From designer to business owner: How Kelsey Grant is helping small businesses succeed

We followed up with Kelsey Grant, a Technical Web Designer alumna, to learn more about where she is today – running her own business and choosing her projects – and how she’s impacting the world around her.

Where did you start your career?

I started working as a graphic designer at a local newspaper right out of high school. The experiences of the newspaper were tremendous, but the industry itself was dying, so I decided to get into a growing industry, video games. After working in video games for two years, the recession hit and all the large video game companies in Vancouver shut down.

I was out of work, and the decision was either move out of the city and look for a new job or switch careers again. A colleague of mine who had also worked in video games had just started the Technical Web Designer (TWD) program at BCIT and recommended it to me. So that’s when I chose to switch careers and get into web development.

What was your experience like during the TWD program at BCIT?

BCIT was a great learning environment for me. I had several years of design experience under my belt already, but BCIT gave me the tools to apply that to the web – not only for design but development as well. I have become a far better designer now as I also know how to develop the things I design.

On top of the practical skills, I also built up a vast network from BCIT. Our class of 20ish people came from very different backgrounds and age brackets, but we all got along really well and formed friendships that have outlasted the classroom. I still collaborate on freelance projects with many of my colleagues from BCIT.

How did the program impact your career once you graduated?

I got a job at a startup company a few weeks after I graduated. I actually had two job offers at the time and chose the startup because I thought it would be the best fit for me. My role was interface designer, but because it was a startup, I also developed the interfaces that I designed with the senior developer’s supervision.

The startup was great for learning. I learned a lot about usability, user workflows, and best practice for design and development. But after a year and a half of working behind the scenes, I missed the collaboration of working with clients. After some thoughtful preparation, I quit my job and started freelancing full time.

What is it like running your freelance digital communication business?

I love running my own company. This is officially the longest job I have ever had, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve been able to take all my favorite parts of all my past careers and apply them into what I do every day. After freelancing for a year, working on various projects big and small, I found that the niches I love working with most are small businesses and solo entrepreneurs.

There’s nothing sadder to me than seeing a company that has a great idea or business model but lacks the tools or understanding to share that idea on the web or social media. That’s where my company fills the void and gives a small business owner all the tools they need to succeed and flourish!

Once I knew I’d found a niche I could build a company around, I incorporated as Kelsey Grant Arts Inc. and started to build a team. I’ve structured my company to tailor to the specific needs of small business and solo entrepreneurs. I help them with everything from digital business organization to logo and branding, as well as maintaining a website and social media. I handle the project management, design, and development of most projects. I also have a team of talented writers, developers, designers, and marketing strategists that I collaborate with to make sure all my clients’ needs are met. In many ways, I help small businesses build their business. There’s nothing sadder to me than seeing a company that has a great idea or business model but lacks the tools or understanding to share that idea on the web or social media. That’s where my company fills the void and gives a small business owner all the tools they need to succeed and flourish!

What else are you working on?

I’m very excited about a new company I recently became a part owner of. I’ve always been conscious of my environmental impact on the planet and personally try to live a zero-waste lifestyle. However, I’m also a realist that knows every bit helps. That’s why I chose to partner with Swell Composites. They seek out the highest quality products, so you don’t have to keep buying more when it breaks. And wherever they can, they buy the most eco-friendly products. So when it does break down, it’s not ruining the land and sea. They take time to research their suppliers and only work with companies that align with their goals – Entropy Resins, Arctic foam, Marko, Formula fun, VMG Blades, and Balin to name a few.

I love helping small business, but small businesses don’t always produce something I’m passionate about. Swell composites is a company focused on building a circular and sustainable economy, and that’s something I’m very passionate about. I joined the company to maintain and grow their website, social media, and digital marketing.

I would not be where I am today, able to have complete control of the projects and people I work with, if it weren’t for the education I got from BCIT. BCIT gave me the tools and continued support to grow and learn to the point I’m at today!

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