Designing and illustrating has always been a skill that I wished I possessed, and I was often jealous of my siblings and close friends who could draw and sketch effortlessly, while I stuck to heart people. Heart-people you ask? It was my childhood version of stick people, except their bodies consisted of a heart shape. Obviously a style very avant-garde and before its time, or so I told myself.
Because of the talent that never was, I’ve always love seeing what others can do with their natural abilities paired with adapting to new technological tools. That is why when I discovered Brandi Monard, owner of Brandelane, I was smitten.
Her style has a nostalgic feel; very whimsical and dreamlike, while still being very detailed and purposeful. If you are a theme park lover, or someone who enjoys being transported into a fantasy land, then her work will surely speak to you.
Her current work is displayed on goods most of us are suckers for. Calendars, pins, tote bags, art prints, and even gift paper. She also has new items on her radar to introduce to her line for 2019.
I recently got to sit down and discuss her background and the Brandelane business while her adorable cat sang for attention and I sipped from a Pantone inspired mug. Heaven!
LH: How would you describe Brandelane to someone who doesn’t know your work, and why is it inspired so much by Disney?
BL: Brandelane is very cute and whimsical. I’m very inspired by Disney’s retro, vintage aesthetic. I really love anything retro, so I take different elements I love and put it into Brandelane and hope people love it. I really fell in love with Disney, not just the parks, but the core of their message. Dreaming, pursuing yourself to the greatest you can be, making things more magical. Making your life more positive, progressive and future oriented.
I also fell in love with imagineering after seeing a design concept portfolio of an Imagineer in college. I thought, that is literally what I want to do. I ended up working on theme parks for five years, getting to work with Disney and with Imagineers, and fulfilled that dream to the fullest.
(When Brandi moved from Texas to Orlando she spent the first two years going to Disney every weekend. The love affair was real.)
LH: What skills that you gained from your corporate experience do you feel benefited you the most now as you run your own business?
BL: Definitely things like learning how to properly compose an email or how to deal with clients coming back with changes. Anything related to dealing with people like customer service and dealing with clients. I wouldn’t know the standard of working toward the clients needs as well as well being true to myself if it weren’t for the jobs I had.
Also, I was surrounded by so many great artists and designers, it taught me how far I needed to go to be a good artist/designer myself. You can be good at school and be in the top of your class, but that’s only based on how good your school or class is. Then you get into the real world and there are all these people with 30+ years experience who have amazing talent, and you realize how hard you have to work. I had the self-motivation to work at home after work to improve my skills because I knew how important it was going to be for my future.
LH: What are some of the biggest surprises you found when beginning to run your own business?
BL: You learn how much of the work involved isn’t creative. You spend so much time figuring out how to properly do sales tax, taxes, how to invest in retirement when you don’t have a 401k, how to invest or diversify. Then there is figuring out ways to not rely solely on Etsy and where I can expand my business. Instead of someone telling you the things you need to be good at, you have to figure it out yourself. When you don’t have a professional mentor you rely a lot on YouTube and training videos.
LH: Coming from a professional background in design, what would be your advice to people struggling with their work getting copied and knocked off?
BL: It’s so hard, especially when you are brand new to business, you won’t have the money to get everything copyrighted and trademarked, but I’ve started to utilize the “poor man’s copyright”. You email your work to yourself so it’s timestamped that you had that original image at that time. The hard thing is enforcing something that is stolen, and it’s often not worth the cost in fighting it, but I suggest making things as unique as possible that would be difficult to reproduce.
(We then strayed into a quick conversation about how awful Urban Outfitters is when it comes to stealing and our friends that have been fighting to protect their work.)
LH: What are your thoughts on the Girl Boss movement?
BL: I love the movement, even though there are negative connotations to it. I always think back to what the original purpose of it really was. I know people get upset and say why do you need to call it “girl” boss, why not just boss; but sometimes you have to be more specific and rip away the stereotypes. Anything that empowers women is amazing, especially in the corporate world where you learn quickly there can be settings that are predominately male and you may be the only girl in the room. It’s a good reminder to call it out for what it is.
(We then shared horror stories of things we’d experienced working in male-dominated workplaces.)
LH: What 3 emotions do you hope people feel when they see your work?
BL: I hope they feel happy, inspired, and that it makes them feel like it fits into their lifestyle, so they’d want to have pieces of my art in their home. When I see people that have my art in their homes it’s such an honor.
You can follow Brandi’s work on Instagram @brandelane and shop her goods on her website https://brandelane.com.