Brand Your Passion

005: Terence Tang on authenticity, letting go, and the realities of creative business.

Episode Summary

This week on the Brand Your Passion podcast, I was joined by Terence Tang, A.K.A Tinlun Studio, a hand-lettering artist and designer from Houston, Texas who creates murals and other lettering pieces, has his own apparel store, runs the HumanKind Project, and more! In this episode we talk about being authentic in your brand, letting go of things that take away from your creativity, and the realities of growing a creative business, among other fab things. We also get Terence’s top tips for business and life as a creative entrepreneur!

Episode Notes

This week on the Brand Your Passion podcast, I was joined by Terence Tang, A.K.A Tinlun Studio, a hand-lettering artist and designer from Houston, Texas who creates murals and other lettering pieces, has his own apparel store, runs the HumanKind Project, and more! 

Terence has collaborated with brands like Nike, created custom pieces for NBA players, and been featured in lettering books like Goodtype and Typism, alongside running his apparel store, creative commercial client work, and cultivating his own lettering practice.

In this episode we talk about being authentic in your brand, letting go of things that take away from your creativity, and the realities of growing a creative business, among other fab things. We also get Terence’s top tips for business and life as a creative entrepreneur!

Links

Tinlun studio store: https://shop.tinlunstudio.com/

Terence’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tinlunstudio/

Tinlun lifestyle Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tinlunlifestyle/

Tinlun Studio website: 

https://www.tinlunstudio.com/

Episode Transcription

Hollie: Hello everybody, welcome to this week's episode of Brand Your Passion. I am super excited today because I am joined by Terence. Who, we've just been talking, we've been friends online for a long time but this is one of the first real conversations in real life that we're having. So I'm super excited to be having this conversation with Terence, but I'm also excited to have this conversation for you to learn about Terence's brand and have this conversation about branding from someone who does hand lettering. Welcome to the show! 

Terence: Thanks, Hollie. Thank you so much for having me, I'm excited to be here.

Hollie: Yeah! So, I have hinted obviously that you do hand lettering, but do you want to introduce yourself, give us your preferred pronouns if you're okay with that, and then share a bit about what your passion is.

Terence: Sure, um so I'm Terence. I am from Houston Texas, I guess these days I'm mainly a lettering artist but previously I've been known to do some video, some graphic design, some photography, even a little DJing back in a previous life. I'm a bit sneaker-head, I just kind of do all the things, I've been starting to do more murals these days. Uhh yeah.

Hollie: I did not know about the DJing [laughs] that's awesome!

Terence: That was a long long time ago, I don't exactly talk about it a lot. 

Hollie: Yeah but a very cool thing to add, just casually [laughs]

Terence: Yeah

Hollie: So tell us a bit about your studio, um how did that sort of come about and how has it come to where it is today?

Terence: So, I think I have over 10, I have about 12-13 years' experience working in Corporate. I came out of college and then immediately went into corporate life. I kind of lived in it for a while and I had the whole mentality of 'get a job and stay in that job until you retire'. I tried to live that out but I just kind of felt myself slowly dying inside. I wasn't learning a tonne, I did at first obviously but after a while, I just didn't learn as much anymore in the office so I would just teach myself photography outside of the office and do other things. Just discovering things on my own I kind of realised; Man, I want to do something that is my own. Just coming to the office and sitting here doing someone else's stuff it's starting to get really old and it doesn't excite me anymore and I just want to do my own thing. 

So after doing a bit of research and listening to some podcasts I just kind of got encouraged and talked with my wife and she was like "Yeah, if you want to do it, go for it. If it doesn't work you can always go back to work" so it just kind of happened. 

Hollie: Yeah, that's awesome. I love that that was the kind of decision was like, if it doesn't work you can go back to work because that's - before I started my business I talked to a life coach about what to do with my life, and that's what she said to me. She was like "If it doesn't work, what are you going to do?" and I was like "I guess I just go back and get a normal job" she was like "Okay, so why don't you just try?"

Terence: I had to get over a lot of that fear. I don't know why I was so afraid that if I quit my job at the time, I felt like I was throwing my entire career, everything I'd built over the last 13 years, I felt like I was throwing that out the window and I would never get it back, but in reality, obviously I still have the skillset if anything I'll learn more from trying to run my own business, so I'll be better off doing that experience. So yeah it took a lot of, I had to convince myself a lot, you know, it's not over. Even if you fail it's not over. You can still do other things.

