Lessons Learned: 10 Years of Portfolio Creative

By Kristen Harris

Ten years ago my friend, Catherine, and I had this crazy idea. We’d spent many years in a variety of creative environments and positions, and kept seeing the same issue over and over again. Creative people were always looking for new career opportunities, and companies needed creative help. But there was no good way for them to find each other. We’d been on both sides of the equation, and knew there had to be a better way. 

So we started Portfolio Creative; two ladies with laptops and a vision of something better. We saw the opportunity to create something that would improve lives, strengthen the local creative community, and make a lasting difference. So, with all the enthusiasm of budding entrepreneurs, we dove in. Ten years later our vision is coming to life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.   

I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, here are a few that stand out:

People matter. Our business is completely focused on people. I work with nothing but people all day long. We don’t make widgets; we help creative people find work that matters, and we help clients connect with talent that will help their companies succeed. No matter the size of company, team or organization, it’s only as good as the people involved. I am fortunate to do work that revolves around people, and to see the differences we, and they, make every day. 

Relationships matter. I can’t even begin to count how many relationships I’ve built over the last ten years. Not to mention relationships that continued from my previous positions. Getting to know a person, finding out what makes them tick and what’s important to them, is endlessly fascinating and rewarding for me. Building long-term relationships that benefit everyone involved is something that deserves everyone’s regular time and attention. People work best with those they like and respect.

Live honestly. Put your money where your mouth is. Do what you say you will. If you make a mistake, admit it and do whatever you can to make it right. Be honest, even when it’s hard. These things are never easy, but I’ve found people appreciate honesty and usually are willing to work together to find a solution. If we’ve built a trusting relationship, they know I’m also keeping their best interest in mind.

Keep learning. Change is constant. If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. Every day I am challenged by something new. I’m constantly learning in large and small ways. If I stop learning, I’ll stop growing, changing and improving. Some lessons are more fun than others, but I keep learning and changing every day.

You matter. When I stop and think about everything we’ve accomplished in the past ten years, it’s almost overwhelming. We have helped thousands of people find work, hundreds of clients connect the right talent they needed at the right time, and put millions of dollars of payroll into the local creative economy. Every once in a while, take a moment to stop and think about what you’ve accomplished. It can be powerful and motivating. Just don’t linger there too long—realize it, take note, and then keep doing more!

When we started this business I wanted to make a difference, and that has happened in ways I never could have imagined. Thank you for the opportunity, and bring on the next ten!