Faces of Freelance Austin is a monthly feature to get to know one of our many members just a little bit better. For this month’s installment, we check in with Krissy Teegerstrom, Programs Chair of Freelance Austin. Want to nominate a member to be interviewed for this feature? Let us know!
Name: Krissy Teegerstrom
Business name: Featherweight Studio
No. of years freelancing: 6
Located: Austin TX
Accepting new work? Yes
Fun fact about yourself: For one of my college scholarships, I got to go to a Spurs game and during half-time I went down to the court where they awarded me a giant foam check. I was on the Jumbotron! ______________________________________________________________
How do you describe the work you do?
I’m an artist and clothing is my first love. I design and produce custom graphic tees, bandanas & other goods for bands, brands & boutiques. I’m also a Creative Consultant for two published, Grammy-nominated authors. And I’m about to launch a podcast!
Describe your path to becoming a freelancer/small business owner/solopreneur.
I worked in the music industry in Austin, New York City and San Francisco for the first half of my career. Then I embraced the dot-com culture of San Francisco and worked at a blogging company in the early days of blogs.
I earned a lot of money at the dot-com, but I quit when I got burned out and I took some time off. During that time I started receiving inspiration for two graphic T-shirt designs. I ignored the ideas for almost a year, then finally figured out how to print a small batch of T-shirts.
My first T-shirt design was carried by Urban Outfitters, so even though I had no idea what I was doing I knew I couldn’t just quit. I’ve been figuring it out ever since.
Was there an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to strike out on your own?
I struck out on my own a bit by accident. But I had always been a problem solver so I just kept going day by day. Whenever I have wished for more money and considered working for someone else, I remember how much I love the freedom of working on my own. The freelance life isn’t easy, so it’s really a constant decision to keep going on my own because I love my freedom so much.
How has career independence changed your professional and personal world?
Working for yourself means you can’t complain about or blame your boss or coworkers or company anymore. The buck stops with you. If something’s not right, you have to figure out how to make it better. It’s a terrific vehicle to learn your own shortcomings and what you need to develop in order to be a more well rounded person. And it gives me empathy and respect for everyone who veers off the beaten path.
Our members cite connections with people from varied expertises and career stages as one of the biggest benefits of Freelance Austin. Have you had mentors along the way, from Freelance Austin or elsewhere?
I haven’t had a formal mentor relationship, but I do learn a lot by observing the people I admire.
Has there been a point when you’ve taken a big risk to move forward?
Every time I try something new it feels like a big risk. Making my first T-shirts. Painting my first murals. Making a podcast. All risks end up in forward movement.
Tell us what your day is like. Do you have a routine?
Earlier this year I committed to a morning routine that has been hugely beneficial to me. Right after I wake up, I do a two-part meditation to connect with my soul and spirit, and I try to do a bit of exercise for about half an hour. I don’t turn my phone on until I’ve connected with my body, my soul and my spirit. It has really helped me distance myself from anxious or negative thinking.
What, outside of your professional work, drives you? Any hobbies, passions or side projects?
I’m obsessed with spirituality, personal growth and green living.
What was the biggest surprise or shock you found in freelancing? If you could share a bit of wisdom with your newbie freelance self what would it be?
Being your own boss forces you to really deal with your own emotions and beliefs. It’s not just about business. It shows you where you are in terms of confidence, self-worth, your outlook on money, etc. That’s a huge part of it.
Austin has a thriving independent worker population, do you see any ways the creative and freelance community in Austin could be better?
I think there are opportunities to create stronger communities and networking opportunities. I hope Freelance Austin can continue to help with that.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
Find a couple of friends or mentors who are also freelancers and keep them on speed-dial when you feel overwhelmed. When you’re struggling, it’s helpful to hear from your peers that they go through the same issues. Your friends with full time jobs or your friends who don’t work, they won’t really get it.
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