Budding Entrepreneurs // Lumina Creative Studio
Frances is a dear friend of mine who I have wanted to feature on the blog for a while now. I have lucky enough to witness the ways in which her creativity has bloomed, her faith has been stretched, and her light has shone with the growth of her beautiful business, Lumina Creative Studio. When I think of Frances, I think of all the beautiful things that she creates and am reminded of these beautiful lyrics from a song by Gungor that speak of how the Lord can and does create beauty from even the most broken/unexciting things:
“You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us”
I hope that you will enjoy reading through our Q&A session in this Budding Entrepreneurs feature, and that you will be able to learn something from the highs and lows that Frances has experienced whilst running a small business in the creative space. Enjoy!
So, can you tell us a bit about who you are?
I am Frances Tomaselli, a daydreamer with hands that just can’t keep still. Since I can remember I used to sit with my dad, an amazing architect, colouring his plans for him. Ever since, I’ve been drawing, painting & innovating. I now have my own design & Illustration studio called Lumina Creative Studio where I get to create wedding stationery, children’s book & branding. I currently call Johannesburg home, where I live with my handsome husband. I feel so blessed to be supported by him to do what I love.
How did you get to where you are today in your career?
After taking art at school, as well as an extra design subject, I didn’t have one doubt in my mind that I wanted to go to the University of Stellenbosch to study Visual Communication Design. While studying I started freelancing. While I had no idea how to run a business, I just loved getting as much experience as I could. I did everything from branding, textile design & commission illustration. I focused my Honours year in inclusive design, aimed at the blind & visually impaired. This had such an impact on my perspective, and I feel I will never lose this sense of designing something that makes a difference, serves a purpose & reflects the love and light of Jesus.
After this year I went back to where it all started – to work for my dad. I learnt so much working in team, and loved working with so many different clients. While I found architecture such an interesting field, I had a longing to trade my hours in front of a screen for some paintbrushes and paper. After a year I resigned & decided it’s time to spread my wings & take the biggest risk. But I soon realised the Lord prepared me long before, and I had my family and friends’ support no matter what happened.
I can now say with surety it was the best risk to take. Three years of growing Lumina from a big dream to a small business has definitely been my biggest challenge yet, but have also been the most rewarding. I feel all the credit goes to the Lord when I have to think how I got to where I am. Without Him I would’ve never believed in my talents & been courageous enough to start anything at all.
Has your journey to where you are today inspired you to do anything you never thought you’d be brave enough to do?
Throughout my life, I’ve always been sensitive. I was also shy & reserved, avoiding the limelight and especially public speaking as much as I can. Through starting my own business, I feel I have definitely been braver when it comes to putting my ideas out there & being more confident in where the Lord has placed me. While I definitely still have many moments of self-doubt I now take criticism in my work less personally. I also see my business as a platform where I can bring joy, and even change through my voice and perspective. Together with this, I feel I have a better understanding of how subjective my field is, and have made peace with the fact that everyone won’t like my work, and that’s okay. Jesus will send the right people, all we have to do is be obedient & step out in faith.
What inspired you to start your small business?
While I was studying I already received freelancing opportunities. This already stirred my heart, as I absolutely loved working with so many people, each person & project different from the next. I realised that I would never be stimulated being screen-bounded, and needed to hand illustrate & paint. This is a niche market today, but I also saw many people looking for handcrafted & meaningful design. While knowing it would be difficult to build up a client base I just knew I would not grow to my full potential if I did not stay true to what it is that excited my heart.
What kind of products do you offer?
I offer anything from corporate branding & identities, textile design, wedding stationery & illustration. If it has anything to do with design or illustration, I’m open to it!
What do you love most about running your business?
I love being involved in so many diverse projects. In one day I get to dream with a bride-to-be, brainstorm with a CEO and do imaginative children’s book illustrations. Being a complete right-brain, I love that every day is different from the one before & never boring! Aside from the excitement of all the different projects, my favourite part is definitely making a difference with what I create. No matter what the project, I found that art is anything but two-dimensional & something meant to be put up on walls. I hope to improve businesses with my branding. I hope to make a bride’s wedding day more than she dreamed of with all the wedding stationery and details. And I hope to teach children values & grow their imagination with my children’s books. I love that with the single talent the Lord gave me, I might just make a difference to someone’s life.
What do you find challenging about running a small business?
Running a small business all by myself definitely has its challenges. Mostly I find it hard to manage my time & keep to a schedule (yes, my creativity doesn’t help much here). I like starting with something & sticking with it until it’s finished. I quickly learned I needed to adapt and jump from one project to the next, to be able to finish everything within the deadlines. Working alone can also become lonely. I do get to see my clients occasionally, but correspond mostly through email & phone calls. This sometimes leads to days working from my home studio without being able to brainstorm with colleagues & bounce ideas off each other. I therefore also find it crucial to collaborate with other small business owners & build your own little network of people who are all in the same boat. (or many similar little boats in this case).
Anything exciting in the works for your small business over the next year?
I’m hoping & praying this year will be the most exciting one yet for Lumina Studio & I. My first children’s book illustration project is being published which I did for The Kristen Collection. This is the first book of the collection aimed at teaching little girls values inspired by the women of the Bible. It will soon be available to purchase on Amazon & on their website. I am also finishing a book project called Hope & Healing with a friend based on her testimony of overcoming Leukaemia. Together with this I’m busy writing & illustrating my very own children’s book & hoping to finish it by the end of 2019.
I am excited to finish two restaurant branding projects & see it all come to life. Do go visit The Pantry in Johannesburg & The Meeting Place in Stellenbosch in the near future if you’d like to see it in person & have some good food & drink. Further I’m hoping to meet many new brides & share in their weddings as well as many new other clients that can challenge me to create & innovate anything new!
What are your top tips for staying healthy?
My top tip is to start everything with Jesus. Start every day & every project with quiet time and the rest will follow with so much more peace.
Another tip is to keep a journal or daily planner where you can pinpoint your priorities & goals, your dreams & your to do’s. I haven’t done this for a long time at all, but have felt so much more satisfied when I look back on my planner & see what I’ve accomplished.
Surround yourself with positive people who can support & love you through it all. I don’t know what I would do without my husband, family & friends to laugh with & cry with. Don’t ever make yourself an island – too much thinking is never a good thing.
My last tip is to take good care of yourself. Someone once told me they hope I will one day love myself the way I love the people around me. This is a hard one for most of us, but I now know I can’t make a success of anything if I’m not okay. Make time to pamper yourself & do something you love at least one thing a day.