“You are in control of your priorities – you can erase old priorities and define new priorities at will.” ― Isaiah Hankel, Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives


It has been a year already! Well, we opened our doors on August 1st, 2020, so I’m a little over the mark writing this in September, but who is counting?!

I knew I needed to write about the last year to reflect on it, but it’s a bit difficult…not because it has been so challenging or raw or complex (which it has). Instead because so much has happened in such a relatively short time that I do not want to miss the point to share! Especially to those other women in the world who may be as dumb as I was (haha kidding!) to go down this journey.

According to an article by Fortunly, in 2021, “for 21.5% of small businesses, the journey ends before the first year is over.”   While I’m a spreadsheet girl through and through, this statistic can leave me alone!

I remember the first weeks of opening for business. Nothing as dramatic as having an actual brick and mortar location, but hitting the “publish” button on my website and service pages felt like opening the glass door to a storefront and opening the world to my heart to be judged. Not going to lie – I was pretty nauseous. Mainly because of the years I’ve worked, none of my portfolio belonged to me, so who was going to call me when I didn’t have dozens and dozens of professional images to share of completed work?

Funny. Our minds, at moments of stress, go straight to the negative. The “if I fail, what will people think?” or “What did I just do?” or “Who will even want to work with me?” Oh, and I’m not saying that didn’t happen because it did. Not to my face, but I know all about the laughs and giggles from those who are lesser than; those I once looked up to as a young professional, only to realize how stagnant they truly were in their careers as I grew and developed past them. I could lie and say nothing ever got to me… that the whispers that made it back to me didn’t sting a little, but of course, they do in the quiet hours of the night when you can’t sleep and you’re left with your thoughts.

Now the rockstar boss lady in me scoffs at the inner voices of the little girl, saying, “Jessie. You have years and years of experience designing and managing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work. You’ve practically grown up on a job site, worked with amazing people, and have an excellent education. Of course you fill a need within your community!”

So, to further remove myself from the quiet parts of my mind, let’s talk about the fantastic things that happened this year, first! If only to keep this as a reminder!


  1. I am no longer alone!  I have expanded my team to include a fantastic assistant and a part-time architectural designer! This was a great moment for me as I was not planning to add to the team until year two or three!
  2. My client docket is full!  I am grateful to select projects that are right for me instead of taking anything that comes my way!
  3. I have worked (and continue to work) with quality clients!  Nothing but mutual respect from clients who trust me when they tell me all about their homes and what they dream of it being. To anyone who has or does work in a service-related field, you know how amazing this is!
  4. I won Simply The Best from Harrisburg Magazine in the Architecture category! Going against other companies who had been in business for years and years, I never actually thought I had a chance once I saw someone nominated me. So, not only to be nominated but to win humbled me so much. I’m pretty sure I squeaked and skipped around at one point… I’m not ashamed 🙂


I’m currently taking a Success course through Yellow Submarine Coaching (highly recommend!), where we’re discussing and developing our goals in a small group setting with people all over the country. Anyway! The book we’re reading together, Goals! Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy had a surprising point that stuck with me as I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on the business; where it has been and where it is going.  

In the book, as he’s reflecting on his “ah ha” moment in his youth, he says, “I suddenly realized that everything that would happen to me for the rest of my life was going to be up to me. No one else was ever going to help me. No one was coming to the rescue.”   While in a sense it’s morbid or sad and may give you the impression that you’re all alone, in a seemingly odd way it motivated me further to be my own hero and to work and provide for myself and my family. No one is coming to wake me up in the morning and tell me to get to work. No one is looming over my shoulder and pointing out the rights and wrongs. No one will yell at me for missing a deadline or give me support and encouragement when I do well. It’s all on me — both the good and the bad.


  1. Write and share more!  Man, I get so into the projects that I forget to actually share them! My assistant, Amanda, is great at reminding me of this and kicking my butt into gear! You WILL hear more from me in year two!
  2. Completed work and professional images!  Ok COVID, I’ve had enough. Due to contractor or material restrictions, we’ve had some beautiful projects sitting on the sidelines for months just WAITING to be built! I’m discouraged about this and I know my clients are too! Thankfully we work through each day together and just need to practice some patience! (Yes, husband, I do have patience when I have to!).
  3. Develop a well-stocked online store!  For those who follow on social media, you will know that we are launching The Design Shop here in just a few days! Now, channeling my inner rockstar boss lady voice, I acknowledge that there are only so many hours in the day and that I can only create in-depth, helpful resources in between projects and writing and billing and paperwork and life! I get that… but I’m so very excited to create MORE content to share and begin collaborating with other professionals to give resources to people beyond my small 50-mile radius.
  4. Get better at showing my face!  Ugh.  This one is tough for me.  I want to share everything with you all but there’s that small part of me that doesn’t want to seem ‘pompous’ or ‘over the top.’  This, of course, is not your problem but mine!  So I’ll work on it.  Slowly.  Begrudgingly.  Ha!


I’ve decided, too, that once I complete my success course with Yellow Submarine Coaching, I’m going to share a more in-depth look at the business goals and values! Nothing keeps you honest like 1,000 people reading them (and reminding you of them)!

Look!  A picture of myself!  See?  Working towards my year two improvements!  Anyway… carry on!

Finally, on a personal note, I can breathe again. I have found myself and continue to develop in the person I am, not the person I was trying to fit in a pretty box. I have had some amazing conversations and made seriously memorable connections with people whom I would NEVER have met if I didn’t leap into entrepreneurship. Some days are good, bad, or ugly, but they are MY days now. My life is my own, and I have been so incredibly blessed to receive so much support and outreach. If you read my first blog post about kicking off this journey, you will know I had a lot to heal from. A lot to process, unpack and move past. Again, to say it is all sunshine and rainbows would be a lie, but there are more and more days when I wake up excited. More days when I breathe easy and smile… and that, to me, is all I truly ever wanted.

Here’s to year two!  I haven’t ripped my hair out…. yet!!!
Jessie Ellis

Jessie Ellis

Wife, friend and dog mom with 18+ years of education and 12+ years as a commercial design professional. Always inquisitive, creative and empathetic; trying to live each day with intention.

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