When Jennifer Bladykas Spurling ’05 noticed a need in the market for cost-effective design and communications solutions for nonprofits and mission-based businesses, deciding to fill the void was easy.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I think I inevitably knew I’d end up owning a business in some way, shape or form,” she says. “As an avid volunteer and huge fan of the nonprofit sector, as well as a skilled and professional visual communicator, I knew starting Simply Be Creative was the logical next step.” Founded in 2010, the business provides creative consulting, copywriting and design for projects ranging from fundraising appeals to websites to print ads.
As a self-employed small business owner, Spurling’s days are varied, and so are the organizations with which she works. One day might find her writing and designing a parents magazine for a local human services agency, while another might entail drafting a brand platform and beginning a corporate identity design for a local foundation working with families in Kenya.
“I’m passionate about my clients and their missions, so it’s a joy to go to work every day,” she says.
Regardless of where each day takes her, Spurling says it’s her degree in English communications that propelled her to this point. “English communications gave me a foundation to understand what moves people to think, act or respond,” she says. “In the nonprofit world, that sense of urgency or timeliness goes hand-in-hand with building a donor base and support for a mission. Knowing why a message is important was one of the first lessons I learned from Donna Harrington-Lueker in my journalism classes and I use it every day.”
Spurling feels that the diversity of classes and broad range of lessons offered in Salve Regina’s English communications program complement the need for multi-skilled employees in today’s workforce. “One of the greatest strengths of a job applicant these days is being able to effectively communicate,” she says. “With a degree in English communications, you are well prepared to handle the many soft-skills required in today’s job market.”
While she feels blessed to be doing what she loves so early in her career, Spurling is insistent on raising the bar. “I’d love to continue doing what I’m doing and to collaborate with other like-minded individuals,” she says. “One of my career goals is to learn more about alternative business models so that my own business can become a model for those wanting to do well by doing good.”
And while her career moves ever forward, Spurling continues to give back to the place where it all started, a place she calls her “home away from home.” She frequently attends Salve Regina’s young alumni events, donates as often as she can and has participated in a panel for English majors considering the nonprofit sector.
“My life has been changed for the better because of Salve,” Spurling says. “I’m proud that my career path has allowed me to live the mission of promoting a world that is harmonious, just and merciful.”