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Community Highlights: Meet Jessica Tucker of Mill Creek Creative

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Tucker.

Hi Jessica, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I was born and raised in Nolensville, Tennessee. Art has always been something I’ve been interested in. I used to check out drawing books from the Nolensville Public Library, where my mother worked, and practice drawing. I would go through so much printer paper that my father ended up buying me an entire box of the continuous form paper that was used in the 90s. I was often sick in middle school and high school, and one of the things I would do when I was home from school sick was to watch my favorite VHS movies -usually Disney- and try to draw the characters. In college, I would create paintings and sell them to my friends. As an adult, I often create art-based gifts for my friends and family, though now my art is mostly digital.

In high school, I had several ideas of what I wanted to do for a career, including being a wedding planner and pastry chef, but my biggest interest was in marketing. I took a marketing class and a virtual enterprise class in high school, as well as joined the Business Academy club. That cemented my interest, and I decided to pursue a marketing degree at Middle Tennessee State University.

During my first two years at MTSU, I stuck with a marketing degree. Once I started to get into more of the degree-specific classes, I started having second thoughts. I enjoyed most of the marketing classes, but quite honestly struggled with the math and analytical classes required for the degree. A marketing degree at MTSU required accounting and statistics classes, and I knew that it was something I would struggle with and not enjoy. I began looking at other degree options including anthropology and concrete management. However, I still had a love for marketing and knew I would probably not be happy pursuing those other career options. I then came across the Public Relations degree. It would allow me to take many of the same courses as the marketing degree, but instead of math, I would be able to take design courses. I officially changed my major to Public Relations. The design classes were nothing spectacular – mostly following instructions directly from a book, but it introduced me to the world of digital design. During my time at MTSU, I helped create a winning promotional campaign and radio ad for VSA Tennessee and successfully presented a winning PR campaign for the MTSU school of journalism to Mass Comm. Director.

In 2013, I officially graduated from MTSU with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. Leading up to graduation, I really struggled with figuring out a path forward. I have suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks since I was 11. My anxiety has often been debilitating and caused me issues with school and traditional work environments. I also developed chronic pain conditions in college that still affect me greatly today.

At the time, the idea of working a traditional 9 to 5 job seemed like torture to me. Not to mention that almost all the marketing job listings at the time were sales related, which was not the part of marketing I wanted to get into at all. At the time I graduated, my mother was in a bible study group with her friends and every other week they would do an outing or activity. One week, they went to a newer business in Nolensville called Coffee and Canvas. The owner, Samantha Nolloth, mentioned to my mother and her friends that she needed help with marketing her business. My mother gave her my name, and Samantha I connected in the next few weeks, and my business was born. While I am thankful for my education, most of my marketing knowledge has come through working with clients and getting experience. I will forever be grateful for the time I worked with Samantha. She was my first client and became one of my best friends. Working with her allowed me a lot of opportunities for experimenting with marketing and design. Because she was a small business, she really needed someone who would be a full-service marketing and design agency. I couldn’t afford the Adobe programs (they were $700 per program at the time) so I taught myself graphic design on free programs like Inkscape. I discovered that my passion for art extended into the digital space and spent hours practicing digital design. I cringe a little bit looking back at the work I produced when I first started, but it makes me proud to know how far I’ve come as a self-taught designer.

For several years I operated my business as Tucker Marketing + Design, eventually changing the name to Mill Creek Creative. I worked with several clients offering design services, social media marketing and more. I often worked with extremely small businesses who I was passionate about helping, but their budgets were almost non-existent. I struggled to make ends meet and knew I needed to pursue an additional income.

In 2015, I began working part-time for Williamson County Parks and Recreation as a public information assistant. I went full time in 2017 and worked for WCPR until 2018. I managed their social media and created graphics for them. I had the most incredible and understanding boss named Kerri Hudson. I wish everyone could have a boss like her. Working in the government sector was extremely different than working in the private sector. There were a lot more restrictions, but I found a place to thrive working under Kerri. I gained more confidence, was able to tackle some of my workplace anxieties, and was able to explore parts of the county I grew up in that I had never been. One of the things I’m most proud of from my time working for WCPR is growing their social following from 2-3k to over 12k – mostly organically. In early 2018, I went through some incredibly challenging mental health struggles that caused me to quit my job at WCPR to focus on my mental health. My parents were incredibly supportive during this time, allowing me to take the time to heal my mind.

When I worked at WCPR, I took fewer clients for my own business. Towards the end of 2018, I decided to focus full time on building up my business. I have been working full time on my business since then. I’ve worked with some incredible clients, and I learn something new with every single one. Working for myself has given me more confidence in my abilities, better interpersonal and communication skills and a greater ability to accept criticism.

My favorite parts of my job are designing logos and branding packages as well as creating websites. I’ve also recently illustrated two books that my mother wrote based on a teddy bear character she used during her story times as the children’s librarian at the Nolensville Public Library. The books are called Nolen The Bear Finds A Home, and Nolen The Bear Fall Asleep. I also love helping non-profit organizations and am on the board for the Ray of Light Foundation based in Franklin.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I have struggled with severe anxiety and panic attacks for almost 20 years, which has sometimes made working in traditional job environments difficult.

Some work specific obstacles were not knowing my worth and what to charge, and learning how to take criticism. When I first started my business, it was hard to not take client criticism of my work personally – something I’m sure a lot of artists struggle with. It can be hard to hear that someone doesn’t like something you put your heart and soul into. A criticism of your art can seem like a criticism of yourself. One of the greatest lessons I have learned working for myself is to separate my work from my personal identity. Art and design are so subjective, and what I personally like may not be what a client likes. But at the end of the day, my goal is to make the client happy and bring their bright ideas to life.

I hope sharing my struggles with anxiety will help other people with anxiety – particularly creatives – that they can be successful and pursue their passions.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Whether you’re looking to attract new customers or engage your current ones, Mill Creek Creative is here to help your business tell its story to the world. We can help you connect with a modern, internet-driven audience with mobile-friendly websites, eye-catching designs and impactful marketing. We bring your bright ideas to life.

I’m most proud of the work I have done helping small businesses and non-profits in Middle Tennessee. Being a sole proprietor allows me to work personally with my clients giving them personal attention. We are able to build a work relationship that can be difficult when working with a large agency.

I have been voted best marketing agency and graphic designer in Nolensville two years in a row, and was voted third best marketing firm in Williamson County in the 2021 Sizzle Awards.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I could not imagine living anywhere else besides Middle Tennessee. This my home and I have so many great memories here. I love living in Nolensville because it gives me the small town feel while being close to everything I could need. Being a native to Middle Tennessee, I have seen the explosive growth – particularly over the last 10 years. We have definitely had growing pains. My least favorite part is the traffic. I even made a t-shirt that says “No Left Turn Nolensville” because it has become incredibly difficult to take a left turn in Nolensville during peak traffic time.

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