Jeanne Hardy wasn’t always focused on business operations, financials and back office support. While that is what her company, Creative Business Inc. (“CBI”), does today, Hardy’s career did not start out this way. Trained as a painter and having attended graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Hardy pursued what she thought would be a life making art. Not only was she a skilled artist, but just as importantly, art provided Hardy with a form of meditation—energizing her and challenging her to think more expansively.
After graduating from The School of Visual Arts, Hardy kicked off her career in the art world with varying jobs at a number of galleries. Hardy quickly noticed there was little financial literacy among her fellow artists and realized these creative entrepreneurs often lacked the knowledge to run their own businesses. More and more, Hardy found herself assisting these individuals with the financials and administration of their businesses. As she continued to help her peers, referrals for her services started to spread around New York City’s creative community.
“It wasn’t long before I realized these amazingly talented people needed help with more than just bookkeeping,” said Hardy. “Their projects were ambitious, and in order to achieve them, they needed teams, processes, insurance, logistics and money, among other things. Their visions were clear, and they had the talent and the skill to deliver on their innovations in whatever forms they took – art, design, products. While many of these creatives had people lining up to work with them, they lacked operational infrastructure, financial know-how and cash flow management.”
In 2005, Creative Business Inc. was born to address the major questions she saw creatives come across every day. Essentially, CBI was founded to allow creative entrepreneurs to keep creating while CBI addresses and maintains the financial and operational aspects of their businesses. What started off as a small-scale operation quickly turned into a large, well-oiled business. When the company began 13 years ago, Hardy had four employees, two full-time and two part time, and 25 clients. Today, CBI boasts 15 full-time employees and more than 140 clients.
“I started out like most entrepreneurs, doing what I love and having fun, and decided I would see where it would take me,” said Hardy. “That mindset enabled me to keep the company nimble enough to grow while I discovered more about my clients’ needs and the workforce I was looking to support.”
CBI’s rapid expansion and Hardy’s continued entrepreneurial mindset has allowed the company to continually add and expand on services that address new obstacles presented by clients. Interestingly, human resources (“HR”) has been one of the biggest service areas of growth for CBI. Hardy and her team work with clients to not only develop comprehensive benefits packages, but also find effective, budget-friendly and creative ways to create healthy and productive company cultures that allow creativity and intuition to flow.
“I think being an artist gives me a unique perspective into how creative entrepreneurs think, and more importantly, what they need in order to support their creative process,” says Hardy. “Creative people are guided by their intuition, and we work to keep that intuitive sense unencumbered.”
Hardy practices what she preaches when it comes to HR at CBI, focusing on creating a positive and collaborative work environment among her own team. She has followed her intuition in choosing to build a team that is just as diverse and interesting as her clients. “I’m a big believer in diversity in the workforce,” says Hardy. “I find that the more diverse my team is, the better they gel as a team, and that’s when the magic happens.”
Despite a positive work environment and company culture, Hardy’s work is not without stress, admitting that like for most of us, “there are times when all parts of my life converge in a less than optimal way.” In order to stay at her best, she says it is vital to find healthy ways to disconnect from work, which she does through working out with a trainer or taking a long walk. According to Hardy, “walking for an hour or more is one of the most luxurious ways to clear your mind and elevate your thoughts.”
Hardy also credits her family for keeping her balanced and centered, especially when they are all together in their weekend home in the Hudson Valley. “Two days up there feels like you’ve been gone a week,” says Hardy. One of her favorite activities there to unwind and destress is to cook. Eating healthy, fresh food, in addition to maintaining a consistent wellness routine, helps Hardy remain focused and centered.
In addition to cooking and walking, she also gardens and continues to make art. When not in the garden, you can find Hardy in her studio. “I’m never not making things,” she says. “Art is my form of meditation.”
While creating art may no longer be her paid profession, Hardy still maintains her connection to the creative. Not only is she working with artists every single day, but through CBI, she is creating pathways for artists in many fields to pursue their passions. She is putting the necessary measures in place to allow these creative individuals to make successful careers out of what they love to do. That in itself is an art.