Mom to Hunter, 8 and Max, 6 // Marketing + Communications Consultant

Written by Jessica Gedge and Joelle Segal // Photographed by Joelle Segal 

Learning how we do our best work as an entrepreneur takes a lot of time and consideration. This week we are diving into the life of another XO Co-Founder, Jessica. Jess and I (Joelle) have known each other for over 12 years and having worked on various ventures together, we jive very well as a team. Similar in many ways, yet we both bring different strengths to the table. Jessica is a marketing rockstar, strategizing in ways that my brain just cannot! Read more about Jess – who finds she is more productive when working outside of her home – photographed at the beautiful and new co-working space and studio, Artscape Daniels Launchpad.

What has your career journey looked like so far?

I co-founded my first business straight out of university. It was a high-end kitchen textiles business and I did everything from product design, sales and marketing and PR to wholesale and retail tradeshows. After running that business for over seven years my partner and I sold it. I’ve had stints in corporate communications, worked as a small business consultant for a municipality, and as a marketing and communications manager for a non-profit. Mostly though I realized that wherever I was I like to carve my own path and being an entrepreneur has really allowed me to be present with my kids in a way I really appreciate. You and I met over ten years ago and really clicked, and we started our first venture together, ReBash, where we realized how well we jived both creatively and professionally. This led us to create The XO Project.

Why did you start The XO Project?

I remember you and I were talking together about how often we felt like a lot of what we saw on social media just didn’t truly reflect our lives and our experiences, in terms of being parents and entrepreneurs. We wanted to create a platform that is able to inspire, provide resources and a community for parentpreneurs that we felt was missing from the space.

For The XO Project, I create the editorial content and work on marketing and branding. I source out cool entrepreneurs to connect with and interview them and have so much fun working on this.

Tell us about the consulting work you also do.

I’ve had a wide range of experience throughout my career, but I’ve always been drawn to working with entrepreneurs. Much of my work revolves around helping businesses reach their goals through strategic marketing and communications and I absolutely love talking anything around partnership development and branding! I basically just love helping people find ways to grow their businesses and learning about all the different types of entrepreneurs there are out there.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I get inspired by everything from music and art to dining and travel experiences. And a lot from conversations – I’m inspired by people who are really passionate about what they love to do.

Describe your typical day.

I wake up around 6am and get ready before the kids are awake. I don’t ever feel like I’m truly ‘ready for the day’ if I don’t put on makeup and get dressed properly, it’s just my thing. I’m definitely not a ‘work in jammies’ person. Since summer has started we’re on a camp schedule so I let them sleep in until around 8 then I get them ready and feed them and drop them to day camp. I typically schedule meetings in the first half of the day and then leave the second half of the day to catch up on client work, emails and administrative work. I pick up the kids around 5 and then we have dinner before my husband gets home because they’re usually ravenous. We typically go out to the neighbourhood park each night after dinner until dark hits. My husband and I Netflix and chill after the boys have gone to bed or sometimes we go out on a date if we can get babysitting.

How do you carve out time for yourself?

I think it’s important to maintain a life outside of kids and work – so I try to schedule regular hangs with my friends and dates with my husband whenever we can. For solo time, I don’t schedule it in but I know I need it when I’m getting super impatient and cranky and at that point I’ll head to a bookstore and grab a coffee and just try to zone out.

To be honest I don’t really prioritize self-care, but I’m getting there. I’ve been making steps towards taking care of myself since I know logically that if we don’t take care of ourselves, our families in turn suffer, but it can be surprisingly hard to put this into practice in everyday life.

I suffer from anxiety and for the first time in my life I’ve been making effort to address it through therapy. I’ve tried a few variations of it but I’ve found that Inkblot has been amazingly helpful. So many things about it work for me – the ability to have sessions online, the convenience of doing it from home and to be able to select a therapist based on their background and profile and my needs. Pretty cool that it’s a Canadian company, too!

Working out is going to be another priority this year and even though it’s pretty much halfway over (2020, I see you!) it’s better late than never, right!?

