In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting five business-savvy women. We’ve interviewed professionals from various industries including graphic design, real estate, the nonprofit sector, and business owners. These women are not only strong and inspiring, they are proof that you can achieve any goal with hard work and determination.
We’re kicking things off by sharing some Q&A with our Design Team Director, Brooke Ernst.
How Did Your Career Start?
I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from Portland State University. I was very lucky to be hired at a Photography studio straight out of college. I designed all of their marketing material as well as photo retouching.
From there, I moved to Las Vegas where I designed for a variety of casinos, restaurants, entertainment shows, and nightclubs. I worked my way up from a Graphic Designer to a Creative Manager in a matter of a few years. I also owned an Etsy store where I offered design services for small businesses on the side.
What Brought You to Primoprint?
My husband and I decided to move to the Carolinas in 2014 to be closer to his family. During the transition, I came across a job listing for Primoprint. They were just starting to offer design services, so it was going to be a great opportunity to come in on the ground floor and help develop the department.
How Long Have You Been with the Company?
It will be five years in June.
How has Your Role Evolved?
I feel that my role at Primoprint has evolved a great deal over the last few years. When I first started, we were a department of two and really just trying to get the word out that design was now offered.
Now, I oversee a department of 5 (and still growing), and we are constantly trying to figure out new and innovative ways to meet customer needs. We’ve gone from a small handful of jobs to well over 300 design orders each month.
What is it Like Balancing Work and Being the Mother of Two Girls?
I think any working mom can attest that juggling a family and a full-time job can be difficult. But I’ve had a great support system in both areas. Primoprint is very family-oriented and always understanding when I have family responsibilities to take care of.
And at the same time, my husband has always been so supportive of my career and understands how important it is to me to excel.
What Advice do You Have for Younger Designers Just Starting Out?
I feel like no matter the career choice, to succeed you have to be willing to grind it out. You have to put in your time, be willing to do the work that no one else wants to do, and be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up.
You have to put in your time, be willing to do the work that no one else wants to do, and be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. – Brooke Ernst
For designers specifically, your portfolio is everything. Employers want to see real-world applications, so don’t rely on school projects. Show off what you are capable of by designing ads, business cards, brochures, etc., even if they are for fake companies. Or, volunteer your services for churches or nonprofits.
They normally have really small budgets and cannot afford to hire designers. By volunteering, you are not only helping them out, but you are gaining portfolio pieces as well as professional references. And lastly, never stop learning! Software and trends are constantly changing, so try to stay up to date with what is current.
Women in Graphic Design
For far too long male graphic designers have dominated the upper tiers of the design industry. In the graphic design field, women and men are almost evenly represented. But according to a study by Kat Gordon, co-founder of The 3% Conference, only 11% of all design directors are female.
According to a study by Kat Gordon, co-founder of The 3% Conference, only 11% of all design directors are female. – Kat Gordon
With seventeen years of experience and a career that is continuing to grow, Brooke is a disruptor in an industry that generally awards director positions to men instead of women. We applaud her and every woman that is helping change outdated industry norms.
Stay tuned for more inspiring stories of women breaking boundaries and succeeding in business throughout the rest of March by clicking on the bell icon in the bottom left-hand corner of our blog.