From an early age, something about graphic design intrigued Maya Palmer (’19).
During her first part-time job in high school, Maya managed the social media account for a dental practice using the artistic skills she was learning in the Career and Technical Education program. This experience was the start of what would become her career.
For Maya, graphic design engages both the artistic and logical sides of her brain. Although she gets to create, everything from the fonts to colors to layout is intentionally planned out and chosen to represent a specific concept or evoke a certain response. “Most of the time, it feels more like fun than work, but there’s definitely a lot of planning and critical thinking involved!”
Double majoring in graphic design and marketing at Campbell University, Maya learned the strategy and problem-solving skills that go into creating a quality design. While living on campus, Maya also discovered the importance of community and service, values she carries with her to this day. “I am so grateful for my time at Campbell. It shaped me as both a designer and a person in general, and gave me the foundation I needed to be able to start my own business after college.”
While at Campbell, Maya began looking for a creative outlet beyond her school work. In July of 2017, Maya started Maya Palmer Designs on Etsy, then a hand lettering business modeled after The Redheaded Camel, owned by fellow Orange Owned member, Sarah Cummings (’17). Hand lettering is essentially illustrated writing: the artist changes the style and shape of words to make a picture. Maya reached out to Sarah after reading a flyer on campus and seeing her Instagram. Sarah mentored Maya for several years, teaching her essential business skills like social media planning and project management in addition to tips for managing her Etsy shop. Maya credits Sarah’s mentoring stating, “Even though I have transitioned my business to focus on design services, I still use a lot of what Sarah taught me today.”
Eager to put her skills to the test, Maya accepted an internship with Ken Tart Photography, based in Benson, North Carolina. Ken and Anita Tart gave her a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to own and operate a small business. Maya says, “Working for them…made me respect small business owners even more.”
Following her graduation, she became more serious about pursuing success with Maya Palmer Designs. She quickly realized that “having knowledge as a designer, and knowing how to run a business, are two different things.” So Maya continued her education with online courses, conferences, and further meetings with fellow creatives and mentors. “Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint,” she explains. “There’s a lot that I’m still working towards, but I’m setting smaller milestones along the way.”
Today, Maya Palmer Designs shifted to “support[ing] small business owners in serving with purpose and generosity!” Maya works with small business owners to create custom brands, including logos and website designs. During the pandemic, she provided several new templates and reworked her service packages to help businesses boost their brand. She also began a YouTube channel and Instagram profile to build, encourage, serve, and engage with community.
Another part of her vision is to make an impact and be a part of something bigger. Two ways she has made this a reality are by hitting business goals of her own and giving back to the community. She tries to serve all types of business owners, from the experienced to the brand new, from therapists to photographers and even nonprofit organizations.
Maya feels strongly about connecting with fellow business owners to create genuine community and relationships. She is excited that Orange Owned creates a space for Campbell alumni entrepreneurs. Maya attended the first Orange Owned Summit last February and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, both being back in the Creek and connecting with fellow alumni. “I am honored to be a part of Orange Owned! I was so proud to graduate from Campbell, and having my Orange Owned sticker sitting by my desk reminds me of the community I love in Buies Creek.”
Orange Owned connects Campbell alumni with businesses owned and operated by fellow alumni. Visit our web page to learn more about Orange Owned, find local businesses near you, or register your business.