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Chicago's Young Entrepreneurs - Purple Crayon Web Studio


This week's Young Entrepreneur can hold a conversation with you in four different languages while knitting something colorful for you, but her true passion is saving the world from bad graphic design and ugly websites. 25-year-old Mary Fran Wiley was laid off from her corporate job in December 2008 (the same time as yours truly) and decided to venture out into the entrepreneurial world with a great eye for interactive design and a fearless spirit. Mary Fran already understands two major aspects of being an entrepreneur: start networking (I ran into her at an event last week) and surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs. Her ability to make all the right moves early on will definitely bring great success to her web and graphic design company, Purple Crayon Web Studio. 

Purple Crayon Web Studio

86 Santa Fe Court

Willow Springs, IL 60480


Owner/Creative Principle– Mary Fran Wiley

Start Date of Company - June 9, 2009

Why did you decide to open your business?

I lost my job in December, but after working on some freelance projects. I knew I had the skills and tenacity to get out there on my own.

How did you come up with the name of your company?

I started out wanting to convey that there was more to web design that just computers and was then inspired by favorite book from my childhood, Harold and the Purple Crayon.  Harold draws whatever adventure he is imagining with his purple crayon and it becomes real to him.

What have you achieved with your company thus far? 

I have forged important partnerships (I am building a mash-up based on the Twitter API for the Chicago AMA that the sponsor and founder of the idea is hoping to repackage and sell to clients). I am also in the process of finishing my company's first official site – the web home of another entrepreneur,

What has been difficult about running a business? What disappointments have you experienced since becoming a business owner?

Learning how to balance being a sales person and a designer, as well as knowing that I have other people's needs to look out for. My biggest disappointments have been losing a client because they didn't understand the amount of work that goes into what they wanted, and instead they went with someone who under-bid me by 50% and now they understand why.

What advice do you have for aspiring young entrepreneurs?

If you have an idea, start working on it. Get out there and network. The more people you meet, the more potential buyers you have. Also, meet and spend time with like-minded people. I am friends with someone who has started a t-shirt company and another friend who has started an event planning company. As Nike says, "just do it."

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