Community Care and Creativity by Design: Janelle Desrosiers’ Bloom + Brilliance
“I've always been very creative, a kid always drawing, making crafts, and dreaming up businesses. When I realized that there was an actual way to meld my love of drawing, of art and business, it was pretty obvious that I wanted to do design as a job,” says Janelle Desrosiers. She is Michif and French Canadian, a Two-Spirit artist, entrepreneur, creative director and founder of Bloom + Brilliance, a queer, Indigenous and intersectional feminist-led design agency. Living in Treaty One territory where she was born, she’s a wife and mother of one.
“My aunt hired me to create a logo for her company when I was about 13 years old and it was just really exciting to see how owning a business brought new aspects to my aunt I hadn't seen before,” she continues. She was proud to see how her art had a part in making her aunt’s business shine, and from that first job, she was hooked, taking design courses in high school and college before starting her business.
The daughter of a teacher, she was a naturally good student, but not amazing and she struggled to make friends, moving around a lot. Teachers complained she was inconsistent and not living up to her full potential. Her social life improved in high school and beyond, but her grades were impacted by ADHD and severe mood disorders until she found the right environment and tools to succeed.
The hands-on learning style of college was more of a fit for her than university. ”That was where I realized that I am capable of being successful. It just looks different than the usual track and I need different support than other people do,” she reflects. Her love of design and of herself helped her flourish.
“I really just had to focus on being kind to myself, understanding myself, my strengths and my weaknesses, and accepting them.”
Self-love created a domino effect. “By prioritizing, loving and being kind to myself, it also helped me to not accept attitudes, behaviour or actions from others who were less kind and loving to me,” she explains. She created boundaries and distance from the ableist judgements of others, something that didn’t come easily and remains a daily practice. Today, her strong sense of self is expressed in her business, too.
“Part of our core values is being Indigenous and intersectional feminist entrepreneurs. Every one of our clients is just amazing.. incredible people doing incredible work,” she smiles. From authors to consulting agencies, Indigenous organizations, fashion brands and more, she has an impressive list of clients she loves building relationships with, learning about their dreams and contributing to them coming true with her gifts of design and strategy.
She spends mornings with her young son and her husband who works from home, too, before starting her work day. Desrosiers loves listening to music, getting into flow and creating solutions with her virtual team, brainstorming and laughing together. She hopes her son learns that taking care of family and community is the most important job we have, and she models that in the work she does.
Her advice to a young Indigenous person trying to figure out what it is they want to do with their career is empowering. “Find out what your gifts are, what are the things that make you just come alive, make you feel like you're on fire, you're so excited to do, almost nothing can stop you from doing it. Find out the things that other people need in their lives, the ways that your gifts can help other people and create meaningful impact in other people's lives and focus on that,” she counsels.
“Have faith in yourself and love yourself, no matter what. Success looks different for everybody... Part of loving yourself no matter what is knowing what your gifts and weaknesses are and being honest about that, investing in your gift and sharing with others. As long as you're doing things in a good way, doing right by people, following your passion, sharing your gifts, you really can't go wrong,” she encourages.
Desrosiers hopes young people appreciate their own strengths instead of getting caught up in comparison. “I built an award-winning design agency in two years, but I can't remember to eat during the day. Most of the time, if I do remember, I eat ramen noodles because it's so hard to follow instructions and cook a full meal. There are days I have so much energy, and I'm just so on fire and I can move the world, inspire the world and do incredible things. There are other days where I can't even get out of bed. It's hard to go back and forth between those two opposite feelings,” she confides.
She knows she isn’t alone. “A lot of people have days where everything's coming together, and it feels right. Then you have days where everything is really awful. Those bad days aren't reflective of your worth and what you're capable of. I just want everyone to be kind to themselves when those hard days hit…. You can't be behind in your own life. You're always right on time,” she elaborates.
Thinking about the future, Desrosiers is wistful. “Ultimately, I'm hoping that the world finds its way back to taking care of each other, and the world that we live in. I hope each and every person can find a way to center those values with the work they do and the life they live, personally and professionally. I strongly believe we can do professional work, even if it's within the structures that we live in, that are land and community based. My life's work is focused on that as well,” she muses.
That very creative kid, always drawing, making crafts, and dreaming up businesses, found a way to meld her love of drawing, of art and business, and to make design her job. Janelle Desrosiers, founder of Bloom + Brilliance discovered how to bloom and share her brilliance with the world. Her journey of self-love helped her show love to others, sharing her gifts and supporting their dreams. It’s all come together beautifully, with community care and creativity by design.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.