Hollie: Yeah, the option is always there to go back, but the aim is to not have to.

Terence: Right, of course.

Hollie: So, when you started doing your own thing, did you start it as TinLun studios straight away? 

Terence: I did. I started as TinLun because really what happened was I just started playing around with hand lettering. I went to a design conference and one of the designers had hand-lettered - their entire presentation deck was hand-lettered. So I was like, “Wow, hand-lettering is a thing” like I used to draw letters a lot when I was a kid I've just always been kind of obsessed with it but never pursued it in any serious kind of way. 

So I came back from that conference and I was like I was to try this hand lettering thing, I want to see if I can get good at it. That was right around the time that Instagram started to see a big hand lettering boom, and I had just jumped on Instagram just to see, let me just put my practice up on Instagram so I can catalogue my progress, and maybe get some feedback from some people. So I just chose the name TinLun because TinLun is my Chinese name. I was like, I need a handle and I'm not gonna be Terence Tang because that's kind of lame so I was like, let me use something else, some sort of alias. I was like, let's do TinLun, why not. So I just picked it and just ran with it. Started posting stuff and it just kind of formed into its own thing.

Hollie: Yeah, so are you like, have you ever thought about changing your name, or going - I know a lot of people are like “maybe I should use my name that people call me and identify as more of a personal brand” have you ever thought about doing that? Or you're happy?

Terence: I have. I think I think about it like every few months - I'm like, “Should I..?”

Hollie: [laughs] you'll have the existential crisis

Terence: “Does this resonate with anyone? Is it just me? Do I need to change it to something that's more relatable?” I dunno, I go back and forth with it but then I just figure it's me and people can kind of - what I like about it is that it doesn't have a meaning to anyone else, it has a meaning to me but for everyone else, they can assign their own meaning to it.

Hollie: Yeah

Terence: So if I build my brand properly, it will have its own meaning out there that people can decide on their own, so I try to hold onto that mindset. 

Hollie: Yeah no I like that, and I like that it's um, you know it is your name even though it's not your name that most people call you. It still is your name so it's still you and it is personal. So that logo that you have now, is that did you have a logo from the beginning? Is that - was it different back then? How has it changed over time?

Terence: Yes, I think I have the sketches somewhere but in the beginning, it was a very terribly brush pen version of what it is now, and I just kept that for a while. Back then I wasn't a business, I was still just putting my work on Instagram for fun. As I started getting more serious with it and then picking up tips from friends that I had picked up along the way on Instagram, like teaching me how to do, how to vector the lettering, what are the best tips and tricks for that. I started to get a little fancier with, alright now I'm gonna actually make this thing a vector logo and actually represent myself properly. Then from there, learning, even more, getting more feedback from friends, nitpicking at it. It's evolved into what it is now. So it's probably in its fourth iteration or so. 

Hollie: Cool. That's cool. So kind of iterating and changing that is more of a decision because you've grown in your skillset, or were you also trying to get more professional with your logo? Or was it just about improving the skills?

Terence: I think it was both, I think after I grew in my skills and I looked at the logo I could see maybe it was just in my head but I felt like it, with some tweaks it could look more professional. I was like oh look at it, it looks a little bit amateurish I need to tweak it to look better. I don't know, maybe a little bit of both.

Hollie: Yeah, I guess it's um, kind of some added pressure when you are a hand lettering artist or a logo designer and you're making your own logo. Some other creators might not have that pressure. But when it represents your actual skills it's gotta look pretty good.

Terence: Yeah and I had to make sure it actually represents my style too, ‘cause it's tempting to do other, like a clean block style or something that looks cleaner and it's more legible, but I just wanted to make sure it's representative of the kind of lettering that I do and the personality that my lettering and my brand exudes.

Hollie: So speaking of the personality that your brand exudes, is that something that you have ever intentionally thought about? Or has it just come because it's your personality? What does that process look like?

Terence: Yeah I don't intentionally try to shape it in any way, I just make sure that everything is authentically me. I'm actually kind of curious as to what your take on the brand personality is because I don't get many third-party perspectives on what my brand is. Like, what it means, so I don't know it would be interesting.

