Our instinctive search for passion and purpose often takes a backseat due to the demands of adulthood. Some people would spend years chasing success, only to come full circle and realize what’s lacking.
That realization came early for Roxy Navarro, who answered the question, “How can I be of service?” by starting Works of Heart, a graphic design company that caters to non-profit and mission-based organizations in the Philippines.
Our 25-year-old #GoalGetter for this month is the founder and managing creative officer of the youth-led company. They provide quality designs to promote and raise awareness for their clients’ advocacies.
What started as a passion project became a sustainable business born out of the framework “passion meets purpose.”
Here, she provides generous insights on how to find your place between passion, purpose, and sustainability. She also shares the challenges that she went through, and the drive that led her to become a young entrepreneur.
How did Works of Heart come about?
Works of Heart was born in a college classroom. At the time, my friends and I wanted to do something meaningful to the people around us and the only thing we could do was graphic design.
When a friend from a foundation reached out to me asking for help with his fundraising campaign, we saw how his promotional materials and branding were not strong enough. That’s where we saw that graphic design could be of help. We saw how a lot of important and beautiful messages need to be heard.
It was supposed to be just a passion project, but with the number of requests and clients that came in, Works of Heart grew into a business.
“When I made the jump to go full time from my comfortable high-paying corporate job, I imagined what failure looked like and told myself I should be ready for it. Preparing for failure minimizes fear”
How many people worked with you in the first year?
Around seven but we were all students and part time back then!
What type of clients do you usually work with?
People from the development sector who are mission-based. These are Social Enterprises, Foundations, NGOs and startups. These are the people who have beautiful stories but are not heard.
What were some challenges that you had to go through when you started Works of Heart?
Making it sustainable. I didn’t have any business background. I can’t even understand basic debit and credit, what more to run a company.
On the other hand, what are some of the biggest breakthroughs you’ve had since?
I think I was able to gather a great team at the start. The first few months will always be critical for any business, and having a talented and reliable team who are so passionate and dedicated really helped grow Works of Heart.
We had different backgrounds and each had a particular skill. Everyone had something unique to offer and we helped each other out. Even though we were not sure if this would work, everyone took a risk and gave their all.
What do young entrepreneurs need to prepare themselves for?
One needs to be prepared in many things but if I would choose the top ones, it would be emotional preparedness and planning. One needs to have grit and patience when running a business.
When I made the jump to go full time from my comfortable high-paying corporate job, I imagined all possible scenarios. I imagined what failure looked like and told myself I should be ready for it. Preparing for failure minimizes fear.
We’re only afraid of things we are uncertain of so the more I visualized what failure looked like the more confident I was to make that jump. In a more practical way, it also allowed me to think of different ways to ensure it doesn’t happen and if it does happen, what my back up plan would be.
Patience is needed because you need to really invest time—maybe in years—for it. A lot of millennials these days move from one company to another, from one passion project to another. We need to wait and invest for anything to grow or for anything meaningful to come out of it.
Do you have other sources of income besides Works of Heart?
I also teach part-time in Ateneo’s Information Design Program. Aside from additional stable income, I thought it was the best way to keep on learning since I don’t have a boss or mentor to learn from in Works of Heart.
“Be introspective and don’t listen too much to the noise around you. The world will always keep on telling us who we’re supposed to be and we can’t let that happen. We’ll lose our identity that way”
Being part of the faculty allowed me to get to know other creatives. Also because I didn’t get any formal design education, preparing for the class is forcing me to learn all the technicalities and process in design. Honestly, I’m also just a student inside my classroom.
How do you save money?
I save money by investing in stocks through a funds manager. I’m saving up for any emergency, for masters in a year or two, and for raising a family in the future.
On your website, you said that “the best work comes out when passion & purpose meet.” What advice can you give in finding this often-elusive balance?
- It’s not easy, but we can always take that first step by listening within and understanding the context of the world we live in.
- The balance is to listen to your own desires and happiness but also surrounding ourselves with good and passionate people.
- Be introspective and don’t listen too much to the noise around you. The world will always keep on telling us who we’re supposed to be and we can’t let that happen. We’ll lose our identity that way.
- At the same time, we can’t do it alone and live in a vacuum—we still need to surround ourselves with people who care about us and will be honest with us.
- We don’t need to find that one thing we were “meant to do” because for all we know we have different passions and we will definitely be experiencing different circumstances at a time. I believe in growing into different versions of ourselves.
- The best we can do is to ask for enough light for the next step and ensure there is enough meaning in the work we do and that impacts the lives of people around us even in just a small way.