Inside Stories - ‘My messages are authentic. I don’t pretend that my life is wonderful’

Alicia - illustrator and entrepreneur

Her tip for women entrepreneurs

‘At the beginning of my career as an illustrator, I received some priceless advice. “Someone said to me, ‘Doing things right now and not perfectly, is better than putting it off while striving for perfection’.’

When illustrator Alicia Souza from Bangalore posts a message on Instagram, she gets 16,000 likes within a day. She has 216,000 Instagram followers and 4277 posts and counting. The Indian press calls her an Instagram sensation. When Alicia describes herself, she chooses other words: “I am a passionate and no-nonsense illustrator.”

‘People often think that I’m drawing all day’

For Alicia a typical day looks like this: she gets up at quarter past five, walks her dog Charlie and sits down at her desk, where she checks her e-mails. The rest of the day she follows a schedule she prepared the day before. “I often do a mix of different things: getting started on assignments, doing my research and administration, and drawing. People often think that I’m drawing all day. Sadly that’s not the case. I draw only 30 to 40 percent of my time.”

‘My posts give me a good feeling, make me happy, and I hope others too’

Back to her social media success. How did she manage that? What’s her recipe? Her answer is simple: “I plan my messages and post one every day, always at the same time. And my messages are authentic. I don’t stage anything. I don’t pretend that my life is wonderful. I post about the nice things in my daily life. And now and then also about the things I struggle with. That way everyone can relate to my message. My posts give me a good feeling, make me happy, and I hope others too.”

Posting one illustration every day, doesn’t that result in feeling some pressure? “No, for me it’s not pressure. I think it only feels that way if you try to create a world that is not true to who you are. I’m just trying to capture my happiness with little daily things in pictures. That’s it. Easy peasy.”

Funny daily events

If you follow Alicia on Instagram you’ll have seen that there are some recurring characters. Like the cartoon character she’s made of her self, hair tied back in a casual ponytail with a pink hair tie, often holding a cup of coffee. There’s also her muse, the former street dog Charlie. She draws funny, daily events that many women can relate to. Her struggles with the housekeeping, for example, and her good intentions to really, truly, go to the gym that day.

Alicia started working in 2009, as an illustrator for the well-known Indian lifestyle brand Chumbak, where she designed their logo and all their merchandise. Three years later she started her own company, HappiMess Studio. When she met her business partner Saurabh Sharma in 2015, HappiMess Studio was renamed Alicia Souza Studio. And now her company has merged with her partner’s company, under the name Happy Wagon.

“I work from home as a freelancer for clients such as Google, Yahoo, The Times of India and Penguin publishing house. And I also work for my own brand, Alicia Souza. My partner runs our company Happy Wagon: he takes care of daily operations and the entire business side. In total around twenty people are working for us.”

Read more here

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