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Meet Trailblazer Grace van Meurer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace van Meurer.

Grace, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I went to college at the University of Wisconsin for Fine Art where I focused on graphic design. I chose that route because I always felt a pull towards a creative career, but lacked the confidence to pursue a path as a more typical artist. As an 18-year-old, I wanted the comfort of having an “employable” degree where I could secure a salaried job with health benefits and all of the things that adults told me I should prioritize. Because of this mentality, my path was pretty straight forward. I spent four years earning my degree, graduated, and then went straight to work at a small design agency in Chicago.

To fit the status-quo, I planned on staying at that job for two or three years but I was MISERABLE! Entry-level graphic design lacked the creativity that I craved and I very quickly found myself unhappy and looking for more creative outlets. During that time, I found joy in doing small projects outside of work and teaching myself new skills, like illustration and some DIY home improvement projects.

Luckily, after just a year and a half of working that job, my husband got relocated to Houston for work. Starting fresh was scary, but ended up being the insight and confidence I needed to try out full-time freelance. Relocating also gave us a fresh slate for our home, which has been the most rewarding project that I’ve tackled yet! My husband and I bought new construction and have loved injecting our style and recording our progress on my blog and Instagram. It’s a work in progress, but I’m happy to say that I found a productive and creative outlet for myself!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road at all! My first set of struggles came in college. I was very confident in my decision to pursue art but would easily get discouraged by cynical adults who would ask me how I thought I would be able to make a living with that degree. I found peace in knowing that those comments weren’t about me and my choices, but more of a projection of their own insecurities and fears.

As I settled into my first job, I struggled with how much I disliked it. I didn’t know if I disliked working in general, the field of work, or just that very specific job, so I was afraid to quit and afraid of finding a new job that I might hate just as much as the last. My advice to anyone who feels like this at work is to quit! You’ll figure something else out. You spend way too much time working to be unhappy with what you are doing.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
My day job is freelance graphic design and illustration. I wear a lot of hats in this role and work with a wide range of clients with a wide range of needs. I have built brands from the ground up, and I have freshened up tired brands and sometimes my work is just a case of keeping the brand consistent. I do graphic design for both print and web, but my favorite project to tackle is creating a brand new website – there are so many layers of a website build and it’s fun to consider all of the details.

My side hustle is my blog and Instagram! I’m considered a micro-influencer because my account is pretty small, but it’s been really fun to get into and learn more about! I’m in the home decor niche and started the blog and account as a way to remember to take photos as my husband and I started changing things around the house. I knew I would enjoy looking back and recording our progress, but it turns out a lot of people on the internet also like following along!

It’s been a surprising journey for me. I’ve been able to improve my photography skills, practice creative writing, and truly connect with people on a much deeper level than I anticipated. As I continue to grow and evolve on Instagram and my blog, I’m incorporating more of my interests like sustainability and illustration. I didn’t know what to expect and still don’t really know where I want to take my social media passion project, but it has so much potential to open many doors for me!

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well-positioned for?
It can be really discouraging to think about the challenges that women are faced with today. Sometimes, it feels like for every one step of forward progress we take two steps back, but I need to remind myself of how far we’ve come! It’s been less than one hundred years since women earned the right to vote and since then women have been making leaps and bounds. Women today are in the perfect position to continue on the upward battle. Use your voice and don’t back down.

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Image Credit:
Grace van Meurer

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