Learn more about Janet Odgis, the founder of Odgis + Company, an award-winning, woman-owned brand design agency based in New York City in this Women Who Wow profile.

Why did you choose your profession?
I believe good design is essential for human happiness. I want to make business

Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
Toni Morrison with whom I worked at Random House. She was fearless and super
supportive of women. She championed my design work.

Do you have a mentor?
Barbara Plumb was the editor and longtime friend  with whom I worked at Pantheon when I
was starting out. She was the Living Editor at Vogue, and she wrote many books on
design. She was also an acquiring editor at Viking. She took me under her wing and
introduced me to a different world.

How has social media helped you build your business/brand?
It is very helpful, allowing me to connect with my network. It has helped me to keep in
touch with many people as they succeed and move around. It helps to promote organic
growth. It can be fun to experiment with different approaches and see how people
respond. It is such a democratic media.

Any advice to women about succeeding in the workplace?
Reinvent yourself regularly. Always look at what happening in the world and see where
your skill set could be most useful. Keep going through thick and thin. You must survive
through downturns and use that time to build your skills.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Before I started my own business, I could have learned more from working for others
about their processes. I have had to invent and reinvent what I do in business on my own.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

If everyone is playing Mozart and you want to play Beethoven, you should find another
orchestra to play in. They are not going to change, so you must be flexible.

How do you achieve work/life balance?

Work is my life. I think about it all the time. The difference is that I enjoy it. However
other than thinking, I don’t work on weekends if I can possibly help it. I like to hike and
be in nature. It inspires me. I also like museums and shopping for visual stimulation.

How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?

I have been doing this for more that 35 years. I never let anything stop me. If I hit a
wall, I find a way around and keep on going. I am relentless.

Which woman most inspires you and why?
I once did a photo shoot with Condoleezza Rice and she told the story of how she elevated herself. She was lovely, graceful and kind.

I worked with Julia Child on designing her last book “The Way to Cook.” She was
brilliant and very human, and she knew what she wanted to accomplish. She was a force of nature.

Marsha Firestone, who started the Women Presidents Organization, managed to
get women from all over the world who created multimillion dollar companies to
join WPO and share their ideas. I am proud to be a member.

What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?

My ability to understand and interpret the essence of something. I can strip off all that is
not necessary and make the essence understandable.

How has the pandemic changed you?

I hit financial bottom. I had to eliminate everything that wasn’t necessary. I survived
and kept my staff working on our stuff and learning skills. My business has
bounced back.

What is a surprising fact about you?

I am dyslexic – it’s something that I always had to work around. I graduated with an MFA
from Yale, I’m the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. I raised my son as a single mother while I was running my business.

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