For creative entrepreneur Karen Spears, it all started with a love of handwriting.
“Over the years I’ve always been told I should sell my handwriting,” Spears said. “But it wasn’t until high school I got my first taste in doing that. I sold quote canvases.”
As she picked up graphic design skills to digitize her handwriting, Spears’ side hustle grew. After a few years, she decided to build brands creatively on a full-time basis, creating her business Kareracter.
“I didn’t take the traditional 9-5 path, because I wanted to see what being an entrepreneur had to offer,” she said. “I’m at the intersection of being super creative but also loving the process of building and starting something new. So that’s how Kareracter was born; out of the love for wanting to see other people’s ideas come into fruition through that creative brainstorming process.”
Spears used this love to create a new tool during the pandemic that she found helped people who might have been feeling unmotivated.
“We’re so bogged down with having a wealth of ideas and not sure how to start or no ideas. So we held 90 minute mind-mapping sessions to get people unstuck and discover creative possibility in a time that felt very bleak,” Spears said. “Mind-mapping was also a great way to introduce creative ideas to our clients. They would see my screen and see their ideas coming to life. That turned out to be a game-changer.”
Mind-mapping begins with a brain dump of any and every question, affirmation, or — as Spears calls them — “power quote” on your mind. Then the ideas are categorized by questions that Spears helps you find answers to.
“Let’s say you wrote down my mood is anxious because I don’t know where to start on my business,” Spears said. “Now you have a tangible question you can find an answer to. Which leads us to the final step of the first phase: exploring the possibilities.”
Those possibilities are then explored on the final map, which is broken up into three phases to help you stay on track with your goals.
Spears said the method has been successful for the brands she and her team have worked with.
“Through that brainstorming process they were able to figure out how they could talk about themselves in comparison to other competitors in the space, and stand out,” she said.
As Spears looks to using this creative brainstorming process to help people pursue their passion, she has two goals in mind.
“Being a founder as a Black woman under 25, this part of me wants to see how I can impact younger generations, and show them there’s a path they can pursue that isn’t traditional, that is in line with who you are creatively,” she said. “They don’t teach handwriting in schools anymore, everyone’s given an iPad. So it’s like well, what happens to this art form that is handwriting? My goal is to preserve that art form, no matter how beautiful or messy your handwriting may be. Handwriting is something everyone has and we can keep it alive, and mind-mapping is just another way to do that.”
This fall, Kareracter Academy will offer a more in-depth mind-mapping workshop for like-minded creative entrepreneurs.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.