The Design Database & Empowering Women in the Creative Industry: The Inspiring Journey of Courtlyn Jones

Today, let’s spotlight a remarkable woman making waves in the creative industry. Her name is Courtlyn Jones, and she is the brilliant CEO and visionary behind The Design Database. Courtlyn graciously shared her inspiring StartUp Story with us, and we can’t wait to delve into her journey of success and innovation.

About StartUp Stories

Startup Stories is a photography project by women in business for women in business! We are a fierce team on a mission to ensure fellow female bosses shine bright and get the visibility they deserve. Audrey Tappan of Hued and Angela Acosta of Angela Atelier are on a mission to capture the essence of 100 kick-ass entrepreneurs through their lenses to create a visual feast of empowerment and success.

Ally Berthiaume, of The Write Place, Right Time writes their article for Moondust Magazine, featured by Carina Dietz, boosting visibility and credibility.

This project is not just about photos; it’s about building a community where we lift each other. A shoutout goes to Melanie Cunningham of Melanie Cunningham Law, who supports us on the backend with strategic advice.

About Courtlyn and her incredible journey.

The Design Database is an online community and job platform exclusively catered to female Creatives who want to connect with like-minded individuals and ultimately create their dream careers. As a graphic designer and visual artist, Courtlyn created this platform out of personal need. As a woman, she experienced her fair share of toxicity in the creative industry. She always wanted a supportive community to help her navigate the tough challenges, like pricing her services correctly so she’s being paid fairly for her talent.

Courtlyn Jone, founder of The Design Database and Startup Story Member
Photo By Audren Tappan of HUED

Female Creatives are the most overlooked and undervalued, especially in corporate, and it can be incredibly lonely, especially as a freelancer. Courtlyn knows this firsthand, so she created a platform that supports women and non-binary individuals in the creative industry.

The Precipice of The Design Database

Significant events shaped Courtlyn’s journey to starting The Design Database venture. First, she landed her first full-time designer job, only to realize it didn’t bring her joy. Secondly, she faced the challenging diagnosis of thyroid cancer, which prompted a spiritual awakening and a realization that she needed to make a change in her life. Thirdly, the unfortunate circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic led to her being laid off from the job she already disliked. Lastly, she landed a position at her “dream company” as a graphic designer, only to discover that it wasn’t as fulfilling as she had hoped. These experiences ultimately pushed her to take the leap and pursue her venture.

However, Courtlyn didn’t give up. She realized that she loved designing and creating art, but ONLY when designing for herself or clients who value her and her talent. She was also being paid terribly because she didn’t know what she deserved. It wasn’t until she met other women in the arts from other departments within her company that she learned how she was undervaluing herself. Having that guidance and support from other women who knew better was a game-changer for her, and she knew if she could make a community like this of female Creatives supporting each other worldwide, she could make a difference and help others from making the same mistakes she made.

Most importantly, Courtlyn wanted to bring the fun back into art and make it so that we continue to love what we do. She made several pivots throughout her journey. Initially, she built a freelance marketplace that would rival Fiverr and Upwork but was tailored to the creative niche. However, as she dove more into her market research and participated in several accelerator programs and fellowships, her company shifted. She realized that female and non-binary Creatives need the most help for exposure because they receive fewer opportunities.

Courtlyn also shifted from being a freelance marketplace to a social community and job platform. It’s now “Indeed Meets Instagram.” She loved making this pivot because The Design Database now focuses on creating new friendships and collaborations. When Creatives come together, true magic happens!

Courtlyn lives by the mantra: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Everything she does, she does with fear, but she still does it. She takes leaps without having a clue where she’ll land. She has faith because she believes in herself and prays a lot when she’s scared. She thanks God for every blessing He’s given her and her family and then thanks Him for the ones that are on their way to her.

Her faith keeps her going. After her cancer diagnosis, her faith has been strengthened, and that’s how she keeps going. This journey has given her a tremendous amount of growth and gratitude. Whenever she thinks about all that she’s accomplished and all that she’s learned, she’s in awe of herself.

Courtlyn has met so many amazing people on this journey, including founders and creatives worldwide. It’s so beautiful to help and connect with so many people, and she’s grateful she has the ability and opportunities to do that.

She learned how to CODE and rebuilt the new platform independently because she couldn’t find the right developers or investors. Now she has this fully-functioning, absolutely gorgeous platform she built, and it’s better than ever.

Over the next five years, Courtlyn sees herself being the founder of at least three different companies (she’s already created two), her podcast “Fearless Narratives,” spotlighting female Creatives and entrepreneurs, will become even more popular, and she’ll be a New York Times bestseller of a trilogy.

She’ll partner with other female-focused companies and art organizations to expand their reach and give her community of Creatives more opportunities for success.

She sees The Design Database hosting more in-person events worldwide, having a community of at least 500,000 members, and being one of the most prominent leaders in the creative industry (alongside AIGA).

One of the next projects Courtlyn is looking forward to is working with their members to collaborate on exclusive designs for their merch shop, and she’s also started writing her first book.

So many blessings are coming to Courtlyn, and she can’t wait! We hope you found this story inspiring, too. Remember that you can achieve anything you want with hard work, dedication, and faith in yourself.

Stay tuned for our upcoming articles as we embark on this exciting journey together. You can learn more about Startup Stories and our mission.