#1: Welcome to the Design Imposter Podcast 


Welcome to the first episode of the Design Imposter Podcast, hosted by two graphic design agency owners, Monique Jenkins and Jessica Valis. They aim to help designers and business owners overcome imposter syndrome by sharing relatable stories and insights. Key topics covered include their personal backgrounds getting into design, how they met and bonded critiquing each other’s work in grad school, differences in their agency approaches with Monique focused more on UX and Jessica on visuals/SEO, collaborating on combined UX/SEO projects, working with larger clients with bigger budgets versus smaller businesses, and building ongoing client relationships.


Introducing the Podcast and Hosts

Monique and Jessica introduce themselves, their podcast called Design Imposter, and its goal of helping designers/business owners overcome imposter syndrome by sharing stories and insights from their own experiences. They were unsure about doing a podcast initially but are now excited to provide relatable content.

Hosts Describe Their Personal Backgrounds

Monique and Jessica talk about details from their personal lives like family, pets, travel, and spouses. Professionally, Monique has design experience across industries and now runs a UX agency and nonprofit helping underrepresented creatives. Jessica worked in equity research publishing and got an MA in publication design before starting her own agency.

How the Hosts Met and Bonded

Monique and Jessica met in grad school where they bonded through critiquing each other’s class projects, which helped improve their skills. They share a funny story about critiquing a design element that looked inappropriate.

Differences in Agency Approaches

They discuss differences in their agency offerings with Monique focused more on UX design and research while Jessica does more visual design and SEO work. Jessica’s clients tend to be smaller businesses while Monique takes on larger clients.

Collaborating on Combined Projects

They describe sometimes collaborating to combine their UX and visual/SEO strengths for clients who have the budget for both, such as a current website redesign project Jessica brought Monique onto. Their skillsets complement each other across client types.

Working With Different Client Types

Monique notes large budget clients over $30-50k tend to be more hands-off trusting her as the expert, versus smaller budget clients more involved in details. Jessica builds ongoing relationships and retainers with her small business clients.

Action Items

  • Research potential connections amongst existing clients across our agencies that could mutually benefit from introductions.
  • Explore developing a client community, support group or other forum to facilitate networking and sharing advice between current and past clients.


Monique Jenkins: Welcome to the Design Imposter podcast, where we unravel the enigmatic realm of imposter syndrome. My name’s Monique Jenkins. 

Jessica Valis: And I’m Jessica Valis. We’re two agency owners who’ve boldly faced the reality of imposter syndrome.  

Monique Jenkins: We’ll share relatable stories and practical insights that empower designers and business owners just like you. 

Jessica Valis: Together, we’ll help you conquer self -doubt and unleash your true potential.  

Monique Jenkins: Get ready to unveil your true brilliance. 

Jessica Valis: Welcome to Design Imposter. Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Jessica Valis.  

Monique Jenkins: And I’m Monique Jenkins. 

Jessica Valis: Welcome to episode one of Design Imposter. I think it is absolutely insane that, probably after a year of saying, oh yeah, we should do a podcast about graphic design and running a business, we are finally recording our first episode.  

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, I think when we first started talking about the podcasts, I was like, what do we have to say that’s different than any other design podcast out there? So it just took us a little bit to warm up to the idea that we could say something our audience could resonate with, but we’re here now and I’m glad we are. 

Jessica Valis: Well, since our podcast is all about imposter syndrome and overcoming that voice of doubt and learning to attest your abilities, I think it’s fitting that we firstly out our credentials when it comes to hosting a podcast and being agency owners. 

Jessica Valis: So, Monique, tell us a little bit about your personal background.  

Monique Jenkins: Cool. So I’m a mom to a beautiful little girl and a stinking cute Bernadoodle. I have an amazing husband who you will undoubtedly hear in the background of this podcast at some point. I’m a lover of all things bread and cheese. I have sarcasm for days. And I like to think that I’m all around good person. Who’s ultimate goal is to be laying on someone’s beach somewhere in the world.  

Jessica Valis: What made you gravitate towards design and how did that contribute to your professional background?  

Monique Jenkins: So back in the days of myspace, I would be creating these like super cool collages for friends, or at least they seemed super cool at the time, that you could use on your pages for your profile pictures and things like that. And I never really thought much about that. I knew I was going to go to college and I’d always wanted to be a lawyer. I thought that was like a really cool career and I thought that’s where my life was going to align to. But once I got to college, I started with majoring in business with a minor in English, a minor in marketing, a minor in science. I was all over the place. But after I took some marketing classes, I realized that I liked the visual side of design a lot more than getting someone to purchase something.  

