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Daily Inspiration: Meet Dawn Mulloy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn Mulloy.

Hi Dawn, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My journey really started when I was a little girl. I was drawn to creative classes and art at an early age and always wanted to make a career out of it. As I grew older and graduated high school, I realized I needed to pick a career path that actually made me money. This was in 2009 in a small suburb of Chicago, IL so I had no idea what the graphic design field was at that time because there was no mention of it in school, so I decided I was going to be a teacher. Well, a couple of years of working full-time with children showed me that teaching was not my path. By the time I figured this out, I was through 2 years of community college (2011) and had no idea where to go.

It wasn’t until I got out of a toxic relationship and started dating my now husband when I found out the realm of graphic design existed (2015). I looked into programs and loved what I saw, so my husband told me to go for it. His support and the support of my parents gave me the motivation to drop everything I knew to pursue an education in graphic design.

It took me 4.5 years but I eventually made it through the online program while working full-time as an intern and a graphic designer for a sign shop in Illinois. Towards the end of my education (2018) was when my husband and I decided to move to Colorado, which is where we always wanted to end up. My husband landed a job in Commerce City 2 weeks before we got married. He needed to start that job the Monday after we got married. So, we packed up our cars, got married, and moved to Colorado in one weekend!

Once we made it to Colorado, I had no job and just a beginner’s portfolio to work with to get a job in graphic design. I started doing some free work for my brother, who owns McDevitt Taco Supply in Boulder, CO and I loved being able to help him out. I made a mental note that I would make my way up to be a freelance graphic designer in Colorado. But, freelancing is a super competitive area and I was still a beginner, so after six long months, I finally got a gig working for the local school district in their printing department. Everyone needs to start somewhere!

I spent three years in that position, working with every school in the Jeffco school district and doing small designs for those schools every once in a while. I loved the people I met in those 3 years but the job just was not what I was looking for. This was a job that someone would settle for and sit in for 30 years, and that is just not how I roll. I became a mother in March of 2021, after the craziness of the pandemic, and my daughter became my priority. I became determined to be able to stay home with her and work on my own time, so I began my search for a remote position.

I finally landed a gig in December of 2021 that allowed me to work with other freelance graphic designers to help non-profits across the country. This was incredible for me. My career seemed to take off after a few months of helping this company out. They didn’t give me many hours at the beginning, but what I was able to help with did spruce up my portfolio. I became more confident as a designer. (I also illustrated an adult coloring book for the fun of it that is on sale on Amazon!)

Once all of this was added to my portfolio, I had the support of friends and family helping me out. My sister-in-law was able to get me a connection to the StateFarm Stadium in Phoenix, AZ and I am now on their preferred vendor list for graphic design and illustrations. My brother now has another location in Denver, CO and I am creating all of his graphics regularly as well.

Because of all of this support and determination, I can happily say that I am now a work from home momma! I can comfortably work as a freelance designer while never missing out on my daughter’s first years. It makes me tear up in happiness to realize that I made my dream happen. And I know this was a lengthy read but I really hope I can inspire someone out there to chase their dreams. It is a difficult path and it is easy to get down on yourself throughout the journey but nothing that is worth it in life is easy. I remind myself of that every day and I continue to push my skills further.

My dream is realized but certainly is not over. By the end of the year, I plan to be enrolled in a UI/UX design bootcamp so I have even more to offer to my clients, present and future.

I guess my message to everyone out there is this, if you can dream it, you can do it. And when you do it, you can dream bigger.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Becoming a stable freelance graphic designer is definitely not a smooth road. There are so many rejections, disapprovals, denials, and regrets that are made. It took me 6 months to find my first job in Colorado and those 6 months were spent depending solely on my husband’s income as a teacher. It was a struggle to learn how to live on a tight budget just because I wanted to pursue my dreams. But, with the support I got from my husband and family, we made it through and own a house in Colorado which we live in with our daughter and 2 dogs.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My official title is Graphic Designer but I also dabble in illustrations. Right now, I specialize in marketing design for non-profits and local businesses. I am currently working on a few coloring books and children’s books that will be sold as passive income on Amazon. I already have an adult coloring book for sale, which is what I am most proud of because it was the first project I made for me and finished for me.

I guess compared to others, I am a little different because of how flexible I am. If someone approaches me with a project or style that is new to me, I accept it and dive in head first. I’m not married to one specific of graphic design, I can and will do it all.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
I was fortunate enough to have a great childhood. It is hard to pick one favorite memory. One that stands out was the day I picked out my childhood dog. We went to a small farm in Illinois to get a Jack Russell Terrier and my Spencer was the fastest puppy to race to my hand. I did everything with that dog, he was there for me through all of my favorite moments; camping, sleepovers, relationships & new chapters.

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