MadWomen of the Month / Heather S. Olson

First, tell us a little about yourself: Name, Title, Company, How you got there, Family, Extracurricular Activities. We want to know your story.

Heather Olson
Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
Soladay Olson | Marketing for Creatives

I spent the first half of my career as a practicing graphic designer in all the possible settings: design firm, corporate in-house, ad agency, marketing company, and as sole proprietor of Soladay Olson Graphic Design. After taking time out to have three kids in quick succession (a son and twin daughters), I volunteered, freelanced, and shifted gears into the writing and marketing side of my double major at Iowa State in Advertising Design and Journalism. One of my professional connections, whom I’d known from years of volunteering with AIGA Minnesota, thought I should give marketing a try. Thanks to him, I served as Director of Marketing and Recruitment at Larsen Design for 9 years, then shifted to similar work at brand identity firm Franke+Fiorella for nearly 4 years. With an economy-induced layoff in fall 2014, I decided to start my own business: Soladay Olson | Marketing for Creatives.

My extracurriculars lately have included service on two governing boards and multiple advisory boards:
– AIGA Minnesota: Fellow, Past President, and multiple board leadership roles — most recently Associate Director of Content Management
– Art Buddies: governing board and adult buddy
– Goldstein Museum of Design: advisory board and social media support
– University of Minnesota College of Design, Dunwoody College of Technology, and North Hennepin Community College: graphic design advisory boards

Personally, I enjoy walking, biking, museums, new restaurants, travel, and book club, dinner club, birthday group, and visiting family. I hope to get active in several societal issues in the coming months.

What’s your personal and professional mission statement(s)?

My personal and professional mission statement is really reflected in the simple content on my website home page: I am here to help family, friends, clients, and colleagues to plan, connect, and flourish in whatever you do!

What’s your definition of what makes a “MPLS MadWoman”?

Without looking at the MadWomen website, I’d say a Mpls MadWoman is…
– confident (and maybe a little cocky)
– creative (in every area of her life)
– courageous (and ready to stand up for what’s right)
– gifted (with passion, intellect, and experience)
– gregarious (to make all feel welcome)
– generous (with her time and leadership)

How do you strive to embody what it is to be a MPLS MadWoman, in both your professional and personal life?

At this point in my career and as an entrepreneur, I am surprisingly comfortable stepping into new situations, answering unanticipated questions, and attempting assignments that stretch me. With seniority comes an ability to address challenges with a range of solutions learned along the way. I’m ready to support and coach my peers and emerging talent to the nth degree because I see their potential for success.

What’s led to your decision to go out and start your own business?

Each of the two times I’ve taken the independent route in my career — earlier as a designer and now as a marketer and recruiter — I’ve been kicked in the pants by my last employer and decided to make a go of it on my own. In each case, I had achieved a level of aptitude, wisdom, and connections that readied me to take charge of my livelihood.

What advice would you give to those on the cusp of striking out on their own entrepreneurial path?

– Define the service you’ll offer (based on your key talents).
– Determine your target audience (starting with people you know).
– Communicate early and often (online and in person).
– Be flexible (when your plan inevitably changes).
– Take an improv class!

What is one characteristic that you believe every entrepreneur should possess?

Boundless energy —business ownership is a 24/7 commitment!


MadWoman of the month is a monthly series of interviews highlighting an amazing woman each month in our community, voted for by the community, and published on the Egotist. We’re thrilled to shine a light on inspirational women. Nominate the next MadWoman of the Month on twitter.

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