For Johanna White, if you are the best at what you do, you deserve to look like it. That’s why she created Design by Jo, where for the past decade she has worked with individuals, startups, and even Fortune 200 brands worldwide, helping them attract more raving fan clients than they know what to do with. Johanna’s nominator reports that her clients have come to know and love her for her ability to constantly expand their vision of what they are capable of while capturing their true value in an aspirational brand that takes them from best-kept business secret to full-tilt brand name, and then cheer them on as they level-up with new confidence and live up to their fullest potential. You might be surprised to learn that Johanna was diagnosed with a brain tumor nearly a decade ago in 2013 and has overcome the symptoms. That experience led to her adoption of a “now or never” attitude that resulted in the launch of Design by Jo to build her dreams and live her life on her terms. She says, “When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know if I was going to live or die,” adding, “I didn’t want to go out having not tapped into my potential. I thought about what I was capable of, who I wanted to serve and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.” Thanks to that “now or never” approach to life, she finds fresh inspiration from balancing work with play, and lives her life accordingly. Seen as “small but mighty,” she fills up the room with her presence and energy, helping her journey to build brands that are bold and stand out from the crowd. Learn more about the dynamo named Johanna White, a Bold Woman of Business from the Class of 2022.
Where do you live?
Benton Harbor, MI
Company or Organization
Design by Jo Studio
What is your job or role there?
Owner/ Visual Brand Strategist & Designer
(Otherwise known to my clients as Branding Magician & Dreamer Extraordinaire)
How do you think that Bold Women of Business demonstrate being bold?
By stepping into their most audacious life, being their most authentic self, and living up to their most abundant potential.
Bold women are often defined by a number of descriptors. Please choose from the following descriptors to produce the top three that you would say most exemplify your personality?
Please provide an example of when you feel you were at your very best in taking action on the job or in your role.
I am at my very best when I am presented with a unique challenge. “Can’t be done” is my favorite way to do things! My clients also joke that I am a brand magician and their professional hype woman – I can see more capabilities in businesses and individuals than they often see in themselves, and I cheer them on long after our project is complete. I love designing new brands and websites so aspirational that they find themselves leveling up and living up to it, raising the bar of excellence for their competitors along the way.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened on your road to success?
I don’t know if there is one singular moment, that stands out, because my clients and I spend half of our branding session times laughing about something because we just have so much fun on the projects. However, I would say that every time I art direct a brand photo shoot for clients, we take on a “do whatever it takes to get the shot” mentality, which has resulted in me flinging gold paint around a studio, smashing Gourmet Toffee all over the floor with a hammer, carrying a small child around by the tops of their oversized rain boots, and helping a client who just had surgery hop around on one foot all day and hide her bare foot behind her booted foot so that you couldn’t tell in the shots.
Who most inspires your personal drive for success every day?
In 2014 I had a brain tumor – and suddenly I realized that it was now or never to start living up to my potential. I knew at that point in my life that I hadn’t even come close to doing what I was capable of in business or life, and I was determined to stop playing small, so I quit my dead-end agency design job, and started my own company within weeks of the diagnosis. Now, 9 years later I know that there is still a lot of expansion and growth left for me to step into, but I’m far closer than I was. Now I am on a mission to help other driven female founders level up their business and their confidence through high impact visual brands and websites that capture their uniqueness and help them show up in the world as their highest value, so that they can live up to their limitless potential.
What is your best advice to women in Southwest Michigan looking to succeed, as you have, in business?
What you believe matters, but what you DO about what you believe matters even more. It is not enough to know that you are great at what you do, or to feel like your work is worth higher prices or that you deserve a raise – If you want to get those higher prices or that raise, then you have to do something about what you believe and actually SHOW that value to the world, through your personal brand. (And you have to SHOW UP as that high value self in everything you do).
What does your selection to the ranks of the Bold Women of Business from Moody on the Market mean to you?
It means that I have come a LONG way from the fear driven, risk-averse person that I was before the brain tumor, and I am glad to know it. I am honored to be selected, and am excited to continue to step into bigger and bolder things.