Rockstar of the Month: Cassie Brkich of Brkich Design Group

(Photo credit: Evi Abeler at HOW Design Live 2014 in Boston.) 

(Photo credit: Evi Abeler at HOW Design Live 2014 in Boston.

It's a new month, and that means we get to introduce you to another badass member of our Rock It! community

Say hello to Cassie Brkich of Brkich Design Group. Cassie is one of the hardest working, smartest, kindest, and most generous women we know. She is always willing to go the extra mile; hell bent on making those around her happy and feeling welcomed.

Her passion for small businesses is unparalleled, as is her creative eye.

Every time we speak with Cassie, we end up leaving inspired and informed. This woman has more knowledge about running a business in her little finger than most people we know. So we just KNOW that you're going to enjoy reading her interview, where you'll read about how Cassie's hand was forced into entrepreneurship, how she's grown as a result, and how consistency is the most important component of any marketing and/or branding strategy. 

Name: Cassie Brkich
Business: Brkich Design Group
Job title: Owner, Creative Director
Website: brkichdesign.com

Can you share a bit about your journey into entrepreneurship for those that may not be familiar with you or Brkich Design Group?

Like all creatives, there was always a bit of freelancing on the side for me, but my dive into entrepreneurship began when I was laid off from my design position with Ariba, Inc. It was 8:30am on a Monday morning and one by one, our entire design team was called into the director’s office. I remember how my initial reaction was one of relief and excitement for what was ahead! I already had one client, and a week later I gained all of the design work from Ariba. I knew it was a great start.. and knowing my track record of over-analyzing, it was probably a direction that I needed to be forced into.

With all of the different types of organizations and companies you've worked with, why did you choose to focus your time and talents supporting small businesses?

It fills my heart! I have a strong desire to promote and build vibrant main streets and unique communities. My parents have owned a business for the past 25 years and so I have a bit of a soft spot for the independent business owner. And their go-get-it-ness is like no other.

Talk to us about branding and design. Where are small businesses getting it right, and where could they benefit from having a bit more support? 

The independent businesses that I’ve come across in my last 11 years in business have not had a shortage of passion and drive. So, they are very willing to try and try again. The area where they lack, is time. I have found that when given a specific goal and plan, they can accomplish twice as much in half the time. When I work with a small business owner, we start with a brainstorming session. We discuss their challenges and where they would like to be in their business. This helps my team formulate a plan that will get them where they want to go.

What has been the biggest challenge for you over the past 10 years of being in business? 

My biggest challenge has been getting out of my own way. I have learned that owning your own business reflects so much of your personality and with that comes all of your flaws and shortcomings. Building this business has been a decade-long therapy session, but man, the growth that has happened. It’s amazing.

What has been the most surprising? 

When I came face to face with my own flaws and worked through them, it not only helped with personal growth and development, but it also launched my business forward.

What's in store for Brkich design group going in the NEXT 10 years? Is there anything you'd like to have your hand in or try out?

I definitely feel a need and a call to work with clients on a more personal level: coaching, courses, etc. This winter I held a six-session course for independent businesses, called Retailer Roundtable, where we talked branding, customer service, marketing and more during regular in-person meetings as a group.

I have also felt drawn to helping communities as a whole, above the individual business level. There are so many unique main streets and neighborhoods that have their own style and need to get it out there to the public. My husband and I started a line of t-shirts for my hometown of Beaver, PA, and would love to help other communities show their community pride in a similar way.

Famous last words... What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just started out and perhaps don't have the financial resources to hire someone in the beginning? 

Be consistent. I always tell new businesses that consistency in branding is more important that dishing out more than their business can afford on an awesome logo that they won’t use. Your brand is so much more than your logo, so know who you are and don’t be afraid to show it ... consistently. Providing an amazing customer experience is the most important thing and that typically doesn’t cost a dime. Do some soul searching; knowing who your business is and who it serves is the most important part.