Last week, Dana was featured in a member spotlight for an online community that she is part of, The What Works Network. This online community is a space for small business owners to support one another and talk about what’s really working in their business ventures. It’s such a supportive space and Dana was honored to be featured. We thought we’d share the feature on our blog this week. To learn more about What Works Network, visit their website!
On Dreaming and Designing — Meet Dana Robertson
This week’s featured member started in social work but is now following the dream she and her husband share to build a creative business. Read on to find out how they’re crafting this venture so that they can contribute to the local community, raise their family, and empower their clients.
The power of The What Works Network is found in the passion of our members! We’re excited to share the stories of adventure, challenge, and success that show what it means to own a New Economy businesses in our member feature series: “I Am The New Economy.”
How did you get started in your business?
I was working as a professional social worker and happened to be in transition between jobs– my husband had a side business for development and design and had an upcoming project and basically said “remember that dream we’ve always had to do something creative together? well I created an email for you under C. Breimhurst Media Co (our old business name)” at that point, he just left the rest up to me. At first I was like “sure! I’ll answer your email for you haha” but after time and space, I got curious and started asking questions only to find that entrepreneurship was fun and exciting to me!
Who inspired you in your career?
There were so many women entrepreneurs (I’d say at least ten or so in the past year) who inspired me to keep going and to actually OWN what I stepped into… some of them are in this community! They were a source of inspiration all day every day for me. Many of these women when faced with life transitions or a shift in focus didn’t wait for the world to define them, but instead defined what they bring to the world. That’s the true definition of a life-changer, a community builder and it made a HUGE difference for me to hear their stories and accept their encouragement.
What was your first paid job? Give us the details.
A website re-design for a band! It was fun and I learned a LOT about managing projects and coordinating content– it was a springboard that put me on the path to the content first/client centered approach we use now when we design or develop anything.
When did you know you could make a living as a _____?
Last fall—I was mid-rebrand for our business but we made the decision for me to go full time as a volunteer on a political grassroots campaign for a month leading up to the elections– maybe a risky move to do mid-projects, but for several reasons, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I know stepping away helped me realize just how invested I was in making Pennant Creatives what it is today and also solidified for me that part of the reason I’m doing this work is so that I have flexibility to participate and lead in my community work without having to worry about a paycheck to do so. It was awesome to realize that I can own and run a company, continue my community work on boards and through activism, and have the flexibility to do both because I am the Dreamer at Pennant Creatives! As someone who has many passions, It’s awesome to realize you CAN and should wear all the hats.
How do you define success for your business? How do you define success for yourself?
Success for my business for me means that I’ve left our customer feeling great about what they are presenting to the world and that through their interactions with us, they feel encouraged and empowered to keep going– building a business can be lonely so we try not to make our design and development process lonely.
For myself, it’s defined as leading by values, leaving the community a better place as much a possible by the work I do, showing up for my family, and using my creativity to inspire and empower others in the work that they do.
Give us a “day in the life”?
It varies SO much! On a typical day I wake up with my family (my designer/husband/partner-in-crime and our spirited 2 year old daughter– oh, and our fur baby 2 year old pup) and help get everyone up and running. Then the work day either looks like collaborative meetings or networking to keep our projects on track around town or online, planning, writing, designing, and strategy work sessions at my awesome co-working space, or sometimes getting work done between toddler play times, during naptime, or in between community work on a campaign or with one of the boards I’m on… it just depends on the day. Being a ‘work from home family’ we stay flexible and nimble– we love that the four of us can be together a LOT right now and the schedule DOES lend itself to creativity and focusing on pockets of productivity and of course as any toddler or puppy parent would also acknowledge: a little banana goo and the occasional chaotic day and/or mandatory naptime for all (yes, even for the dreamer and the designer).
What’s been your most important skill in building your business?
Strengths based outlook– my ability to look at every situation with the possibilities and strengths in mind REALLY helps when managing a company and keeping projects on track with happy campers in tow. 🙂
What’s been your greatest challenge in building your business?
Knowing and understanding my target market! But I hear this comes with time…
What’s been your greatest reward in the work that you do?
Getting to know so many AMAZING businesses and learning about the awesome work that they do. I never tire of it.
What’s one thing that’s really working right now to grow your business? (Include the juicy details!)
Being myself! I spent the first year of business chasing shiny objects (which is totally normal so don’t feel bad if you do it!) and then got kind of tired and so I just decided to try a more authentic approach. So now I’m tapping into who we are and how we roll to guide our operations and culture, and tapping into my introverted qualities to have quality conversations instead of a hyper networking type approach that I felt pressured to accomplish in my first year. It’s more authentic to me, people get the ‘slow roll’ approach and get to know us, and in the process everyone gains something they need– be that empowerment, a service we provide, a new friend, or a great conversation. Sometimes the simplest thing really is the best thing… and sometimes it’s not even all that shiny and that’s ok!
What else would you like us to know about you & your business?
We’re trying out a vlog that might turn into a podcast. It’s called The Dreamer & The Designer. It’s in VERY early stages, but it’s on IGTV and YouTube right now and we hope to focus in on how it feels to be a work from home family.
What do you want to learn from the What Works Network?
I love hearing all of the different experiences that all of the entrepreneurs have at the WW Network. I feel like every time I visit the community I learn something new! I am looking for some coffee dates to get to know people one on one better –I know WWN has some fellow introverts– message me!