440 S Main St.
Fort Worth 76104
Two decades ago Jennifer Henderson started small but her dreams were big.
And now, her company is among the most recognized in the Metroplex.
Henderson founded a small graphic design boutique in July 1998. Today, that company is J.O. design firm, celebrating two decades of growing and transforming business through brand strategy, integrated campaigns, graphic design and public relations.
J.O. is one of the longest-running woman-owned agencies in Fort Worth. Henderson (Oliver was her maiden name and thus the company’s name) guided her company to become a full-service marketing and PR agency.
Henderson likes to say her company excels in storytelling, letting the rest of the world know the tales beyond the brand.
“My team excels at creating purposeful and artistic interpretations of our clients, their messages and their brands,” she said. “In the past 20 years, we’ve been honored in partnering with some incredible clients in growing their businesses through what we do best – storytelling.”
Among J.O.’s most recognized works in Fort Worth are the Worthington National Bank “Big Bank Bailout” billboards from years past, and the more recent Trinity Metro “Time to Train” commercials, billboards and print ads announcing TEXRail’s launch.
Organizations J.O. has worked with include Stockyards Heritage, Dallas-based Prospanica National, Goodwill Industries Fort Worth, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, Texas Wesleyan University, Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth and Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Henderson is also committed to helping young people grow professionally, especially those who work for her. Her company has created an extensive internship program devoted to teaching real-world professional skills to current students and recent college graduates.
“Our interns don’t fetch coffee or make copies,” Henderson said. “Rather, we take the required time and effort to teach them necessary skills and create an environment for cultivating and using their talents. Often this means we create more work for ourselves as we double-check and instruct interns or perform the smaller tasks typically designated for interns.
“Our interns leave not just with a line to add to their resumé, but also a new set of real-world skills to add to their professional toolbox.”
In the same vein, she enjoys speaking to young women. She often volunteers to speak to classes at local middle schools and universities.
“I make it a ritual to speak at marketing and design classes at Texas Wesleyan, UTA, TCU and high schools in the area to tell my story of entrepreneurship, which started at age 11,” she said.
She also conducts informal interviews with recent high school graduates to discuss the advertising world and how they can use their college experience to get jobs. Her company helps students with portfolio reviews at college job fairs.
“It’s invigorating and inspiring to us to see young hopefuls become excited about the opportunity to come into our crazy world of marketing,” she said. “I especially love it when young women ask me for my best advice at starting and running their own businesses. I make it a point to tell them to make as many mistakes in the beginning and just keep on trucking — because that’s really the only way to learn and grow.
“Failing is not an option. I know I’ve sure learned from my mistakes — and still make them now and again.”
Henderson said there is no limit to what women can accomplish in the business world. She sees it every day when she looks in a mirror.
She also remembers when she was a rookie, however, and she is grateful for the helping hands and advice she received. Now, she is doing the same for others.
“Luckily, when I was getting my start, I had amazing, strong bosses and female mentors who taught me that we could do whatever we wanted to in business, so I never felt suppressed as a woman business owner,” she said. “I just knew nobody could stop me.
“I now see and recognize a stronger bond in women-owned businesses. Many women’s business groups converge to help each other in business. In fact, my women-owned business Power Group meets twice a month and we’ve taught each other so much, even though we are in different industries.
“WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) is a very strong network of women doing business with each other and a great resource, one I’ve encouraged everyone I know to join. It has been an incredible resource for me as I’ve built many lifelong relationships and business collaborations.”
The work of J.O. doesn’t stop there, however.
Henderson and her colleagues wanted to do something beyond the work they were already doing for local for-profit and nonprofit organizations. In 2013, she was the driving force behind the creation of The Cause Agency (TCA) — a nonprofit marketing firm offering discounted services to other nonprofits. Its mission is to empower worthy organizations to be able to better serve their communities.
“Each nonprofit client is different, with different goals and missions, each worthy. The Cause Agency has made an impact when we help a client reach or, better, exceed those goals,” she said. “Many of our TCA clients are battling for awareness in one of the most charitable regions in the nation. They need to rally supporters and advocates for their cause, and that’s what TCA does, through its Cause Agents’ marketing expertise.”
Last year TCA conducted its first cause-wear fundraiser, a friendly competition to promote other local nonprofits, called Common Thread. Through a T-shirt sales drive, its purpose was to encourage support for local nonprofits and to spark conversation about worthy causes.
Henderson loves to help, and when she can bring others into the fold with her, it’s even better, she said.
“I was connected with a mentor last year, Julia Ross of Rostin Ventures Company in Dallas, who is a hugely successful business woman in the marketing industry. Together, we’ve been able to strengthen my business, and I, in turn, helped her build her art career,” she said. “We’ve made it our mission to give back to nonprofits through proceeds of art sales. It’s a wonderful symbiosis. We often joke that our ‘girl power’ can move mountains in business and in life. Next month she’s moving into our building to be closer to my business and to expand the gallery.”
As for what the future holds?
“Hopefully, you will find me making a bigger impression on South Main Street and becoming a larger part of the local to national business and art scene,” Henderson said. “I really do owe my business growth to my clients that have been with J.O. from the beginning. Also, many of my clients that run strong businesses themselves are men, and I do learn a lot from them. Men do business very differently from women, and I encourage women to take note of that.
“My banker once said to never sit down at the negotiation table unprepared with the end game in mind. But I do make a lot of deals on a handshake and make sure we both come out as winners.”