Entrepreneurs

Sex and the City illustrator Megan Hess on the key to designing a sell-out product

Emma Koehn /

Megan Hess Samantha Wills Aimee Marks

Megan Hess (right), with Samantha Wills (left) and TOM Organics founder Aimee Marks. Source: Supplied

Fashion illustrator Megan Hess has had her designs featured on everything from the cover of Sex and the City books to Tiffany and Co campaigns, but she says the biggest impact she’s had on customers has been with more simple fare.

Speaking on stage at Business Chicks’ 9 to Thrive event in Melbourne last week, Hess lifted the lid on her most popular artworks and explained how to create a product that captures audiences.

“The biggest selling print that I’ve ever had is my travel girl print, and it’s of a girl sitting on piled up luggage and át the bottom it says, ‘Not all those who wander are lost’,” she said.

“That sells out in about 20 minutes when I release it each time and the editions just evaporate. It’s a really cute illustration, but I don’t think it’s the best illustration I’ve ever drawn.”

The success of the product has less to do with the complexity and skill of the illustration and more to do with how it connects with the hopes of potential customers, Hess says.

“I think that sentiment when I drew it — and I remember when I drew at a time where I thought, ‘I don’t know exactly where everything’s headed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know where I’m going or that I’m not going to get to the place I want to get to’. That’s why I drew it, and people think, ‘exactly, I may not have it all worked out, but I’m on a journey’.”

Each week Hess draws a ‘Monday coffee outfit’ to post to Instagram, but says she was initially taken by surprise at the thousands of likes she gets for the designs each time she posts.

She drew the first ‘coffee’ sketch one morning when she was in need of motivation to get started on the week, then promptly forgot about it.

“At the end of the day I looked back, and there were 8000 likes,” Hess said.

Having spent years establishing her brand, she says the success of sketches like this show how the simple emotional trigger behind the work is key to getting customers and fans engaged.

“Everything I work on, I hope people feel a little bit of something I felt when I was drawing it,” she said.

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior SmartCompany journalist.

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