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Meet Jordis Small of Stellen Design in The South Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordis Small.

Jordis, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always been creative–for as long as I can remember, I have been making things, whether it was sewing my own clothes, making birthday cards for friends, or even cooking a meal. I loved the act of making something. I have also always loved a transaction and making a sale; in the summer as a kid I would sell lemonade and sometimes even try to hustle some of my homemade crafts, even if my grandma was the only person who bought one. I majored in Fashion Design in college, but when I got into the workforce, I realized the role wasn’t as creative as I had imagined it would be. A lot of what I was doing was data entry and recreating a best seller from last season. I was honestly miserable.

I was then blessed to be offered a temp job filling in for a graphic designer at Body Glove in Hermosa Beach. That temp job turned into almost five years with the company. I loved the freedom and creativity that comes with graphic design. From there, I went on to another in-house job, but felt like something was missing. My then-boyfriend (now husband) talked me into taking the scariest plunge of my life: starting my own graphic design business.

This September marks five years in business for Stellen Design. I am truly blessed to be able to work with new clients all the time–I feel like I never have time to get complacent. I have to stay sharp and always be improving my skills and growing as a designer. I am so thankful for all my experiences that have led me to this point in my life. Even the horrible time I had working in fashion taught me so much. When I think back to my childhood, it’s no wonder I am doing what I do for a living now.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Owning a business is like one crazy roller coaster ride. Nothing is smooth sailing. I feel like I have experienced some of the absolute highest highs and the lowest lows. Being an entrepreneur, you carry a lot on your shoulders, and when things are not going great, it’s a struggle to keep yourself from falling into a deep depression.

I work for myself with a small team of contractors, but at the end of the day, everything is on me. I don’t have a business partner or a board to run things by or get feedback from.

For me, my work is creative and very subjective. Getting negative feedback, or the worst, “I don’t know, it’s just not THERE yet,” on some logo concepts can ruin a great day or even your whole week. When business is slow, you question everything you are doing. I still go through waves where I feel like I should be sending out resumes. Then a high comes in to save the day–you can get the best feedback on a project, or sign a new client–and it all feels right again.

Learning to live the ups and downs has been a struggle for me. I feel like I am getting used to it, but it’s still hard. It is extremely rewarding and I will do everything in my power to keep my business running, but in no way is it easy.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Stellen Design – what should we know?
Stellen Design does graphic design and web design but specializes in brand development for new businesses. We work with our clients through a pragmatic process to draw out the purpose of their business and define their target demographic. We then create a visual representation of that purpose that will entice their target demographic.

We help take the vision in your head and put it to paper. We talk with our clients directly and have them tell us what they are thinking and pick up on subtle details they might not even notice. From there, we are able to start crafting the brand. The best feedback is when a client says, “Wow! I couldn’t have put that into words, but you got it.”

We are passionate about practicality and creating logo systems that work in the real world. We like to make sure our clients are set up for success and know their logo will work in all mediums. Art doesn’t have to work, but design does.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I would have to give credit to my web developer, Pamela Boboc. She has been in business longer than I have, and once we started working together, it was awesome to have that person who could relate to your issues or who you could vent to when a project was going south.

I hit a low one day and knew I needed help… I made the call to Kasey Drier, a business coach in LA. After one call, I knew I needed her help. She has helped to navigate some tough business decisions as well as keep my business moving forward and in line with my true north. Even when things are great, I still meet with her to check in. She has been a lifesaver.

I also get tons of support from the design community. Both my contractor, Carolyn Packard, and a handful of freelance friends I have met from going to conferences and design retreats, have been epic sounding boards. We understand each other in ways that other people don’t.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kathy Schuh and Olivia Katz

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