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How This Freelancer Turned Adventure into Brand Impact

The path to freelancing is rarely linear and often involves a lot of self-discovery and adventure. Christine Lieu of CL Designs knows this truth all too well after leaving her corporate career to take the leap into freelancing. Having earned her stripes in the fast-paced media world, she learned first-hand the challenges faced by startups through her own journey and used it to build her online business. Here’s her story.



Tell us about your freelancing. What do you do? Who do you love to work with?

I am the expert behind CL Designs and the Brand Party Podcast where I'm a graphic designer who's traded in climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. 

I help lifestyle and social impact businesses realize their vision and connect with the people most important to them through branding, web design, and social content creation with a brand 360 perspective. I’m also the host of the Brand Party Podcast, where my guests and I deliver fun, honest, to-the-point advice that you can implement RIGHT AWAY in your entrepreneurial journey.

What's your story? What did you do before you started freelancing? 

My first step into entrepreneurship was with starting my own streetwear apparel brand, In Lieu Of in 2013 doing everything from admin to tradeshows, to financials, designs and more. From there, I began working with startups, particularly in the tech and fashion industry, to then working with corporate brands like Rogers Media Publishing and CBC. I moved on to launching social channels for Walmart Live Better and Vivre Mieux and was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award as the lead designer. I have also worked with various brands along with Sportsnet and doing digital associate producing with artists during my time at CBC Music and q radio, and the Juno Awards in Vancouver. 

Upon making my decision to take the leap from corporate to full-time in my freelance design business, it came with a lot of feelings of guilt and shame at the time. But it's by far the best decision I've made. 

Having the opportunity to walk to work with a good salary and benefits and working with musicians would've been my 16-year-old dream job! But being able to stand in your worth of being able to design the life you've always wanted is what really motivates me. Being able to come back to what I love most, spending my time with who I love most, without the guilt and shame is what drives me. Differentiating big, bold impact from big companies has been a challenge but through the work I do - I hope I'm able to inspire my clients to build the bold legacies that they absolutely deserve and to get back to what they love most. 

Success for me has become not necessarily financial but how much difference I can make in people's lives.

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What was your greatest triumph or your biggest learning experience? 

When I decided to leap from freelancing to step full-time into the business owner role with CL Designs, I was actually jetting off to Greece that same day. This was the beginning of an embarking journey to learn to let go of my comfort zone of my network I've built locally for 7 years, my friends, family, and the environment I've known to take on a new adventure. Throughout my journey, I've gotten to visit Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Germany, and Spain and celebrated my 1 year business anniversary in Arizona. 

It's ok to live a life others don't understand. 

If you could give a piece of advice to a new freelancer, what would it be?

Start. Eat the frog - aka do the thing you've been avoiding and I promise you, the rest will come easily. The sooner you "fail" or learn and figure out what works for you will lead you to the right path. It's not what you follow, it's what you follow through on.

Where have you seen the greatest results in your business?

For me, it's always been about celebrating and being able to communicate the truest reflection of ourselves in order to create that bold legacy. All my services work in tandem with one another to support my clients no matter where they are on their own journeys. However, my Ready, Set, Launch package that encompasses their custom branding from scratch and website design and social templates have always been a profitable service. 

I also focus on passive income streams, including the Brand Party Challenge and Brand Kits, which are both accessible starting points to realign and get clear on a business’ brand vision. Understanding that clients feel overwhelmed from starting from scratch, the Brand Kit helps to reduce the time and marketing spend they'll be investing in when starting their business. 

And finally, what does freelancing mean to you and your life? What has it allowed you to do? 

It's allowed me to love and design the life I've always wanted. I get to wake up doing what I love, spending it with who I love most, and helping my clients create the bold legacy that they absolutely deserve! It's also given me the opportunity to see the world and get inspired to help others while on my growing journey.



connect with Christine

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