Victoria Steffensen (BFA ’20) always had a goal of starting her own business and working for herself. Through completing her degree in new media, graduating from the University of Lethbridge and settling down in rural Alberta, she has accomplished this dream and more.
Victoria is the owner of Brindle Dixie Designs, where she focuses on designing apparel, photography and graphics with logos and vinyl work. Starting small, she created designs and graphics for friends and family in her community of Coutts. Eventually, word spread about her skills and talent, prompting Victoria to formally start her business in 2021.
“I felt like there was a lot of downtime through COVID and all I could think about was how much I could have been doing to build my own brand and my own business. Living in a strong agricultural-based community, there's not a whole lot of individuals that are involved in new media or have design-based backgrounds. So, I think it has really fascinated a lot of people here and it sparked a lot of smaller jobs,” Victoria says, adding that the smaller jobs eventually led her to bigger ones.
“During my time at ULethbridge, I developed a lot of base skills in many different areas. It's really helped me be versatile here, since there's no way that I would be able to run a business solely on just making logos given the smaller population, it's been really nice to be able to do a multitude of things. I really enjoy having those different mediums and projects to reach out to.”
She credits much of this success to the foundations of skills she built while a student in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Victoria branched out and took courses in other disciplines, such as traditional art, and was able to use the knowledge she gained from those courses in building her business.
“The new media program was really great with building a lot of differing skills. Even in our art program, we used a lot of power tools and developed a lot of practical skills. For example, I couldn't find a desk that I liked, so I built my own desk for my office. It's helped me a lot in my work life and my day-to-day tasks ” she says.
“For my business, I do all my own product photography, social media, website design, and marketing. I'm hoping to do a little promo video for all my products in the next couple months as well. After going through the new media program, it's been so beneficial for me to start my own brand, because I haven't had to reach out to any other experts or professionals, it’s made it very accessible to start a business.”
“Leanne was super helpful. Her knowledge was incomparable and she was crucial in developing my skills. I also really liked Blake, he was such a knowledgeable human. His stories about working in the field were always so fascinating and inspirational in the sense that you had a small taste of what the actual working world would be like and what the endless possibilities were. And Ryan Harper Brown, the social media course I took with him was super beneficial. I think it was just something that was really needed at ULethbridge, it created this nice bridge between older styles of marketing and newer form of advertising. It provided the tools need to manage yourself and other businesses realistically.”
Following an internship in Edmonton where she focused on photography and photo editing, she made her home in southern Alberta. Victoria says she draws inspiration for her designs from her surroundings and strives to be authentic in the work that she puts forward.
“I get inspiration from scenic areas, the mountains or hills. A lot of my designs feature the sweet grass hills that are just on the other side of the border from Coutts. I pull from my experiences or favourite places, so I'm hoping to keep pushing that.”
Looking to the future, Victoria says she wants to keep building her business and pursue more projects, and she hopes to one day host an internship student of her own, making her journey come full circle.
“While I was looking for my internship it was really hard to find an organization or business that wasn't just looking for somebody to complete a project and leave. I really wanted to be able to learn from somebody else and pick up on other skills, so I always thought it'd be really cool to return the favour to university students. I’d love to be able to have somebody that I could mentor and help them through experiences that I've learned after university, that may have helped me coming into the workforce.”
Victoria’s advice to incoming students is to keep learning and remember that university is a journey, not a race.
“It's super important to keep learning and keep up with skills. That's easily had the most impact in my business, keeping up with new skills and new ideas, and it's also helped me spark creativity. Another thing I would say is that it's okay to take your time in university. I think it's more important to develop skills than to stress about a class and risk your mental and physical health.”
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