The following is an interview for Creator Month with Oksancia (Oksana) Pasishnychenko, the founder and the designer of Oksancia Textile Design Studio and School. Originally from Ukraine and now living in sunny San Diego, her passion is to design unique repeat patterns and products and to teach fellow artists how to start and grow a lifestyle business designing and selling digital repeat pattern designs. The following has been edited and shortened for content and clarity.
I started out as a children’s book illustrator and I was originally self-taught. I was fascinated by the idea to be able to sell your artwork online all across the world. I just started creating illustrations upon illustrations. A year or two went by, and I became a published children’s book illustrator. It was my dream to do that. However, I still kind of felt that I could still do more.
I started getting fabric design requests. So I got interested in that and when I started doing that, it was really hard. It was just it was taking so much time, it was inconvenient. So I asked my husband to help me, he’s a software developer in a previous career. He helped me actually develop a way to design very efficiently. So here I am, I just kind of overnight went from a children’s book illustrator to a fabric designer. And then there’s this new system, I was able to create a lot of designs very quickly.
Becoming an online business owner
I found myself with a portfolio of 10,000 designs because my system was working so well. It was so fast with using my custom system, that all of a sudden, I could produce a lot. I went from one design a week to six a day. That’s how big of a difference it was. So I basically found myself with an online business, licensing those designs, and because I could produce more, and with practice, I became better and better as a designer, all of a sudden, that was just mind-blowing. I loved it. I was working from home. Then I had my baby daughter, and I was taking care of her while working only a few hours a week on what I loved.
Then I decided to make a YouTube video about it to get new clients. I told my story, I showed some projects that I designed, I showed my children’s books that I published, and I was expecting to find more clients. But a ton of people came who actually wanted to know how I do this kind of business. So all of a sudden, almost overnight one YouTube video, it changed my life. Because I went from thinking about how to design and how to create artwork to actually, how can I teach my system and how to actually package it as part software, part online course.
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That’s how my online courses came to be, because people started saying, “I love your YouTube videos. But I need a step-by-step way to learn your system and to download your software and templates for designs. How can I buy it from you? And how do you actually use them step-by-step?” That’s where I found Teachable.
I wanted software to host my online course, by then I realized that it’s going to be a combination of software, templates, video, images, PDFs, all of that and I needed in one place. That’s kind of where I found Teachable. I fell in love with the software right away and I was very excited.
But without that prior business experience and developing these systems, there wouldn’t be the courses. I wouldn’t even be able to teach anything if I didn’t have the experience.
Taking the first step with a course launch
My plan was to create a $67 course that was my plan, I kind of started out okay, let’s make something not overwhelming. And when I started making it, I realized that it’s like a $500 course. So I launched it for $99. And then all of a sudden, I got a lot of interest. And then people started asking me more questions. They wanted more templates, they wanted answers to me to answer and show this aspect and that aspect. So from $67 course concept, I actually took it to seven modules of templates and videos and walkthroughs and answers to questions and guidelines and how to actually sell how to market their work. So in short, there’s just a whole business in a box, from start to finish all step-by-step based on my unique system.
Within a year I had I had 200 students. I painted this painting behind me, which actually everything is acrylic painting on canvas. But every little dots, there golden dots, bigger flowers and smaller flowers and leaves every like element is one student of my online course in the first full year. I just wanted something every day when I walk into my studio, to remind me that, look how many people you helped in the beginning. So it reminds me every day to keep going and keep trying and that I am helping people.
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Teaching in the present
I started building more online courses, depending on what students needed more of. Right now I have eight online courses, and then all of them work together. The latest thing is that I launched the membership because my people wanted a place to hang out. They wanted the community they wanted ongoing education. I do a live masterclass for repeat pattern designers every month, a coaching call, and a work review. And I kind of go back and forth with them and help them work on their improve their designs, their collections.
Being a non-native English speaker, which was a big roadblock for me in the beginning because, even though I do have a master’s degree in English and literature, I still was very nervous because I have an accent. I was nervous about being a non-native English speaker, but then I still went for it because every video that you do, every course, every lesson, you practice and get better. So I want others to know it’s not necessarily that they cannot do it. They can. They will make mistakes, but they will get better over time. I just want to encourage people to actually go for it.
I am Ukrainian, born and raised, and my husband is also. And we live now in San Diego we moved out a long time ago to study abroad. But right now, my school really helps the efforts to support Ukrainian people. We are helping, of course, my own family, but also beyond that, we’re helping other people who are suffering. There is this aspect that my school and other businesses, any kind of income that me and my husband make, we try to help out the people who are suffering from the war right now. I am so happy that I am in this situation, to be able to be safe, and to actually help people with my courses. So it goes beyond the meaning only for my students, but collectively as a group of creative people who are studying together. In my online school, a portion of the income goes to support Ukrainian people, which is very meaningful to me. I’m glad to be able to have this kind of business to help out, you know, one way that I can.