Monique Jenkins: So I dropped all my minors and I switched to a major in communication with the concentration in marketing. And then after I graduated college, I went to the University of Baltimore to get a master’s in design.  

Monique Jenkins: Professionally, I have about 12 years of experience in graphic, web and user experience design. I’m a design professor at Towson University, a mentor at Thinkful and user experience and user interface design.  

Monique Jenkins: I run a non -for -profit in Baltimore, aimed at helping women in non -binary creatives advance into executive positions. And I also run my own design agency, Jenkins Creative. And I started my company because as I navigated different industries as I was working, I started to notice the lack of representation, specifically for people who look like me.  

Monique Jenkins: I found myself being the only black person or the only woman in almost all of the rooms that I was in, which seemed weird, giving that there are more than two million black -owned businesses in the United States.  

Monique Jenkins: And we grossed $150 billion annually. You can cue like the musical sounds at that point. So my thought was, how do I help us advance in our business? And from my experience, I understood how important it was to have a brand that is easily recognizable to your audience and how effective design can help people navigate your site.  

Monique Jenkins: So I think that when people think about design or think about their brand, they really think about their logo. And your brand is about reinforcing your brand voice and your tone, as well as your logo and your identity, and helping people to kind of suss out how they make that relatable to their products and services always has served me really well.  

Monique Jenkins: And I wanted to be able to represent that to the community around me. Brand is more important than ever with social media, allowing customers to gain so much exposure to you on a day -to -day basis. And that’s what I get to do for other people’s businesses. 

Jessica Valis: I love that you said that branding is more than logo because that is probably my least favorite part of a brand is the logo. It is one image. Brand is everything else. It’s the feel that people get when they look at your company. 

Jessica Valis: It’s the reputation. It’s the messaging. So it’s a lot more than a logo. So I’m really glad that you said that.  

Monique Jenkins: We also hate logo design. Sorry guys. We’ll do it. 

Jessica Valis: We’ll do it. We’ll do it, it’s just not our favorite.  

Monique Jenkins: It is not our favorite. So Jessica, tell the imposters listening about your background, both professional and personal. Let’s start with personal. 

Jessica Valis: Okay, personally, I am a mother of two boys, George and Finn. They are almost four and five and they’re crazy wild. They love bugs and the Titanic for some reason. And they’re very hands -on, which keeps me busy. 

Jessica Valis: I’m also a cop wife. My husband works in Baltimore City. I’m a world traveler. I’ve done a lot of solo travel. I’ve been to England more times than I can count to the point that I’m not a tourist anymore. 

Jessica Valis: I’ve been to France, Germany, New Zealand, Iceland, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and I’m sure there’s other ones that I’m just missing here, but I just want to keep adding to that list. And I’m also a wannabe interior remodeler. 

Jessica Valis: I’m like the Joanna games of home remodeling, but if you were for like mid -century modern look. So I don’t do the shabby chic farmhouse feel. All about those bold colors and really dated wallpapers.  

Monique Jenkins: BTdubs, Jessica’s never invited me on vacation in all of the places that she has gone. I’ve been to Ocean City, so… 

Jessica Valis: Oh please, you go to Jamaica and all over the place with your family. 

Monique Jenkins: I mean, I’m saying like I’ve never been to Germany like Jamaica is like the ocean city of no, I’m just kidding. 

Jessica Valis: Didn’t you get a passport for your baby? Like I did. Except she was born.  

Monique Jenkins: Yeah. And play those games. We going out of the country. Let’s go. Let’s go right now. 

Jessica Valis: So George has a passport when we went to Mexico, but I still have to get one for Fin. So put that on my to -do list. But anyways, so I guess professionally, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for college, I was all over the place because I felt like I was good at so many things. 

Jessica Valis: I enjoyed art, creative, you know, like creative art, creative writing, public speaking, things that involved like a leadership role. So I ended up majoring in business communication at Stevenson University, and that focused on every form of communication, visual, oral, written, interpersonal, corporate, and cultural. 

Jessica Valis: And it was one of those courses where I felt like I didn’t need to study because it felt like I was getting a degree in being myself. It just, everything came so naturally. And because everything was so diverse, it really opened up the job market for me. 

