An increasing number of women in Canada are wading into the unpredictable waters of business ownership. According to TD Economics, 47 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses in this country were entirely or partially owned by women in 2012, a number that has grown over the past decade.
Although she is part of this growing movement, Kim Pickett isn’t interested in following the trends. “I want to be the trailblazer who’s seen as having no fear, someone who has a high tolerance for risk,” says the owner of KIMBO Design Inc.
But playing it safe was not in the cards for Pickett who started working independently in Toronto after graduating from the Sheridan/York Bachelor of Design (Honours) program in 2001.
Less than three years later, she relocated to Vancouver, packing a mere $3,000 along with lots of tenacity and talent.
With no job waiting for her, Pickett landed on her feet quickly nevertheless, working as a marketing manager for a Discovery Computers franchise. “I soon realized I didn’t want to rely on someone else for my income – I wanted to call the shots myself.”
So she put plans in motion to open her own shop. Within a couple of months Pickett had moved into a small loft office, the new home of KIMBO Design. It was now time for the heavy lifting necessary to build KIMBO’s reputation as a full-service branding and design agency. Over the next decade, Pickett accomplished that mission – and then some. Most recently, Canadian Business and PROFIT ranked KIMBO Design No. 71 on the 2017 PROFIT 500 list, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Last year, Pickett’s company was also named number 22 of Vancouver’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies. Other recognition includes ranking on the 2015 PROFIT/Chatelaine list of Canada’s top 100 female entrepreneurs, nominations for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards and Business in Vancouver’s Forty Under 40 award. Pickett was also a finalist in the National Graphex 2013 competition and was selected as a judge for the 2014 JUNO Award.
Political branding and advertising has become a growth area for KIMBO Design which has delivered identity work for both the B.C. Liberals and Vision Vancouver campaigns. The studio has also created effective economic development-related ad projects for smaller B.C. communities, including Prince George and West Kootenay.
I empower other woman entrepreneurs to have confidence, work hard and make their voices heard.
With a constant eye on gaining new business, Pickett makes it a priority to promote her team’s design work in as many ways as possible. “My mission is to create a business that’s sustainable not just for me, but for everyone in our company whose livelihood depends on it.”
Building a strong customer base doesn’t simply mean giving clients what they like, she adds. “Design is about serving the end user and the target audience, reaching goals and getting results.”
Trusting in your abilities to deliver those results is a message that Pickett offers to today’s budding female business owners. “I empower other woman entrepreneurs to have confidence, work hard and make their voices heard. Design is a tough industry and you have to learn how to be resilient,” she advises. “There will be days you will question your choice of running your own business. But it’s worth it. I’ve never looked back because I know my passion and hard work has fuelled my success.”