Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn Monroy.
Jenn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I suppose where my story starts is when I discovered my love for design at about 15 years old – taking a class where we filled in scanned coloring book pages in Photoshop. It’s become the largest part of my identity and has led me to organizations, networks, and friends that basically make up the rest. I never saw it coming but in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense. As a young adult, I had always wanted to be a “professional.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I knew I wanted a “big girl” job where I did important things and no joke, got to wear a suit to work. But what I also knew was that I was creative-minded. That I loved to doodle. That my favorite storybook was the one my mom drew for me. That if I had my choice of doing something with my hands, it wasn’t likely going to be a sport, but more often coloring or making things out of popsicle sticks. Later, this led to a love of digital art too. I had no idea there was a way to combine this love of art with the organization and strategy to build a career. Once I did, the rest is history.
Going down this path set me apart, in a lot of ways, from just about everyone and thing I knew. It became a true passion. After art school, I spent several years designing on and managing both agency and in-house teams before life led me in a different direction… I was faced with the choice to move away from everything I knew and start a life that, at the time, I thought I wanted. This new life meant moving around a lot. I was lucky enough to have built a reputation for myself that allowed me to start a business that I could take with me anywhere. At the time, it was perfect. Later on, it felt a little more like grasping to hang on to the parts I loved amidst all the accounting, admin, client relations, sales and so on. Regardless, along the way, some amazing things happened. I traveled. I joined organizations and boards that led me to some of my best friends and colleagues. I gained the confidence and knowledge I needed to become the “boss” I always wanted to be.
I didn’t realize it was happening, but a few years later, when faced with a life-altering, and potentially shattering event… it was crystal clear to me that I had lost my way and I needed to find it again. I didn’t want to completely give up what I’d built, so I kept a few clients but worked my way back to where I fit best – a team where I could grow clients, other creatives and myself. I did this when I found LAVIDGE, where I’m now a Senior Art Director working for and with some ridiculously talented and downright awesome human beings. Add this to the group of stellar folks I already work with daily as the President of AIGA Arizona, and all I can say is despite the fact that I spent almost a year of my life learning how to be a survivor in every sense of the word, I’m quite lucky… and now, I know that the real truth is: my story is just beginning.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s funny, up until very recently I had myself convinced that a lot of my successes actually did happen a little too “easily”… but when I look back on my journey, it’s really been anything but. I’d say, in the beginning, in particular, it was very hard to be “taken seriously.” I was not only a woman but a very young one, who was made to feel like my opinions didn’t matter. In an odd way, this lit a fire under me. It’s when I figured out how important being a leader meant to me and I started working towards becoming that. At first, I was able to prove my worth by showing that I could pick up the slack when others dropped the ball. Later, I learned to show my worth by speaking up, and not waiting for a mistake to be made that I had to fix. If I could give young women any advice, it would be just that: Stay humble, professional and willing to learn, but let your voice be heard, show your worth and push for the positions and projects you deserve.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ReJennerate Creative and LAVIDGE – what should we know?
I started out predominantly as a print designer, spending many years working on automotive newspaper ads and casino collateral. In later roles, I got to dip my toe into broadcast art direction. I always had a love for branding though, so while running my own gig, I chose to focus on that. Rebranding for small businesses, mainly. That’s where the name “ReJennerate Creative” came from. Over the five years, I was out on my own, however, the work I did for clients grew way beyond that. Full brand identities, marketing collateral, websites, and even full event planning.
At LAVIDGE, I get to lead print and digital layout design, strategize full campaigns and art direct broadcast projects for web video and TV for multiple national clients.
I’d have to say the accomplishment I’m most proud of would be directing the 10th Annual Phoenix Design Week in 2018. PHXDW is a design conference with 500 attendees and a full week of events organized by the local chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design. I led the team of all volunteers to pull off the program during what was no doubt one of the roughest time periods in my life. It went off without a hitch, even receiving praise as being the “best yet.”
What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
Your first design job will likely not be your last. Learn all that you can, but know that it may suck at times. Find the one (or if you’re lucky few) colleagues that will help guide you, but also make the crappy parts bearable. If you can’t find them at your job, find them in your community. Young professional and other field-related associations or volunteer opportunities are not only great ways to grow your circle, but you’ll be learning things to apply to your career AND connecting in ways that will make you invaluable at your current and next positions. Also, always, always find something you love outside of work. Mental health is so important and creative-minded people can suffer a lack of self-care tremendously. I personally love boxing, Zumba and spending time with my dogs. Or really any dogs.
- Website: rejenneratecreative.com
- Instagram: @jm.wanderlust
Kaitlin Case, Allison Black