Jessica Valis: Right out of college, I got my first corporate job at Wells Fargo Securities in Equity Research as a publishing coordinator for different reports, notes, and conference materials about stocks, industries, and then just different recommendations that analysts would make about, you know, the world of investment. 

Jessica Valis: And I would help these analysts make sure that their research was compliant. And I would format 200 to 300 page reports, apply branding, and then I would queue everything up for when the stock market opened and closed. 

Jessica Valis: Not crazy exciting, but I did end up learning how to streamline processes from something that would normally take three hours to 30 minutes. And that’s when I decided to go back to college while working full time. 

Jessica Valis: And I received my master’s in publication design. I worked with Wells Fargo for almost eight years until I was part of a department layoff in July 2019. And I was six months pregnant with my son, Finn. 

Jessica Valis: And I had already had thoughts of starting my own business. And you just get that initial panic when you’re pregnant and you lose a job, like, oh, my God, how am I going to support my baby? You’re like, well, I’ve got severance. 

Jessica Valis: It’s not like I don’t have another source of income, but you just start to panic. And I’m like, you know, it’s going to take at least one month to find a job and get an interview. It’s going to take another month for the onboarding process. 

Jessica Valis: And then next thing you know, I’m going to have a baby. So who’s going to hire a very pregnant woman to show up and then disappear for a while? So that was kind of my sink or swim, let’s start a business moment. 

Jessica Valis: And so I had my baby and he would come with me in his little car seat to like networking events. I’m like, sorry, here’s the newborn. And I was like, oh, how cute. You’re so dedicated. I’m like, yeah, I know.  

Monique Jenkins: I was gonna say that’s a great like open liner like yeah look at my cute baby 

Jessica Valis: People would be like oh I love I love kids. I love kids.  

Monique Jenkins: Look at my cute baby, but give me a job too. 

Jessica Valis: Actually, at one of the meetings where I brought my son, Finn, actually met one of my first, like, long -term clients who I still work with. 

Jessica Valis: And he was like, oh, I love kids. He didn’t seem to mind at all. But then March 2020 hits and the world shuts down and life got crazy because of COVID and people were just holding on to their dollars, understandably. 

Jessica Valis: So it was a little bit of a slow start for me getting my agency started. Not only did we have COVID, but when I left Wells Fargo, everything was confidential. So I was not allowed to bring my portfolio with me. 

Jessica Valis: So I was starting a business and I had nothing to show for it. But after 2020, we get to 2021 and Harford Designs, break six figures we brought on contractors. And I started mentoring and it’s been an amazing journey ever since.  

Monique Jenkins: I think your story and minds differ very severely in how we treated after college. Wells Fargo was secure for you. I 100% understand why you stayed there. I hopped all the places and all the companies and all the sectors from politics to education, to fintech, to government, all over the place to just find the place that best suits me, but I’m also a very firm believer and hop around and get your capital wherever you can go. 

Jessica Valis: I felt like I never knew where you were working every time I messaged you. It would be someplace new. I’m like, I just talked to you three months ago. What do you mean you’re starting at a new company?  

Monique Jenkins: I got no loyalty mhh.  

Monique Jenkins: I’m loyal to me. I’m loyal to me. Longer the days where someone works at a company for 30 years and just stays there and is complacent. I’m very much a person who’s like, yeah, you gonna pay me an extra what?  

Monique Jenkins: $50 ,000? $60 ,000? Girl, I would love to be on your design team. Let’s go. Let’s get over here. Let’s be a part of this. So yes, it was hard to keep track for me even sometimes to be at a new space, but it all worked out for the best.  

Monique Jenkins: I think it gave me a lot of context and a lot of areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise been comfortable in. I think my ability to jump into a new sector and start to gain knowledge and understand and then just run is incredibly high because education and fintech have nothing to do with each other.  

Monique Jenkins: Working for the government is wildly different than working at an agency or in a retail space or something like that. All of those are so wildly different that I think it gives me an opportunity to be really full service for clients because I have a little bit of experience and a bunch of different sectors.  

Monique Jenkins: However, like you, if I would have found something that was super solid and stable, then I certainly could have stayed, but I was always in a space where we were about to hit a massive run of layoffs for one reason or another.  

Monique Jenkins: Or I get bored really easily. I’d be like, oh, we design in pamphlets again? That’s crazy. 

