We had the good fortune of connecting with Artemis Environmental Services, Inc. Julie Ogilvie, Jasmine Bakker, and Tara Baxter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Artemis Environmental Services, Inc., what should our readers know about your business?
Artemis Environmental is a small, woman-owned consulting firm focused on biological and natural resources. If there is a project that might impact waters, wetlands, or special-status wildlife or plants, we are the ladies to call! We can do it all from pre-project planning and surveys, through permitting with regulatory agencies, and into construction and restoration. What sets us apart is the unique mindset and dedication to a true work/life balance. We have a huge focus on health and wellness here, which is our number one priority. We start every week with a collaborative meeting and the first topic on the agenda is… yep, health and wellness! We truly believe that nurturing our staff and ourselves, catering to the needs of flexibility, and fostering an environment of support and trust does bring out the best in people, reduces stress, and makes the job more enjoyable and productive. So many companies claim the same, but here at Artemis, we truly do practice this and our genuine focus on this sets us apart. Sure, we have deadlines just like everyone else does, but our approach is to allow each of us to take ownership and personal responsibility in scheduling our own work and life around those deadlines. Let’s face it, some people are morning birds while others are night owls, and we should respect that in terms of knowing when you will be the most productive to produce great work. If one of us needs to take a break to exercise or attend to our children, go for it; we all know you will be more focused and productive when you get back to it! Everybody has frustrating clients and frustrating days, but having the flexibility to meet those challenges in our own method and way, and to receive understanding and support from our colleagues, makes it so much easier to manage the stress and keep a positive outlook while striving to do it all!
At the end of the day though, we are a business. So, naturally, we are extremely excited about our successful, growing business! We are so proud of our work product, especially given that we are such a small firm. We have had many clients comment that our reports are just as good, if not better, compared to the big firms! We are also proud of all of the capabilities that we each bring to the table. It is truly inspiring to think of all the talent at one table when we come together—the plethora of working skill-sets, higher degrees, certifications and permits, involvement in organizations, and so many years of experience. But, of course, it has not always been easy! With growth comes change, and letting go of tasks and projects, and therefore a little bit of control, can be surprisingly hard to do when you have started building something so personal to you. As Artemis continued to win not only big clients, but big projects too, it quickly became clear it was time to reach out and ask for help. We have hired new staff and have added a suite of teaming partners to keep up with our growth and ensure we are always putting out the best possible product completed by the best possible people. Sharing the responsibilities and the changing dynamics is as exciting as it is challenging, and it wouldn’t be possible without the genuine affection and trust we have in each other.
So, what do you attribute your success to?
If there is one word to define our success, it would be relationships. More than 90 percent of our business comes from repeat customers or existing customers who recommend our services to others. And it took years to build those relationships with a network of people in the business all over California. But it is not just about our clients. Our success includes the relationships with our teaming partners who collaborate with us on projects. It includes the relationships with our insurance broker, accountant, attorney, or even the bank teller. The Golden Rule, treat others how you want to be treated, combined with a dose of positive attitude and a hard-working mind-set, is truly the best guide in developing true and lasting relationships. In the business world, this is not always easy! It requires patience, an understanding of emotional intelligence through reading your audience, striking the perfect balance of being direct but delivered in a digestible way, and a slew of other learned tips and tricks of methods of communication and working with others. It’s when things seem to be going sideways, you try de-escalating by saying “how can I make this better” instead of escalating by placing blame on others when there is an issue. It’s amazing to see how the outcome improves! It applies to how Artemis is set up to support employees — to always take the time to talk things through and work through an issue together as opposed to the classic “sink or swim”! The bottom line is, the relationships we build are often the most rewarding part of the job, paired with the overwhelming pride each of us takes in our product. We are not just doing this for financial gain, but because we each have developed a personal commitment to what we do and ultimately care about the end results. In the end, we know we are achieving success when others want to work with us and build upon that success in partnership with us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Because we are biologists and environmental consultants that conduct a lot of fieldwork, we have many days out hiking and exploring in areas that many San Diegans who have lived here all their lives have never seen! There are many days in the field that we think to ourselves, “Wow! I can’t believe I am getting paid to do this!” and people are often asking us if we know of any new areas for them to go check out that are off the beaten path. While we love everything the City of San Diego has to offer for an out-of-town visitor, with our backgrounds in mind, you can imagine we would encourage a visitor to get out and explore all of the biological diversity San Diego has to offer! It is amazing to think that we can visit the desert, mountains, and beach all in one day (and even within a few hours)! Our public parks capture the brilliant beauty and diversity of San Diego County and they are accessible to all visitors! We would recommend exploring the vast deserts in Ocotillo and Borrego Springs during the springtime wildflower blooms, take our guests mountain biking in the mountains around Mt. Laguna and Julian, spend an afternoon hiking the many trails through our inland valleys and coastal cities including Mission Trails Regional Park and Balboa Park, and finally, we would never expect a guest to miss the many beaches along our coast that define San Diego. A few of our personal favorites include the trails following the coastal bluffs at Torrey Pines State Reserve and the trails through the “jungles” at Tijuana River Valley Regional Park.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The love and support from our family, long-term colleagues, and mentors from education and previous employment have definitely contributed to our successes as individuals and as a business. But really, our spouses have had the most significant impact to our successes because all of us here at Artemis are working Moms! Many of you know the challenges of being a career-focused Mom! Our hard-work, education, experience, and talent got us where we are today career-wise, but to tie that in with being a successful Mom?! That requires some serious thought and collaboration! How many times have we all said to ourselves—I’ll consider today a win if my kids gets their math homework done, I make it to that big meeting on time, I wear something other than sweatpants, and don’t forget to brush my teeth!! We are all career-driven women, but also extremely dedicated to our kids, our spouses, and equally important, to ourselves and our own self-growth. For each of us, it is equally important to go to that soccer or baseball game as it is to finish that biological survey report. And because our spouses (who also all have their own successful careers) and each of us on the Artemis team are on the same page about life and work goals, we have each other’s backs to make these things happen. To be successful in both the business world and the parenting world requires a lot of collaboration and teamwork both in the office and at home, and the bottom line is: Artemis would not be what it is today without the support from our spouses. For Julie, her husband never once said—You need to go back to your old job—when things got tough financially, as is inevitably the case with all start-ups. For Jasmine, her husband recognized her needs for a more balanced family life and whole-heartedly encouraged her to leave her previous employment at a larger firm, despite the potential prospect of financial uncertainties for their family. For Tara, who had previously worked as an independent biologist, her husband responded to the prospects of teaming up and growing a company with resounding excitement and a “what can I do to help?” We are so thankful for our spouse’s encouragement and support of the overall big picture and long-term benefits of our commitment to starting and joining Artemis. They definitely deserve a shout-out!
Team shots provided by Rachel McFarlin Photography (https://rachelmcfarlinphotography.com/); field photos taken by Julie Ogilvie, Jasmine Bakker, and Tara Baxter.