Getting To Know: Kali Edwards of June Mango Design

MaggieGentry interviews Kali Edwards, the creative genius behind June Mango Design.

It feels really surreal to feature Kali on my blog. She's a graphic and web designer who can make miracles happen with Squarespace templates, and she has an impeccable eye for design. She has worked with some of my favorite other business owners (Devan Danielle, Amy Kuretsky, and Sarah E. Crowder to name a few), and her Insta account was one I lovingly stalked before we became Insta-friends. Needless to say, I was really intimidated when we first started chatting in an Instagram group message with a few other badass lady biz owners, but it wasn't long before those feelings completely subsided because Kali is so incredibly generous & kind. 

I love that her philosophy is all about creating a website to make it work for you, and she shares some really great tips below for how to do just that. Her blog and shop are full of great resources, too, so if you're still in the DIY mode, check out her stuff!

October can't come soon enough because we're both heading to Being Boss NOLA, where we'll finally get to hang IRL! Until then, you can find me swooning over her Instagram. 

 

Give us the background scoop! How did June Mango Design come to be?

I studied Fine Arts in college and was always drawn to the more graphic side of art. After graduating, I worked my way up from a Junior Designer to an agency Art Director, but I just felt like I wasn’t doing what I truly loved. I realized what was missing was the full reign on my creativity and that the only way to tap into it was to work with other creatives. I quit my day job and June Mango was born! 

I know you do both branding and web design, so what aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

You know, I love both for different reasons. They’re like my children! I absolutely love branding design because it’s so damn creative and fun. It lets me really dig into a brand at the beginning and breathe visual life into it. I love being challenged to create something totally unique for each business.

But that being said, web design is a whole different type of challenge! It lets me turn on my Type A side and rock out those systems + processes that help me create killer websites in just a week. I want my web clients to feel like it was a dreamy, easy process, but that’s no easy task behind the scenes. DNS settings, MX records, <a href>... wha?? There’s always something new to learn.  

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

I happily ignored my dad when he said studying art was a mistake, and I’d just end up broke. I simply knew myself well enough to know that nothing else would make me happy, and money couldn’t replace that passion for beauty that I knew I’d always have. Business-wise, I’m lucky to have a lot of cheerleaders in my corner who remind me of My Why when I become my own worst critic.

You are an incredible designer, and I always think of you as the Squarespace guru, especially with your signature offering Go Live in 5™! Can you tell us more about how you harnessed this idea to make this into a signature offering?

This goes back to being an agency Art Director. I once worked on a website that took 18 months. 18 months!! I just thought to myself that there had to be a better way. I knew if I worked with a simpler web system, like Squarespace, I could utilize my design skills to customize a seemingly standard platform and make the sites look way more interesting! On top of that, I like a quick turnaround. Even my branding clients are always telling me, “You’re so fast!”. I think it’s just part of my personality.

With all the other choices out there, why do you choose Squarespace as the platform to design all of your clients’ sites?

Because when I hand over the keys, they aren’t stuck with the inability to make changes. Ultimately, it’s THEIR site. And websites are living breathing things, so you should be able to update it easily. Not being able to change your contact information, for example, is just silly. Squarespace is amazingly user-friendly. After I give a quick backend tutorial, my clients are good to go!

If someone is going the DIY route to start, what is the most important aspect to getting started on your website design? What should we consider first: design/flow/usability or content? Or something else entirely?

This is tricky, but I would say flow. Design can be super simple and still look good. Usability is also important, but I’d recommend a good platform like Squarespace to take care of that for you. And content can always be added. So flow is most important. Where do you want your audience to go? How do they buy you? Always be imagining how your audience will flow through your site and what YOUR ultimate goal is.

In your opinion, what information is crucial to include on your site?

Who you are, what you do, how to buy you. That’s it. Even if that’s all you have, you’re good!

Everyone wants to know how to get more traffic to their site. What are some of your best tips for increasing SEO and getting more people to visit your site?

Blog! Or in other words, update your site and add content. Google also likes when you’re active on social media, when you have links that go to other sites, when other sites link back to you, and when you don’t have duplicate content (ie: don’t copy a paragraph from the homepage directly onto the About page.)

When you’re writing content, try to incorporate a key phrase onto each page and use it 3-4 times max. For example, I may try to write “Squarespace web designer” onto one of my services pages in my copy. Don’t use the same phrase for more than one page, though.

Also, SEO is tricky. It takes time. Like months, or even years. So don’t expect miracles—just try to create cool stuff. That will stand out on it’s own, I promise.

I consider you one heck of a successful biz owner, so I’d love to know, what is the best piece of advice you’ve received about starting, owning, and/or thriving as a small business owner?

DO the work. Simple and straight out of the mouth of the Being Boss ladies, but it’s so true. When I have a lull in client-business, I’m writing blog posts, scheduling social media, creating a new offering or refining an old one. Even when it feels like no one is paying attention, just keep doing the work.

And be kind. For reals. I try to be so awesome to my clients that they want to hang out outside of working together. And I love that! I always try to give the best customer service possible, because that’s as much a part my job as designing logos.

Let’s get dreamy for a minute. If you could take a look at the future, what do you see for not only yourself personally, but also for June Mango? What are you doing today to help you realize that vision?

This is a great question for me right now because I’ve been feeling so in it that I haven’t had much time to get dreamy, and that’s real-life being a biz owner! But I’ve been thinking a bit about turning Go Live in 5™ into a studio offering with a few designers so that I can serve more clients, which I can’t do now as a one-woman show. I want to really, really nail down the systems for that offering so that I can hire some other killer designers who want to turn their passion for creative design into a reality like I did.

BONUS: Please feel free to share anything else that is coming to the surface or that you’d like to share. It can be something fun, silly, informative. If the rest of these questions got the juices flowing, but you feel like you have something else to say - here’s the space to do it.  :)  

I have realized through the process of owning a business so much more about myself than I otherwise would have, which I think is so interesting! I never thought of myself as fast-paced. I never thought of my look/vibe to be a little bit edgy. I always thought of myself as a quiet, introverted, nice girl who just liked making pretty things. But now I’ve realized that actually, I am a kickass, cool designer with good ideas and a killer drive. And honestly, that’s what I want for all my clients AND fellow biz owners: to realize that you are so unique and perfect for this one thing, you just may not have realized it yet. :)

 

 

Want to know more? Eager to connect with Kali? Here's how:

Work with Kali: 

Just holla at me! I’m nice, promise.