Jessica Kelly Given Wings Design Studio, LLC

Most working mothers have asked themselves the same question I did after the birth of my sec-ond daughter in June of 2013: “Do I go back to work?” Luckily, my decision was made for me.  I was laid off from my corporate job at Bausch + Lomb after their acquisition by Valeant Pharma-ceutical International–just one day after my maternity leave ended.

With a brand new baby – and another child under two years old – I was tempted to stay down for a while, lick my wounds, and snuggle my babies. I would have been completely justified in taking a little break from work. With two children under two years old, most would have embraced the excuse to take a breather for a few months. Not me. Sitting still is simply not my style.

Instead, I was empowered by this new “freedom” and felt as though I had been given wings to start turning my longtime dream into reality. Having previously dabbled in web design and de-velopment outside of my hours at the office, and leaning on my project management and mar-keting experience from the corporate world, I created a new role for myself. I started a business that gave me the flexibility to be with my children when I wanted, coupled with the financial free-dom I desired. The best part, though, was that this was one “job” that I knew I’d never lose.

Appropriately named, I opened the virtual doors to Given Wings Design Studio, LLC in April of 2014, initially providing graphic and web design for local small- to medium-sized businesses.

One day, as I was scrolling through my social media news feeds, I got a recommendation from Facebook for a local farm. I clicked through to their website to learn more about them and im-mediately saw something that I had seen too many times before–Latin filler text all over the web page, in those hard-to-find widgets spaces.

I reached out to the local farm and asked if I could help, joking that I noticed they seemed to be stuck with some filler text in places they probably didn’t want it. We both had a good laugh about how the farmer had no idea how to build a website–after all, she was a farmer, not a web de-veloper. But she knew that the need to have an online presence was incredibly critical in today’s digital world of Facebook recommendations and tagging frenzies.

In less than a week, I was able to provide the local farm with a beautiful website using an amaz-ingly simple theme, all created on the fastest growing website platform available, called Word-Press. Best of all, the farmer could edit the site herself moving forward, saving her thousands in site update fees that so many other web design studios drool over when bringing on new clients.

Many startups face the same problem: They need a website, but talking to a techie web devel-oper is as desirable as watching paint dry. Not to mention the price of hiring one of those big corporate web development firms could cost you almost half of what a startup would net in a year. “Hosting fees,” “website customization,” “plugins,” “search engine optimization,” and “mobile-responsive themes” are all confusing and intimidating phrases to a startup whose main focus should be managing their business, not learning how to code.

In today’s world of insta-information, having a web presence is no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity for both small and large companies. And thanks to the graphic world of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, having a website that visually represents the heart of your business is just as important as having that one special item or service that people are raving about all over their personal news feeds.

Almost every web client of mine has tried to create their own website with one of those cookie-cutter web builder sites, like Squarespace, or Website Tonight. Each of them had got-ten as far as they could with the design portion of the site and thrown in the towel before their homepage was even completed.  My goal is to eradicate the need to pay an overpriced web de-signer simply because these do-it-yourself templates are difficult to understand.  A website should be a flawless accessory to a business, not an unchecked task on a to-do list.

Designing gorgeous websites that visually project the vision of a business is my passion.  To me, there is nothing more satisfying than working with my clients to brainstorm the visual repre-sentation of their business. My mission is to create a beautiful place for the whole world to visit to learn about the hearts of the businesses that they are supporting.

I have a very diverse client base, ranging from wilderness chefs with YouTube channels to direct sales professionals hosting their weekly parties on Facebook.  In fact, one of my most popular services is providing direct sales professionals with custom branding for their businesses, with items like a blog sites, team logos, social media graphics, and custom shopping albums for those all-too-popular 30-minute Facebook parties.  The direct sales professionals I work with want to stand out from the pack, provide a next-level type of service to their customers, and be their team’s expert in leadership.  These professionals are creating empires for themselves and treat their business just like any brick and motor business.

Today, Given Wings Design Studio, LLC has grown tremendously, offering much more than graphic and web design services to local startups. Adding social media management and training to my offerings has proven to be very desirable in today’s virtual world.  I have trained over 1,000 direct sales professionals nationwide in social media best-practices.

Two years ago, I was unsure if I should go back to the corporate workforce.  Today, I have the ability to work with infinite startups to help them make their impact on the world.

You can see Given Wings’s featured clients’ project on my website