How do you stay organized?

I’m all about the old-school notebook and agenda! I need to have everything written down and I’ve been using Moleskine for awhile now and love the simplicity of the calendar. I pair this with Google calendar and reminders to make sure I get out the door on time for meetings. But I’m pretty organized as a person, probably to a fault. I’m the one in the friend groups who’s coordinating the Christmas get together in July lol.

How do you balance work/life priorities?

“Balance” is a tricky word, right?! There are days when I feel so on top of my game with work and then I have some kind of kid-related “crisis” and it kind of feels deflating. But it’s just is how it is, whether you’re working a 9-5 or running your own business, the benefit of being your own boss is having the ability to set your priorities and timelines according to what makes the most sense for you. Nobody has their lives together 100% of the time and it’s important to have those conversations so we can all relate and help each other.

In terms of childcare, both boys are in after-school care and we’re lucky enough to have grandparents and aunts/uncles that help out whenever we need a break.

What are the joys/challenges you experience as a parent and entrepreneur?

I think the luxury of being an entrepreneur is the ability to be flexible. I can be there for the appointments, the after school programs, the sports etc. as long as I build it into my schedule.

The challenge for me has always been working from home. It’s not a problem for me to adhere to a routine and be disciplined enough to get the work done – what IS a problem is not having regular adult interaction. I mitigate the loneliness by making sure to have regular meetings and appointments set up for each week and also working in a co-working space, like Artscape Daniels Launchpad. It’s taken me so much longer to understand this about myself than I thought. Connecting with other people on a face-to-face level is essential to my well-being. In today’s remote world it can be all too easy to become isolated, so I’m making sure to take action against that and fill my ‘bucket’ with positive, challenging and interesting interactions.

What is your style?

I’ve always gravitated towards tailored looks – as much as I love the way certain styles look on other people at my age I definitely know what suits me especially after my body’s changed after having kids! I wear a LOT of black but am making a conscious effort to include more colours in my staples – so I love a good neutral like olive green, mustard, burgundy and navy.

What are your favourite ways to get motivated?

Music plays a big part in getting me motivated – if it’s too quiet I can’t think! I’m a big 90’s kid at heart so I love some 90’s hip hop, R&B and dancehall. Much to my husband’s chagrin I’m also a big Drake fan lol. Getting up and moving around helps, and checking in with my awesome business partner always motivates me 😉 We also have this awesome motivation tool we created that includes other tips for staying motivated.

What are your favourite – skincare, makeup, office tools, software, restaurants, things to do with your family, ways to unwind?

I wish I was better at skincare and I KNOW that I need to start a routine at my age, but to be completely honest there are even nights I go to bed with my makeup on. It’s my dirty (literally) secret. I know that’s truly gross but I’m usually so exhausted and I get a lot of compliments on my skin so…maybe the secret is laziness???

I love the routine of putting on makeup and my favourite products are Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (it gives JUST the right amount of coverage without being cakey), black waterproof eyeliner, Tarte eyeshadow, Glossier highlighter and Nars blush.

In terms of software I’m a big fan of the Instagram add-on to Chrome that allows me to post using my desktop. It’s changed my life!

We love eating out as a family and you’ll find us brunching on the weekend or enjoying a good patio during the summer months. We also love to hit up the Evergreen Brickworks to hike and take in the markets and we love a good festival, too.

Has parenting changed the way you run your business, or vice versa? 

Parenting while being an entrepreneur has made me value TIME. So whether it’s being as efficient as possible or having flexibility to rearrange my schedule, I love the #boss life because it allows me to create a life with my family where I don’t have to choose them vs. work (most of the time). I also like being able to demonstrate to my kids that there are different ways to be successful, and that life doesn’t always have to fit a preconceived notion of what you should do in order to be happy.

Now you know about both of the creatives behind the Extraordinary Ordinary Project. Note that we offer business services to help your company reach your goals – check out Jessica’s work over here and be sure to drop a comment or reach out to us and let us know if you have any other questions for Jess and the work she does!