Her experience running a small business set her up to be the right design director for telling stories about economic empowerment and grit. We asked about her experience navigating a creative career. Here’s what she had to say:

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me is females empowering themselves. Standing up for justice and equality. It can take many forms and have many layers. It’s not black and white.

Jen's studio

Can you share any stories from your creative career when being a womxn was a focus, for better or worse?

I’ve worn many hats during my career, and one of those hats was running my own small business where I designed and sold jewelry. Being a womxn selling jewelry was very fitting and perfect, and it was pretty much my identity for quite some time. I felt very proud to be a female small-business owner doing it day in and day out. I also think it allowed me to connect with my customers better. They felt like they could talk to me honestly.

How have communities like Ladies Who Create impacted you?

It’s been amazing to connect with womxn in the industry. Coming together to just mix and mingle and form a network has been so magical. I appreciate being a part of this amazing group of womxn.

Squeers
Jen designed this installation for Squeers, which is an Employee Resource Group for the LGBTQIA+ community at Square.

Who do you look up to for career inspiration?

Again, there are so many. Paula Scher is one of the legends in design, at the top. A true inspiration. Meg Lewis is amazing because she’s paved her own way AND helps others do the same. Jessica Walsh is young and yet so incredibly successful. And even my friend Alex, who isn’t a womxn but is a design executive in tech and from an immensely humble background, just worked really hard to get to where he is.

How do you navigate anxiety about work?

I used to have a LOT more anxiety about work when I was younger, and it definitely stemmed from insecurity. I’ve learned over time that if you are good at what you do and you truly believe in it, that will make a lot of anxiety go away because you will actually exude the confidence you need to get past anything. I used to go into meetings worried about what people would think of my ideas, and therefore be anxious. Now I go in knowing that while my idea may not always be the best, it’s valid, worth exploring and discussing, and thus there’s no reason to be anxious.

Jen's jewelry

Photograph by Jen Murse

Jen's jewelry

Photograph by Jen Murse

Jen has deep roots as a small business owner and jeweler, which gives her a strong foundation for her work at Square.

What do you want to be doing in five years?

This is tough, since five years ago I had my own business, which was one of my life goals. In another five years I don’t necessarily know where I’ll be, but I definitely want to be surrounded by an amazing team doing amazing work. It could be big or small. I just want to believe in what I’m doing and know that the people I’m working with also believe in it too.

Who is your dream collaborator?

Even though I would never have any business collaborating with him … James Turrell. His work is truly amazing. I love environmental design, and while that’s not what he does, he does create immersive light and art experiences that are just incredible. If I could even design a poster for an exhibit of his or anything related, I would be honored.

How do you overcome a creative rut?

I just turn the page and start over, metaphorically speaking. I have to get out of what I am trying to do, to hopefully free myself and find a new approach.

What message do you have for womxn in the creative community?

There’s no one direct path. Everyone’s story is unique. Pave your own way.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Always get louder.

If you enjoyed Jen's story, read more features from Ladies Who Create and request a free copy of Feminist Propaganda, our new magazine that explores identity, feminism, and work.

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