Hollie: Well one of the things that I was going to talk to you about and bring up, that I always think about when I think about you is that like I said, I think I started following you like four or five years ago maybe when I was starting to get into hand lettering. I had been following you for a while and engaging in your stuff and you know, liking your content because it's amazing, it was very inspirational to me as a hand-lettering person, and you just randomly out of the blue sent me a bunch of your stuff. I still have it, I still use the little notebooks for sketches, and I have your patch on my denim jacket, and like, I have this stuff and it's something that sticks out about you and your brand is how generous that was and how you wrote a note about how grateful you were for people engaging in your content. I think like, that is something that I wanted to ask you about because I was like, is that something that is inherently you? Is that something that you do often? Is it something that was intentional that I want my audience to know that I'm grateful and that I'm a generous person. What was that thought process like for you?

Terence: Yeah it was just like, all of the above. It's so easy to think from a business perspective like, yeah I'm just giving all my stuff away and I'm not making money on it. But I feel like there's——you can't put a dollar value on sending someone a surprise patch, or something, it makes their day. That's the kind of thing that really gets me going and makes me feel good. If I can help, you know, make people feel better and help the world be a better place from little silly gestures like that if I lose out on a dollar for that it's totally worth it. I dunno, I think that's just my approach to who I am and what I'm trying to - what I'm overall trying to do with this brand is to make the world a better place in a small silly way if even possible.

Hollie: Yeah, well, it worked. It definitely put a smile on my face, and it's something that all these years later I still remember and I still think about. I see that patch on my jacket and I'm like "Oh, Terence sent me that" and it was such a cool indication of you and your personality and your brand. I think it's interesting that people maybe don't think about doing that, or like you say worry about, oh I'm gonna lose out a dollar or whatever. but it's worth it for the perception and to give your audience this wow moment that they'll remember you by.

Terence: I also remember - since we're doing flashbacks - you wrote a blog post about I think it was Top 5 or Top 10 designers that you follow or something and I was on the list, and I was like "Are you kidding me? I'm on someone's Top 10 list?!" I couldn't fathom it and I still can't fathom it. I still think about it, I made someone's Top 10 list?  That's just crazy to think about, so thank you.

Hollie: That's alright. I mean it's a good reminder, and I see this pop up on twitter sometimes, that if you do like a creators work, man does it mean a lot to say "Hey, I love your work, thank you for doing what you do" for people who are listening if there are creators that you follow, that you love their work, it makes such a huge difference just to say that and let them know. You never know what it will do for their day or their life.

Terence: If other creatives are anything like me, they're extremely insecure, as I am.

Hollie: [laughs]

Terence: I'm questioning whether I should be doing this or I should be changing careers, like every day, every week, I'm like should I keep doing this... or should I do something else? I don't know if I'm any good at this. Those little comments help a lot so piggybacking on what you said, if you enjoy someones work just tell them, it really means a lot.

Hollie: It could mean the difference in Terence continuing doing lettering

Terence: Yes, definitely!

Hollie: Okay so let's continue that conversation a little bit, about being artists and being a little bit insecure in what we do, and having these tumultuous creative experiences. When I had asked you to do the podcast, obviously from my perspective I'm like "Terence is so successful, I love his brand, everything that he does is amazing!" but you said that you weren't sure about doing the podcast because you didn't feel like you were successful. So, do you want to tell me a little bit about that thought process and kind of where you were at when I asked you about that?

Terence: Sure, I mean I guess when someone says successful designer I guess you could look at it a couple of different ways, one would be: Have you worked with any big famous notable brands? That's kind of... every designer has a bucket like like who do you want to work with, the second thing is: Are you making a living, are you making money? 

So I look at those two things and I'm like, well, I have maybe one or two bucket list things ticked off as far as brands go, but I'm not making a tonne of money, I'm kind of scraping by. Especially with the pandemic and the quarantine and everything, things have come to a screeching halt. But even before that I was struggling to find where I belong in this whole creative thing, the apparel business is tough. Like, margins are small. It's hard to market online. If you take your show on the road that's a lot of work to set up booths everywhere, you get a lot of recognition that way but it's hard work, especially with a family and two kids. So the apparel thing was going really rough, and trying to find clients was pretty challenging as well. I was starting to refocus on doing murals, and doing that was helping a bit, it was starting to pick up, and then the pandemic happened - 

Hollie: Oh gosh

Terence: Yeah so mainly I just wanted to be clear that, you know, it may look like someone is super successful and super busy with work and just killing it. But it's not always the case, there's a lot of struggle in trying to do your own thing. I think when you quit a job and you try to start your own business you always have this glorified like, I'm gonna make a tonne of money, I'm gonna enjoy what I do every day, it's gonna be amazing, I'm never gonna work a day in my life - you know that old saying “Do what you love and you never work a day in your life” man, you have to bust your ass.

