We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Minutoli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work life balance is the one thing you can gift yourself to help you not only be a better work contributor but an overall healthier person. Self-care and space away from your normal to-dos is undeniably important to your body and your mind. I started my career always on! I stayed late, I was always available but over time I realized that that I was exhausted and becoming resentful. It was hard to stay motivated and love the job that I had. I needed to create boundaries and turn off work in my head from time to time.
It took some time to redirect my focus, but I was able to start with new hobbies, workout routines etc. Every refreshing break, whether it is running in the hills, a day with my kids etc. helps balance all parts of me out. I now make sure that my home life along with my career gets equal attention and, in return, they both get the best of me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
From as far back as I can remember, I recall always having the ability to draw well. I found comfort in drawing and creating art. When I was in elementary school I was diagnosed with dyslexia and I tended to work through topics and challenges visually, but the idea of pursing a career in the creative world did not come to me until much later in life. After high school I was a bit lost, I had no plans at that point to go to college, nor could we afford it. In high school my mom was in an accident and with her complications she was not able to work. Money was incredibly tight. We eventually lost our home and moved in with my aunt and uncle. I then found work at a nearby company called Environmental Chemical Corporation (“ECC”) as a receptionist and was able to save enough money to live with some friends in San Francisco while also helping my mom and younger brother out financially. I was eighteen at the time and truly on my own.
While working the front desk at ECC our CEO saw me drawing and asked if I wouldn’t mind creating the company picnic t-shirt. I jumped at the opportunity. I remember the feeling I had looking at everyone wearing something I created and it was thrilling. From that point, they continued to ask me to take on small creative graphic design projects for the company and they even purchased all the creative software and my very first Wacom pad.
I remember the day when one of the company executives at ECC asked “Why don’t you go into graphic design as a career?”. That message resonated and never left me. I decided that was exactly what I was going to do and my journey began with community college at night while I continued to work full time during the day. Over the next couple of years, I never lost sight of my goal despite the long work/school days. If anything, the further down the path I went the more it validated my decision. Eventually I was accepted to many colleges for art and design but landed on California Polytechnic State University. I felt a level of empowerment as an individual that I had not yet experienced in my young life. Up to that point, I never believed I was capable of going to college, let alone getting into a top school and program. I was more determined than ever and knew being a designer was what I was meant to do. I wanted to understand every bit of the design world and use my natural illustration skills to help make me a strong creative contributor and well-rounded designer. I took out loans, was awarded grants and even received scholarships to help. At Cal Poly I was focused on a degree in Graphic Communication with an emphasis of Design Reproduction Technology. After 3 years of focus, hard work and perseverance I DID IT!
After graduation the official start to my career in the creative world began when I was picked up by Gap Inc. as a production artist where my focus was illustrating for Old Navy Baby. I went on to work with companies such as Williams-Sonoma and Bare Essentials, eventually breaking off to start my own contracting business, landing clients such as The Mina Group, Forma Brands which includes r.e.m beauty by Ariana Grande, Jaclyn Cosmetics and Morphe collaborations with Nyane and Maddie Ziegler. On the side, I partnered with a colleague/mama friend from my Bare Essential days and we created and published a children’s book titled “Toby, Adventures of a Curious Whynocerous” which won a Purple Dragonfly award for Children’s books.
Today I’m a wife and a mother of two beautiful children and continue to thrive in the creative freelance world, inspired and beyond grateful that I am where I’m at.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best plans for a week-long visit with my best friend usually would be very loosely defined. I would have a couple ideas and the rest would be up to us to figure out along the way. I know that sounds poorly laid out, but in my experience some of the best days I’ve had are the ones that are not planned out at all. If you are up for an adventure your day has a great chance of being surprising and fun. Just the thought of heading out to a city with an overflowing basket of goodies to choose from gets me excited. If there was a concert or festival outside where we can walk around, shop crafts or eat street food, that is where we’d start. From there, maybe some wine at a walkable place to people watch and catch up. Or even start at a museum, fill our brains with eclectic art and find a sushi restaurant nearby. Hikes are a must as well, with the headlands at our fingertips getting out in the wilderness to explore is one of my favorite things to do. Pack a lite picnic lunch and head for the hills.
Would I have some things planned? Yes, I’d have a couple here and there’s but true adventure out in the city is being able to explore without a timeline or limitations in place. Spontaneity is my favorite adventure and has helped me see or try new things that I may not have noticed or tried before. This is how I’d want to spend the week with my best friend, making memories of exploring new things together.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, my husband Joe. He believed in me. He was there in the beginning when I first made the decision to take this path and he did everything in his power to make sure I would continue to thrive. He is still my biggest supporter today!
Second, my children Andrew (11) and Milla (8.5). They inspire me every single day. They keep me on my toes and I hope that what I do and how I got to where I am today in return inspires them.
The entire ECC team was instrumental in helping me work through my first two years of community college. When I struggled with the basic classes, they tutored me. When I needed a computer, they let me use theirs. When I needed a paper proof read, they did it! They were a huge support network and I’m forever grateful for that.
My parents. Both artistic creatures, they were always supportive of my decisions with my career choice. Their encouragement was and still is unwavering.
A million thanks to my professors at Cal Poly. They not only gave me the best education and support in this field but were truly inspirational, which took my love for this industry to deeper levels.
Last but not least, my friends. They hooted and hollered their support the whole way. They not only supported me then…they continue to help me soar. I’m very blessed to have the network of people that I do because without them, without everyone who helped in some way along the way, it would have been truly a different experience.
Thank you all!