. It taught me so much about who I am, and what I’m capable of.

      I am so excited to learn more about you, Marissa, and your creative journey from High School teacher to Marketing Consultant. I have always loved teaching and find myself constantly drawn back to in professionally. I know your teaching history must greatly help you be successful in marketing and consulting.

      Thank you so much for stopping by here and sharing your wonderful thoughts.

    • I love that we all have a connection to Pittsburgh! (Did I tell you that I went to school there for a year as well? HA, I’m so forgetful about these things.)

      Your comment is fabulous, Marissa. Thank you for sharing how you could relate and that it motivated you. I appreciate you so so much.

  • Lovely reading! Soon I am launching my own branding and logo graphic services and I have so much to learn:) Great interview!

    • Julie Harris

      Thank you so much, Jeanette! Definitely keep us up to date on your business launch! It’s such a crazy, exciting, scary, dramatic, and incredible experience. I couldn’t have gotten through mine with out my creative community.

      I spend about 9 months solely focused on building my brand and business, targeting my audience, writing content, reading, learning and no matter how prepared I was, there was always something new to learn. It’s seriously a never ending cycle! But that’s what makes it so exciting. Constantly being presented with new opportunities to grow and expand.

      Anytime you have a question or need someone to bounce your ideas off of, Erika, myself, and everyone over in the Creative’s Corner is here for you!

      • I will Julie and Erika!

        I have the day off today, so I’m able to work a lot on my pages to set it all up. I was contacted yesterday and it will problably be my first paid customar…so excited:)

  • Ah, I finally got a few moments to sit down and read this through, what an amazing interview you two!! I already knew Julie was a class act and super genuine but now I’m even more convinced! I just love how your main focus is on community and connection. I think that’s so so important in this online world where we can feel so apart from each other.

    I absolutely LOVE this advice: “Ask questions to those bloggers you’ve been following from the shadows and have been too afraid to reach out. Trust me, they want to hear from you, too.”

    I am finally discovering that it’s really not so scary to reach out to others like this because at the end of the day, all we really want is to know that we’ve touched someone’s life, right?

    And a MILLION thanks for sharing my blog as one of the first you started following, I am SO HONORED! <3

    • Julie Harris

      You are so so welcome, Marianne! And thank you for helping me discover my path into blogging. It’s so silly to think about how scared I was to engage online when I first started out. But you said it perfectly, “all we really want is to know that we’ve touched someone’s life”. If we don’t engage with other people, they’ll never know what a difference they’ve made in our life. And that’s why we started our business in the first place, to make a difference.

      Your blog made a huge difference in my life, and I will forever be grateful 🙂

      • That makes me smile Julie, thank you! 🙂

    • Such a wonderful comment, Marianne. 🙂 Thank you for being so awesome! You are one of the most supportive bloggers I know. I love that about you.

      • oh thank you Erika! I don’t feel like I am at all but I’m so glad you feel that way 🙂

  • thealishanicole

    Absolutely loved this interview!! I agree, having a great community around you is so important in this journey!

    • Truer words were never, ever, ever spoken.

      • Julie Harris

        Amen, sister!

    • Julie Harris

      Thank you so much, Alisha! I wouldn’t be where I am today with out my amazing community of business and blogging friends. It’s really tough starting out and being the new kid on the block. Nobody knows who you are and it’s easy to feel like you don’t matter. But you community is there to remind you that you do, and to keep you going even when the going gets tough. Then, next thing you know, you’re out there, making a difference, people are looking to you for advice and you’ll be able to give it because you’ll remember what it was like when you were there and how important your community was to you then.

    • Most DEFINITELY.

  • Wonderland Boudoir

    What a great interview Olyvia! I enjoyed the whole piece, but I loved were she goes to get get inspired the most! I’m gng to check out her page now. Thank you so much for the post!

    • Julie Harris

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read the post! I’m so happy you enjoyed it 🙂

    • You are welcome, girl! Thank you!!

  • Tons of great gems in here, Erika! Julie is absolutely stunning! I wasn’t even sure she was a real person. HA!

    • Julie Harris

      Ohh my goodness, Maya! You just made me literally laugh out loud. I think I scared my husband a little HA! You are too sweet. I promise you that I am 100% real. I am so glad you got a chance to stop by and check out this post. As a huge fan of you and your blog, it means so much to hear that you enjoyed our little interview. Erika always asks the best questions. P.S. I absolutely LOVE your site!

      • Haha! Glad to hear that you’re real! Also so happy that you’re a fan of my blog! That makes me feel awesome! *blows on nails*