Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennie Whitaker, Founder of Toboggan Avenue, located in Woodinville, WA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm an artist and surface designer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Toboggan Avenue is my studio, where I design bold, original art for fabric, wallpaper, and products to connect the things we love to share our style for a beautiful, fulfilling, and creative life. I design for those who love a great adventure as much as they love a cozy pause between adventures to sit, enjoy the memory, and plan the next! My work is for anyone who wants great art and products to share their adventure-loving style!

Tell us about yourself

I always had this dream of being an artist... The first problem - I didn't view myself as an artist. I watched as talented, fine artists created their work with flair and apparent ease, and I compared my work to theirs. The comparison led to setting aside that dream to pursue a career as an Interior Designer.

As a designer, art was involved, but it was never the focus. The dream lay buried until I picked up a paintbrush, took an online course to learn surface design, and began turning my own style of art into patterns and designs for products. Now I love what I do - every day, I create art and share it with the world, designing work to encourage others, inspire creativity and joyful living, and share stories and adventures through art and patterns.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment so far has been licensing my artwork to be produced on home goods products! It is amazing to see the art you created progress from the dream to sketch to the final pattern - and then on products in the world, available for others to enjoy!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things with being a business owner is learning to narrow your focus to the work that makes the most impact. We are surrounded by so many amazing opportunities to learn and grow and add value to our business that it is tempting to want to do it all!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find something you love, commit to learning it well, and implement what you learn as you grow - don't wait until you think you know it all!
  2. Take time to connect with others who are both ahead of and alongside you in business to learn and grow from your community. People are always worth the effort.
  3. Create before you consume. Think about the impact you want to make in the world and work backward from that desired outcome to create your own work - without looking around to compare yourself to what others are doing.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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