Megan Martinez on Her Emerging Brand MegYaLook and Healing Through Art

    July 15 2020  |  sellit

    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 -  Feature Image

    On routine trips to the grocery store, with her elder sister and younger brother in tow, a young Megan “Meg” Martinez, owner of her emerging Austin-based design label, would plead with her mother to purchase the most expensive cereal on the breakfast aisle. 

    At the time, Meg wasn’t at all interested in high-dollar, sugar-filled breakfast treats. Nor was she necessarily opposed to the “budget” alternatives her mother would often pull from grocery shelves to feed her family. Unbeknownst to her at the moment, Meg was inherently giving into her youthful yet distinctly keen design eye. Seeking out the most expensive cereal boxes had nothing to do with the product itself. It was the design of the product packaging that compelled the young designer in training.

    I’ve always been the biggest sucker for package design and typography,” Meg recalls. “I would beg my mom to get the products with the nice packaging, and she would always say, “Meg, it’s the exact same thing!” But every once in a while I would win that argument, and we’d buy the non-generic brands. I would be so excited that I would save the packaging.” Almost as if she knew she wasn’t merely feeding her daughter’s stomach, but also appeasing her emerging talent, Meg’s mother would relent, and indulge her youngest daughter. 

    Those keepsake package designs would help Meg hone her beckoning skillset, which she would develop throughout high school before pursuing and subsequently attaining a BFA in graphic design at the Art Institute of Jacksonville. College, though, albeit indirectly, sometimes has a way of steering passion towards profession. For Meg, that meant working jobs that were more about producing client assets than creating the kind of art that brought her pride.

    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 1
    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 2

    “After college, I took on corporate jobs because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I worked for agencies, and I was just miserable photoshopping tons of billboards. Then, I freelanced for a magazine publishing company. I remember thinking, “This isn’t so bad; maybe I can do this work.” Like many creatives who hope to find balance meshing their artistic purpose with their means of income, Meg’s journey hadn’t quite found its calm. “After the publishing company, I freelanced for a hospital, creating brochures and pamphlets. That’s when I knew this work was not for me; I can’t do this anymore.”

    No matter the pitfalls of corporate, creative work, one thing remained constant: Meg was extremely talented and people took notice. In fact, while working a far from soul-sucking job at Anthropologie, the Austin-native began fielding offers for more engaging freelance opportunities that helped frame the earliest moments of her entrepreneurial journey. 

    “Working at Anthropologie allowed me to freelance and take jobs I was really excited about. I didn’t have to worry about paying my bills because I had a full-time gig. I was able to freelance responsibly and start filtering out the projects that didn’t speak to me. I think that passion translates, and it shows in your work.”

    “A photographer reached out to me and asked me to create wedding stationery for a portfolio piece. That’s when I realized I could literally do anything! Design didn’t have to be so serious and cold. It didn’t have to go against my personality.” 

    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 3
    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 4-1

    An unrivaled love for graphic design that played out in stores while shopping with her mom as a kid began to take form in Meg’s adult life. She took to sketching portraits of her friend’s pets as a fun project. This distilling, stress-free artistic retreat caused a sea change, illuminating the lifelong connection to Meg’s work and how that work helped her manage her feelings. She started to see how the process of creation centered her thoughts and emotions. It became as clear as the West Palm Beach sky where she spent her formidable years that, for as long as she could remember, her feelings were always connected to her work, which had created space for her to heal.

     

    “I have always been a very sensitive person, always. Sometimes that made me feel like I was just this very sensitive person and that nobody else was. So taking the time to draw would soothe and calm me.”

    MegYaLook, built on honesty, emotion, happiness, and crowd-sourced affirmations from her sizable social media following, creates thoughtful portraits, pins stamped with penetrating captions, and more. The brand not only rejuvenates her spirit but lifts others who may have trouble being vulnerable or properly feeling their feelings.

    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 5
    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 6

    “If Instagram weren’t around, MegYaLook wouldn’t be around. It’s my community who’s been my biggest supporters, cheerleaders, and motivators. They help me check in with myself and keep me accountable. When you’re able to be vulnerable, it creates space for others to open up and be vulnerable with you. That’s when the good stuff comes out.”

    Because such a large majority of Meg’s audience both finds community and products on Instagram, Meg has found PLANOLY’s new digital storefront, sellit, immediately beneficial. “Selling my products online has been one of the most daunting things to figure out as a small business owner. Finding a way to get [my products] to my audience was overwhelming. Which is why I put making my website on the backburner." 

    “But after I set up sellit, I started making sales that same day! I was like, is this even real? Is it that easy? I’ve needed sellit this whole time because it is so simple. Just with the click of a button, my customers are already there and checking out.”

    Meg has also found that partnering sellit with the StoriesEdit design app has also paid dividends. “I noticed I was getting a lot more eyes on my Instagram Story than my grid. So I knew I needed to keep posting to my Story. I really didn’t have enough time to design a Story myself, so I started using StoriesEdit, which took me five minutes to create a beautiful design, especially with all the new template collections. Once I started using that, I saw more engagement, and more people inclined to purchase from me.”

    251F0623-F21E-4E94-9356-BA70F418624A
    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 8

    Throughout college and her move back to her birthplace of Austin, Meg and her mother remained close while in different states. Like many daughters who so vehemently depend on that relationship for support and understanding, Meg’s mother was her best friend – who lovingly championed her artistic gifts dating back to the moments when she was the most sensitive of her three kids. So when she lost her mother due to an unfortunate accident, the emotional weight was almost too much for Meg to shoulder. 

    “Losing my mom made me feel so isolated and alone. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to turn to, and I didn’t want to burden my close friends or boyfriend with it. This loneliness ultimately led to me to just sit with my emotions.” Stewing in emotional hurt invariably worsens the blow. So, as Meg had done her entire life when needing to heal, she sought refuge in her art. And what she found was a budding sense of ingenuity. 

    “One day, I just started illustrating all the emotions that came to the surface while I was grieving the loss of my mom. Just illustrating something like my grocery tote bag and kind of going through the movement of drawing [the graphics], I was able to process things like an unfulfilled grocery list of my mom’s.”

    PLANOLY - Blog Post - sellit hero #1 - Image vertical 9

    Meg’s mom found food to be her medicine. It was her wholehearted remedy; a cause she shared with her daughter when they would shop together. Meg held onto her mom’s final grocery list in her wallet, often looking to it for strength and to lay eyes on her mom’s very distinct handwriting. And eventually, used that final grocery list to create a tote bag filled with vibrant graphics of the food her mom intended to shop.

    “By making the tote, I wanted someone else to enjoy having this fun grocery bag for its color pairings, or its illustration, or for whatever that totes mean to them, even though that’s not how I felt while drawing it. There are two very different perspectives, but both are beautiful.”

    Perseverance and ingenuity could very accurately describe Meg and her brand. But ultimately, there are no limits to how far MegYaLook can soar, or how she can help others cultivate healthy ways of expressing vulnerability through her creations.

    “I would love to expand into fashion with clothing production, creating patterns that can then turn into funky shirts and stuff like that like what I would wear. Also, I’m excited to feel my confidence and self-expression grow. I hope to encourage others to find their voices as well.”

     
    Megan Martinez 
    Instagram: @MegYaLook 
     
     
    Related:
    Introducing PLANOLY's sellit
    Turn Browsers Into Buyers with sellit