Design Your Monday! LLC Owner Jennifer Gaggion enjoys participating in the Women’s Business Roundtable at the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center. Jennifer discussed her startup experience and shared some of the life lessons she’s experienced on her entrepreneurial journey.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: How has your background shaped you as an entrepreneur?
JENNIFER GAGGION: I have 20 years of human resources and business experience, which allowed me to not only see through employees’ eyes but also see organizations in their entirety.
I have a natural curiosity to ask questions and so, with time, I learned about each of the different functions required to make an organization successful.
My management experience taught me how to prioritize items with the most impact. Being self-motivated throughout my career, I was comfortable with working independently and able to hold myself accountable to set and accomplish goals and objectives.
IDH: When and why did you start your company?
JG: I began Design Your Monday! in 2014 because, after returning to design school, I wanted to use my professional experiences in a new capacity. I chose commercial design because it allowed me to integrate my interior design skills and my knowledge of change management in corporate settings to help create productive work environments.
IDH: Why does someone want/need to use your services?
JG: Forward-thinking companies are recognizing their return on investment for meaningful design. Increased workflow efficiencies and improved functionality are some reasons, but companies are also using their workspaces to improve recruitment and retention.
Employees live especially busy lives, so making the workplace more efficient and enjoyable is a winning proposition for employers and employees.
IDH: What makes your services unique?
JG: With my human resources background, I offer my clients a unique proposition to rethink the way they look at their organizations and integrate that thought process into their design solutions. I understand employee recruitment and retention, so I capitalize on the individual qualities of each company’s culture to improve their habitable experiences.
IDH: What’s the biggest challenge your company has faced as a startup?
JG: The biggest challenge for me has been to increase brand awareness. Well-known companies have years of exposure under their reputation. In the absence of a store front, I invest a lot of my own time attending networking events and building relationships, taking advantage of every marketing opportunity.
I learned a potential client must see or hear about your business 13 times before they will hire you. That’s a lot of marketing! In my role as principal and commercial designer, I am always working to develop a positive brand reputation.
IDH: If you change one thing about your start up journey, what would it be?
JG: Well, to borrow from Nike: Just do it!
Because my clients base a project’s success on the final aesthetics, it is a constant struggle for me to go out with anything (website, invoices, marketing pieces) that I feel may be less than perfect. In some cases, I’ve learned you should just move forward and tweak later. I am constantly working to improve upon that!
IDH: How has Connecticut’s business resources helped to shape your company?
JG: The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center has given me exposure and access to many professional services that have helped provide what I consider an “operational foundation” to manage my business from support developing legal agreements to launching my website.
I meet regularly with a business coach who challenges my priorities and helps pinpoint my focus. She keeps me on track.
I also participate in the monthly Women’s Business Roundtable through the Entrepreneurial Center, which has been an invaluable resource. When I attend these sessions and hear solutions other entrepreneurs have implemented, my mind just reels with ideas for my own business. It is an ongoing source of inspiration and personal accountability since we all share our achievements and opportunities.
IDH: What is the best thing about working in the Greater Hartford region?
JG: Hartford is a wonderful city for a boutique firm like mine. I am not lost in the colossal design shuffle of a city like Boston or New York, yet I have access to all the same trade lines and local reliable furniture distributors. I can be the go-to designer for corporate interiors.
IDH: Any advice to other women business owners?
JG: I thoroughly enjoy working with fellow women business owners. We often share similar personal challenges along this entrepreneurial journey. I believe it’s imperative to solicit supportive resources sooner versus later and not get tied down in minutia.
Spend your energy where it will deliver the most return for your business. My business coach once told me to just toss any items on my to-do list that didn’t support my bottom line. That was the day my freedom began!
Find out more about entrepreneurial women participating in the Women’s Business Roundtable through the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center:
- Beth Bolton, Owner/Pastry Chef at A Little Something Bakery
- Latoya Gibbs, Owner of How Bazaar Fashion
- Marlene Kurban, Founder Kurban Consulting
- Naranchimeg Mijid, Founder of the Connecticut Center for Innovative Entrepreneurs
- Jennifer Moreau, Founder Moreau Designs
- Leslie Raycraft, Founder of POSH (Personal Organization Solutions for the Home)
Heather Conley Photography provided images for this story. Learn more about Heather in our interview: CT Architectural Photographer Embraces Entrepreneurship