Sara Malek Barney, with a background in Sales and Marketing, moved to LA after finishing University in Texas. She has her own design company: BANDD Design. She currently lives in Texas with her two kids and her husband, who also happens to be her business partner.
How did you decide you wanted to set up your own design company?
Honestly, I was too old to start over in my career! My background is in entertainment sales, so when I transitioned over to design, I already had a family, a mortgage, etc and I couldn’t afford to start back again as a design associate. Also so much of owning a design company is understanding business in general. Since I have that strong foundation, going out on my own from the start made the most sense. I wouldn’t recommend that to someone who is just starting out in their professional careers.
Did you ever want to do anything else?
I think deep down I’ve always wanted to be a designer but for so long I didn’t even understand that that could be a career choice! As a kid, I was convinced that I was going to be the first female president OR a makeup artist and as I got older, I really wanted to work in the music business. I quickly realised that none of those were right for me. I do/did really love working in entertainment and I will also keep a toe in that water, no matter where design takes me.
Why did you decide to move from Austin Texas to LA?
I have family in San Diego and I remember visiting LA as a kid and thinking that I had to move there immediately. I absolutely fell in love with that dang city. I knew if I didn’t go there for college, I would get there as fast as I could. I ended up heading west about one week after my college graduation. It was one of the best life decisions I ever made and it was an amazing place to spend my 20s.
Have your college degrees helped you in your line of work?
Yes and no. Both gave be solid foundations on which to build upon, but 90% of what I use day-to-day are life lessons from past real-world experiences. I think its important to have as a base, but it should not be your sole focus for your future. Actual work is so important!
Your husband is also your work partner. How does this affect your personal/business life?
Ha! I get asked this a lot. He is the absolute best! He isn’t full time with my business as he also runs operations for a major company AND is a published author. If I didn’t have his support both in business and in life, I would be destroyed. He does the dishes and laundry for god’s sake! And he’s a true equal partner in our relationship. I never thought I’d meet my match, but he’s such a dream. I really couldn’t have asked for anyone better and he’s also the most amazing dad to our kids. I could keep gushing, but you get the idea.
What's the best advice you ever got?
Always, always, always return every email and every phone call. You never know how that contact will help you in the future, so respect their time and they will respect yours. It’s funny because I get jobs now based on the way I treated people decades ago…the way you behave is timeless…especially in the age of the internet.
Did you create your own website or outsource the work?
I have created my own websites in the past and you could tell! I would spend hours and hours and it would look…eh ok. When I set out to create my current website, I knew it was time to turn over the keys to a real pro. I hired Mel Volkman and she was the best to work with! She also created my logo and brand guidelines. This goes back to the business experience bit, but I’ve learned that its better to outsource the things someone else can do better rather than waste your time trying to make it right. Your time is an extremely valuable commodity and it's finite.
What's the most important thing when trying to attract new clients?
A lot of my clients have never worked with designers before so I spend a lot of time educating them, but really I try to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to understand what it is like to work with a designer. I have met so many that have heard horrible things about using a designer, so I am helping to convince them otherwise!
Is BANDD Design on social media? Which ones and why those ones?
You bet! I am on all of them. I spend most of my time on Instagram which is @jointhebandd. I decided early on that I would mainly focus on Instagram as my social media of choice as its such a visual platform. I also am the Home Editor for The Effortless Chic Blog, which has been so fun.
Would you ever like to travel and work remotely?
I live in Austin, TX, but yes I would love to travel and work remotely. I don’t like to be away from the kiddos for long but I love taking remote jobs and I have a few lined up in LA in the coming months!
What is your favourite quote?
“It is so weird being my own role model” - which is a line that Mindy Kaling says on her show “The Mindy Project”. Its a joke, but it sort of describes my personality in that way.
Where can we find you?
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