Recognition is a basic human need. We all need to know that we are valued and appreciated for our contributions. Just ask Eva Schone – founder of TROPHYOLOGY – an Austin-based awards and recognition business with a heavy emphasis on design thanks to Eva’s architectural roots and talents. Tropyology has been recognized across the industry for its innovative concept and design. In addition to being a design finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made competition, Trophyology also won an innovative practices award from the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Not bad.
It’s anything but easy to start a creative business, especially one in an industry as niche as this one. Today, Eva shares a few of the lessons she’s learned during her four years of business.
Flashback to Tampa, Fla. The year is 2003. As an architecture student, little did I know that a competition to design an award for the American Institute of Architects would lay the foundation for the journey of starting my boutique award design firm, TROPHYOLOGY.
I hold a deep belief that my work needs to support my purpose as a human being.
I remember how excited I was when I thought about designing an award for architects who were being honored for excellent architectural design. What an opportunity! This was the first time I thought about what an award means and how important its design is in communicating the values for which someone is being honored.
Even in my work today, I feel strongly that the quality of the award should match the significance of the achievement as well as the elegance of the event. It’s the piece that the honorees take with them and that represents not only the recognition for many years to come, but also the organization awarding the honor, and the event itself.
Four years into this adventure, TROPHYOLOGY continues to blaze a trail. In addition to our innovative design, we differentiate ourselves by handcrafting every single award in Austin, Texas. It was one of the first decisions I made when I started out: to support our economy and traditional crafts by fabricating in the U.S. and sourcing as many materials as close to home as possible. Collaborating with skillful and talented artisans and craftsmen is extremely important to me, and I am very proud of the high quality our team delivers.
I absolutely love being a creative entrepreneur and want to share three of my favorite quotes that embody truthful and beautiful lessons I have learned since I founded TROPHYOLOGY.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” –Robert Collier
We all want to believe that our idea is so obviously brilliant that our business will become an overnight success. In a way, we actually have to believe this in order to take the leap of faith required to become an entrepreneur.
The trick is to keep this other slightly inconvenient truth nearby: “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.” (Eddie Cantor) I cannot help but smile when I read this, and I always find real encouragement in it. For me, being an entrepreneur means being in it for the long run. It’s a marathon that requires copious amounts of persistence and perseverance. It’s tempting to think that there may one big effort that will be the magic bullet to propel us forward. But most likely, it will be the small efforts repeated day in and day out that will add up to success.
“Do what you can with what you have where you are.” –Theodore Roosevelt
As a self-funded entrepreneur, I often wished I had more resources to do one thing or another. Ultimately, I think every business wishes that, regardless of the size and levels of success the business may have achieved. We could always use a bit more money, a bit more help, a bit more time. But life has its ways, and we often have to operate under circumstances that aren’t quite ideal. I feel that this is where the “creative” part of being a “creative entrepreneur” comes in. Perhaps it doesn’t so much refer to the creativity that our products or services represent, but rather the creativity required to stay in business as an entrepreneur. In that sense, we all are creatives, and all part of a wonderfully large community that employs creativity to do what we can, with what we have, where we are.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” -Maya Angelou
Being an entrepreneur is a big part of who I am, but it is not all I am. I hold a deep belief that my work needs to support my purpose as a human being. I just recently contemplated my purpose in life again and checked in with myself on whether my daily activities and work contribute to it. This deeply personal inquiry left me with a sense of peace and fulfillment, because I feel that my efforts are indeed contributing to my life’s purpose as I define it for myself.
With that said, regardless of the long-term success my business may or may not achieve, I feel like I’m already “winning” in life, simply by living every day in alignment with my purpose and by nurturing my soul through my work. It means a great deal to me to like myself, to like what I do and to like how I do it every day.