Jessica Valis: I kind of knew my layoff was coming because the work just started to really slow down. I kept asking, like, are we going to get a temp for when I go on maternity leave? And they kept putting it off. So actually, I got laid off when I was on a week -long vacation. 

Jessica Valis: But for like a couple weeks before, I had slowly started to clear my desk out. And so when I got laid off, there was like nothing for them to send back to me. They’re like, do you want this box of tissues? 

Jessica Valis: I’m like, no, just throw it out. There’s nothing of importance there anymore?  

Monique Jenkins: That’s crazy, but I always tell people, you should start to, like you should see the signs. Like I think like, don’t be so inundated into like what someone at a company is saying to you that you don’t see the signs of like things happening, which like you started to recognize like, hey, work is starting to slow down drastically, what’s going on here?  

Monique Jenkins: Let me start to get my stuff, let me start to kind of like pack myself to get myself in a place to be out of here, even though you knew a layoff was coming. And if you know a layoff is coming, stay, get your severance and then you know, take the time that you need to. 

Jessica Valis: And if you can make it through maternity leave, do it. Get those four months.  

Monique Jenkins: That’s 100%. Look, get your time in and let them do that. And you know, severance, you can get severance, you probably can start working another job. That’s double the income. I like those odds. 

Jessica Valis: Yep. So you talked about jumping around a lot. Tell us about how you went from design to UX.  

Monique Jenkins: So I was working at a publishing company in Baltimore that dealt with stocks and investments and things like that. And we pushed out a promotional offer for some service. I don’t even remember what it was on a Friday.  

Monique Jenkins: And when we came back on Monday, it bombed. It was like a million dollar promotion is what it took for light production, you know, all of the design, marketing and all that jazz in between copy. And it just bombed, it didn’t do well at all.  

Monique Jenkins: And our CEO at the time came to me and was like, Monique, if you would have used red instead of blue, we would have sold $2 million worth of product. And I was like, okay, cool, that’s me. Duh the design that didn’t do it.  

Monique Jenkins: But that made me start to think about, you know, how design kind of manifests for the end user. And what that looked like. And at that time, I’d never heard of user experience design. I didn’t even know what that was.  

Monique Jenkins: And I just knew that something wasn’t right. Like, first of all, I’m not about to take the accountability for an entire company failing at something. But like, of course, it would be me, the lonely black girl.  

Monique Jenkins: But also, how do I take that information and make it actionable in a way that serves me in the future? So I started talking to our marketing team. I started talking to our customer service team. I started trying to listen in on phone calls and have a better understanding of like what was happening.  

Monique Jenkins: Because those departments were getting complaints about the design complaints about the product that was actually being offered, complaints about a bunch of things, but it wasn’t manifesting anywhere.  

Monique Jenkins: They would just kind of internalize that information and never use it to make our product or service better. So once I started to gather all this insight, I started making those things actionable. So like, when I was a designer, I’d really thought about design from a very like aesthetic space.  

Monique Jenkins: I was like, hey, I need to make sure the colors all match. And I need to make sure that there’s hierarchy. But what I wasn’t taken into consideration was like color contrast, like how buttons that are of a similar shade to my color palette, although aesthetically pleasing, had no real functional value for someone who was coming into our business, because they couldn’t see that, they couldn’t distinguish between like, what was an actionable item that they needed to do, to click on versus what was just like flutter for them not to really pay attention to.  

Monique Jenkins: And with heat mapping, I started to see that they were engaging or clicking on images, maybe to gain more clarity, maybe because we were having an older audience segment. There were mostly white males who were in their 50s who had a couple of male in the bank.  

Monique Jenkins: And I needed to be able to allow them to engage with certain elements that I wasn’t thinking about before because it wasn’t feedback that I had ever gotten. So internalizing all of that, I wanted to go back to school.  

Monique Jenkins: At this point, I’d already gotten my masters and we never talked about user experiences. I don’t think it ever even came up in our program. But afterwards, I went back to the University of Baltimore and I started to look into a certificate program that would help me gain a better understanding of audience segments.  

Monique Jenkins: And once I did that, I was like, okay, I’m never going back. Also, someone paid me my first $100,000. And I was like, that’s it. That’s it right there. That transition from graphic design where you were making 50.  

Monique Jenkins: So this one over here where you’re making 100, this is exactly where you need to go, baby. Let’s get. 

Jessica Valis: Follow the money, right?  

