Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joanne Emerick, Owner of JohnnieLetters, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

JohnnieLetters is an art design business that specializes in murals, lettering, and calligraphy. We set you apart with unique and custom designs for your home or business. Our customers are anyone with a blank wall! We help you elevate any blank space with painted statements.

Tell us about yourself

I first started this business because of my love for calligraphy and lettering. It started as a side business that provided custom, hand-lettered signage for weddings and homes. I can create the signs you see in stores, but make them custom and unique for your family with your names or favorite quotes, verses, or scripture. I also have sold my inspired designs as stickers and art prints in my online shop.

In 2022, I decided to go full-time with JohnnieLetters and expanded it with a focus on murals, which is where my heart is. I love seeing beautiful mural artwork out in public, but even more so in places you might not expect, like inside businesses or homes. It is truly a grand and beautiful way to elevate any space. And such an easy way to set you apart as a business or homeowner. You see a mural inside a business or home, and it makes anyone want to take their phone out and take a picture.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is taking the leap of faith in going full-time into the business. JohnnieLetters was my side business for six years while I worked full-time in public service administration. I used to think I would quit my 9-5 once JohnnieLetters became “big.” But then I finally realized I needed to quit my 9-5 first so that I could really focus on JohnnieLetters and make it as successful as I could. It took a huge increase in self-belief and courage to finally get to that point, but with the encouragement of the people around me, I was finally able to take that step.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I think different people will find different things hard. For me, it’s the instability - not knowing how many projects you’ll land in a single month, which clients will say yes, and which clients will say no to you. When I walked into public service, my job was secure - I knew exactly how much I would make every two weeks and that the check was always coming. Being a business owner, that’s all unsure. But the biggest lesson in learning that hard thing is that, typically, your return is as big as your investment. If you’re putting in a moderate amount of work, you might get a moderate amount of pay back. As a business owner, you got to put in a lot of hard, relentless work to be fulfilled. And that fulfillment may not always be financial, but if you know you gave it your all, you’ll be fulfilled purposefully.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Believe in yourself the way God believes in you. You have a purpose, and Heaven is cheering you on.
  2. Remember that your passion is for a purpose. It’s not about you - it’s about what you can bring to others.
  3. Don’t go it alone. This isn’t to say you need a partnership in your business, but you do need the support and wisdom from others, whether that’s your close personal circle or people you’ve seen from afar that could mentor you or answer questions you may have. Reach out. Collaboration and community are great things.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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