ll archives: Zie Darling's Mackenzie Campbell
Nashville-based ladypreneur Zie Campbell has a lot going on and it's pretty much all amazing. The self described, illustrator, designer, blogger & sassy mcsasserson, runs Zie Darling, Darling Dear and Clever Darling Magazine and guys – you may want to pause reading this and go check them out now-ish! As media ladies and well, design snobs ourselves, we were so excited to sit with this young 20-something who's killing. it.
Name: Zie Campbell
Current location: Nasvhille, TN
Where are you from? I’ve lived all over: Colorado, Wisconsin, lots of different places in Tennesee.
Education: Recently graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design, with a focus in Illustration from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville
Tell us about Zie Darling. How did it come to be? To really explain Zie Darling, we have to start way back in the beginning, hah. I originally started an online presence via Xanga, Livejournal & Tumblr, nearly a hundred years ago now. I think my username changed pretty much on the daily, but I can remember a few being really embarrassing. But I knew I wanted an online shop and blog when I “grew up” because my mother did. She has been enormously successful and motivating my entire life and her’s was The Little Pink Studio & The Little Pink Studio blog.
So basically with my mother’s help, I tried on many different hats, both with a name & with a shop. Because in our world, the shop came first. I did crafty things, design-y things, etc. You name it, I tried it. I also tried on shop names/user names like “Of Mice and Mittens” and “The Bruised Pear” --- You can tell I was really artsy fartsy and deep. (Peace-sign emoji) Of course none of these ever really fit me. I did start my current blog originally as the Bruised Pear, so Darling Dear Blog holds roots there. But one day I just remember thinking I wanted to be a person, not just a random name. So to shorten an already long story, I chose Zie Darling. Zie, my nickname from gradeschool (short for MackenZIE), and Darling because Wendy Darling was always a sort of role model for me. She was imaginative, strong, brave. She could tell stories to pirates, swing a sword with the rest of them, but still be gentle enough to love, be love and to be enormously kind. Those are all qualities I strive to possess, myself. Especially the sword fighting with pirates bit.
What is your company slogan/mission? Be kind, be strong, be bold. I aim to motivate, inspire and push women to be the best versions of themselves they can be, to chase and catch their dreams and to never settle for less. We’re in this together and I want us all to win.
What did you do before launching Zie Darling? At what point did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur instead? Those little Etsy shops aside, I never really wanted to be an entrepreneur. The boss, yes. But the BOSS, nah. But I’ve worked retail, odd jobs via my school, and in many different design fields for a few years now. But I was doing all of that while going to school full-time as well as slowly starting and developing Zie Darling (freelancing) & Darling Dear (blog).
And I guess my third year of college, I thought I wanted to go be a freelance designer and illustrator full-time, but then completely changed my mind. It’s really hard work and I just was feeling way too lazy for that.
Clever Darling popped up in my last year of college. We were assigned a project to make a cover, contents page and two spreads for an imaginary magazine. Well, to the quick of it, this project changed my life. I had so much fun finding content, creating layouts, writing, design, etc. everything that was part of making even just that little part of the magazine. It was a glossy magazine for women, by women, called Clever and I ended up having way more pages for the project then we were asked to.
So when it came to picking a senior thesis (or we called them “hero” projects), it was quickly decided that I was going to make an entire magazine by myself. And so I did. It was enormously harder then I thought it would be. But somewhere in the middle of it, surrounded my cups of coffee, endless amounts of printed proofs, highlighters, sharpies, post-its, my hair not washed in a week and completely sleep deprived, I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to make this magazine real and to eventually give it to the world. So that’s what I’m doing.
Now that you've decided you're ready to take the leap, what are your next steps? My next steps are to save up money, build a larger client base, and keep working on Clever Darling in my “free-time” for the next year. Then I’m going to quit my full-time job and start freelancing, blogging and making a magazine full-time.
Tell us how it felt whenever you first decided to launch a second business. How does it feel now that the first issue of Clever Darling is live? I just felt right, you know? Like well, duh, of course I’m going to do this. Clever Darling is my baby and so the moment it went live and people started reading and commenting and sharing, I just cried. I was so relieved. I knew it was good, you know? But to hear others-- that just made it even more real. And I can’t wait to hear what you guys think about the next issue. It’s going to be so good.
What was the biggest thing you overcame launching Zie Darling & Clever Darling Magazine? Oh man that’s a hard one. I guess the stress of it all? My boyfriend teases me frequently about taking on too many things at once. He says ambition is going to kill me, not stress. He’s probably right. And learning (or pretending to learn) how to balance a “real” job, being a full-time student, and technically running three separate businesses on the side is quite stressful. But I’d recommend it to everyone.
Would you describe Zie Darling & Clever Darling Magazine as your “dream jobs”? Why or why not? What constitutes a dream job for you? They’re not my dream jobs, not yet. I actually have a dream journal that I write in when I start getting too stressed or feeling too overwhelmed. It reminds me why I’m doing this and helps me focus on the fun of it all. In it, I write about having a small team working with me on Clever Darling. It’s a fun, silly environment and we’re all like family. We sit at a big table (or a couple of them) together, in a brightly lit space with a cat running around. We write, we design, we market, we run the magazine. I get to bounce all my ideas onto other people who get what I’m trying to do and they’re not afraid to tell me when I’m being an idiot. We have a fridge stocked with the shitty beer, and on Fridays, we get bloody mary’s at lunch and then go home. Because as silly as it may sound to you, those small details are more important to me then anything like having the most expensive, best whatever or being ranked the most successful on the 30 under 30 list, or anything like that. I’m all about building a more rewarding, uplifting kind of life and my dream job is to be constantly surrounded by that life that I’ve created for myself and for others.