Monique Jenkins: So that’s how I kind of made that transition. It wasn’t hard. I don’t think the shift from design to user experience is hard.  

Monique Jenkins: I think that it’s hard to challenge yourself on some preconceived notions that you have as a designer, which is like, I like this design, so I think it works. Is the mentality that I used to have to what best serves the people that we are trying to touch?  

Monique Jenkins: What are we trying to actually get them to do? Do we want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do we want them to click on a specific button to engage with an element? Like what’s the intention behind what we’re doing?  

Monique Jenkins: And now I’m all about functionality over design. So what functionally needs to work in order for design to manifest? So design and aesthetics, it’s like the icing on the cake, but the cake itself is user experience design. 

Jessica Valis: Well, thank you for enlightening me about that. I love it. I think it’s interesting that you look at things from the user side. And then when I’m designing websites, a lot of times my clients aren’t quite there at a budget scale to have a full -on UX experience and all this research. 

Jessica Valis: But they care about search results. So when I’m designing, I’m not necessarily, well, I mean, I’m trying to think of a user. But I’m also thinking about how search engines are going to crawl the site. 

Jessica Valis: And I think it’s very interesting when you have the budget and you can mesh the two elements of search engine optimization, UX experience, and put it together and see, like, that’s an amazing site that comes out of that.  

Monique Jenkins: Agreed. 

Jessica Valis: So let’s tell everybody kind of how we met.  

Monique Jenkins: Of course. It was so long ago. We’re very old now. We met in grad school way before we had businesses, families, and we were just kind of kindred spirits who got along really well. We bonded in the classroom over critiques, and it was really funny because we would critique each other’s work probably pretty harshly.  

Monique Jenkins: And I think that helped us to bond over our shared inexperience. And it also allowed us to tap into each other’s knowledge pools and to just get better. And I think that that mutual level of like, you know, hey, your work sucks, Monique.  

Monique Jenkins: That’s pretty good for us, at least. And it helped us to form a relationship. 

Jessica Valis: When you’re in grad school for something like graphic design, you are the opposite of an imposter. And we were definitely like, our stuff’s the best. I’m going to critique you. But we were all in the same boat. 

Jessica Valis: There is this one time, and I’ll never forget this story. We were in the six hour Saturday class, and we had to do everything from scratch for this one project. If it meant taking pictures on your own, writing the text, doing the copy, and just putting everything together from scratch. 

Jessica Valis: And I don’t remember the specifics of the project, but somebody used these quotation marks from some obscure font as a design accent. It wasn’t even for a quote, which was strange in itself. But I remember looking at the design because this quotation mark was just kind of floating around. 

Jessica Valis: And I said, I think that quote looks like sperm. And the whole room was like, I can’t believe she said that. It went silent for a moment. But then someone chimed in and was like, actually, I think it does. 

Jessica Valis: I think it’s phallic. And I think that’s phallic. I think that person was you.  

Monique Jenkins: I think that someone was me. That sounds unpar with who I was at that particular time. But yeah, I think us just being able to sit in a classroom. I mean, after we had our initial conversations and after that very long Saturday class, we just started to talk to each other.  

Monique Jenkins: And I think that our lives aligned in ways that were unexpected for both of us. I think you had just met your husband or you were going on a blind date or something 

Jessica Valis: No, no, no, that was not a blind date. That was a meet him at the bar kind of a story.  

Monique Jenkins: I feel like before you met Chris, I was there. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, you definitely were. We had parties at my apartment and we had the design crew.  

Monique Jenkins: Yes. So I was like, Bryan’s been here forever. That’s my husband. He’s literally been with me since I think I was 18 or 20. 

Jessica Valis: Long time loves.  

Monique Jenkins: Yes. But I was like, I remember before Chris, because we were talking about like spouses, and I think I was complaining about Bryan at the time, and you were like, how am I about to go on this date with this guy named Chris?  

Monique Jenkins: I hope it goes well. 

Jessica Valis: Oh my gosh. Love at first sight.  

Monique Jenkins: Yes. But yeah, we just had a good vibe, and we kept in touch, and babies, and marriages, and all that jazz. Later, here we are working together. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah. And I think it’s really interesting. So our story kind of started with critiquing grad school. And even after grad school, we would still send each other our work for peer review and be like, what do you think of this? 

