We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniela Pelton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniela, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Sure! To tell you a little more about myself, I’m a web designer, brand strategist, and creative director behind The Humanista Co.— a holistic design studio for purpose-based brands and entrepreneurs.
In my early career I like to say that I started going down the dangerous path of “shoulds.” I started doing everything I thought I should be doing to build a respectable career and become a “successful adult.” I tried all kinds of jobs, like bilingual recruitment, HR at a global think tank, e-learning at an Ivy League university, and career coaching for a tech startup. They all sounded exciting, and I always started out hoping each would become my dream job.
But nothing would stick. Every job I ever had eventually felt soul-crushing, and left me feeling undervalued and unfulfilled.
No matter where I went, I found myself stuck in the same pattern of anxiety, frustration, and burnout. I knew there was something important missing in my life, but had no idea what it was or what to do. I wanted so desperately to find a sense of purpose in this world. But all I could think to do was trust my gut and cling to the hope that, eventually, I would find it.
After quitting yet another corporate job, I decided to try something different. As an avid learner, I deeply missed living in an academic environment, and I decided to go back to school. I ended up graduating top of my class in an international master’s program in the Middle East, where I studied social entrepreneurship and leadership in impact-driven organizations. I loved every minute of it.
I think this is when I finally felt “a spark.” Have you ever felt that lightbulb moment when you know in your heart that this is the path for you? The more I learned about entrepreneurship, the more alive I felt. Going through that program gave me the confidence and willingness to go for it myself, and start my own business. I realized the reason I kept feeling unfulfilled in previous jobs was because I am meant to work for myself!
It was so freeing to realize that I don’t have to try to fit into roles that aren’t who I am. That I can carve out my own path, and design it however I choose.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a creative, I offer holistic branding and web design for purpose-driven brands. By holistic, I mean helping people to understand the core of what makes them unique and how to translate that into a visual and emotional experience for their audience. My services include DIY Website Templates as well as custom branding and web design.
The reason I love doing this work is the ripple effect I get to create through helping others create brands that truly represent them and that also attract their dream clients—the more dream clients we get to work with, the more we feel valued and excited through our work, meaning the more joy and impact we can continue to create in this world.
There were many times in my career, especially before becoming a designer, when I didn’t feel seen or valued for all that I bring to the table. I like to say “in my former corporate life” I found myself in administrative roles that only allowed me to utilize a very specific organizational skillset, and even though I was good at that type of work, I very often felt like something important was missing. During those years I had no idea I was a creative person, and yet, I found myself feeling constantly exhausted, frustrated, bored, and even resentful about the work I was doing day in and day out. Whenever I did come across a project in those roles that felt exciting, and I would bring it to my boss’s attention, I would often find myself feeling shut down with responses like, “that’s not what your role is for.” Over time, I felt like I was being forced to stay small in my own box within these roles. I felt like I had to compromise who I actually was in order to fit into roles that weren’t right for me, and it felt terrible.
When I finally decided to break away from the corporate world and start my own business, it took some time to realize the work I genuinely loved doing. When I first started out in business, I worked as a career coach because I love helping people and seeing them light up when something I would say or do inspires them to find a path that feels right for them. Over time, I realized that what I was doing was actually personal branding, and as I dove deeper into that world, the design piece started to come naturally to me. I went from designing resumes, to designing entire brands and websites, and I never felt more engaged or excited by my work before. Feeling that spark of joy and inspiration is when I knew that design was the right path for me.
One of the main lessons I have learned along my journey so far is that you should NEVER have to compromise who you are to fit into roles that aren’t right for you. The minute you start to feel that way is your sign to consider another path. Because the longer you continue in situations that aren’t right for you, the smaller, more restricted, more frustrated you will feel. And you know what? Life is too short to play small and feel undervalued. Sometimes, we just have to be brave and trailblaze our own unique paths. There will be challenges, there will be naysayers, but isn’t it more rewarding to feel fulfilled than to feel invisible? I truly believe we all deserve to be SEEN and HEARD as human beings.
And I believe it is this mindset that really sets me apart from others. My brand’s mission is to “help human brands connect with human beings” and by empowering you to understand what makes you unique and how to translate that emotionally and visually, I help to give you a VOICE in the sea of competition in this digital world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my absolute favorite places in Phoenix is a bookstore called “Changing Hands,” and inside you will find a bar and cafe called “First Draft.” This place has it all, you could literally hang there all day! Come in the morning and grab a coffee to get work done in their huge lounge area, stay for lunch and get some pastries or healthy eats, check out all of the interesting books, and even stay through the evening for happy hour and hang out at the bar with delicious wine or beer. On top of that, all of the staff is incredibly friendly, down-to-earth, and kind and will make you feel like you are at your home away from home.
If you want to spend some time outdoors, I highly recommend “Encanto Park” for its greenery and spaciousness. You can take a long walk there, have a picnic, feed the ducks, enjoy the lake, read a book, and overall take some time to relax in nature.
For happy hour and live music, there is a great bar called “Fuego” which is part of “The Clarendon Hotel,” a lovely historical hotel in Phoenix with a spa, pool, and rooftop. “Fuego” has free live music every night of the week which you can enjoy inside or outside while sipping a margarita and enjoying dinner. My favorite drink there is the spicy margarita if you like a little kick in your drink!
If you’re interested in some metaphysical vibes, there is a great store called “Fantasia Crystals” with all kinds of beautiful jewelry, crystals and gems, occult books. A great place to slowly wander, get inspired, and get spiritual!
For tacos, one of my absolute favorite spots is called “The Beach House.” You won’t find an actual dine-in restaurant though, but instead, a unique old VW hippie van and outdoor tables where you can chill out and enjoy their delicious and affordable tacos. My favorite are the fish tacos!
If you’re into vegan goodies, I love a little restaurant called “Whyld Ass.” They have the BEST vegan desserts that I have found in the city, plus yummy plant-based dishes.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to dedicate a shout out to my good friend and coach, Christa Davis! Christa and I have worked together during different stages of my business, from when I first realized I wanted to leave the corporate world to helping me start my business from scratch. She saw the designer in me before I ever realized it for myself, and encouraged me every step of the way. In fact, she even hired me to help her rebrand her own business and became my first-ever design client. It was this experience that gave me the confidence to bravely move forward, overcome my imposter syndrome, and continue my design journey to where I am today.
She has seen all of the ups and downs of my entrepreneurial journey and has been there to lift me up when I’m feeling down, help me find clarity in the darkness, and celebrate all of my wins (no matter how small). She has been my biggest cheerleader throughout my business journey and I am eternally grateful for her support, mentorship, and friendship.