Community Links: Catching Up With Julia Beardwood

Julia Beardwood is founder and owner of Beardwood&Co., a branding and design firm located in Soho, New York. Julia was a winner of EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women award in 2013, recognizing high-growth women-owned businesses. She lives with her husband in Park Slope and has been a CAMBA board member since 2008, after first discovering CAMBA as a volunteer with Taproot in 2005.

It is inspiring to me how much of an impact CAMBA makes and that’s why I tell everyone I know about CAMBA and encourage them to get involved.

How did you get to start your own company and what do you do?  

I worked in branding and advertising for large agencies for over twenty years before starting my company in 2004. I’d always dreamed of having my own business and had built up a strong network of contacts to work with, either as clients or colleagues. I’m a brand strategist, which means I develop plans for organizations that want to strengthen existing brands or create new ones. After starting out solo, our team has expanded to 15 designers, strategists, and project managers.

What inspired you to do pro bono projects with Taproot?  

I wanted to get more involved in my community and use my skills to help a worthy cause. Taproot connects volunteer strategists and designers to help a non-profit with a project they couldn’t otherwise afford. They placed me on a team to help CAMBA with their brand strategy, logo and tag line. I live across Prospect Park from CAMBA’s head office and was amazed to discover such a far-reaching organization existed so close to home – and I’d never even heard of CAMBA.

I love the way the logo looks like an optimistic sun symbol from afar, yet close up you can see it represents a community of people.

What was the creative process to developing CAMBA’s brand?  

It was quite rigorous and included a lot of input from CAMBA staff, board and donors. We started with workshops with over fifty CAMBA staff that led to the strategy that “CAMBA connects people with opportunities to improve their own lives.” Next we generated a lot of tagline ideas and the one that really stood out was “CAMBA – Where You Can.” The final piece was the logo design by Joe Marianek, another Taproot volunteer and an amazing designer. I love the way the logo looks like an optimistic sun symbol from afar, yet close up you can see it represents a community of people.

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Which CAMBA project was your favorite and why?

The You Can Van project was my favorite and where Joe Marianek was again the designer. The whole concept of the mobile van to prevent homelessness highlights CAMBA’s innovative approach to solving problems. People at risk of eviction often don’t know where to go for help, so by placing the van right outside high risk buildings, CAMBA puts homeless prevention in front of those who need it most. It was fun to come up with the You Can Van concept and made me proud to see it featured in FAST COMPANY.

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Julia Beardwood (second from left) and her team at Beardwood&Co.

How has CAMBA’s programs influenced or inspired your life?

CAMBA has made me deeply aware of the scale of challenges faced by many New Yorkers and the remarkable commitment and capability of the CAMBA staff. It is inspiring to me how much of an impact CAMBA makes and that’s why I tell everyone I know about CAMBA and encourage them to get involved. My co-workers love to buy gifts for kids in CAMBA shelters each holiday season. It makes us feel more connected to our community.

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