We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind the success of my business has been the ability to pivot and learn from amazing coaches and mentors. I have made a lot of shifts in my career from being an in-house designer for a chocolatier company to freelancing to going back into the work force as a senior designer and art director for a couple of design agencies then pivoting back into running my own design studio. I have taken a lot from each experience and learned invaluable lessons from the people I have had the privilege of working with and admire in the industry. Each position has pushed me forward and made me a better designer, business woman and person. I have never been afraid of taking opportunities that come to me, even if it means I need to make a drastic career pivot, and I think that has been THE factor in my success.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always had a hard time identifying as an “artist.” I never felt like I was the best at anything fine art related which made this label hard for me. In school, I enjoyed my business classes just as much as my design classes. Even at a young age, I knew being an artist wasn’t for me even though I was drawn to anything and everything creative. Personally, I find magic at the intersection of art and business which is graphic design and brand identity. I love talking with business owners to get to the heart of why their business exists. I learn about their target market- who they are, what problems they are facing, where they like to show up in the world, what makes them tick, etc. I take that information and figure out where the common ground is between the business I’m servicing and the person they are trying to reach. Then figure out how that translates to brand- the way this business shows up in the world. We identify the colors, fonts, logo, visual elements, photography style, packaging, language, etc. that feels aligned with our discoveries so when they are exposed to the right person, it all clicks! Getting to where I am today was slow process. I made a lot of pivots which were all necessary and I am thankful for all of them but it made my business growth slower. The drive to keep going, to do better and be better is what kept me going. There is always a next step forward and I always take it. I hate feeling stagnant so growth to me looks like being challenged in my career so I can either be better at my job or earn more money. Whenever I started to feel like I got the hang of things, I also felt like it was time to move on. Lessons learned- making the right investments into your business helps you grow a lot faster. When I finally understood this, my business took off. I wish I would have paid to learn from a business coach earlier!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We love San Diego, especially North County! Depending on the person, our days would consist of the San Diego Zoo, hiking Torey Pines and hanging at Tamarack beach. For the evening, Campfire for dinner and drinks. Ice cream at Handel’s after if we had room for dessert. Other cute dinner places and delicious cocktails- Jeune Et Jolie, The Waverly in Encinitas, Herb and Sea The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
SO many people. Really, I wouldn’t be where I am today without a single one of these individuals. Mark Tesi, the creative director I worked with at Togetherness Agency. I owe so much to him- he gave me so much confidence, knowledge and support as a creative. I will be forever grateful for him. Morgan Rapp, my business coach, who taught me how to confidently charge for my services. Chris Do and everyone apart of the team at The Futur, I have learned so much about running a creative business from their video content. Courtney Mayer, my design professor. Sebastian Gomez, the brand manager at my first job. He gave me a lot of creative freedom and room to learn so much about design in all the areas a business needs. A lot of my ability to help businesses holistically came from that first job. LeaAnn Drinkward, my mom, who watches my kids for me all the time when I need extra help. Ryley Johnson, my husband, who is always encouraging and my biggest support. Whenever I need to make a career shift or business investment, he is the first to say “Go for it!” All the credit goes to these people!
Headshot- Renata Amazonas