World Reimagined

Saundra Marcel's Dedication to Design and Discernment

Saundra Marcel'

Saundra Marcel, Designer and Brand Author at Design Minded, may have once considered herself to be an “accidental entrepreneur.” But her journey since has been anything but accidental. 

With 15 years of focused effort under her belt, Saundra has built a career that reflects her innate entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering commitment to excellence. As the driving force behind Design Minded, Saundra specializes in helping bold brands and smart startups realize their creative potential. Her core expertise lies in branding, where she supports companies in crafting their identities from the ground up. Despite the indisputably difficult path of entrepreneurship, Saundra’s dedication to her career remains unwavering—an inspiring story of success to anyone with a similar drive to do good and make an impact. 

We asked Saundra about the problem Design Minded solves, the achievements she’s most proud of to date, and what she would tell her younger self if she were to start her entrepreneurial journey over again.

Q: What problem does Design Minded solve?

A: Design Minded helps bold brands and smart startups achieve their creative potential. The meat and potatoes of this work is branding. So if a company is starting from scratch and needs to invent itself, we help them do that. If a company is rapidly scaling or pivoting, we help them reimagine who they are and can become. There’s a third category of companies we work with, which are those that just became dated or lackluster over time, and need to kick things up a notch to be competitive. We help them modernize and uplevel.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

A: Yes. Although, I’ve often downplayed this choice by describing myself as an accidental entrepreneur. It sounds more humble, and somehow nicer, to claim that I didn’t plot and plan. It just happened. Projects came my way, I said yes. And this continued for 15 years. 

The truth is, I’ve always known I’d go the entrepreneurial route. It’s ingrained in my nature and feels instinctive to me. Decisions along the way have always been with intention, and backed up by a lot of effort. So maybe I didn’t think it would happen when it did, but life has a way of giving you what you’re ready for. 

Looking back, I think I needed an “aw-shucks” origin story in case it didn’t work out. Now I have more confidence and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Q: In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?

A: I’ve always been a do-gooder and a do-betterer. I don’t believe in halfway or just okay. I subscribe to a lifelong philosophy that good is the enemy of great. Take the time you need. Think it through. Do it right. My dad used to say: “Measure twice, cut once.” I’m just not a bang-it-out kind of person—never have been. Thankfully, I’m in a field where you don’t need to be. People know and appreciate when you give their projects extra love.

That said, it’s worth noting that this kind of “measure twice” mentality isn’t the most lucrative way of working. From a profit and loss perspective, I spend too much time on too few projects. And I’ve certainly lost opportunities over the years from potential clients needing a quick turn. If you need an identity, like, tomorrow, I’m not the right partner for you. I used to have more feelings about losing these projects until I started working with a business coach. He helped me understand that my level of discernment is part of my appeal. The right clients will value this.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?

A: It’s lonely. I think non-entrepreneurs have this idea that there’s a lot more goofing off and hob nobbing happening. It’s possible I let people lean into this notion because it does sound pretty great. But my close friends and family have all seen me work through vacations and shut myself away in quiet rooms. I don’t work in an office environment and I haven’t since 2008. There’s a level of solitude to running a small business that’s not for everyone. You don’t get those organic interactions that happen in larger organizations. I’m used to it, but I do have to remind myself to seek out like-minded entrepreneurs and to be social. I’m a naturally shy person, too, so it’s something I do with intention.

Q: We dare you to brag: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: Graduate school is definitely up there. It was hard and rewarding. First, I didn’t know if I would make it into the program. Then, I didn’t know how I would make it through. Meanwhile, I was self-employed and working full-time hours outside of class. My brain grew exponentially during those years and my eyes opened to the design world in ways I didn’t know were possible. Now I have a master’s in Design Criticism—a unique field of practice I didn’t know existed until I got into it. The program was a fusion of design thinking and writing, which suited me well and has really influenced how I work.

Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?

A: Have more fun. Work less. But my younger self wouldn’t have listened. And we’re both perfectly okay with that. 

Saundra is a member of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs and leaders by securing PR, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the Founder/CEO of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through visibility opportunities, resource exchange, and collective support.

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