Nevadan At Work: Creating websites to make companies’ dreams come true

Jennifer Markewich-Jones feels cramped looking around the executive office space she rents. Her 10-year-old company has outgrown its original space and is ready to move into new digs.

When she founded Jennifer Web Design in 2001, Markewich-Jones didn’t think space would ever be an issue. She was more focused on releasing her creative energy. Yearning to explore another side of herself, Markewich-Jones left her job as a public-school teacher to pursue one centered around Web design.

"It was super exciting for me because I was finally able to be creative every day," Markewich-Jones said.

She enrolled in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Web design certificate program, and worked at KGA Architecture until her company had a steady roster of clients.

"I knew that my dream was to have my own business," Markewich-Jones said.

At first, Markewich-Jones was a one-woman band. It wasn’t until five years later that she hired her first employee — her husband, Ben.

Markewich-Jones hired him when she became pregnant with their daughter, Chloe. Ben left his job as vice president of Travelocity to be closer to home and avoid business travel. The arrangement has worked out well.

Markewich-Jones now employs seven people. Her staff includes a website/graphic designer, a developer, a programmer and a search engine optimization specialist. Jennifer Web Design will soon occupy about 1,250-square-feet of space — enough to accommodate 10 people.

"What we do as a company, which is very, very different from other companies in town, is we spend a lot of time up front really getting to know the company," Markewich-Jones said.

She also tries to ensure that a website’s design reflects that of the company’s logos and other branding materials.

"One thing we really focus on is brand continuity," she added.

Clients include Sunrise Pediatrics, America’s Best Security and Vegas Elite Basketball Club.

"We’ve actually had steady economic growth in our company, every year," Markewich-Jones said.

In the office, Markewich-Jones strives to create an environment that everyone can be comfortable with, a factor that’s almost as important to her as her business itself.

"You spend so much of your life at work, why not allow everybody to enjoy themselves and be happy with what they’re doing?" Markewich-Jones asked.

One of the people she looks up to most in the Las Vegas business community is Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh.

"The corporate culture here, it’s almost similar to Zappos," Markewich-Jones said. "Tony Hsieh, he’s absolutely brilliant. I love his story, I love his book. I found his book to be very inspirational."

In her spare time, Markewich-Jones sings and is recording an album titled "10,000 Hats."

Question: Why did you decide to leave teaching?

Answer: The one thing that was missing for me, was the entrepreneurial spirit. I’m a go-getter. I knew there was something else I was supposed to be doing. There was a creative side of me that wasn’t being met.

Question: How important is integrity to your business?

Answer: It’s everything. I started this company with the purpose of developing websites that will help others in their lives. That’s a big thing to understand. I want a website to be more than something that’s just up there. I want it to actually effect the lives of my clients so that they can succeed.

Question: What is your website philosophy?

Answer: I feel like a website can work for you. The websites can actually be working, almost like it’s a person. The website becomes a physical employee of yours. If you set it up right, it can do so many different things for you while you’re working on other things.

Question: What are your goals for a website?

Answer: Just because your website goes up, doesn’t mean it’s done. We have to keep looking at it and say, "How can we make this better for you?" How does this website affect their lives as a business and then personally. Obviously, if the website’s successful, then that’s helping them in their lives with their families. I know what the potential of a website can do.

Question: What is the potential of a website?

Answer: It can actually move people to do things, to get them to take action, first of all. I talk a lot about action on websites. … A lot of websites are missing that, and what are they supposed to do there? We want to make sure a website provokes people to take action on the site.

Question: Are there businesses out there that still don’t have websites?

Answer: Absolutely, yes. If you can believe that, there are still people fighting that. There’s still that generational thing that we deal with where people are still fighting and say, "Why do I even need a website?" When I first started 10 years ago, it was more of a fight.

Question: You mentioned Tony Hsieh earlier as someone you look up to in business. Why is that?

Answer: He had $10 in his pocket. He put everything into Zappos. His heart was just in it, and he was able to make his company so successful. … At the end of the book, he goes into corporate culture and what that’s all about. As I was reading, I was like, "yes, yes, yes" on every single one. … There’s something about him. I’ve never met him, but I would absolutely love to.

Question: When did you start singing?

Answer: I definitely started singing right out of the womb. I was born and I was singing. The first memories I have of singing though, was at about 3 years old. I wrote my first song in kindergarten, an anniversary song I wrote for my parents.

Question: Where did the name of your album, "10,000 Hats," come from?

Answer: From being a working mom, we all wear so many different hats throughout our days. I find that literally I’m walking from business into her school to pick her up and sometimes I literally feel like I’m transforming, like into Superwoman.

Contact reporter Laura Emerson at lemerson@lvbusinesspress.com or 702-380-4588.

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