093 | Fears, pivots & growth through 10 years in business with Mary Phan, Very Mary

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I can’t wait for you to hear this week’s episode with entrepreneur extraordinaire, Mary Phan. Mary owns a multi-faceted business which includes — Very Mary Inspired and The Sketchbook Series, illustration courses for designers and event planners. Mary is also a TSBC Alumni and just recently published her first book, The Artful Sketch, a gorgeous how-to sketchbook for beginners and experts alike.

Mary has always been drawn to the arts. After beginning her career as an interior designer, dabbling in fashion and staging model homes, she launched Very Merry Events in 2008. Mary enjoyed creating memorable experiences filled with atmosphere and feeling, but she became known for the beautiful, custom illustrations that were an indispensable part of her design process. In 2013, Mary took that love of illustration to the next level, launching The Sketchbook Series to help other event planners and designers master creative drawing.

Today Mary tells us all about her entrepreneurial journey, and how she went from being an interior designer getting laid off, to starting her own business. We talk about the real fears, pivots, and transitions that come with running your own business, and the joy of stepping into your true passion.


  • How she got started with event planning

  • Dealing with the fear of the unknown

  • Mary’s natural process of sketching and design

  • What motivated her to start The Sketchbook Series

  • Her thoughts on navigating transition periods

  • How Mary uses sketching as a form of communication

  • Advice to anyone else looking to make the leap

  • Balancing life outside of business

  • Writing your own definition of success

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“My friend asked me to be her wedding planner and designer and I said, “Okay, let’s just do it and let’s figure it out.” – Mary Phan

“Any new thing that I do is always surrounded with oh my gosh, what is gonna happen? It’s the fear of the unknown.” – Mary Phan

“That’s the true spirit of entrepreneurship. We don’t know everything, none of us know everything. We have to just put ourselves out there a little bit and take that risk.” – Katie Hunt

“There are benefits to keeping a day job while you’re also starting your business.” – Katie Hunt

“I didn’t look at business as like competition or people as competition. I was very much about supporting and about the community and how can I help?” – Mary Phan

“Entrepreneurship is a huge marathon and it’s this huge journey. As soon as I figured out what my “thing” was, that was when things started to change for me.” – Mary Phan

“It was less about how do I serve an audience, it was what’s gonna make me happy because this next season of my life is changing and it’s changing without me getting to plan for it.” – Mary Phan

“If I could sketch and nobody paid me for it, I could still do it. I could do it if it was for free.” – Mary Phan

“My thing is stick to what you know, then it became super fun and natural for me.” – Mary Phan

“It’s so easy to get deterred by requests from people or things we want to be doing… there’s all these things I have my hands in, but that’s not my zone of genius or that’s not where my passion truly is.” – Katie Hunt

“I took the leap in starting the business but this was a huge leap I felt, because I really didn’t know … nothing like this existed.” – Mary Phan

“The hard part of it is there is nobody to measure the success after, you’re creating it as you go along.” – Mary Phan

“That’s the part about business that’s fun. It’s the evolution, even bit by bit day by day that we’re changing and improving.” – Katie Hunt


Website: Very Mary Inspired | Facebook: @verymaryinspired | Instagram: @verymaryinspired


Facebook: @thesketchbookseries | Instagram: @thesketchbookseries

Connect with Katie Hunt

Katie Hunt is a business strategist, podcaster, mentor and mama to four. She helps product based businesses build profitable, sustainable companies through her conferences, courses and coaching programs.

Website: prooftoproduct.com  |   Instagram: @prooftoproduct

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