Entrepreneurs live and breathe their businesses. How do you balance work and life? Do you think that’s even possible? Sure, it’s possible. I think it just depends on if you want a good work/life balance. For instance, I am probably the poster child for the term workaholic. And there have totally been times in my life where I’m the exact opposite of balanced. But you just have to realize and remember that the people in your life are what make your life. And I’ve been lucky enough to have some pig-headed friends that make me go out once in a while, and a boyfriend who likes to stay in and watch HGTV and DIY with me, and parents who constantly, gently remind me that they’re proud of me, but I need to take better care of myself. So if you surround yourself with these kinds of people, and let yourself say “no” to work once in a while, you can’t help but live a more balanced life.
What does your daily routine consist of? Gosh I wish I had a cooler answer for this. Especially right now that I just started a new job and I hate it. (Don’t worry, I’m about to walk and do something better, hah). So let’s just take a look at what my Saturdays look like? Because they’re my favorite.
I always wake up before Bryan. Napoleon (the cat) and I usually make tea, I feed him, then me. We go to the only large window we have in the apartment in the living room, curl up and relax just a bit. Usually, I’ll check all the socials and play on pinterest for a few minutes. Then I check my to-do list I’ve made the night before, start knocking out some emails, blog a bit. I’ll usually spend a couple hours working on client work (designing, illustrating, social marketing, etc.). Bryan will at some point have woken up and we’ll have lunch. I work for a few more hours, then we usually turn things off in the evening and watch movies or HGTV/ DIY (we are really into Rehab Junky, House Hunters, etc.) and I’ll knit. Today, I’m currently trying to convince him to make quesadillas for dinner.
You see why I like Saturdays the most? They’re peaceful and productive.
You have to do it and you hate it – what is your least favorite task to do at Zie Darling & Clever Darling Magazine? Fuggin emails. Omggggg, I really hate how bad my inbox gets. I’ve tried so many different kinds of “inbox-therapy” and some of them really do help, but damn. So many.
But on the flip side, at least that’s kind of a good problem right? Usually it’s clients or lovely folks like Ladyprenuer League ;)
But it’s def the first thing that’ll I’ll delegate once I start hiring people ;) hehe
How do you unwind from “business-lady-breakdowns”? Ok, here’s my science-driven, mathematically-proven best way to calm down/unwind:
- Get in your car and drive somewhere, or to your closest wine shop.
- Turn your radio/music up REALLY loud and sing your little heart out. Doesn’t have to be sad or angry music, but I’ve found that singing or being loud in general lets your anger/upsetness find a healthy way to escape.
- Get bottle of wine.
- Go home, fill up the bath, grab your wine, candles, headphones & iPad. Watch something funny or interesting. Anything to get your mind off of whatever it is and onto something else. I usually watch documentaries.
- Pamper yourself. Do your eyebrows, paint your nails, etc.
- Most importantly: Get a journal, and instead of focusing on the stressful things, write your dreams down. Writing these is like focused daydreaming and in my experience, is far more helpful then trying to write out a “this happened today” or something like a “stress journal”. Let your little mind wander and write about the minute details of something lovely in your future. For instance, I talked about the lighting and layout of my dream office in my last entry. ;)
- Go to bed early. Today sucked, tomorrow doesn’t have to.
Note: if you don’t have time for all of that or you just want the fastest immediate relief, I recommend #6. Works every time.
What did you think you’d be doing now at age 10? At ten, I have no idea. Probably being an english teacher or historian of some sort. Pretty sure I was more preoccupied with Sponge Bob, though.
Tell us 3 of your cannot-live-without ladypreneur apps.
- Mailbox > it’s a faster way to get a clean inbox all the time. So gud.
- Instagram & Twitter > yes, they’re fun, but they also are a huge point of contact for me to find new brands to work with, to find inspiration and to keep up to date.
- (I’m cheating and doing four!) Evernote > blog posts, articles, magazine stuff, etc. Everything goes in there and I need access to it everywhere.
Top 5 favorite cities?
Nashville, I really do love this goofy place. Chicago, I love the city and the snow. New York was my first “big city” and so she’ll always hold a place in my heart. London, so much fun! And I cannot even begin to tell you how many yummy hole-in-the-wall food shops there are. Dublin, so pretty and so many historically fun things to check out.
Red, White, Sparkling or stronger? I do like a good white, but my drinks of choice normally are: Bloody Mary, Whiskey Ginger or a good local brew, like Little Harpeth Brewery.
Tell us the best place to eat in Nashville. If it’s your kitchen, share your best recipe. There are so many. But if you’re feeling Mexican and you’re looking for a good (see: strong) margarita, go to La Hacienda. I’m still trying to figure out my favorite Hot Chicken place, but as it’s Nashville’s famous food, you should try every single place in town.
Words to live by: There’s no blender in the grave. Meaning: you only have one life to live, so try everything, do everything.
In 5 years you’ll be: Still living in Nashville, probably an aunty, Boss Lady of the office and I’ll have successfully knitted at least 10 blankets.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs interested in starting a design shop or magazine? Do. It. Stop planning, thinking, wondering, worrying. Just do it.
Anything else to add? Spill it: Today, I ate icecream for breakfast. I have approximately 39 other emails I need to answer this morning. I used to hate the color pink.
Thanks for having me, ladies! xx