Jennifer ‘Jeni’ Fairman ’17 (Business of Art & Design M.P.S.) never thought she would be a business owner. After receiving her first Masters degree in medical and biological illustration from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Fairman envisioned her life post-grad, where working for an employer for a myriad of years would be the norm. Getting laid off one year into her first job was an unexpected hurdle she hadn’t anticipated so early in her career. Significant change was at hand, and Fairman was presented with two options–find another job in her field or step out on her own. With zero openings for a medical illustrator in the Boston area, Fairman took a leap of faith and started her own business.
Founder and creative principal of Fairman Studios, LLC, Fairman enrolled in MICA’s Business of Art and Design masters program, where she could focus on, refine and grow her business. A few months into the course, she attended a Business Matters Workshop organized by MICA’s Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development. It was here where she first learned of the UP/Start Venture Competition and was immediately inspired to apply. “I was encouraged to give it a try and I had an idea of what I kind of wanted to do, but I didn’t feel I was ready,” Fairman said. “But this was a defining moment for me, because that’s when I realized what I wanted to focus my thesis on.”
Fairman said her experience has been amazing. “I really enjoyed getting to know my cohorts and working with my mentor Ken Malone. Every week was a new challenge that I needed to tackle, and really focus on the details of how to make my idea work. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come and I feel that I’m even more prepared than I ever imagined I would be. I’m ready to launch my new segment called Illustr8science!”
Fairman’s project, Illustr8science, evolved from her clients’ needs; granting access to an archive of over 4500 digital image assets she created over the years in her studio. Her ultimate goal is to create an e-commerce tool consumers can visit to search for images on their own, where they can login, download their assets and have their license in-hand, while paying for them all at once. For Fairman, this system will help her prioritize other work her studio takes on while providing an untapped resource in her field. The license her consumers receive is “automated and includes the usages that they chose and paid for. It saves me and my clients a lot of time–and money!”
On April 4, Fairman’s hard work paid off when she was awarded $30k in funding during the 2018 UP/Start finals. Fairman credits Business of Art & Design Director Heather Bradbury and her UP/Start mentor, Ken Malone of Early Charm Ventures, as huge supporters of her and Illustr8science. Together, they’ve helped Fairman figure out how to hone in on the business idea she wanted to pursue and devise a plan for thinking about the value propositions that she provided to each of her market segments.
Through her mentorship with Malone, Fairman is ready, win or lose, to implement her new tool and be a leader in her industry. “I always knew no matter what, this project would happen, but with my experience during the Up/Start competition, now I know it will be a success.”