Emily Dorr has over 20 years of experience in the world of graphic design, but more recent endeavors have required serious entrepreneurial chops as well. After purchasing Jean Petersen Design in July of 2017, Dorr rebranded as Postern Agency, a fully-fledged marketing agency, in May of 2018. Now, she is poised to help other businesses and organizations be as successful as her own.
Tell us about your business.
Postern is only a year old, but I purchased a business that had been around for 20 years. Jean Peterson Design was primarily a graphic design company, and we at Postern are a full service marketing agency. That covers everything from copyrighting to PR to social media; websites, graphic design, print designs; but we also do a lot of helping people plan their marketing strategy and their budgets.
What are your goals for Postern?
Right now we’re very focused on Frederick County and helping Frederick County businesses market themselves. The mid-term vision for the company is that in the next 3-5 years, we’ll move beyond Frederick County and start helping other people outside the area.
How long have you been involved in the graphic design industry?
22 years. I graduated from Shepherd with a graphic design degree and slowly taught myself the marketing and the strategy side of things--just through working with clients and my own education and curiosity. I like learning a lot about different things. I think that was my nature from a very early age. Just learning about other people’s industries is really interesting to me. I enjoy really digging in and unpacking everything that goes into running their businesses just like I did when I took over this business. Being able to apply some of what I have in terms of running a business and marketing, in the whole twenty two years, I’ve never had a day where I don’t want to come to work. I’m fortunate. I came to the realization that I really like learning all these new things, and when people asked me ‘what do you like most about your job?’ even early in my career, it was that every day is different.
What has prepared you for owning a business?
A lot, a lot of hard work and research on my own. I grew up watching my dad be a business owner of a much bigger business than Postern is. Just watching his pride and watching Jean during the ups and downs, I got so much out of it. You have to have failures in order to appreciate the success. I think it was just a lot of hard work and research on every single topic it takes to learn to be a business owner, and as a small business owner--I’ve got seven employees--I do everything from HR to making sure that our clients are happy, to strategy and the research that goes into it to proposal writing...you name it. I touch everything as a small business owner.
What do you wish you’d known before owning a business?
I didn’t know everything. Every day, you learn something new about running a business, whether it’s a small business or a much bigger one. The thing I like most about it is working with our clients and helping our team members grow professionally and personally. We put a lot of effort into that, and it’s rewarding to watch our clients be successful at the end of the day
What has been your experience in the Frederick business community?
Being part of the Frederick community is really rewarding. I can say that everyone who has ever worked here feels that Frederick is a great community to be a part of, and when you can walk down the street and see your own work, it has a sort of a “hometown pride thing” to it.
What’s it like to be a woman in business in Frederick?
I don’t focus on it at all. I definitely see a lot of women talk about it, but I don’t let it affect me. We have a lot of great female leaders in the business community--people like Kara Norman, Helen Propheter and Heather Gramm at the OED, and our County Executive Jan Gardner. That’s another reason that I feel like I fit in as a woman and don’t have to think about those things, because other women came before me in a lot of cases. In a meeting, the people we’re working with are equal men and women--our clients too. I think that’s another reason why Frederick is such a great place to be.
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?
From a marketing point of view, have a vision for a company. Have a clear vision for why you started your business and where you want it to go, because I think you'll be more successful. You’ll be able to focus on how to market your company, how to talk to other people, how you want your company to show up and sound in its marketing, how to specifically talk about your product or service, and what that looks like as a brand. A lot of people don’t think about those things before they start a business, and they might love something and might romanticize what success looks like but success is a lot of hard work.