Janke Team Interview Series: Kamela Janke
Specialty: Principal / Wayfinding Strategist
Team member since: 1999
The eighth and final team interview in our series, is none other than the firm’s founder and president, Kamela Janke.
When someone mentions “hit the ground running,” that’s exactly what Kamela’s career has looked like. She has been a designer on a mission!
Having graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in Design Communication and a strong design portfolio, Kamela chased her dreams to San Diego. Over the next 7 years, she gained valuable experience working for three different highly regarded design firms in downtown San Diego. One day, she was asked to show a new employee how to use the darkroom. The rest is history—she and Tim married a few years later while living in San Diego.
They then moved closer to home – to Dallas, where Kamela worked for a global architectural firm for the next 5 years. In 1999 she started Jankedesign to help achieve a more appealing work/life balance.
Kamela is a seasoned professional who has her finger on the pulse of the business and is not afraid to negotiate a contract, provide her opinion, or just say no. She’ll wear a suit to a large presentation or put her boots on for a site walk in the mud. If necessary, she’ll pull an all-nighter or take time off to care for family needs first.
- Wayfinding mastermind
- Office botanist
- Overseer of all things Janke
- Female perspective
Q: This is the company’s 20th year anniversary. Having founded Janke in 1999, how has the company evolved?
A: With the ever-changing world of technology and programs, we’ve adopted new applications that have allowed us to deliver certain types of large-scale projects faster and more accurately with the clients input along the way. We are continuously focused on improving our creative exploration and ideation process and becoming more efficient in how we develop and deliver those ideas. With design being our number-one priority, we have kept our focus on providing meaningful design solutions for clients, many of whom have been friends and clients for 10+ years.
Q: With its diverse clientele list, what would you say is the firm’s expertise, or focus?
A: Our firm’s expertise is creating a strong brand presence and experience, no matter who the client is. We work with entrepreneurs, internal marketing and sales directors, developers, architects, landscape architects, interior designers, museum curators, university deans, CEOs, pastors… you name it! It’s a pleasure to work with such diverse individuals to meet one common goal—improving their organizations through outstanding brand experiences. Whether it’s creating a new brand, website, marketing collateral, experiential graphics, or re-branding, it all revolves around the brand. We live for creating or supporting meaningful brand experiences that meet their needs and overcome the individual challenges that help clients succeed.
“It’s a pleasure to work with such diverse individuals to meet one common goal—improving their organizations through outstanding brand experiences.“
Q: What design and strategy influences do you bring to the team as a female business owner and design?
A: Our office has had a few outstanding female team members throughout the years, but for the majority of the time, it’s been all male. So, I’m always chiming in with the “female perspective” in a design charrette or critique to articulate how the female audience might perceive something. As we all know, things are perceived differently between men and women, so its always valuable to understand both perspectives.
Q: Knowing you have to wear different hats throughout the week, what’s your favorite, and why?
A: I love my job and the people we work with. I enjoy the variety of hats that come with it—from proposal writing and client meetings, critiquing designs and colors, programming buildings and walking onsite to survey a new project, to performing a punch list, or researching new insurance. (Haha – just kidding about the insurance!). Most of the things I do each day, I really enjoy. I would say that my favorite would be my wayfinding hat.
Q: You say you enjoy wayfinding. How have you refined your thought process on these types of projects over the course of your career?
A: Wayfinding still is my passion—as nerdy as that may sound. I love solving complex wayfinding problems and working through different messaging, locations, and design solutions to arrive at the perfect solution that helps to improve the visitor experience.
Q: What have been a few of your favorite endeavors over the years?
A: Some of my favorite projects have been the local Academia Bar experiential design, because of its unique concept and how fun it was to see the design solutions unfold. When it was finished, we took the team to the bar to hang out and experience the space, and it was especially interesting to watch and hear patrons try to figure out the graphics for the famous writers they represent. Another great project that we worked on recently is The Colony mixed-use development in Charlotte. I especially enjoyed this project because of the serious wayfinding challenges that we had to wrestle with. We looked at it from every angle and brainstormed many different methodologies, analyzing and deliberating until we arrived at the best solution that made both our team and our client happy.
Q: What has it been like working along side your husband Tim, for 20 of your 25 years of marriage, and what advice would you give to other married couples in business together?
A: It’s both wonderful and challenging. Mostly wonderful, because we get to spend our workday together and collaborate on projects. I believe the key to overcoming challenges is to identify each others strengths and weaknesses, and fortunately for us, ours are opposite, so we each focus on and stay in our own lanes, and it works out very well.
Q: Free-time, unrelated to work, what do you like to do?
A: I’m all about family and spending time together, so most of my time outside of work is spending time with our two grown daughters, our parents, and our three dogs. Aside from that, I have been in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) for 10+ years and serve in an administrative role. I am passionate about the studies and the organization, and I’m grateful for all the wonderful friendships I’ve developed over the years.