Hollie: Hell yeah

Terence: So yeah, I didn't want there to be any misconception that I quit my job and I'm just killing it and I'm doing amazing and loving life, it's stress-free! You know, it's hard, hard work. it's really a struggle every day. 

Hollie: Yeah, for sure. No I totally really relate to that. I'm the same thing. I just quit my job, and I quit my job which was like a terrible job, I would do anything to get out, and I did not have the like, 3 months salary or whatever the heck people tell you you're supposed to have. I was just like, nope, I'm done, I'm outta here and just like then had to hustle harder than frickin' ever and learn stuff so quickly, and things that I never thought that I'd have to learn. Like, frickin' accounting, and marketing, and like, networking and client management and all these things that design school didn't teach me, that my past jobs didn't teach me. You're right, we work harder than ever. 

Terence: But there's definitely something to be said about that, you said you were in a terrible job, mental-health wise that really takes a big toll. So there is definitely something to be said about leaving that, even without a plan or anything. You can't put a value on your mental health.

Hollie: Yeah for sure. I would trade like - I would do what I do now, even though it's so much more difficult running my own business on my own, I would do that any day of the week rather than going back to a crappy job, like I had before.

Terence: Totally, some places can be so incredibly toxic. However easy the job function, however high the pay, it's not worth it if it's a toxic environment it's terrible.

Hollie: I 've done like a couple of contract jobs during running my own business, and every time I go back I'm like "Why am I doing this?" but I get lured back by the consistent salary or whatever you know, like I'll have 3 months of consistent income and then I'm like, not worth it. Not for me. 

I think it's important to acknowledge, you were saying that branding is really powerful in that you can kind of create this perception that people see from the outside right, and you can use that however you want to really when you have your own business. It's up to you really how transparent you want to be with your audience, if you want to share like, how much you're struggling or not, or the realities or whatever. So that can be powerful in many different ways. It's up to you I guess how you portray that brand, and I also was thinking about it after your said - after we had this conversation on Instagram - branding is kind of like one part of the puzzle, right? You can have an incredible brand, which from my perspective I feel like you have a great brand, I think hand lettering and I think Terence straight away. I know what you do and you have this great perception, but it's only one part of the puzzle. You can have an incredible brand but then you also have to think about marketing and accounting, and the margins of your products, and your business. So they all work together and you have to think about all the different parts of the puzzle rather than just the one thing.

Terence: Oh my gosh, yeah I've considered so many times like, how do I find someone like a business partner that will do all the stuff that I don't want to do? So that I can focus on the like the one or two things that I do want to do, which is actually like the art part. I just want to do the art part, and make money. Like can someone else find me clients and do my taxes? [laughs]

Hollie: [laughs] Yeah, you've gotta start hiring people. That's my goal currently because - I don't know what you feel like - but I feel like as a creative and someone who is like, I have a vision, I'm passionate about what I do and it's hard to kind of let go of control of certain things that I do [laughs]

Terence: Yes

Hollie: So I'm like only very recently have I been like, okay I'll let this person do like, copywriting for my website, just one thing at a time. Then next time I'll get someone else to build my website, whereas I normally would do that myself. There's just little things that I'm like, I'll slowly let other people do these things for me.

Terence: Yeah I had the trade-off when I first started doing the apparel stuff, I would handle all the shipping and fulfilment myself and the time spent doing that was just killing me.

Hollie: Woah

Terence: So I finally, only just recently said, you know what, I could just say the apparel thing can work, or I could just pivot a little bit and say alright I can't spend all this time shipping and fulfilling how do I do this dropshipping thing. So I looked into getting on board with Printful and getting them to print and fulfil all my stuff. Doing that has opened up a whole world of new products and things for me that I don't even have to worry about, I design it and just put it out there and people buy it, and I'm like, oh cool. I don't even have to touch it at that point. I mean if things go wrong from a production standpoint, then I have to talk to Printful, but you know that's rare. Finally convincing myself to let go of those things and pivot, that's been one of the harder lessons to learn.

