She’s a big city gal who helps her clients tell their visual stories. Meet risk taker, snowboarder, beach volleyball player and creative director Kim Pickett of KIMBO Design. Bravery in the form of big big, bold life moves across vast spaces (for example, loading up your vehicle and to move across Canada) is always an interesting story to me. When a colleague suggested I profile Vancouver-based designer and branding expert Pickett, I jumped at the chance. Being in the storytelling game myself, I always love to hear what fuels other creatives’ fire and where they see their future.
An Ontario gal originally, Kim drove across the USA and Canada to move to rainy Vancouver a decade and a half ago from Toronto. She started her design career juggling a couple of jobs (hello generation Xennial, amiright?). She bartended at night and did graphic design in her bedroom in the day for almost three years before she started renting out an office space, hiring a team and working with a varied bouquet of clients.
Since incorporating in 2008, Kimbo design has helped everyone from the Saskatchewan provincial government to apiarists to one of my favourite Vancouver hotspots, The Burrard. More recently Pickett and her team have worked with Prince George to market all the opportunities bubbling in the northern BC town. A campaign she’s particularly proud of, Pickett really enjoys learning about Prince George and the other communities she works with. As in why do people live there? What do they look like? What’s it like to experience their community?
I can relate to her innate curiosity about northern places (cue: my love for both Edmonton and Haida Gwaii. So please join me in learning more about this dynamo design director and her focused career full of creativity.
Name, Title, Company, Location
Kim Pickett, Principal/Creative Director, KIMBO Design Inc., Vancouver BC
So how did you get that f*#king awesome job? Can you describe what your job is and what it is that you do?
I started KIMBO Design in 2001, after moving to Vancouver from Ontario with only $3,000 to my name. Today, we have 8 full-time team members and offer a range of services including graphic design, branding, website development, and marketing campaigns. As Creative Director, I lead the creative ideation for all of our projects, and help to craft the KIMBO Design signature style.
Did you have to give anything up to get here?
My main sacrifice to get to where I am today has been my free time. Running my business often spills over into my evenings and weekends, and this can cause me to miss out on spontaneous trips with my friends. I’ve learned to live with these sacrifices in the short term, because the growth of my business in the long run is definitely worth it.
Who or what has been your mentor/inspiration along the way?
I was lucky enough to have my dad as a role model; Peter G. Pickett inspired me. Having him as a mentor in my life motivated me to make him proud. He is the reason I do what I do today, and why I don’t give up when times are tough. Entrepreneurship has its ups and downs, and with every obstacle I encounter in life, I ask myself what my dad would say if he were still here. I remember him saying, “Kimbee, never give up, keep fighting, and stand up for what you believe in. If you fail, practice, and you will eventually get better.”
In three words or less, what’s the best part of your job?
Creative, compliments, collaboration
In three words or less, what’s the worst part of your job?
HR, PM, Email
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an artist when I grew up, because I loved to paint and watched a ton of Bob Ross. Luckily for me, I have been able to combine my creative spirit with my entrepreneurial drive, as a designer. I’m so grateful that I have been able to turn my love of art and creativity into a career, and to help create jobs for others while I’m at it.
What is your drink of choice?
Appleton and coke zero
Where was the last place you travelled?
My last trip was to Florida, to attend the Women of Worth awards show. These awards are held to recognize women across many industries, who are making a difference in both their professional fields and their communities. I was one of only six Canadian women to receive one of these awards for 2017. The trip was great because I also got to spend time with my mom, who lives in Ontario but spends her winters in Florida.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Everything I subscribe to Apple Music, I like old school hip-hop.
What are your top three reads vis a vis your career (books, magazines, manuals, podcasts)?
I’m currently listening to Audible currently listening to Thrive by Arianna Huffington. Top three reads are:
- How to Win and Friends & Influence Others by Dale Carnegie
- The Virgin Way by Richard Branson
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
Any advice for someone who’s looking to lock down their f*#king awesome job?
You’ve got to be resilient and only worry about what you can control. I see a lot of people come in with unreasonable expectations or goals, and then not reach them, which can potentially cause them to give up. I learned a lot of these things on the job, but I wouldn’t change anything about the process through which I built my business. That’s the journey of the entrepreneur, to develop and adapt as the business develops and grows. So always make sure that you are true to yourself, be authentic and honest, and treat people equally.
What does the future behold for your f*#king awesome job?
My goal is to continue to build and grow KIMBO, including possibly opening another branch somewhere out east, to become a mid-sized agency. I am still also looking for an early semi-retirement somewhere tropical, where I can spend my days being creative. So in both the long and short run, the future is very bright for KIMBO Design and myself.
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