Jessica Valis: What would you do about this? So it’s really nice to see each other’s journey on like an education level, but also on a professional scale. And now that we’re on a professional scale and we trust each other’s opinions, we’ve come together to do this podcast and our two agencies collaborate together all the time.  

Monique Jenkins: Funny though, I think you were on a date with Chris and you text me and you were like, Monique, look at this menu, look at the kerning here. It’s not good. 

Jessica Valis: Oh my God. 

Jessica Valis: I still do that all the time. Honey, look, there’s an extra space after this word, or the line height is off, or the, oh, I think they used a different font here. And it’s just like, honey. Or the time. 

Jessica Valis: Jessica. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. I’m like, I care, I care. And I still do that. Same. I just, actually, I just did a website for a local restaurant, and I’m going through and like, look at this on the print version. 

Jessica Valis: Well, we’ll fix that on the web. Nobody will, you know, we’ll get that. Ironed out. 

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, Bryan hates me. He’s like, baby, I just want you to order the cheeseburger. There’s no time to critique I’m hungry and I’d be like just give me like five minutes to just tell them what could be better about this menu And he’s like they don’t care.

Jessica Valis 

There not gonna spend five hundred dollars on a reprint  

Monique Jenkins: I know and he’s like they don’t care No one else has noticed it the commas aren’t in the right place just get over it 

Jessica Valis: Listen the lack of comma 

Jessica Valis: or the irregular bolding of this menu is going to make my burger not taste as well. Okay? It’s gonna destroy the entire user experience of this restaurant for me, okay?  

Monique Jenkins: Exactly. He does not like me. Some days. I get it. It’s cool. So let’s tell the people how our two different agencies, how we kind of collaborate on projects. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, so we kind of already talked about how Monique’s side of the business focuses on more UX. And mine kind of focuses a lot more on just like visuals and the SEO side of things. And my clients tend to be on a smaller scale. 

Jessica Valis: They are small local businesses. It started off with, I mean, I said I couldn’t take my portfolio with me. So I was taking any client that came my way during COVID, budgets were small. So that’s kind of how I got into working with small businesses. 

Jessica Valis: But now I’ve gravitated away from just like startups to small person businesses between one to maybe 10, 20 team members on board. They’ve been in business for a couple of years. They’re ready to make that transition from this was my original website. 

Jessica Valis: We’ve grown significantly. Now we’re trying to, you know, grow up, grow up a little bit. So I have, I take on a couple clients every month. And then they tend to stay with me for a while. I take on multiple projects and, you know, they’ve got decent budgets for small businesses. 

Jessica Valis: And I try to work around them. But I think you’re different in that you’ll get that one big client. And that is your client all year.  

Monique Jenkins: Yeah, show me the money and then we can talk about whatever you want to talk about. Yeah, our audience are different because, yeah, I think yours is more small businesses. I don’t really know how people be finding me 100%.  

Monique Jenkins: I think it’s all networking at this point for my agency. But yeah, I take on clients that have a larger budget, probably in like the $30, $40 ,000, $50 ,000 range and then work with them on a project.  

Monique Jenkins: I think sometimes the project, it’s probably take a year, sometimes the projects take a week. Like we’ve done pushed out a website, a promotional website in about a week for a client for $30 ,000. And I do, as Jessica said, focus on user experience.  

Monique Jenkins: So how can we use what the user wants and what the business wants in order to effectively push out a promotional offer or something that we intend for this audience segment to do? And it’s been working out well.  

Monique Jenkins: I think our businesses mesh in a lot of different ways because we serve different clients. And you get to experience different things. Like the level of attention or detail, I think that I’ve gotten from clients who had a $500 budget versus the level of interest and things like that from a $50 ,000 client are wildly different.  

Monique Jenkins: And it’s interesting to just note that as an option out there in the universe, which is people who have a lower budget tend to be a little bit more in the weeds of the day -to -day interaction of what you’re doing with their project, people who pay you $50 ,000 are the expert and we expect for you to get it done.  

Monique Jenkins: So it’s a very interesting dynamic how our audience segments kind of change. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, it’s interesting too because when I say like working with small businesses, these still aren’t even the clients who, oh, I’ve got a $500 budget to redo my website. They’re usually within like the $10 ,000 range and it’s all about working within that budget because not only are these small businesses, but their first experience with a website designer or with SEO, they were likely burned. 

Jessica Valis: So they’re not about to hand over, you know, tens of thousands of dollars, but what’s great about starting kind of in the low stage is that we build that trust factor and most of them stay on as retainer and we continue to build that relationship. 

