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The Women of Freshmade Touch on Leadership in the Creative Industry

By Freshmade Contributor

A note from Vanessa Doll, Director Client Services and Partner at Freshmade:

When I introduce Freshmade to prospective clients, I tell them there are two things that set us apart: the effectiveness and quality of the work we put out, and the highly curated team that we have built.

When I say curated, I mean something very specific. We are a boutique agency doing the volume of a mid-sized agency because we have built our team from a unique amalgam of experience, talent, and relentless drive. 

Our group is also 76% female, all of us at different points in our career. Some of the women on our team are gaining their professional footholds in agency life for the first time, and inspire us veterans with a contagious enthusiasm for growth and change. Many of us have been in this industry for a decade+––we’ve worked on anything from developing social media content for Pepsi Cares all the way to servicing clients and designing packaging for Publix, Kraft, and P&G. We lend our clients an embarrassment of riches in consumer insights, positioning opportunities, and even know-how on printing and regulatory perimeters.

We thrive on this range of perspectives because in branding and packaging design, it’s adapt or die. But more than that, it is one of our agency’s values to give weight to the thoughts and voice of every member of our team. 

It’s one of our agency’s values to give weight to the thoughts and voice of every member of our team. 

Vanessa Doll, Partner at Freshmade

All too often, we tend to think of leadership as a destination at the top of the ladder. But leadership knows no age, no gender, no real boundaries. As Partner and Director of Client Services, I am in a traditional “leadership” position. I often think about what that means, because let’s be frank, it’s not always easy being responsible for the well-being of my team, my clients, and my business. There are a lot of tough decisions to be made, and I don’t always make the right one. For myself, I define leadership as the willingness to simply be there––as an ear, a shoulder, a problem-solver, and a truth-teller. 

And in our own way, all of the women at Freshmade are trailblazers. So we asked a few of our Fearless Femmes of Freshmade their thoughts on how they view leadership or lead in their own lives. I hope you gain inspiration from them as I do every single day.

— Vanessa Doll, Partner and Director of Client Services

“When I started to shift my focus from myself to others, it was freeing. I no longer needed to be recognized for every small achievement, and no longer felt threatened by others’ successes. I realized what it meant to strive for the greatness of the entire team, and to be genuinely excited for the work of others. I stay in touch with creatives I’ve met throughout my career, and continue to be a champion for their passions and talents even after our work relationship has ended.”

“Leadership means getting in the trenches with your team and doing the dirty work for a project’s greater good. It means being able to make the tough calls when necessary while still guiding and teaching your team so one day they can lead too. In my own life, I’m actively informing myself of social injustices and finding ways to give back to my community. I not only hold myself to that standard but challenge others to live a life full of purpose and meaning.”

“Those who see leadership as an individual accomplishment hinder their team members from unlocking their full potential. Good leaders use their influence to create an environment where every team member feels challenged to contribute to the greater goal. Personally, I see myself as a leader because I am motivated by a desire to contribute rather than a desire to achieve.”

“Great leaders cast a vision for their team and coach them along the way to achieving those goals. My favorite leadership tools for any scenario are commitment and enthusiasm. You can accomplish a lot by showing up and being happy to be there!”

“Whether it be my colleagues, my friends, or my own daughters, I try to have a positive impact on people and encourage them to believe in themselves. I strive to encourage my girls and push them to be their best every day. If their strong-willed personalities are any indication, I know they will grow up to be strong and confident female leaders one day as well.”

To learn more about the rest of our amazing team and how they’re leading the way in strategic design thinking, click here.

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