Small Business Notes #3: On DIY Education With Aleyn Comprendio

 Aleyn Comprendio is a creative consultant, prop stylist and founder of the whimsical local store, Wildwood. We've worked with her on countless editorials and product shoots, bringing to life the lighter side of Sunday Paper. A self-taught photographer, video editor and now prop stylist, she sheds light on her unconventional track and what it took to reach such a point.

Talk about your background. What did you study in college and what was your work track? What are you doing now? 

I graduated BS Nursing, took the board exam and passed but I never practiced because I never really wanted to work in a hospital. My mom ordered me to get a job immediately if I didn't want to work as a nurse. Anything to get me out of the house! I applied as per recommendation and got hired at a Wedding Videography company the month after the result of the board came out. I got so used to the then small company (I was the 6th person to get hired. Now they have over 60!) because I find it fun to work with a bunch of creatives that I didn’t leave until after 7 years.Today the company is one of the most renowned in the industry. 

I started working as a video editor because that was what they needed at that time. I didn’t have any experience prior but because they were understaffed at a very crucial time, they had no other option but to train me. My folio included photos from my Multiply, Flickr and Deviant Art accounts at that time and taken with a point and shoot camera. I only ever know how to Photoshop and I wasn’t even good at it, but that was enough for them because back then in the province, where there are no art schools, if you know how to Photoshop, you are creative enough. And because I am always open and eager to learn new things, I didn’t mind being trained to edit and shoot. 

 

In 7 years, I did so much that I was given so many positions because they couldn’t place me in just one. I was a video editor, shooter, scriptwriter, production manager, design team head, producer, and eventually creative director. I was also labeled, “company nurse” because I used to help fix the bugs on Adobe Premiere. Apart from that, I had been tasked to design collaterals together with my team, set design in-house shoots, interior decorate the office and a bunch more.I get to meet so many people in different industries, as we also do corporate and commercial works as well, that it helped me greatly in my current work now.

While I was still in the company, I shot analog photographs on the side for fun. They’re on www.aleyncomprendio.com and blog.aleyncomprendio.com. I have been featured in numerous online and offline publications as an analog photographer but I stopped around late 2014 because that was when I left my job and be on my own and didn’t have time to shoot anymore.

Today, I am a freelance Creative Consultant and Creative Director. I also set design and interior style as well as do product styling. 

 

Tell us more about Wildwood and your work as a creative consultant. 

Wildwood was born out of our love for traveling and Scandinavian and East Asian styles. We always love to bring a piece of a country’s culture every time we go back home- be it a homeware, a home decor, a magazine or a book, and thought that there might be others out there who would want to have something similar to display in their homes but couldn’t get for themselves. Hence, Wildwood was born.

As a creative consultant, I help make small to medium businesses look prettier, create visually stunning imagery and content and work with different amazing creatives to help brands have a distinct style/voice online and offline. Working with brands also helped me with Wildwood- for free. I get first hand information from clients about the different side of business and so on. I didn't have to pay so much to learn. I get paid and then I learn- for free, because I study their markets as well.

 

Would you recommend attending formal school or a DIY type of education in terms of pursuing a creative career path? 

Both. The former to help you on the technicalities and to help build connections (I didn’t know this until a few years ago), and the latter to help you focus and hone your craft and be up-to-date . 

What are your favorite/go-to source of self help information regarding your business?

Youtube and lifestyle blogs (I try to make the most out of free content on the internet!) and physical books about creativity and business management. I just recently hopped on the Podcast bandwagon. Here's what my current recommendation list looks like:

Blogs: The Lane / Local Milk Blog / Jasmine Dowling / Northfolk Atelierdore

Podcast: Steps to Success / Girlboss Radio

Books: 
The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins
The Monocle Guide to Good Business
Branding and Space Curated by Page One Books
Start Me Up Curated by Gestalten 
The Upstarts by Brad Stone

 

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of starting a similar business as yours? 

I say if you have an idea that you feel strongly about, just go for it and learn along the way. A bit of a risky tip but just like they say in love and relationships, it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. In my deathbed, I would love to be able to ponder about all my struggles, failures and wins and just laugh and be grateful for all of it, than to regret all the what ifs I didn’t dare take. 

You will also discover so much about yourself in the process and for me, that feeling is one of the best. When I was 20, I didn’t know that at age 30, I would be doing or have done all of this. I have always dreaded the day of my graduation because I never really wanted to work in the hospital. But I just took that one small step, trusted my gut, and the rest was history.

What are your top productivity tools? 

An A4 size notebook to jot down all of my ideas when I’m in my home office, my planner / organizer to help me manage my schedule for Wildwood and client projects, Pinterest,  Adobe In Design, Photoshop, Lightroom and occasionally now, Adobe Premiere.  


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