Digital Illustrator and founder of ‘Female Inspiring’, Ineta Švedaitė, showcases the worlds most sought after asset – the power of femme. We joined her for mind-boosting insights on illustration, imposter syndrome and what it’s like when you know you have what it takes to succeed.
Could you introduce yourself to the reader?
I’m Ineta Švedaitė and I was born in Lithuania. I launched ‘female inspiring’, my own innovative digital illustration start-up during the first lockdown, which markets designs that kick back at you with attitude. It’s aimed at empowering women to feel good about themselves in the best possible way. After seeing so many of my female friends struggling with their self-esteem after being furloughed, I started designing eye-catching, digital social media templates featuring motivational mantras and mottos on fashionable icons to encourage them to renew their thoughts.
Since then I’ve reached 20,000 followers and have made the choice to not look back!
Tell us about the journey. Which self-help speakers have inspired you the most in creating your illustration designs?
During school days, doodling was my only way to distract myself from the monotony of mathematics lessons, however, after being furloughed, I realised I needed to get back in touch with my “creative me”. And as I was constantly listening to personal growth podcasts to take the weight of lockdown off my mind, I found that the further I dived the more my curiosity with illustration and motivational mantras synergised.
I was listening to a podcast by Jay Shetty, ‘On Purpose’ and this really got me out of the blocks. Later down the line, the turmoil of dealing with life in lockdown sparked more of an inward, emotional journey into myself. Self-reflection and an existential search for meaning became a treasure trove for my work and so it was an instinctive decision to christen my Instagram page for my online illustration business, ‘my journey of thoughts’.
Self-worth was an issue for you when growing up. How much has this struggle inspired you to empower other women?
I have to confess that the sense of not feeling “feminine enough” at school was a hurdle I had to climb. To be honest, I’ve always felt self-conscious about not having big enough boobs. I used to stuff my bra with socks to feel that I was more of a woman. That chaotic, socio-drama between boys and girls is always at the forefront of your mind as a teenager but I think nowadays, it has grown into something toxic and all-consuming due to the pressures placed on young people by social media. I want to help the next generation to grow up with less self-doubt. They need to know that feeling awkward about your looks, or getting stretch marks are a normal part of growing up.
What challenges have you faced in creating your own start-up?
Never feeling good enough about myself and always feeling like the world was a place meant for others to succeed but not me was like the soundtrack to my life. ‘Imposter syndrome’ is just something that I’ve always struggled with. However, I had to remind myself about the reason why I started my business in the first place – I’m not illustrating to be liked by people, but I’m doing it for me. It’s to let myself find mental clarity and open a window for feelings to fly out of, that’s it.
Another huge challenge was showing my face on social media as I was always more comfortable behind the camera. But I realised that I need to show who I really am if I want to connect with people on a deeper level and have a long-term impact.
Is there anything you wished you’d done differently?
Hitting 20,000 followers on Instagram stressed me out big time! Next time around, I think I would tell myself to be excited though and congratulate myself on how far I’ve come.
‘Walk the path like you own it. And you will get there’ – How far has this quote which you feature been true for you in your career path as an illustrator?
Whilst it’s true that your skills will inevitably improve with time, it can still sometimes feel like you’re not good enough. However, when starting out, I think it’s important to remember that there will always be people with more knowledge than you, and who are more professional at doing the task, but it doesn’t mean that you should quit. “Walking the path like you own” is all about keeping going despite inner obstacles. Whilst feelings of insecurity and low self-worth haunt you, just believe that you do know your thing and refuse to give up. The journey might not be straightforward but it's 100% easier if you try to believe in yourself.
How important do you think it is for young people to take their time and not be rushed by society’s expectations in their career?
I feel like the power of this generation is having the freedom to make our own choices. Therefore, I think we should embrace that and try not to feel so rushed by society’s expectations to the point that we leave ourselves behind. You know, just because my mum had two kids by my age, doesn’t mean we should all have the same goal.
Is there any advice you would give to young people out there who may be thinking of starting their own illustration business?
I would say to trust the process of new beginnings. It all starts when you take your first step. Many people think they need to wait for a sign, or to wait for the right time but there’s no right time, sometimes you just have to go for it and believe that you already have what it takes.
Also, don’t be afraid to just use what you have. I started out sketching designs with just a pen and notepad. Once you save up, you can buy Procreate on the iPad, which is £10 (less expensive than a monthly Adobe subscription). Just post your designs even if they aren’t really your best work. I know I still cringe when I see my shoddy line work on some of the first designs, but ultimately, it’s about progress rather than perfection.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
What a question! I like the idea of either creating a podcast about illustration or an ebook on ‘Self-Love’. To be honest though, I’m way too busy with creating in the present to worry that much about the future so I tend to take each moment and savor it.