Jessica Valis: And you’re working with me now on one client, one of my very first clients, and they came back and they said, we’re ready. We love the site still. We want to glow up. And I was like, okay, well, I’m going to bring Monique on and you’ve got a bigger, a little bit of a bigger budget this time and we’ll bring that UX experience on and they are so excited.  

Monique Jenkins: Yeah. And I think that’s where we differ too. Like I think that my clients are like, hidden and quitted for lack of a better term is like, we’re gonna work together once, and then we’re never probably gonna see each other again, which is fine.  

Monique Jenkins: I love long relationships, but I don’t think that my relationships with my clients manifests in like, hey, we’re gonna do a multitude of projects, maybe sometimes, but not all the time. I think maybe one or two of the projects that we had, like they came back for additional work and things like that.  

Monique Jenkins: But I think that we become friends, which is an interesting perspective. Like I think that all of the clients that we’ve worked with in the past have my cell phone number and text me randomly about life and other things, and ask about my daughter or husband, or ask about us and things like that.  

Monique Jenkins: So like they don’t manifest all the time as like new work, but they do like stick around to just like check in and be a part of it. 

Jessica Valis: I actually just told a long -term client. I was like, can you stop calling my business phone number and just call my cell because I don’t pick up my business line because it’s always spam. I was like, but we’ve been working together for years, so please, you’ve got my cell phone number because we were friendly before we even started working together on a business send. 

Jessica Valis: So I was like, call the cell. I’ll pick it up.  

Monique Jenkins: I don’t think I canceled my business line because I would never look at that phone for anything. So I gave everyone my actual cell phone number, which, yay and nay guys, if you’re gonna get a client text at three o ‘clock in the morning asking why this logo is not proportionally right, that’s the life that you lead sometimes.  

Monique Jenkins: But for the most part, people have been incredibly respectful and I will not respond to your message at three o ‘clock in the morning. You will have to hit me at nine when I wake up and see it. I got things to do, like sleep.  

Monique Jenkins: But I always find it interesting that these like one -off projects manifests as greater friendships. And I’m gonna monetize that after time. I’m gonna put all of those people in the same room because I think even in our client bases, there are connections that can be made amongst them for their respective businesses with other clients that we’ve worked with before.  

Monique Jenkins: And I think creating some type of support system in group for those clients that are at wildly different levels, but have information that they can share will be enriching for everyone kind of moving forward.  

Monique Jenkins: And kinda, you know, you find a little like business posse and I’m down with that. 

Jessica Valis: Oh yeah, it’s interesting to see how many of my clients actually know each other. And I’m like, but they didn’t refer me to each other. It just kind of popped up. So, you know, and I think that’s the nice thing about working with small businesses too and in small communities is that people know each other and they’re more trusting of each individual successes versus like a larger scale company where they’re looking for RFPs from like 10, 20 different design agencies before they pick, whereas in a smaller base they’re like, why work with Jessica before? 

Jessica Valis: And I trust her and like, okay, I’ll work with Jessica then. Yeah, that is not bad. You should ask, you should look for options, but you know, trust your gut and see what feels best.  

Monique Jenkins: is not my life. RFPs are my world right now. I hate them because they are incredibly long. Also, I think that sometimes companies, they’re doing this whole rivalry thing where they have like 20 RFPs to look at when they really already have a firm that they want to go with.  

Monique Jenkins: I would prefer you just tell me that. So I could whip something together real quick and get it out of the way. So I don’t have to focus on that. So I could just do you a solid real quick rather than spend three hours meticulously designing and putting in valid perspectives and points as to why we deserve this project and what is going to happen for you to be like, yeah, we already knew that we wanted to work with Jessica.  

Monique Jenkins: We just needed a couple other people because some companies require that you have at least three RFPs before you can close a deal or close a contract or something. Just be like, Monique, I just need you to whip something up real quick.  

Monique Jenkins: Give me like the 20 minute proposal so that I can say no and then I can move forward with the company that I actually want to work with. Yeah. 

Jessica Valis: It’s interesting with the RFPs, which stands for Request for Proposal for anybody who’s not aware. Sometimes they’re just like, give me the pricing, give me an outline of your timeline and how the process works. 

Jessica Valis: Then there’s others where they’re like, make recommendations on how we could do better. Look at this and define and outline. You did not hire me yet.  

