In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to spotlight our Co-Founder, Angel Saemai. We took it upon ourselves to dive deep with Angel by asking 6 questions to get to know how Overall Murals started and her journey as a successful business owner. Hear #herstory…
When did the entrepreneur bug bite you?
It was in 2006 when I was working at an advertising agency and found myself feeling disconnected in my role as a Media Planner. I repeatedly asked myself, “Why am I here, and who am I here for?”. As a large company, there was no interaction with the owners, stakeholders, or board members. I found my experience impersonal and shortly after starting my role, I yearned to create something of my own – something transparent in its purpose. And that’s when I was bit by the entrepreneur bug.
Tell us about your first entrepreneurial venture: How did you come up with the idea and how did you start your business?
I met Dmitry, my soon to be husband and business partner in 2007. He was a rebellious and strong-willed artist, the kind that marched to his own beat (in fact, nothing has changed). He had just opened a small sign and mural painting business, okMitch Studio, while I was working at a large social network in sales. I spent my spare time helping Dmitry track down new clients for his business. During the recession of 2008, I found myself laid off without a job. This became the perfect moment to take our two backgrounds and combine them into a business we both were passionate about.
Who were the mentors that encouraged you?
The most encouraging mentor has always been my mother. My parents immigrated with me to the US from Thailand when I was about seven months old. Since then, my parents worked multiple low-paying jobs, day and night, to put my younger brother and me through Bay Area private schools and colleges. As hard as they worked my mother was strong and took pride in all that she did and I admire her for that. She always pushed me to excel in whatever I pursued and supported me to the fullest. Today, she continues to urge me to make decisions that are both honest and productive and for that, I am thankful for her.
How do you balance your entrepreneur life with friends that don’t understand the challenges of running a business?
Work-life-balance has always been difficult. For a long time, I felt that working as much and putting in as much effort as possible meant that success was imminent. In the beginning, in order to build and learn the industry, I sacrificed what was a busy social life. As I’ve gotten older and my company grows, I am more cognizant of the need to set aside time for myself, my family and loved ones.
What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
There are challenges in every stage of a business’s lifespan. The beginning comes with issues that may affect your self-esteem and self-belief. And there is a lot of picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. This never completely goes away, but eventually as one learns from past mistakes and failures it is more infrequent. At the stage I’m in now, I’m navigating how leadership requires making crucial decisions that impact a team of people, their livelihood, and safety.
What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?
Starting something on your own can be daunting. It requires one to be unafraid of failure and oftentimes, you are not an expert with every aspect of what it takes. This has only gotten harder with the influence of social media. We are so aware of what our friends, colleagues, competitors, and consumers are doing. In embarking on your own, it’s important to stay true to yourself and not cater to anyone else’s expectations.