Small Biz Spotlight | Glädje Designs
Hello! I’m Jody, calligrapher and traveler of Glädje Designs! I share my passions by creating joyful art that inspires adventure and evokes travel memories. I design art prints, buttons & stickers for my shop, collaborate with travel brands & bloggers and do custom calligraphy projects.
By day, I actually work full-time as a user experience designer at a health care IT company. Although my brand could be called a side hustle, I’m not trying to make it my full-time gig. I am passionate about my career in user experience but also enjoy the creative freedom I have with Glädje Designs.
As a kid growing up in a small town, I spent my allowance on gel pens at the supermarket. I would fill notebooks with words and names in every glittery color I could find. I was more of an admirer than a creator throughout college, but always wanted to improve my skills. In early 2015 I did a calligraphy workshop with one of my friends. We started using our lunch break at work for calligraphy practice and supported each other through the early learning stages. It was really relaxing and fulfilling, but I quickly started wanting to do something beyond my sketchbook.
Later that year, I traveled to Texas for Circles Conference with another friend. It gave me the encouraging push I needed to turn my passion into something real. I came home with an inspiration hangover—full of wisdom from great speakers, joy of meeting some of my favorite creatives, and a multitude of ideas discussed with friends. The very next day I started designing my logo!
During this time my husband and I were long-distance. He was finishing his doctorate degree and was traveling around the U.S. for internships. Since I had most evenings after work to myself, I dove headfirst into building my brand. It gave me energy and purpose through the long times we spent apart. He has been so supportive through it all, and now that we live together full-time he is always helping me ship orders and giving me product ideas. He even helped me brainstorm brand names back in 2015.
Glädje (glad-yay) is the Swedish word for joy. I am half Swedish and was fortunate to grow up in a home where our heritage was an important part of our lives. In college I had the opportunity to spend a summer in the beautiful city of Uppsala, Sweden and my love for the country grew even stronger. I wanted my brand name to capture my passions with a foreign flair. When I saw “glädje” in Google Translate, I knew it was the one.
My passion for travel began when I was in high school while watching episodes of Rick Steve’s Europe and daydreaming with my mom. In college I traveled abroad for the first time to study in London, England. To say I fell in love with the city and traveling is an understatement. I went back to Europe the next summer to be in Sweden and was able to explore my great-great-grandfather’s home and other important places in our family with my mom and brother. Next, I traveled to Budapest, Hungary where my boyfriend (now husband!) was born and raised. I loved the dramatic differences in culture and atmosphere I was experiencing across each country. Now I have been to over 14 countries and am constantly daydreaming and planning my next adventure.
I love encouraging others to follow their dreams. My best advice is to just start. If there’s something that has always been in the back of your mind, it’s worth exploring! Search for a YouTube video or a local workshop and invite some friends to try it out with you. Whether it’s learning a new skill or starting something with what you already do, it’s vital to have a few people who know your passions and encourage you well! My brand would not be the same without the support of three close friends. We spend time creating things together (the inspiration and energy is amazing!) and are always checking in on each other’s passion projects. They have been invaluable in brainstorming, inspiring and helping me along the way. Two of them have their own work available on Society6–check out Hannah’s microbiology kaleidoscope designs and Sera’s vibrant patterns and planets!
Thanks for reading Glädje’s story. I love this brand that I am creating and am excited to see where it might lead. For now, I’ll keep creating new adventure-inspring things! As with both traveling and life, it’s about the adventure, not the destination. I hope that you’ll join that adventure with me—I’ll be bringing the inspiration! I’d love to connect with you—please feel free to contact me or connect on Instagram or Facebook!