Jolene MacDonald // The Blondes // Branding and Design // Kitchener, Ontario
Tell us about your business:
We are a branding and design company based in Kitchener, Ontario. Partnered with a friend back in 2003. We don’t believe in cookie-cutter branding solutions, and our service is truly customized to meet the unique needs of each client.
What were you doing before your business?
Was working for a municipal government and a marketing agency as a graphic designer.
Is this something you always wanted to do?
In highschool I wanted to become an art therapist or just an artist. Always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the arts, but I did not know in what capacity. I went to Fanshaw for Fine Arts but ended up leaving and going to Conestoga for Graphic Design.
What were the steps that you took to open your business?
First thing was the development of the name. Wanted to be more creative that the typical corporate firms around. Before it used to be Two Blonde Chicks but then re-branded to The Blondes. Corporate but very creative.
What are 1-2 resources that you used in the (GTA or Waterloo) to help you?
The Waterloo Region Small Business Centre helped me with my business. Talked with many business owners in the region (small and big business). Read a ton of design books, and reached out to many people in the Waterloo Region for insight and advice.
What surprises or challenges did you face along the way?
Wanted to design all the time but really only spend 4 hours a day on that. Had no idea how much management and administrative work that is needed in a business. It is a lot more complicated.
What are 3 traits you feel contribute to where you are today?
Honesty, integrity and consistency.
How do you keep yourself motivated during hard times?
I remind myself that I am pursuing my passion and that I am doing what I want to do. That I get to make my own rules and get to go after my dreams. You have to have balance in your life and it’s important to figure out when to say no to opportunities.
Do you have a mentor? Or someone who you looked up to?
Connections are HUGE. Had lots of mentors in the work industry, not one specific person.
How have they shaped you as a leader?
I don’t think mentors shape you as a leader. You are either a leader or not. It’s on your own if you are a leader. It is something you are born with.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting a business?
Don’t expect everything to be sugar and spice and everything nice. Being self employed is not all long lunches and loads of vacations. It certainly can be more flexible but do your research, have a plan and think about worse case scenarios. Do your research and understand that you are the cook, the baker and the candle stick maker.
// Connect with Jolene!
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