Entrepreneur and artist Jasleni Brito launched her business Jasleni Art & Design in June 2017 and has since evolved to support aspiring and growing entrepreneurs with graphic design, marketing, and branding.
MetroHartford Alliance Content Manger Nan Price connected with Jasleni when they became involved with the Artists of Color Accelerate, a program funded by The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and spearheaded by The 224 EcoSpace. Recognizing Jasleni’s entrepreneurial gumption, Nan decided to share her story with the IDH community.
NAN PRICE: Have you always been entrepreneurial?
JASLENI BRITO: I always knew I wanted to be an artist and I always knew I wanted to do creative work. I never really saw myself in business—probably because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents have grocery stores and I’ve seen how much work, sacrifice, and devotion it takes to have your own business, which used to kind of scare me away from the idea. And then somehow, some way, here I am carving my own path and doing exactly that!
NAN: You’ve been in business almost four years. How have you evolved and found your niche along the way?
JASLENI: Being an entrepreneur is an ever-evolving journey. I had to learn to fine tune my offerings to figure out what I wanted to do. That’s how I became focused on working specifically with entrepreneurs to help them do exactly what I had just learned to do for myself.
I lived firsthand how tricky it is to figure out your branding, what your website should look like, and what your social media presence should emphasize. I thought to myself: Why not use my skills and talents to help others do exactly this, to find the freedom entrepreneurship has given me.
So, I shifted away from one-off, freelance-type work—a logo, a flyer, a trade booth display—and stepped into the expert lane. I have all this experience and I’ve learned so much. I want to work with people who are really committed to investing in their business and transforming it into their ideal vision. My shift involves collaborating with my clients to not just create the work, but also helping them implement and integrate it.
NAN: Have you utilized any local business resources?
JASLENI: Along the way, I’ve had business coaches and mentors. I’ve gotten so much from the Women’s Business Center at the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC-WBC). Program Manager Milena Erwin is constantly putting together amazing programs and Business Advisor Lacey Banks is brilliant. They’re so supportive. The EC-WBC has been an endless resource with the many free and affordable workshops they offer. I would highly recommend them, especially if you’re starting out or if you’re working with a really tight budget. They offer some grants, depending on your qualifications.
NAN: I always enjoy asking marketing and branding people how they’re marketing.
JASLENI: Ironically, even though I do a lot of marketing for my clients, I do almost zero marketing for myself! And that was not on purpose. When I started my business, I had all these elaborate plans about how I was going to market myself, but then I became busy taking care of clients and they became my priority.
Fortunately, word of mouth has been a blessing for me. I finish with one project and then, by the time I’m done with that one, the next client shows up. So, my marketing strategy has been to do a good job and trust word will spread and the universe will make it happen.
NAN: Any advice or lessons learned you would share with others who are on their entrepreneurial journey?
JASLENI: One piece of advice that comes to mind is: Just do it. You’ll figure it out along the way. We spent so much time planning and thinking: If I do this, then I can do that and then I’ll be ready for…whatever it is. You’re never going to be ready. There are always going to be obstacles along the way. I consider myself an experienced, seasoned, knowledgeable, and creative and yet I’m learning something new every single day.
So, my advice is to stay open to learning, to being flexible, to making mistakes. Hopefully not repeating the same mistakes but making new mistakes each time. And if you fail, good, now you know that you don’t have to make that mistake again and you can find other ways to experiment.
In terms of tools and resources, my advice is to ask around. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, preferably people who are working in a similar field as you, and ask them questions. Soak in as much as you can from the people around you and then stay open to the next teacher stepping into your life. It could be a professional or even your niece or nephew who just said something brilliant that made you see the world in a different way. Teachers can come in all shapes, ages, and forms.
Network, befriend people, exchange favors, support each other. That’s where you’ll find the tools appropriate for you and your business.