Molly Beaton

Molly Beaton

Parson Lane Design Co., Designer & Branding Expert

The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.

I'm a mostly self-taught designer, and I began my graphic design career while I was working as the Director of Sales & Marketing for a private event space in Chapel Hill.

Molly Beaton is up.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Molly Beaton, and I'm the designer & branding expert behind Parson Lane Design Co. Parson Lane is a boutique branding agency that specializes in branding & web design for creative change makers, and we've worked with business owners across dozens of different industries tell their stories & build meaningful connections with their customers. I’ve always lived life a little off-beat, and my journey to graphic design was no different.

I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Comparative Literature, which is where I first discovered my love of storytelling. And although the link wasn’t obvious at first, I quickly learned that design and storytelling share the same fundamental goal: connection. Whether it’s a logo, a website, or a brochure, every design tells a story and provides an opportunity to communicate and connect.

What did it take/how did you get started?

I'm a mostly self-taught designer, and I began my graphic design career while I was working as the Director of Sales & Marketing for a private event space in Chapel Hill. I'd always been interested in design generally, and in that job there was a big need for quality design work to help us market the business (but not a lot of budget to hire out for it).

So, I started teaching myself how to use the Adobe suite, first by lots of YouTube videos, and then later obtaining more formal design education by attending online graphic design classes at Wake Tech at night. I quickly realized how much I loved graphic design, and that I wanted to change my career and pursue it full-time. I started taking on freelance design projects in my spare time in 2017, and by 2019, I decided to take a big leap of faith and try to transition into freelancing full-time.

I quit my job, and sent an email to basically everyone I've ever known to let my network know that I was available for freelance design projects if they ever needed anything and/or if they knew anyone who needed design help. At that point, I was taking on any project that came my way, and those first few months felt very precarious. But the business kept steadily (albeit very slowly) growing, and this month I'm celebrating 5 years in business!

Over time, I've transitioned away from taking just any graphic design project that comes my way, and have focused more on branding & web design.I absolutely LOVE helping clients create a visual identity system that helps them maintain a cohesive impression throughout all of their marketing efforts. Good branding is so foundational for all other design, and working on the strategy behind the brand is really fulfilling work, especially when we're working with our incredible purpose-led clients whose businesses are really committed to being a force for good in their communities.

What does the future look like for you and your business?

Behind Parson Lane, there's always just been me, as lead designer/founder/creative director/all the other hats I wear in running this business. Originally, that was the long-term plan, too. But as the business has grown and I've been able to see firsthand what the deeper needs of my clients are, I've realized that I could better serve clients by offering more than just my own design skills.

To that end, I've recently established collaborative partnerships with folks who offer both brand messaging and website copywriting, so that I can provide clients with a truly all-inclusive brand identity package. Design is just one piece of the marketing puzzle, and having the right words to complement the design is just as important as having great design is!My hope for the future of the business is that I'll be able to continue to serve the kinds of incredible, purpose-driven folks that I've been lucky enough to work with so far, and that Parson Lane will become a one-stop shop for businesses who need a cohesive and strategic brand to guide their overall marketing efforts.

What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?

I'm motivated by my clients! It's so cool to feel like my design work has helped a client bring their good idea to life, or helped them expand their reach and further their mission. Personally, I'm also motivated by the satisfaction that comes from putting together a really gorgeous and cohesive brand design.I love the feeling when a design just clicks and, as a very organized recovering perfectionist, it's super satisfying to see all the pieces of a brand design snap into place to create something that's greater than the sum of all its parts.

What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?

Get curious! Never stop learning about your craft and striving to improve. When you run into someone's work that you admire, don't play the comparison game - instead, get curious about why you admire it, what they're doing that's working so well, and how you can translate that into your own work. Meet yourself where you're at and show yourself kindness as you grow and evolve as a designer.

What has been the hardest part of your business journey?

As a solopreneur, the hardest part has definitely been the isolation and loneliness. I was surprised to learn what an emotional toll that would take on me when I first started the business. Being the only person responsible for all the decision-making AND all of the execution is honestly really exhausting, and there are so many weeks where I find myself with zero mental energy left for the other parts of my life. I'm a very driven person and I've had to learn what some of my own limits are, which is tough.

How have you managed burnout thus far?

Being my own boss has one huge perk, which is that I can make my own schedule. When I first started the business I would really try and push through burnout and force myself to sit at my desk and work, even when I was mentally fried. Unsurprisingly, the output suffered. These days, I give myself a lot more grace, and if a day comes when I'm just feeling too scattered and burnt out to do good work - I don't work!

I'll take a day off to rest and reset or to get out of the house and explore, even if it's the middle of the work week.The notion of a 40-hour work week is a pretty antiquated one and there's so much research coming out these days to show that thought workers really shouldn't try to hold themselves to that standard - though I think that standard of productivity is pretty deeply ingrained in all of us. As business owners, it's our responsibility to help shape what the future of work looks like. Leading by example and focusing more on getting good results vs. pushing through burnout is key!

What are a few resources that you'd recommend?

Donald Miller's book Building a StoryBrand was hugely helpful for me in understanding not just how to communicate my clients' brands, but also in understanding my own brand and the fundamental framework of effective marketing. Also, Rick Rubin's The Creative Act is a great read for creatives of all stripes! It's full of snack-sized bits of wisdom and I find myself returning to it frequently for a quick breath of fresh air.


List the founders

Molly Beaton

How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?


# of Employees?


When did you start?

May 2019

How much did it cost to launch?

Almost nothing! The only real business costs I incur are software subscriptions.

What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?


Annual revenue?

Not provided.

Projected revenue?

Not provided.

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Molly Beaton

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