Nedra, owner of Blue Deer Forest, followed a unique path to her current business. She grew up in Idaho and moved to Portland to go to college. “I just loved the city so much that I stayed,” she says.
After graduating with a degree in Communications and German, she began working as a temporary employee for different companies. She worked in the IT department of Freightliner (now Daimler Chrysler), and was mentored on web design and website management. She later moved to Intel and other start ups learning programing and building her skill set along the way. After being laid off in 2003, she started her first business as a designer and manufacturer of dog gear such as a travel bags, bowls, mats, and more for dog owners. “It was incredible building something from scratch, learning about wholesale vs. retail and being at events, as well as, online shopping,” she says.
Although Nedra enjoyed the experience of designing and creating her products, she realized was often called on to help her doggie boutique clients with their websites.
She explains, “In 2005, it became an easy decision to start up my web design business, Blue Deer Forest. I remember when I worked with my first clients, they were struggling with their websites and this was 2005, back when you pretty much had to know HTML to work on one. It was a wonderful feeling to have a business owner to say ‘THANK YOU’ and breathe a sigh of relief to know that their website was working, updated, or fixed. This is still the best motivation to do what I do, I LOVE helping fellow business owners!”
Since then, Nedra has worked at a co-working space, shared an office with a colleague, had a daughter, and hired assistants, programmers, graphic designers, and others to help her grow the business. Her team is often called in to fix broken websites, consult, train, redesign, and build brand new Wordpress websites. Nedra considers the many women she’s met over the years as mentors. “There's been so many women I have met and have helped me solve a problem or work through a struggle. I think it's wise to spend time with women that are older and younger than you,” she says.
She continues the circle of mentoring by giving back and mentoring other women. “I've been mentoring a PSU Business student over the past year and it's been an amazing experience to connect with someone 20 years younger than me and get a real-life snapshot of what it's like to be a young woman in the business world right now.”
Nedra mentions speaking in front of 800 people at the Bagdad Theatre in 2008 as one of her biggest accomplishments because it helped her face her fear of speaking in front of a large audience. “I was chosen to speak at Ignite Portland, a Ted Talk style gathering. I spoke about the 1,000 Cranes project and the meaning behind it. It was really emotional, the audience reacted and were touched by my presentation,” she says.
Her biggest struggle in her business is growth. Blue Deer Forest experienced phenomenal growth over the past two years and Nedra realized she was drowning in managing people and not meeting goals and deadlines. “Right now, I'm streamlining to get a better feel of what ‘growth’ will look like in the next year,” she says.
She advises new business owners to talk to others who are a few steps ahead of them. “Ask them about mistakes and obstacles they tackled. Talk to people in your field, get off the computer and really meet them face to face. It's the fastest, most productive way to learn how to run a business,” she explains.
She is excited to be a member of The MOB NW and connect with women who are both business owners and moms. “It's really changed my business in so many amazing ways,” she says.
Nedra loves working for herself and the flexibility it gives her. “I love that I can work around my daughter's schedule and at odd hours while still meeting deadlines and speaking with clients.”
Nedra’s best client referrals are business owners with an existing Wordpress website, or those looking to create a Wordpress site, who want a trusted partner to keep the site secure, train them to use it more confidently, consult, and redesign the site to meet their business goals.