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Dog Tags and Design

If Julie Woertz’s third greatest passion (travel) takes her out of Chicago, her first two (design and food) keep her squarely in the Windy City. The founder of We Cre8 Design manages her own business offering logo, website, graphic, and packaging design for clients that span beer companies to urgent care centers. Outside of work, she’s nailed down her city’s culinary scene. Plus, she created a specialty dog tag. Below, Woertz expands on her Chicago love.

You’ve lived in worked in Chicago since college. What first attracted you to the city, and what keeps you in the city, years on? What makes it a great place to run your own design business? 

When I was a little girl, I was a big dreamer. I wanted to go places, be where all the action was and become something someday. I thought Chicago was the perfect place to live, work, and enjoy everything the city offered. I fell in love with Chicago during college and decided to stay permanently. It’s a big city that feels very small to me. Somehow, everyone seems to know each other. The summer months are so exciting and fun. During the colder months, people sit in front of their computers considering how they can enhance their businesses. This is our busiest time. We get searched out a lot on Google & Bing for design. I love running my design business in Chicago because of the diversity of the companies that approach me. It seems that we all have big hopes and dreams for our businesses. My clients have become friends, which means the world to me.

I read an interview where you talk about how you’re constantly thinking of food, no matter what situation you’re in. What are your favorite Chicago eateries… post-church, post-run, post-yoga, post-late night out…and why? 

This is a tough question. There are so many restaurants to choose from! Food is my second biggest passion after design. Traveling comes third. I love to eat healthy and clean and there are so many innovative restaurants here. I’m a visual person; I eat with my eyes. Chicago also has incredible chefs. I always feel inspired when I leave certain restaurants. My top places to eat are Cold Storage (West Loop) for oysters, Beatrix for brunch (Streeterville), Siena Tavern (River North) for the pasta and uber dog-friendly outdoor patio, Next (West Loop) for the themed tasting menus and culinary excellence, Grace (West Loop) for a once in a lifetime experience… the list goes on!

Your Bog Tag allows people to tag their dogs as male or female. How did you develop this idea and what situations did you experience that you thought made it necessary? 

I have a huge four-year-old Boston Terrier named Gracie and a nine-year-old tiny Toy Poodle named Oliver. I love being active. Walking my dogs around the city is one of my favorite past times. Before, people approached us and called Gracie “buddy” or “boy” and Oliver “pretty” or “girl.” I always felt bad correcting them when they were being so kind. As I was walking the dogs along Chicago’s riverwalk, I developed the idea of creating something small, neon, and simple to place on the dog’s collar to signify the dog’s gender. It takes the awkwardness out of socializing with a fellow dog owner/lover. Now, when I take the pups for a walk, it’s so much easier to socialize with them, and The Bog Tag has become a conversation piece. We’ve sold a bunch just by going for a walk.

Any advice for aspiring designers?

My advice is to hone in on the top three skills that that characterize you as a designer and focus on those instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Owning a design firm is tricky because there are so many elements in the graphic field—social media, web, photography, animation, SEO, copywriting, mobile apps, you name it! Focus on your strengths and then go out and sell yourself. Portfolios are great because they communicate who you are and what you have to offer. If you love what you do, it will always show in the work.