Monique Jenkins: Yeah. And I don’t do spec work. 

Jessica Valis: No, I remember, I think, because we’ve been together for so long, you were applying for Under Armour one time. And they were like, before we interview you, you need to put together a design and send it in. 

Jessica Valis: And you were contemplating it. And I was like, Monique, you’re not getting paid for that design, honey. Don’t do it.  

Monique Jenkins: But I mentioned that I’ve told an endless amount of junior designers like, don’t do it. Don’t. They’re not going to pay you for your time. Do not get into this whole let me conceptually gather a bunch of like data points from a bunch of different designers and pick out what we want and what we don’t want.  

Monique Jenkins: If you want me, you better pay me or pay designers that you’re going to interview for a time that it takes them to do some type of case study or something like that. Like I think giving someone a 50 or $100 gift card for their time and effort or capping the amount of time that it takes for them to complete a project, which people never do.  

Monique Jenkins: Like I certainly give out design tests when I’m interviewing people and I always think like, don’t spend more than an hour on this. And people are always like, well, I actually spent 12 hours and I’m like, no, an hour to just like do the basics and then get it out of the way.  

Monique Jenkins: But not like, don’t invest 30 hours of working to this because you’re not getting paid for it. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, I just onboarded somebody on Monday to help with content writing. And, um, but specifically for content writing with AI, and I was showing her my process and I was like, do not spend more than 20 minutes per article on this. 

Jessica Valis: Like you’re having AI help do a refresh on the copy. Like you don’t have to take it too seriously, look for these things. And she’s like, uh, I just did three articles and I was like, you started three, three hours ago. 

Jessica Valis: It’s not that serious. Yeah. It’s like, just, just pump them out. It’s a, it’s a workhouse here.  

Monique Jenkins: You want to prove yourself though when you’re a junior designer. I remember like, I remember being like, I don’t even know what I don’t even know and trying to figure out like best path forward and failing horribly at it and not being confident in my work, you know, Q and posture syndrome.  

Monique Jenkins: And being like, yeah, I just I want to do the best humanly possible for this. And I just it just would not go well or did not go well. It was all a learning experience and it definitely shaped who I am now.  

Monique Jenkins: But in the beginning, I think it’s very hard to stop yourself from some things. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, I think this is a great segue to kind of closing out the episode and just to kind of briefly go over some of the things we’re going to discuss in future episodes like RFPs and proposals, contracts, packaging, mentorship. 

Jessica Valis: What are a couple other things you can think of?  

Monique Jenkins: I don’t know. Off the top of my head, I have absolutely no idea. I need to look at it. There’s a lot. There’s a lot to cover. But you guys have to stay tuned to hear all the amazingness. We’re going to walk you.  

Monique Jenkins: I think these first couple episodes will walk you through how each of us runs our business, how we find clients, how we price our work, proposals and contracts like Jessica was talking about, to help you kind of start your business, to start your enterprise and how you find the we’ll go into some more fun and free episodes.  

Monique Jenkins: But at first, we kind of just want to outline how you would get started as a design agency owner and the things that you kind of need to do. And we’ll have guest speakers who will come on and give you their perspectives on how they run their own respective businesses or tax account in how you should set up your LLC or S -Corb or all of that jazz in between.  

Monique Jenkins: So you’ll have to stay tuned and we will have all that funness for you soon. 

Jessica Valis: Yeah, join us for the next episode where we talk about the different types of imposter syndrome and then it’s just going to be rocking and rolling from there. So thanks. Thanks. Thanks everyone for listening. 

Jessica Valis: As we wrap up our captivating journey on today’s episode of Design Imposter, we want to leave you with an empowering message.  

Monique Jenkins: Self -doubt may be a universal experience, but it should never define your worth or potential. 

Jessica Valis: Embrace the power of your unique voice, trust in your intuition and abilities, and continue creating fearlessly.  

Monique Jenkins: Remember you belong in this space and your contributions are immensely valuable.

Jessica Valis: Know that you are never alone on this journey. We stand by your side, ready to support and celebrate you and your business every step of the way.  

Monique Jenkins: Thank you for joining us today and being an essential part of the Design Imposter community. 

Jessica Valis: Don’t forget to subscribe, follow us at Design Imposter Podcast on Instagram and Facebook, and leave a review to help other imposters find us.  

Monique Jenkins: Until we meet again, keep those headphones around.