By Erin Daniels, The KNOW Women
International artist and graphic designer, Alissa Silvers, is the definition of a creative. From beginning her journey at 14 in Switzerland, to relocating to Sarasota and starting her own brand, Alissa is incredibly ambitious, dynamic, and a global powerhouse. She values meaningful connections and is continuously giving back to her local community and supporting non-profits. Read below to learn about Alissa’s story and the journey behind her successful business, Liss Art Design.
Who is Alissa Silvers? What is your backstory and how did you get started?
I was born and raised in Switzerland where the school system is a little bit different. I started working at 14, along-side school, doing a visual merchandising internship that lasted four years. Once I was done, I got promoted and I was a visual merchandise manager and I was responsible for 13 stores. I was also a teacher and a mentor. I had my own intern that I helped as she was going through school. That was my first managing position, which was super exciting. It was very challenging, but it was fun. After that, I was a visual merchandising manager for a different store. Then, I got the job as an Art Director Assistant for a luxury furniture design company. The art director at the time left around when I had started, so the CEO was like, “Well, you’re our director now. You do all the graphic design, all the visual merchandising, and you are responsible for all three showrooms.” It was great and I experienced so much and I learned so much just by kind of having to do or learn things on my own. We went to Milan and Paris to buy the furniture and to all of their fine furniture fairs. That was definitely one of my favorite jobs.
Then at some point, I also started studying fashion design, while I was at the furniture store. After that, I was like, “All right, I’m all done.” I wanted to go to Australia for one year, as far away from everything, and learn English. Before that, I traveled to Florida with my best friend and I met my husband here. I still went to Australia, but after six months, I came back to the states. We got married a couple of years later, and while I was waiting for the green card, I wasn’t allowed to work. I was always creative. I always love to paint, so I figured I’m just going to paint while I’m not allowed to work. I had great success and people loved what I did, and as soon as I got the green card, I started selling a lot of paintings. I still did a lot of graphic design, and in 2018 I started my company as Liss Design. Suddenly, during COVID, it just skyrocketed. I made so many incredible connections. I have a lot of international clients that I do graphic design for and my clients in Sarasota also grew for graphic design. I have been so fortunate.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the creation for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
When I started here in Sarasota, my first job was at Starbucks making eight dollars an hour. After coming from Switzerland and being very successful, I knew I would find a way to do it differently. I was there for a couple of months, and then started my own company. Now, after working for myself, I could never go back. I do a lot of fundraisers where I do live painting and just the fact that I can use my creativity and my art to support nonprofit companies and major events in Sarasota is so rewarding.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
I think it is, on one hand, that I have an international background. I’m from Switzerland and the design styles are very different, so I think I bring a different eye into the community here. On the other hand, I have my minimalist graphic design style along with my extremely colorful artwork. All of that, I think, brings a complete, different perspective into the art and design world here.
What has been your favorite moment of your career so far?
My favorite moment in my career so far was definitely last year when I was working together with Project Pride SRQ. They had this project downtown where they painted a crosswalk the colors of the rainbow. I thought it was so cool and it was very close to where I live. During one week, I came by nearly every day and we would all just paint together. We got very close and became connected. They were able to sponsor my One Love event, which happened last June where I was able to sell 13 paintings. It was my first fundraiser I created myself and I would have never thought that it would have been an incredible turnout.
What is one piece of advice that has impacted you the most?
I would definitely say “perfectionism doesn’t get anything done.” That’s something that I always have to remind myself of. I’m an incredible perfectionist and I work on things for way too long. That’s something that also my mantra has taught me. Like at some point, perfectionism doesn’t get you anywhere. Get it done.
Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
One is definitely my perfectionism. I am also extremely ambitious. I think overall, all of the connections I have made and that have brought me so far in life are because of my positivity and optimism.
What advice would you give to our followers that are looking to start their own brand?
Make sure that you stay true to yourself. Also, make sure you make a lot of connections and you follow up on those connections. Be fair. Be honest. Just be yourself.
What are the do’s and don’t when starting a business?
Do make mistakes and learn from them. Get up again and try again and don’t be intimidated by other people. Also, listen to your gut feelings. They will lead the way. Don’t be afraid.
How do you keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you stay focused to do so?
One thing that helps me is definitely taking time out every morning for myself. I do kickboxing and that gives me power in the morning. And just laugh! Laugh over your mistakes and remember to take time out for yourself.
How do you know when something is no longer working?
Usually, when I get very flustered and I feel very rushed, I realize something is not working. Something that always helps me is to take a couple breaths, slow down, and then look it from a different angle. Maybe have a coffee, or tea. Then, when you’re calm, go back to that problem and see how you can find another solution
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How do you stay resilient?
Family is a really big part of it for me. They’re all back home in Switzerland, so it definitely helps me when I touch base and just talk to them on the phone. It gives me energy. If I am overwhelmed with work, I will try to take a half an hour out of my time and call them, so I can reset my mind. They give me a booster and they have given me the strength that I’ve needed in certain situations where I didn’t have it on my own.
What are your future goals?
I want to grow my company to have a whole creative team. I want to branch out my graphic design and have people for social media, and other things like that, where I can focus on being the art director of it. Overall, my goal is to grow my Liss brand and make it world-known.