Girls With Gumption | Beth Mathews
I met Beth our freshman year of college at Belmont University in Nashville. I've always admired her kind heart for others, pure talent, and spunk. She caught a last minute flight to our wedding and it was the first time we'd seen each other since graduation in 2007! I'm thankful for friendships that pick up where they left off and aren't afraid to jump back in via a pole dancing class for my bachelorette party. That's a real friend.
Beth thrives on all elements of creativity, be it web design, print design, art direction, crafting color palettes or working on short films. Recently she's taken up bee-keeping, by happenstance if not destiny. Beth's own personal mantra is one of courage, bravery, and of course, gumption. She's one of the most creative people I know and I'm thrilled to share her story on All the Delights.
By day, you're a freelance designer. Tell us a little about your path up to this point.
I see my path of becoming a freelance graphic designer as lots of dots connecting to each other from different life experiences and jobs I’ve had. I’ve worked for a couple non-profits, a record label, a web design agency and am now a full-time freelancer. The truth is, becoming a freelancer isn’t my end-all-be-all dream in life. Right now, it’s given me the freedom to pursue a lot of different creative outlets, create my own schedule, and learn how to become what feels like a professional multi-tasker. It’s a wonderful way to make a living while feeling like I’m actually living life because I’m enjoying what I do!
Did you wait until you were "ready" to go freelance, or was it more of a leap of faith?
I spent about 8 months working between two design jobs hoping one of them would turn into a full-time position. My potential “dream job” prospect crumbled and I started to look for other full-time positions. I applied for a Creative Manager position at a print packaging company in town. About two weeks later my husband and I were in mountains of Wyoming when I got a call from the print packaging company and instead of them offering me the Creative Manager position they offered me a position in their $1 bin sticker department. I felt crushed! I was reading the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed at the time and on the same day I received the “sticker department” news, I turned the page to see a quote by Emily Dickinson. My sweet mom added some notes to the quote and I knew what I had to do.
I had spent so much time waiting and hoping that my career and life would just fall into place rather than going for it!
A lot of my life I’ve struggled with anxiety and the truth is is that I’m scared of most things. Scared of made-up situations, people, physical situations like flying and driving! I’ll drive myself nuts with it. I actually realized my motto in life coming back to Tennessee from your wedding! I was on a dark Texas back road at 2am by myself driving to San Antonio to catch a flight home. I thought to myself, "I'm nervous about this but I'll do it." And I think as a freelancer you have to have that mentality of "I'm going to trust in my path right now" or it affects everything. There has to be some base of confidence in yourself and in that giant leap one takes into the unknown of self-employment.
It might have been the best leap of faith I’ve ever done. Two years into self-employment I still walk around my house and can’t believe we’re able to keep the lights on and water running with our creative endeavors and a lot of faith that things will work out.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since going freelance?
The relationships that you have with others can carry you so far and word of mouth is incredibly good for business. And that those “non-dream jobs” that I once had that seemed so awful were actually really helpful in preparing me to own my own business.
How do you stay inspired as a designer?
The internet is a vast land of inspiration from photographers to other designers to writers. However, sometimes it can also be a land of comparisons! I have found that they best way for me to stay inspired is to travel. When I’m traveling, I’ll see things like old maps or road signs or stop in little shops that have rare knick knacks and it will make me so excited to get back to my computer at home to design something. I can’t tell you how many photos of random signs or pieces of paper that have a great logo on it I have stored on my camera just to remind me of that moment of inspiration.
What are some favorite projects you’ve worked on?
A lot of my favorite projects have been “passion projects” like our honey business, my husband’s album art and various personal designs. Here are a couple snapshots of designs I’ve worked on in 2015 that I had a really fun time creating!
How (and why) did you go about keeping bees?
I’ve always had a thing for insects. In my own little world I’ve always viewed them as creatures that have important lives and I couldn’t imagine killing even an ant because that one ant is important to another ant. Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end a bit! So my interest in bees and the goodness they create in the world has always been something I wanted to pursue.
My start to beekeeping happened at a beekeeping 101 class with my good friends from Southern Lights Electric. We put our names into a raffle and the next thing I knew I heard "Beth Mathews! You just won 15,000 honeybees" over the speakers. Can you imagine?!
Did you always plan on producing and selling honey?
The original hope was that we would have enough honey to keep, give away and sell. I think my priority has shifted a little since we’re 2 years into beekeeping now. Now my main focus is to help keep the bees alive and hope for the best!
You recently wrote and recorded a song with your husband, Dan, of Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes. Was this something you always wanted to do? What was the process like?
This song came completely out of the blue for us. One Saturday night we didn’t have any plans and I was sitting in my husband’s music room while he played around on the keyboard. 4 hours, 2 shots of whiskey and a bag of gummy bears later we had written and recorded a song together. It was so much fun and a totally new creative process for me.
What does a typical day look like to you?
I’m not sure a typical day exists in my book, which I love! However, I imagine it starts off like most working professionals. Lots of coffee, checking email, and diving into work.
What’s the best thing about living in Nashville?
The people! There are friendly faces everywhere you go.
What’s the worst thing about living in Nashville?
The heat and the Green Hills Mall.
What is something you're excited about right now?
We’re getting ready to sell our honey products! We’ve ordered the labels and have started to package it all up. I’m excited to share with our friends and family the fruits of the bee’s labor.
What are your words of wisdom to the girls who struggle with anxiety or fear?
A good friend of mine who also struggles with anxiety once told me that when you’re in a situation where you feel nervous or worried, look at just the facts in the current moment. For example, if I’m worried about work not coming in to pay the bills I could ask myself questions like:
- "Do you have a roof over your head?" Answer: yes
- "Do you have food in your fridge? Answer: yes
- "Do you trust in your talents? Answer: yes
This sort of thinking has changed my life. I think being a creative in general I have the tendency to create this big imaginative world inside my mind that may or may not be true due to worrying. So in terms of anxiety and fear, look at the facts and save those imaginative thoughts for your projects or your dream!
And finally, what does gumption mean to you?
"I'm nervous but I'll do it."