Moreau Designs Founder Jennifer Moreau is one of many women business owners participating in the Women’s Business Roundtable at the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center.

Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price spoke to Jennifer about her startup experience and the importance of connecting with other women entrepreneurs.

NAN PRICE: How has your background help shape you as an entrepreneur?

JENNIFER MOREAU: I was a tenacious kid. If someone said I couldn’t do it, I took it as a challenge. I would not only do it, but I would take it one step further. I love to learn as well. Every job I take leads me to the next level. It’s part of my master plan to reach my career goals and be an expert in my craft.

NAN: When and why did you start your own company?

JENNIFER: I started my company in May of 2008. I thought that was a great time because my husband had a job that could support our family while I got my business up and running. A year later, the recession hit, I was still trying to establish my business, and my husband lost his job.

I decided to continue to grow my company and look for better times. My husband ultimately started his own company three months after and, despite the economy, we both survived. It was definitely a struggle, but I knew in my heart that this was what I was meant to do with my life.

NAN: Why did you start your own company versus working for someone else?

JENNIFER: As a creative entrepreneur, the only way I was going to gain true creative freedom was to work for myself. With that freedom comes some self-doubt, as anytime you don’t have others to bounce ideas off of or collaborate with, it’s just you presenting your inner thoughts, which makes you very vulnerable. So, as you can see, it can be a double-edged sword.

NAN: Why does someone want or need to use your services and what makes your services unique?

JENNIFER: Typically, clients hire me when they desire a nice environment and they know they can’t pull a space together on their own.

Creating meaningful relationships with my clients has really helped me build my clientele. I take the time to understand their value use art to acknowledge it.

I also try to educate my clients about design as well as defining their style. A well-planned and decorated home can make you feel better and more productive. I don’t think people realize how psychological design truly is—colors, proportions, and defined areas can make all the difference. I also get to know my clients well. Things they say and reactions to certain things guide me in the design.

I’m passionate about helping people and my services add a unique value.

It’s important for me to not only honor the client, but to do the same with the craft being featured. So, my approach to art is to respect the art form without modifying it too much.

NAN: What was the biggest challenge you faced when you launched your startup?

JENNIFER: I was part of a new community when I started. I pretty much knew nobody. Since my business is based on trust and word of mouth, it was hard to become established. I would network immediately and most importantly make connections with the community. It took me at least three years to really gain some momentum. But what really skyrocketed me was getting involved with the community. People do business with people they know, bottom line.

NAN: How have Connecticut’s business resources help to shape your company?

JENNIFER: A mutual friend introduced me to Lalitha Shivaswamy, Founder and President of Helios Management Corp. Her company contracts with CTNext to offer growth advisory services to help businesses stay and grow in Connecticut.

Since our first meeting, she has been encouraging and helpful in networking and brainstorming for my company’s next step.

NAN: And what is your company’s next step?

JENNIFER: My next step is to expand my design into products. I plan on traveling to third-world countries and bringing back products for a collaboration with local artisans. My goal is to help those families create a better life and offer a unique product that has never been seen.

I really enjoy helping people with design. And, if I can impact a life in a positive way and do it with design, it’s the best of both worlds.

NAN: How did you become aware of the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center and why are you participating in the Women’s Roundtable? 

JENNIFER: Lalitha was instrumental in introducing me to the Entrepreneurial Center at The University of Hartford. I’ve met some wonderful people who I know will help me further my company.

It’s been wonderful connecting with Lacey Banks, a Business Advisor at the Entrepreneurial Center. She’s become a good mentor and has been very encouraging.

Regarding the roundtable for women business owners, I enjoy making connections and meeting other women who are going through, further along in, or just starting out in their journey. We can learn a lot and inspire each other. And there’s definitely a networking element involved.

My involvement is twofold: I get invigorated and inspired, and I hope to invigorate and inspire the other women entrepreneurs.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover how many women entrepreneurs are in the Greater Hartford area—and not only that, they’re all innovative!

NAN: What is your greatest business accomplishment?

JENNIFER: Generally, the amount of growth I have experienced. But, specifically taking on a big commercial project that ended up being my best work to date. I learned so much by taking a risk and doing something I had never done before—and I gained a great portfolio.

NAN: Any advice for other women business owners?

JENNIFER: Stay the course. Always do things that get you closer to your goals. Always make a goal, and when you reach it, make another. Take opportunities that are out of your comfort zone—those are the ones that make you grow.

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Find out more about entrepreneurial women participating in the Women’s Business Roundtable through the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center: