This past summer I was nominated and won the 20 on the Rise for designs sponsored by HoneyBook. I posted the press release on the blog, but I never posted the questions I had to answer nor the all the images I had to submit. Well here it is now!
2-3 Sentence Bio
My name is Melissa Fox-Austin and I’m a graphic designer, stationer, owner of Cherished Prints, an online boutique shop—specializing in made to order and bespoke funeral and memorial stationery—wife, and mom. I hope to transform consumer expectations of funeral and memorial stationery by providing modern designs that are both a celebration and gift to the grieving through premium customer service and guidance.
How would you describe yourself and your work?
I am shy, sensitive, caring, and giving. My work is thoughtful, uplifting, touching, meticulous, and detailed.
Tell us about your work and the projects you are currently working on.
Through Cherished Prints, I offer professional graphic designs, a firm understanding of the importance of typography, professional photo editing, and a high touch point customer experience lead by a professional designer from the start of the design process to the end. I balance my process with the knowledge of how complicated the grieving process can be and the compassion to understand. I am currently working on making a more cohesive brand experience and brand awareness, updating and adding new designs, building partnerships with local charities and funeral homes, and new product offerings that I am really excited about.
What are you best known for?
Being patient, respectful, compassionate, dedicated to each and every customer while offering a fast and thorough design process.
What accomplishments would you like to share?
I’ve had the privilege to helped over 2000 grieving customers, since 2012 by being able to alleviate a burden off their shoulders and give them a tangible memory they can share and treasure for years to come. My stationery has traveled the world. I have designed in English, Spanish, Afrikaans, Māori, Tagoloan, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese. I’ve seen secret family recipes, laugh and cried with customers, and help begin a healing process for some.
What hobbies, causes, or activities are you passionate about aside from your work?
I’m an avid reader and a sponge who is always seeking to understand others and their journeys and through others, myself. I have been a Rising Tide member and TuesdaysTogether Orlando member for over a year. I’m also a supporter of The Finley Project a non-profit for Grieving Moms After Infant Loss and The Color of Blue and Hope also a non-profit for grieving moms of infant loss and for moms on extended bed rest. Pulse of Orlando a non-profit created to reach out with the expeditious allocation of funds for the victims, survivors, and families of the Pulse tragedy.
If you could tell yourself younger self something you’ve learned along the way, what would you say?
Be fearless. Listen to yourself and trust your instincts because they are valid and sound. Finally, keep exploring and discovering.
What or who has influenced your design aesthetic the most?
My customers. Listening to their stories, reading obituaries, and hearing the love they have for their loved one. The designs are always enriched when it is a collaboration.
What motivated you to become a designer?
Becoming a designer was a process for me. When growing up, I had both an analytical and creative mind, and it made it difficult for choosing a career path. It wasn’t until the last semester of college when I took an Integrated Advertising course that I realized I wanted to make graphics and to tell a story through images. After college, I started to learn web design and took up photography as a hobby. I dived into photo editing and loved how technology met creativity. I devoured online tutorials, became a member of the National Association for Photoshop Professionals, experimented, and made all sorts of designs for friends, coworkers, and family. My first design job was for an estate accounting firm, and I turned their complex numbers and spreadsheets into branded accounting proposals with visual representations of the accountant’s solutions. This helped the company to land new and more complex accounts. I then moved to an in-house design position at a restaurant franchise where I learned to maintain brand consistency, create complex multi-unit marketing campaigns, file set-up for print, signage, and web, art direction for photo shoots, developed vendor relations, and hired and fought for freelancers. After I lost my mom in 2012, I realized I needed to design. I needed to create. I also needed to give in order to heal. I took my knowledge, my grief, and my love of design and I made Cherished Prints.