Hollie: and that’s a slow lesson to learn, but we get there eventually!

Terence: Yes

Hollie: But I'm sure it's probably freed you up to spend more time creating different apparel and making more other work.

Terence: Yes, for fun. I mean it has kind of a cascading effect, where I have more time to create apparel so I can put more apparel out. More people get different kinds of apparel and they can help you spread the word and help you build your brand presence, with their friends and their family. In turn, since I can spend more time creating, I'm more fulfilled and I have more ideas and it keeps going, it branches out exponentially.

Hollie: Yeah, that's amazing. I feel like that is a great lesson for anybody listening that it is hard to let go of some of those things sometimes but when you weigh it up if you're gonna spend doing way more time doing that thing that you hate, and that is taking you away from that thing that is going to get you fulfilled and making more money then maybe it's worth kind of handing off that thing and trading that so you can spend more time like you say making more things to then sell more things. Keep that cycle going.

Terence: Definitely

Hollie: Worth it. And also, I saw that you're now selling like pillows and mugs, that's awesome! I want that pillow that just says the F Word across it. So good.

Terence: It's funny because people are starting to receive those and they're like "Oh my god this pillow is effing amazing!" [laughter]

Hollie: Yeah it's so good, I'm not gonna say that word on the podcast but you can imagine. It's just like, incredible lettering of the f word across a pillow. 

Terence: That artwork actually came out - sorry if I'm interrupting you - that artwork came out of a very rough day of quarantine and watching my two kids for the entire day. This is maybe a month and a half in, of watching my kids all day while my wife was teaching remotely from a secluded room. I was just watching the kids all day and it was a particularly rough day and I needed to let out some frustration. I went in the garage with some ink, and I just wrote that. The F word, real big. Like angry-arting, basically

Hollie: I love that

Terence: And of course people were like, I need that on a shirt. So I was like okay cool, so then I put it on a shirt and I was like "Ohh they have pillows" and I was like, that's perfect because people are always saying if you're angry, go punch a pillow, or scream into a pillow.

Hollie: True

Terence: So I'm like, that's perfect, I'm going to make an F word pillow so that people can punch it or scream into it. 

Hollie: [laughs] I love that, it's so good. I love that it like, sometimes art comes out of like great inspiring times, and sometimes it comes out of extreme frustration and [laughs] Yeah it's good. Cool, alright, so tell me a little bit... I'm just refining my questions because we've gone in a million directions, but it's great! I mentioned before that to me, I feel like when people mention hand-lettering, Terence comes to mind straight away, TinLun studios. And you have quite a large audience of people on Instagram and online who know you for what you do. Do you think that's taken a long time for people to get to know you as a hand-lettering artist, as a muralist now? How has that developed as people knowing you for what you do?

Terence: It's kind of funny because I think only other hand-letterers know me as a hand-lettering artist. 

Hollie: Right

Terence: I have friends and family who still just think of me as some dude who draws things.

Hollie: [laughs]

Terence: They'll contact me like, "Hey! can you draw a portrait of my dog?" or something like that, and I'm like, I'm not that kind of artist. Have you not been following-have you not noticed that all of my art is letters? [laughs] do you see a dog portrait somewhere? It's just interesting that I was actually having this conversation with my wife a couple of days ago, it's frustrating that you can try so hard to build a brand that you think is like, rock-solid, you think you've nailed it and everyone gets it, everyone knows exactly what you do. Then someone can just come out of nowhere and go "Hey, can you draw me a dog?" and it's like [throws hands in the air in frustration] 

Hollie: [laughs] 

Terence: What am I doing wrong here?

Hollie: I think that might be more of a user error on their part, than your fault! 'Cause I mean, go to your Instagram page it's clearly letters. 

Terence: Yeah, but you know, maybe there's something to be said about that. maybe there's something more that I could be doing to strengthen what it is that I've been doing. Maybe I've been a bit all over the place with drawing on sneakers and drawing on walls and you know, I don't know. Who knows. It's all an experiment and a work in progress. So I'm still feeling it out, for sure.

Hollie: Mmhmm, yeah. Is that um, I noticed that also you have like a separate Instagram for your apparel stuff, is that kind of a way of separating the apparel and getting people to know you for that thing? 

