A Bit of Context...
When you’re actually in them, it’s so easy to overlook the importance of your experiences. The job you took though you didn’t want it. The first time you tried (and failed) to design a business card. Hustling between 3 jobs just to pay the bills.
But a little farther on, from a vantage point much higher, it’s easier to see how all of the pieces of a story coalesce into something much bigger than any of those individual experiences.
And that’s where I’m at today. Not at the top of the mountain looking down (not nearly), but from that spot with a little higher elevation many of us find in our mid-thirties...where we can breathe a bit more deeply, can find the time to appreciate our surroundings, and start to see the light at the end of that hustle-culture tunnel.
My momma taught me a few key lessons in life. My two favorites are “never use anyone else’s chapstick” and “don’t listen to your Uncle Scott” - but in a close third is the fact that I am no better, no more deserving of success than anyone else in this life. It’s through that lens that I see all my successes and failures and the immense privilege that I have to be able to experience those. So before we dive into the origin story of N8, I think it’s important to say that I am extremely lucky to be where I am today. That I work hard, but I don’t work harder than the single mother down the road, or the blue-collar worker on the overnight shift. “Hard” is different for everyone, and it’s a meter that reflects the amount of privilege you’ve been afforded in life. And I continue to have a lot of privileges.
But down from my soapbox and into our story…
Our Roots at North of Eight Design & Marketing
Starting a small business is always an adventure, and the story behind our company, North of Eight Design & Marketing (N8), is no different.
So, picture this: It all starts with the desire to return to my roots. Ever felt like leaving the city's chaos behind and going back to your hometown for some peace and quiet? It’s like the plot of a Hallmark Christmas movie without the romance. The longing for natural spaces and desire to be closer to my family led me back home to the beautiful Burnett County, Wisconsin.
I didn't aim to create a company. My dream was simple: to be "the lady who made websites." I imagined a scenario where two people, inspired over a couple of beers at the local bar, would think of a business idea and say, "Hey, I know a lady who can make us a website." Little did I know, my modest goal would take off. The demand for my marketing skills grew, and I realized I needed help. That’s when I teamed up with my partner Kassie and eventually North of Eight was born.
Our journey wasn't all smooth. It was a series of what I like to call "happy accidents." Sure, I had a diverse education in strategic communications, sports marketing, and even religious studies, but the road to success was far from straightforward. I can't emphasize enough the role of privilege and a dash of good luck in finding a gap in the market for our services.
I believe our breakthrough came from a genuine desire to help others. That desire pushed me to keep learning and adapting, which, as it turns out, are crucial traits in the world of marketing. Transitioning from a solo entrepreneur to partner (with my incredible business partner, Kassie), to managing a growing client list was a challenge. It meant striking a delicate balance between serving clients and acquiring new skills to provide the necessary services.
Here's the thing about marketing: it's not just about creating websites or running ad campaigns. It's about building relationships and being genuine. People want to work with people, not faceless corporations. Many businesses make the mistake of lacking authenticity in their marketing efforts, relying too much on perfectly curated images and not enough on the human element that truly resonates with customers.
My journey also taught me the importance of flexibility and the willingness to take on new challenges. From accepting odd jobs to stepping into the role of a campaign manager in a state assembly race, my career path was anything but predictable. It's a testament to the unpredictable nature of career growth and the value of diverse experiences.
North of Eight, as it stands today, offers a wide range of services from strategic marketing planning to website design, social media management, digital advertising, and more. Kassie, myself and our team focus on serving the "marketing party of one" - those overwhelmed, overworked individuals who could achieve so much more with the right support. This approach speaks to our understanding of the market and the desire to make a real difference for our clients.
The story of North of Eight is a reminder that success often comes from unexpected places. It's about learning, adapting, and helping others. My journey from a simple web designer to a founder of a successful firm shows that with determination, a desire to help, and a bit of luck, you can turn a dream into a thriving business. I’m grateful for the opportunity and look forward to the future.