Sherry Isnor is President of Design Marketing, a consultant and supplier of promotional products, apparel and workwear, located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. After working in sales at Design Marketing for 10 years, Sherry acquired the business in 2012. It was the greatest moment in her life and she set out with a clear vision of where she wanted to take the business and proudly she’s getting there. Design Marketing has been WBE Canada certified since 2013 and Sherry will be the first to tell you that attending events, learning from the professionals and networking pays off: Design Marketing is doing business with big business.
WBE Canada: Why did you go into this business?
Sherry: I guess I have always been entrepreneurial. At the age of 10 I would go door to door writing orders for hand crafted doilies. I would come home and then make them on a loom and deliver. I had a little order book and it was a great feeling to write orders. I love sales, it’s what I do best. I was working for Design Marketing in sales for over 10 years and acquired the business in 2012. This was a great moment in my life. I had a vision of where I wanted to take this business and proudly we are getting there.
WBE Canada: When it comes to your business, what are you most proud of?
Sherry: Like many businesses, I’m proud of my team. My team has a huge desire to succeed. They are focused and I’m proud of the support and desire they have for Design Marketing to grow and succeed.
WBE Canada: As a business grows it has a tendency to focus on institution instead of inspiration. How do you prevent this from happening?
Sherry: I’ve always believed that if at all possible you should enjoy doing what you do. We’re going to have our bad days, but I love doing what I do and I want my team to feel the same.
WBE Canada: How do you encourage creative thinking in your company?
Sherry: We love work-life balance. Many of our staff has the flexibility to work remotely. I like how this allows a mindset for creative thinking. We are growing and I’m always open to new ideas and thus encourage my team to be transparent and let me know what they think we may need to implement or change. I encourage brainstorming regularly as to what we may have tried, how it worked or perhaps didn’t work. If it didn’t work I don’t want anyone to feel failure, we just need another approach.
WBE Canada: How has your WBE certification helped you in your business?
Sherry: We’ve been certified for almost 6 years and have benefited greatly from networking at Breakfast with Brands and other events. We’ve learned a lot about business best practices from listening to panel experts at such events. Thus, Design Marketing has won business with big business. We are proud of our certification and it is part of our everyday language of who we are and what makes us different. We still have much to learn and we are endeavouring to be at more events.
WBE Canada: What advice would you give to another woman at the beginning stage of building her business?
Sherry: Networking and showing up at events is so important. But I can’t stress enough how important it is to follow up, follow up! Email is great, but ultimately, you need to pick up the phone. While attending a recent event, positive feedback came back from a corporate member that we are responsive. That is a great feeling! If you’re not there, someone else will be.
WBE Canada: What has been the most challenging time in your business and how did you overcome it?
Sherry: In 2017, we took a leap of faith and moved to open a modern showroom. Our overhead expenses went up and the transition was challenging. As we started to grow quickly, cash flow was still short. We were able to raise funds and this helped a lot. Along with this transition we also required more sales staff. We’ve hired 3 within the past two years and we’ve appointed a sales manager to help us manage our team and get us to the next level.
WBE Canada: What has been the biggest triumph?
Sherry: I would have to say growing our client base and revenues by 40% from 2017-2018. We are on target to increase by the same percentages for 2018-2019. We are maintaining a national presence and this is a triumph in itself. Thankful for my team once again!
WBE Canada: What is your superpower?
Sherry: I never thought of myself this way. But what comes to mind is courage and strong desire to succeed. I don’t have it in me to give-up. That may keep me up at night, but that’s who I am.
WBE Canada: How do you continue to develop and grow as a leader?
Sherry: I like to surround myself with like-minded positive people. One can learn a lot from inspirational speakers. I am always open to feeding off the success of others and I’m never too proud to apply advice.
WBE Canada: Has there been someone who inspired you and how?
Sherry: I think one of my former bosses. He recognized my potential as a sales leader and would call me “a bulldog on a pant leg”. I guess that was a compliment, as I believe he saw something in me that I didn’t recognize and those words have never left me.
WBE Canada: What is your favourite quote?
Sherry: “There is no limit to what women can accomplish” ~ M. Obama
WBE Canada: What do you hope your legacy will be?
Sherry: Hopefully, to help others succeed. This would include my two precious daughters who are learning the business and will carry my vision forward.
About Design Marketing
Since 1978, Design Marketing has worked as a consultant and supplier of promotional products, apparel & workwear. They are proudly Maritime, based in Dartmouth, NS and have a national presence. Connect with them on their website.
About WBE Canada
WBE Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for women-owned businesses to supply chains across North America. It certifies Canadian firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and introduces them to opportunities with corporations. To learn more about how we support women-owned businesses, click here. If you are a mid-size or large company looking to support women-owned businesses through procurement opportunities, we want to hear from you. Click here to learn more how you can get involved.