Mellyssa Diggs on Breaking Barriers in Design

In a world where creativity meets technology, Mellissa Diggs, the visionary founder of Ai-Konic Graphics, has carved her path from passion to purpose. Her journey, starting from her senior capstone project to building a thriving business, reflects not just her expertise in design but also her unwavering commitment to helping mission-led businesses stand out. As a woman in a competitive industry like graphic design and branding, Mellissa shares her insights, challenges, and strategies, offering empowering advice to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make their mark, all while championing human-centered experiences over algorithms and pushing boundaries to break glass ceilings in her industry.

Can you share a bit about your journey from starting Ai-Konic Graphics as your senior capstone to building it into a successful business focused on helping mission-led businesses stand out? 

I’ve always wanted to be an artist (of some kind). I was good at drawing but ultimately I loved technology more. I learned Photoshop on my own but ended up going to college for design. What a lot of people don’t realize about getting any art degree is that you have to learn the fundamentals and a lot of history. You are spending a minimum of a year and a half to 2 years learning history alone before getting into any studio work or even your concentration. When my senior year in college came, I designed a mini magazine with a logo that soon became my business name: Ai-Konic Graphics.

What were some of the key challenges you faced along the way, especially as a woman in a competitive industry like graphic design and branding?

I actually didn’t know the difficulties of being a designer as a woman until after graduating and apply for work. A lot of employers aren’t will to pay designers for what they’re worth. The real challenge is trying to get physical working experience. It’s hard not because of the professional but it being dominated by men and other races. 3% of designers are black compared to everyone else. 

How did your personal story and experiences influence the direction and values of your business?

I always knew I wanted to make a difference somehow and I know I want to help others with design. Even when I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go as a designer, I know for sure helping others was the key thing especially when it came to my business.

What advice would you give to other women who are aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those looking to make a mark in fields traditionally dominated by men?

Have confidence in your abilities and don’t let stereotypes or societal expectations hold you back. Trust that you have unique perspectives and talents to offer. 

Don’t be discouraged by setbacks; use them as learning experiences to fuel your growth. 

Your perspective as a woman in a male-dominated field can be a strength. Embrace your uniqueness and use it to differentiate yourself and your business.

Stay updated with industry trends, advancements, and best practices. Continuous learning and adaptation are essential for success.

Recognize your progress and use it as motivation to keep pushing forward.

Stay true to your values and vision. Your authenticity will resonate with others and help you build a strong business .

You mentioned prioritizing human-centered experiences over algorithms and “fluffy stuff.” Could you elaborate on why you believe this approach is essential, especially in today’s digital age?

Algorithms, while efficient, can sometimes overlook the nuances of being human. Human-centered experiences can provide more personalized and meaningful interactions, as they take into account individual preferences, emotions, and contexts.  

What strategies or techniques have you found most effective in helping your clients stand apart from their competition and attract top-quality customers?

What’s effective is telling your unique story in a way that shows why it’s special and how it can make a difference in the customers’ lives. Encouraging clients to always look for ways to improve. 

Really focusing on client/customer relationships, which is considered customer service. Focus on making every interaction your clients/customers a special one, from the first time they hear about your business to long after they’ve made a purchase.

How do you maintain a balance between creativity and practicality in your work, especially when dealing with clients who may have differing visions or expectations?

Doing this is like walking a tightrope. It starts with really understanding what my client wants to achieve and who they’re trying to reach and boundaries I need to set especially for myself. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where your creativity shines while still being grounded in what’s practical and achievable.

What are your thoughts on mentorship and networking for women in business? Have these played a significant role in your own journey, and if so, how?

Mentorship and networking can be incredibly valuable for women in business. Mentorship provides guidance, support, and valuable insights from someone who has navigated similar challenges and can offer advice based on their experiences. 

Unfortunately, I never got that opportunity to have a specific mentor in my space. I had to learn through a lot of trial and error.

In your experience, what are some of the common misconceptions or challenges that women face when starting and growing their businesses, and how can they overcome them?

Sometimes, it feels like I’m up against a wall because of biases or unfair expectations. Balancing work with everything else life throws at me is overwhelming, and getting the support and funding I need is still an uphill battle. 

Someone like me who is diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Depression, Anxiety, and Chronic Fatigue, it’s to get anyone to actually listen and keeping productive.Despite these challenges, I always find ways to succeed. It’s not easy, but my passion and determination helps with overcoming these obstacles and build successful businesses.

Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for Ai-Konic Graphics, and how do you envision continuing to make a difference in the industry and for your clients?

I work on growing my business while showing empathy, kindness, humility, and grace. I want to be able to break those glass ceilings I. The industry today beyond those silly society standards. 

Blog: www.theoccasionalother.com


IG: Instagram.com/mellyssaangeldiggs

YouTube: YouTube.com/@mellyssaangeldiggs

by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *