Alicia Souza, an amazing illustrator, artist, and storyteller. She is the founder of ‘Auntie Alie,’ home of happy, fun products for babies & kids, which Alicia Souza designs. The illustrator has built a vibrant community on Instagram where she posts her illustrations inspired by everyday experiences and is shown in a very creative and pleasing way.
The Instagram star designs illustrations merchandise for big brands, such as Google, Yahoo, Infosys, SAP, Times of India, TVS, The Hindu, and many more. She also runs a successful business, selling a range of merchandise, all with her signature designs, “just happy stuff for happy people.”
Alicia Souza draws about everything around her and makes the normal routine situations look very interesting and vivid.
Her illustrations are often a girl named Alicia, who is relatable to everyone of getting into situations like getting stuck in an elevator, how much she misses her weekends on a Monday morning or just having food cravings, and much more.
Here is Alicia Souza in conversation with Icy Tales.
Q) The pandemic has changed the course of many lives and businesses. How has it impacted you, personally and professionally?
Alicia Souza – The pandemic hit exactly when I was going to take a leave because I was pregnant. I can’t say it came at the best time possible, but it perfectly did fit with the time I would be unavailable. So I think it didn’t affect me too much because I really couldn’t do as much in terms of work, professionally, as I couldn’t work at that time.
So I think because I was unavailable and the pandemic hit simultaneously, I don’t feel it affected me much as it did other people. The only thing that affected me tremendously was that I didn’t get to meet a ton of my family, who I usually met but couldn’t do it because of the pandemic. The work did not go down as much, except when the pandemic had just begun in terms of business. I work on two fronts, work as a freelance illustrator, and have a company where we manufacture merchandise. Everything was built up perfectly over time. We only had manufacturing hiccups and delays on the storefront, but we still saw an excellent response in terms of demand.
Q) You have also launched a brand, “Auntie Alie.” How did you come up with the idea? Could you please tell us something more about it?
Alicia Souza – ‘Auntie Alie‘ was something that I was meant to start forever; even before I started my current brand, I always wanted to start the children and baby merchandise. That was how Auntie Alie was always in the back of my mind. Ultimately when I did have my child, it made more sense to launch it. So that’s how we launched it, it is so much fun, and they are my favorite types of products to work on, and it fits in with my style of work.
I always wanted to create merchandise. When I was in college, I used to print iron-on sheets and make T-shirts and bags. My old housemate showed me a T-shirt he still wears, which I drew for him. So I use to always create merchandise; as I said, I always wanted to create kids-line, so I used to make mocks, and I still have really bad mocked products that I made back in time.
Before that, I was also creating merchandise with a company, and then when I started freelancing and started putting my illustrations online, a lot of people asked me if I sell merchandise. Then after the client generation began, I started making it. And that’s how the first products came to be.
Q) With the ongoing trend of social media, how difficult or easy do you think it becomes to market your products and cut through across all the competition?
Alicia Souza – I think easy or difficult is very personal because some people find social media easier, and some people find it more difficult or unappealing. I think it becomes another route to take, and maybe it’s something you mostly can’t avoid. You can avoid it if you want, and you can go ahead and do the retail part. And technically, it’s tough to avoid it.
I think it’s a channel that proved to be super useful for me in all aspects. But yes, it becomes difficult because of all the noise and the number of things available. But I like to take it positively and all the good things it has brought in. And therefore, it is very, very personal if you find being social online being able to schedule posts, I think it becomes easier to showcase things. I definitely feel it is positive for businesses, to reach out to customers has become easier than it used to be.
Q) As an entrepreneur making strides in your chosen field, what advice would you give someone who wishes to venture into entrepreneurship?
Alicia Souza – I would say that you have to be bold because some steps, even though they seem very small, can be challenging mentally sometimes, and also just being able to make it happen. And secondly, I really like the idea of starting something from small and being very smart about doing that. Things can be difficult when you are just starting, but if you are persistent and diligent, you can definitely make it through.
Q) Your illustrations are derived from the routine life of people and thus are very relatable. What do you enjoy the most about being an illustrator?
Alicia Souza – I love every aspect of it. I love that I can take everyday experiences and put them on paper and share them, and I think that is the nicest thing to do. That’s like me without needing to talk about it. I can do it through my hands and images and then also be able to share that with so many people. I think this is my favorite thing. Also, seeing my illustrations come to life, into products, making other people happy brings me so much joy.
Q) You seem to be an avid reader, too; how does that motivate you and your illustrations?
Alicia Souza – Some books, but I read many non-fiction books; I don’t know if they translate into illustrations. But some things do, like I am now getting on to read many Harry Potter books, which surely gives me ideas about what I can draw and references to what others can relate to because so many people have read and read Harry Potter.
Q) You curate a lot of gift boxes catering to so many different needs; how do you manage to curate unique options for all your customers?
Alicia Souza – We manufacture many products, and I usually think about what I or someone else would have wanted or needed, so a lot of products start from there. So if I feel like I cannot find a cute congratulations card, I would draw one and then sell it. So I think it all comes from the need and understanding what other people will like and want.
Q) Every person’s path to success is unique and different. Can you tell us something about yours?
Alicia Souza – I don’t think many people know how difficult it was initially. I think it’s easy to see how fluid it is at this point. But in the beginning, it was really hard, and I had to make ends meet. I was born and brought up in the middle east, so there were many misconceptions that I am really well off and everything. But that wasn’t very true, and I had to make many ends meet. These are things that I don’t talk about, but it wasn’t easy when I began, and for a while. But everything worked out, which is very nice.
Q) Lastly, what is the one thing you wish more people knew about you?
Alicia Souza – That I work a lot. I do not have many downtimes as most people do. I am always doing something. And it might not be technically work-related, but it is always productive.
Alicia Souza is a wonderful artist who puts her efforts and hard work into her illustrations, along with emotions and love to create magic. She surely shows a better side to the mundane happenings around us and could easily cheer us up with her comical illustrations.