Everyday Icon: The Conference Founder

Graphic designer Joanna Waterfall sits down with Clementine Daily to talk about The Yellow Conference.
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Graphic designer Joanna Waterfall sits down with Clementine Daily to talk about The Yellow Conference.

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When Joanna Waterfall decided to launch her own graphic design company, she knew she’d need to stay connected to other female entrepreneurs. Going at it alone can be, well, lonely. Yet when she attempted to connect with others, something was missing.

So, she decided to build the very community that she couldn’t find elsewhere and The Yellow Conference was born. The conference is a “gathering for creative women who desire to ignite passion and bring goodness to the world through everyday living,” which is a concept we can definitely appreciate.

We recently caught up with Joanna to chat about everything— our failures and taking big risks, managing multiple projects and enjoying the everyday things that make life worth living.

Okay, Joanna: we know you best from your very successful Yellow Conference, and we love the concept behind it. Will you share a bit about why you think it’s important to build a community of likeminded women?

Yellow Conference is a gathering for creative, entrepreneurial women who want to use their gifts, skills and talents to serve something bigger than themselves. My goal is to connect these women who want to live with purpose and create change in the world, so together, they can help each other and ultimately, do bigger and better things! I think we are most powerful when we work together, and when we work together to make the world a better place, we can literally change the course of history.

Last time we talked, you were getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help build a really innovative online community as an extension of your conference. We were so sad to see that the campaign failed, but we were also incredibly impressed by how you handled it. You even had a “Free to Fail” party to celebrate! Not too many people would go so far as to celebrate something failing. Why did you decide to take that route? How did the whole experience — from start to finish — change you?

Oh, that darn Kickstarter! Before I started the campaign, I said to myself, “If this fails, that's going to be so embarrassing, but I want to talk about it.” I had seen so many Kickstarter campaigns go unfunded and they always seemed to just fade away. Sometimes I wondered what ever happened to them and I didn't want ours to be like that.

If we're all about saying, "Failure is good!" then why do we hide it? You see quotes all over Pinterest talking about how good it is to fail, but is anyone actually being vulnerable enough to share those failures? When we talk about things, it gives them less power in our lives and gives others the freedom to talk about them as well. So, talking about our failure gave it less power and control over us.

That Kickstarter completely changed me. Throughout the 30 days we had to raise the funds, I was a wreck. I couldn't think straight. I got sick. I couldn't focus on anything. It was a little freaky to be in a place where I felt like I had no control. But through it, I learned so much about myself— how much I could handle and what I'm capable of. I also learned a lot about marketing, voicing my opinion and pitching to companies. I could go on and on about the things I learned, but ultimately I can tell you that I came out on the other side a stronger, braver woman. I know you hear it all the time, but it’s really the hard times that make us stronger. To see something that you put so much time, sweat and emotions into not turn out the way you planned Is tough. It causes you to rethink what defines you and to think about who you are outside of your successes and failures. It's a lesson I think everyone needs to learn.

Now you’re fully focused on preparing for the next Yellow Conference (which takes place next month!). What sort of exciting things do you have in the works for attendees this year?

I'm so excited for Yellow Conference this year! We're working with some amazing brands and speakers who I know are just going to pour goodness onto our attendees. We have some awesome giveaways lined up and for our attendee dinner this year, we will be doing a picnic style dinner at Grand Park Downtown LA. We're partnering with International Justice Mission on the dinner, and I’m looking forward to sharing their message with attendees. Overall, I can't wait for the attendees to meet each other, enjoy the setting we’ve created and hear from the speakers. It's going be a good time!

You also run your own graphic design company, Waterfall Creative. How have you been able to manage the two ventures? Do you find it difficult, or have you found a rhythm?

I have this problem where I love having my hands in five different projects at once. I get bored super easily so it's important to me to always have a few things going on! But as far as rhythm goes, I feel like I've finally found one.

I significantly cut the amount of clients I work with at one time. For a while, things got out of control and I was not very good at balancing. Now I'm much more selective about the work I take on, and started teaching Photoshop courses out of my studio to make up financially for taking on less clients. It's a simple way to educate and help small business owners, while making some extra money on the side.

As you know, we here at Clementine Daily seek to appreciate the little things—the things that make our everyday lives a little bit sweeter. What are some everyday things you can’t live without?

First thing’s first: COFFEE. I have no routine and rarely live the same day twice, but coffee is the one thing that I do every single day. I also love Instagram, dry shampoo, cuddling with my cats, cuddling with my husband and drinking a cold beer with dinner now that it's summer time. Did I mention coffee?

Lastly, do you have a mantra that gets you through even your toughest days?

When life tries to get me down, I resort to my favorite Bible verse: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline." It reminds me that I can't let fear, jealousy or feeling powerless get me down. That's not who I am, and that's not the spirit God has given me.

p.s. Want to learn more about Joanna’s business journey? You can listen to her recent interview on the Creating Your Own Path podcast!