I am Jess! Ottawa brand strategist and website designer helping ambitious service-based businesses grow with confidence through meaningful design. I'm the type of gal that use one too many exclamation mark in my emails and can only have one cup of coffee a day. Weird, I know. If you ever want to chat any thing biz, branding, or well - life, feel free to reach out!
I started Studio Crescent(formerly Grace & Oak) in the middle of a pandemic and I am astonished and surprised at how much I have been able to accomplish.
Unlike others in my industry, I have been really fortunate to keep my job over this pandemic. For those who don’t know, I am an event planner by trade – specifically medical conferences for cardiovascular specialists and professionals. It has been a whirlwind of a year pivoting into the virtual landscape with our annual conference in less than 6 months’ time. On top of running two small businesses at once, 2020 has been a crazy year, to say the least.
Similar to most business owners, I decided to take some time to reflect on the highs and lows of 2020, as well as begin vision casting for 2021. I decided to write this “Year-In-Review” blog post to share a bit more about my journey as a new creative entrepreneur and what I have learned over the last six months!
My Biggest Accomplishments
Since my launch in June, I have had the opportunity to work with 11 ambitious, talented, and passionate business owners to bring their brand to life. I remember when I first launched, my original goal was to make $5,000 by the end of the year… I managed to double that. I am currently booked out till March, and I am absolutely beyond shocked. I am also humbled, grateful, and honored.
This past year, I have grown to be a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I have shed self-limiting beliefs and stepped outside a bit outside my comfort zone. The first, of course, being able to even show up on Instagram stories… let alone makeup-less! Getting comfortable with my voice has been a game changer for me. I know I am just at the beginning of that journey and I am eager to continue working on that more over the next year.
While I am full-time at my day job, I also had a small business prior to Grace & Oak. This past Fall, I closed the doors to my wedding planning business. It was a bittersweet feeling, to say the least, but it unfortunately did not feel aligned anymore with where I want to go in my career. I have learned a lot in that experience about myself and I am eager to step into my potential with G&O and dedicate more time and intention growing it.
My Favorite Lessons Learned
I am able to do anything as long as I put my mind to it … AND that it is something that I want to do, not because of what others are doing. Being someone that experiences (periodically) “Shiny Object Syndrome”, this has been really interesting to witness. I notice where my energy is coming from and just how much I am able to accomplish (AND enjoy) when I am in full alignment with what I am doing.
Nothing is ever permanent and everything is always temporarily. This advice actually came from my boss but it was more so about purchasing a home. But I find that it is so relatable in every aspect of our lives. Often enough, we all feel paralyzed and worried we aren’t making “the right decision” so we end up making none at all. But that in itself is the worst decision of all. Just start and see where it takes us!
After working with my business coach, I realized (finally) that a lot of my insecurities are surrounding overthinking and putting pressure on myself. Reframing that thought from “I overthink” to “I care so much” has shifted my thinking. Rather than putting myself down with these negative thoughts, I am choosing to shift it to a more positive context and identify where my emotions are coming from and how to move forward with them.
Being able to distinguish between “FEAR” and “UNALIGNMENT”. Rather than force myself to do something so it feels right, I have begun to listen to my body to see what it is saying to me. As a Generator on the “Human Design Chart” – I make the best decisions with my intuition (“Sacral Center”) by WAITING rather than reacting immediately. I am learning to sit with this more and more every time and truly be more intentional with my choices and decisions!
What to Improve On
2020 wasn’t just all shiny and glamorous. I have been neglecting my relationships and friendships a lot this year by working day and night. I haven’t been checking in with my support system and network as much this half of the year and it is something that keeps me up at night. And of course, being locked down in a pandemic, it feels harder to make those connections. Work doesn’t have to take up my whole life and this is something that I am aware of and hope to improve on in 2021.
My Favorite Investments
If you ever doubt investing in yourself or in your business, I highly encourage you to think twice because these investments have been able to get me to where I am today. I will admit, I took a loss this year in my business because of how much I invested, but I am not regretting a single decision. I have grown and evolved so much as a person the last 6 months and have never felt so aligned.
Hiring a business coach! I will admit – when I first applied, it was definitely for “surface level” reasons where I was hoping they would be able to guide me to “making $5K months”. But over our time together, it was evident that the challenge doesn’t lie with my skillset, it is all with my mindset. This was a really powerful shift because it was right in front of me and was something I couldn’t avoid any more if I want to level up in my life, career, or business.
Quill and Co’s Brand Clarity Academy & Paige Bruton’s Square Secrets Course – Both courses I would recommend for brand strategy and Squarespace design. I also invested in Pinegate Road’s Showoff With ShowIt to learn in 2021 and I am really excited to be able to offer that platform for web design services in the new year!
Onward to 2021
I am really eager to see where 2021 takes me. It’s also my 30th year coming up! And while I know that’s just “a number”, I am the type of gal that loves to celebrate milestones in any way that I can and hone in onto that magic. For 2021, I am choosing to keep my goals and visions quite simple and to the point. I used to be the type of person that have 5-8 goals written down… and of course, am barely able to even get 1 accomplished, let alone a dozen. So, for 2021, my two main goals are the following:
Building a Functional Business
Bringing in income to match my current 9-5 salary
Understanding my finances more holistically (and well, accurately)
Elevating my client experience & setting up my systems
Rebranding G&O for the next stage of my business
Journal Weekly (I have never journaled before so this is a big one for me! To come face-to-face with what I write down, reflect, and manifest for the future!)
The word I am choosing to embrace is COURAGE. 2020 showed me what I have been able to accomplish in a short time and 2021 is about implementing what I have learned and leaning into the uncomfortable to level up even more. The last investment I made in 2020 was a few days ago with Morgan Rapp called Design Biz Mastery, a 6-month Mastermind program with other designs surrounding sales and value-based pricing. I am really eager to dive in and start indulging!
What are your favorite memories of 2020 and what are you looking forward to in 2021?