I rarely get to share about how awesome our team is...and when I say awesome, I mean AWESOME! This is something we've wanted to proirtize for a long time but've stuggled to make the time, so NOW is THE TIME! I've decided to start “spotlighting” our team and partners here once and while — sharing their journey, how we met, what the role looked like when we first started working together and how it’s grown and developed over the years. Hopefully you will learn and be inspired by our journey together to create the ‘products’ and events that you all see live and in action day to day. :)
First up… meet my literal DAY 1 Jenna Oakley:
Brand Development + Art/Design Director, GB Group Creative
our first pro-ject
nov 2013 (😱)
Together, over the past 6 years, we have created and developed a full brand management + multi media firm which houses over 15 brands— both in-house projects/events + outside clients. We’ve worked on all sorts of brand management projects to come up with creative visual and marketing solutions for everything from apparel, tech, fitness, sports, construction, entertainment, and of course dance! It’s really so incredible what we have accomplished and (shameless plug) we’re excited to be launching an educational product early 2020 that will help up and coming designers/creatives on their journey. If that’s you, be sure to keep an eye out for HARDCRIT :)
BUT!!!!!! VERY IMPORTANT!!!! Jenna’s story is so special to me because when we met 6 years ago — NONE of this existed. I was just a dance artist ‘turning entrepreneur’ (to be honest, barely even knew what that meant lol) but I had just launched Acting For Dancers — and needed a new flier design for our second tour. We exchanged info on Craigslist — lol — yea, I know. We met at a coffee shop, naturally, and started the journey. Let me insert a bit of back story — as I mentioned above, I didn’t really know anything about business management/’PEOPLE’ management (haha) really at all. Pre-Jenna I really struggled with meeting the needs and managing the expectations of designers for full time work etc. I didn’t really know how to communicate well with them and therefore made A LOT of mistakes. SO, when I sat down with Jenna I knew that she (like every other designer and artist) obviously wanted/was looking for full time work. And at the same time knew that I was NOT ABLE at the time to offer full time employment.
But I said to her “I know this is just a ‘flyer’ template but I promise if we put in the work, there will be MORE!”
SB: What did your earliest projects look like?
JO: My earliest projects were probably doing bubble letters for classmates’ posters (I’ve always loved layout and typography lol) but in terms of my first professional projects, I started out freelancing as a graphic designer. I took every creative job I had the opportunity to work on, which wasn’t always the best call... but I learned a lot about the kind of work, projects, and clients that inspire me and the kind that don’t. So each experience was definitely valuable.
SB: How has being a part of GB changed/developed you as an artist and person?
JO: Once I started working at GB with J and Sarah, something sort of just clicked between us I think. It was kind of like being adopted into this amazingly creative, motivated, and supportive work family. Being a part of GB has definitely helped me develop as an artist; GB created a safe space to explore ideas, make mistakes, grow, and practice new and different things in a professional sense. I think that’s a really rare thing. Working with GB always gives me a sense of empowerment too. The mentality is very much one of self-motivation; if you want to work on something that GB has going on, you jump in and make things happen. So yeah, I’ve developed so much by working through GB, and maybe even cooler than that, I’ve been able to help other artists develop too!
SB: How has your role grown/changed over the years?
JO: My role at GB has changed a little over the years as the company has grown and developed, (and as I’ve grown and developed too!). Sarah and I first met in a coffee shop in West Vancouver and my first job was to help her create the branding and design aesthetic for Acting for Dancers. I remember her saying that she really only had enough work for me to do a flyer design, but that the company would grow and more opportunities would hopefully arise. (This is a pretty common statement when you’re starting out with small independent companies) so honestly, I wasn’t holding my breath, BUT am I ever glad that I stuck around!!! It did grow, it grew faster than we were ready for I think! Working with GB became such a regular and enjoyable gig that I basically stopped freelancing and signed up to work with GB full time on all the other cool projects they had going on. So yeah, I went from a freelance designer working on one project, to being a creative director, to leading a design department, to working with external clients, to working on books, movies, anything creative I could get my hands on.
SB: Why GB?
JO: Oh team GB all the way!!! Why? Because as an artist, working with a company that really understands, is passionate about, and invests in, not only the arts/creative work, but in the artist themselves?? So rare. So cool. I feel so lucky. Why GB? Cause it’s my tribe, y’know? They allow me to work the way I work best, even if it isn’t conventional. We take the time to understand the people we work with, and try to provide them with stuff that they’re passionate about. GB has a good heart, and I think that matters most.
SB: What are 3 stand outs that are different about working with GB?
Flexible work schedule/ability to work virtually which I LOVE.
Working on projects that I (we) are invested in/believe in/align with our values.
The supportive environment. Having owners and team members who legitimately care about your development, professionally and personally.
SB: Why stick around? What has kept you inspired and motivated for the past 6 years?
JO: I’ve stuck around for (oh gosh!) 6 years, because (on a personal/professional level) GB gives me the freedom to work when I want to, how I like to, and on the projects which really inspire me and I want to get my hands on. I get to do so many different things at GB, so I’m never bored, and I’m always learning. On an emotional level, when I’m working with GB, the stuff we’re doing aligns with our team’s personal values, (it’s usually a good cause—something we believe in, or something worthwhile and fulfilling.) And above all else, we get to do work which benefits other artists. I love that.
follow Jenna Oakley on instagram @oakleycreates
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