The Story of the Accidental Entrepreneur

Posted on June 20, 2018 by Jensie in About Slanted

This month marks the 5th anniversary of me leaving my first and last agency job. Whoa! And thanks to Facebook, because I can never remember what year it was. It's all kind of a jumble, and when I look back on those memories I get super pumped—because if we can do what we did back then, we can do anything.

From nurse-midwifery to marketing?

Way back when we left Boise in 2007, I had settled on going back to school. I wanted to get my pre reqs and go to nursing school and eventually be a CNM (certified nurse midwife). After having my first kid, I was a stay-at-home mom with an English degree and an itch. Once we got to Michigan, I enrolled in community college at LCC and went to work on microbiology, genetics, and more. I eventually got my DONA certification and was IN LOVE with serving women and childbirth and labor.

Fast forward to 2009. We added child #2 to our family, and my partner's combo of med school and a PhD made it clear that there was no way I could be a mom and be on call. Someone in the fam had to hold down a "normal" 9 to 5. We lived states away from our family and with two little kids, we barely could find a sitter for a night out, let alone be hustling to the hospital for late-night births. With his schedule being so demanding (and nearly 10 years later, it still is), I needed something a little more predictable.

A Flint wolverine in a family of Spartans

I'm not sure where the idea came from, but I loved studying English for my undergrad, so I applied to a few Master's programs in English. I thought if I went back to school, I'd maybe figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was accepted into the MA program at UM-Flint. It worked out perfectly; the program was designed for current high school teachers who wanted to add credentials. This meant that classes were online or in the evening. Great for a mom looking to sneak off to class when Dad was able to be home with the kids.

While I was there, I was introduced to the world of Twitter and blogging. Social media was still really new, and I was fortunate to have a professor who not only engaged with social media and blogging, it was part of his pedagogy. I ended up graduating with a concentration in composition and rhetoric and English lit. I was ready (ha) to hit the ground running as a first-year comp teacher.

In my final semester at UM-Flint, I rounded up an unpaid (gasp!) internship at a full-service agency in Lansing. This wasn't just unpaid—I paid. I paid tuition for the credits I eventually earned, and I paid a sitter to come stay with my younger kid so I could go to work. It was worth it. I learned so much about marketing, agencies, and even carved out a bit of a niche working with social media and other online writing. 

After my internship ended, they offered me a job. It was 5 minutes from home, the CEO was willing to work with me on scheduling around my kids, and it wasn't teaching first-year writing. Win, win, win. I continued to learn and grow while I was there, and I got paid. I learned about coding and websites, advertising both out of home and digital, scripting and producing videos, writing proposals, and even hiring and managing interns.

Taking a big leap... to Detroit

Well, the time came for my spouse to finish clinical rotations for medical school. We could've stayed in Lansing, but like usual, he was looking for more. A bigger challenge, more diversity of cases, a new scene. So I left the agency and worked as a contractor for a web design company for a few months while we packed, put our house on the market, and moved our little family to just outside of Detroit. I continued contracting after our move, but also began to pick up other clients along the way. Turns out a writer is in demand—no one wants to do it!

We knew we wouldn't be in the Detroit area long, there's residency to think about, so it wasn't worth the effort to get another "real" job. So I kept contracting. And taking more gigs. And people needed more. They needed graphics, they needed websites. And I kept going. By then, I decided to do it on purpose. And that's when Slanted was born.

I really was an accident

My dad was self-employed for most of my childhood. (He still is, and is actually a client. But that's a story for another day). After watching him work his tail off and to only see all the negatives of self-employment, I swore I would never do that. I'd have a job, a regular paycheck, and paid vacation. It all seemed like heaven to me! I didn't know then what I know now—that there are trade-offs.

Even though it all came together as an accident, that it wasn't on purpose at all, I can't imagine doing anything else. I love my business. I love what I've built. I love my team. And I really love the flexibility I have to be with my kids and support my spouse through these insane years of residency. All while providing an income to my family as well. Slanted has grown 30% every year since I started, and we're on track again this year. I have grown a lot as well, and my role in my own business keeps changing. 

We've added a couple more team members and I'm always looking for more folks who do what I don't/can't. Our clients are growing and changing as well. It's so damn exciting.

So, as I celebrate 5 years of taking a big jump, I want to thank everyone who has made it possible! From my family and friends, to sitters and other mompreneurs, to my contractors, and especially our great clients. I couldn't have done this without them all. Here's to another 5 brilliant years!