Terence: Um yes and no. So what happened was, I originally tried to get approved for that, so Instagram has Instagram shopping where you can tag products directly in a post and have people click and buy directly from an Instagram post. I'd been dying for that feature for a long time, and I tried to get approved for it on TinLun studio where my audience is. I kept getting rejected, and I couldn't figure out why and I thought maybe it was because I'm not obviously a store. Like, if you scroll through my feed, I've got some art here, I'm drawing on a wall here, I have some sneakers over here. I wrote the F word for no reason over here and it's just like, I'm not a shop if you look at the feed. I'm not a shop, I'm not a store. I thought maybe that was the reason. So I launched the separate TinLun lifestyle to make it obvious that hey, these are physical products and I am a shop. Just to see if I would get approved there, and I did. So I was like, alright well now I have this shop over here that I'm trying to funnel traffic to. So that's been an interesting process. A frustrating, interesting process.

Hollie: Yeah, far out. So definitely more of a necessity than something you wanted to do [laughs[

Terence: Yeah [laughs]

Hollie: Well that's good to know, because I was curious about whether it was like an intentional decision for branding purposes, or separating things. But no, just Instagram being frustrating.

Terence: Yeah pretty much, yip.

Hollie: Yeah far out. And you also, kinda on that topic, I get asked quite a lot about whether people should have separate Instagrams for like their personal life, for their creative work, or their business whatever it is that they might be doing and I know that you also have one for like lego car racing, but you have a lot of your personal stuff, especially on your stories, and I love seeing your kids on stories and you do a bit of the car racing stuff on stories and like, it adds to your brand and your personality. People get to know you. Is that something that you've intentionally done? Have you always done that?

Terence: I haven't always done it. When I started out I had learned that you shouldn't post pictures of your family or your kids whatever, you should stick to what you do professionally and post just that. And push that as hard as you can. I did that for a while and you know, my account did grow as a result of that but then after a while I kind of realised that you know I do all this analogue art, and with analogue, there's a human element. So I'm like, there's a dude behind this. So I should probably show people - I don't wanna hide behind this facade that I only post perfect lettering. I wanted to make it known that hey, I'm ap person, I struggle, I have a family, my circumstances are different than this other person’s circumstances, or your circumstances. I just want to be authentic in that way. There's a person here. There's other things going on in his life. I think over time people have really started to like that. It's been interesting because as I've posted more stories about my kids, a lot of like, some of my lettering heroes have reached out to me like "oh my god your kids are so cute" and I'm like “... you're my Top 3 Designer, you're reaching out to me because of my kids this is so random”. It's interesting. People resonate with it, so like you say it does help build my brand even though I'm just really trying to be authentic. 

Hollie: Yeah, well I think that's super important to know and it's a great lesson because people connect with people, people are going to probably like your lettering work and they'll follow along but yeah what gets people to actually engage with you and create relationships is people, and like, having real connections and conversations about things that are completely different from what you're trying to sell or do. I had conversations the other day about the fantasy novel that I was reading, what the heck does that have to do with branding? Nothing! [laughter] But I had great DMs with so many people about what I was reading, and it's like, people just connect with people and they wanna know. Especially if you are like - Well I was going to say if you're doing services - but also if you're selling products because you know, if people know who you are and what you're about and what you do in your spare time and that you have a family, and they get to know you, they're probably more likely to want to support you than some random who they've never met or heard anything about and just has cool work. 

Terence: Yeah and I have actually-I feel like the connections I've made with people through Instagram are actually not hand-lettering based, they're about other things like mental health or struggles of some sort and people message about something and then we just start talking and none of it is about hand-lettering or very little of it, and you know it's-I appreciate those conversations because they're so real and that sorta connection is way more real than just some convo about hand-lettering or design or whatnot. Yes, maybe the hand-lettering bought them here, but forming that deeper connection is really what’s been fulfilling.

Hollie: Yeah and you never know what that conversation, that relationship will lead to in terms of coming full circle to them buying your work or hiring you to do a mural or whatever.

Terence: Yeah for sure.

Hollie: Yeah it's all full circle. Okay, so we're just going to wrap up a little bit now - do you want to tell me, you can have time to think about this 'cause I didn't pre-warn you but - what do you think is the biggest lesson that you've learned about branding, and branding your passion and creating a business out of what you do, that you've learned throughout what you've been doing?

Terence: Biggest lesson I've learned about branding my own business and trying to build it... I think the biggest lesson——there's two lessons, one is business-related, and one is personal. 

The business one is that you set out to build a business and you have this idea of what it's going to be and how it's going to function, but rarely does it ever work out perfectly in the way that you imagine. So you need to be ready to pivot in some way some form, you're gonna need to change gears and do something different. Something that you never expected to need to do, or some other way of doing something because of the audience that you're reaching that you didn't expect to reach. Now you have to get on this other platform, or sell it a different way. But there will be something that calls upon you to pivot your thinking and you have to be ready to do it. Because if you are too stubborn about it and just stick to your guns you may not make it, and I have learned that running a business is, it can be pretty ruthless. You kind of have to approach it from kind of a cutthroat perspective if you don't make this change someone else is gonna do it and be more successful than you are. So you just need to be ready to shift gears and pivot for the good of the business if you want to make it. 

The personal one is, you know I'm married with two kids and when I started my business my first kid was just born he was like 3 months old and so I was spending a lot of time in my studio you know 'working' and I'm working, I know I'm working, but them out there, they don't feel that I'm working, they just feel that I'm not there. I learned the hard way that I have to find a way to balance my time between the business and family life. Because I kept telling myself that I'm building this business for the family, I'm doing this for the family, what good is all that effort if the family's not going to be there when you come out of the office. I almost learned that the very hard way that you need to be intentional about where you spend your time and how you spend your energy.

Hollie: Yeah for sure, I love that. Thank you for sharing that. I mean I don't have a family, I have a partner but I don't have any children or anything so I am always so amazing and in awe of creatives and business owners who do have a whole family and a whole brood of children to look after and to get food and clothing and school and all those things that you've gotta look after when you have a family so I'm always impressed and amazed at what a great job you all do. So yeah, I appreciate that advice and those lessons and I think they're both incredible lessons in terms of business and personal life. So thank you so much.

Do you have any other advice for creatives when it comes to their branding that you wanted to add? Or your couple of lessons do you think cover it?

Terence: Um, just one more little thing I think try not to spend too much time like settling on a name or - when you're just getting started don't get too hung up on what am I gonna do what am I gonna call this? 'Cause that's just gonna stop you moving forward. Call it something, just get going. You can always rename later or shift gears, change your brand, pivot, like I said before. You don't pick the perfect name and just run and build a billion-dollar company. It doesn't work that way. So just, it's more important to get moving than to have the perfect logo and the perfect name, and the perfect branding statement like a mission statement and everything, just get going.

Hollie: Yeah, I 100% agree. I always say and always teach that branding is not like a one and done thing, it's something that you do again and again and you iterate and refine and I agree, it's more of a done is better than perfect kind of thing. I'd rather you just type your name out in some basic font and put that up there and get started and get your business going and start cultivating that audience and start selling things than worry about what your logo is like or whatever the heck.

Terence: I mean think about how many terrible logos of successful businesses are out there. Like, just walk through the hardware store or down the street somewhere, anywhere, like restaurants, so many countless terrible logos and you're like oh who did that? But then wow this business has been around for 10 years they're killing it, they're doing something right even though the branding may be questionable, they're running their business, they got going and they did it correctly. 

Hollie: Yeah, for sure. Cool. Do you wanna let the people know where they can find you, and maybe something that you've got going on right now or maybe something that you're launching or selling that they can go and check out? 

Terence: Sure, you can find me basically everywhere @ TinLun Studios, Facebook, Youtube, .com, Instagram, Twitter, I'm also on Instagram at TinLunLifestyle tinlunlifestyle.com also goes to my shop where I have a myriad of f word pillows and other things [laughs]

Hollie: highly recommended. Cool, okay awesome. Thank you so much, Terence. Firstly like I said it's awesome for me to get to connect with you and have a conversation with you in real life, well kind of over the internet. But also I'm just so thankful for you sharing your experience and talking about some of the more real sides of running a business and growing a brand. So thank you for sharing that with us. I'm sure everybody who listens will go over and follow you and check you out. I can't wait to see where things go! So thank you.

Terence: Thank you, this was so much fun. 

Hollie: That's all good!