Jillian Bilawchuk: Designing Her Own Future
Jillian began her entrepreneurial journey following convocation from the University of Alberta, when she made the move back to her hometown of Moose Jaw. Saskatchewan was on the verge of economic change, and Jillian’s entrepreneurial spirit sensed the potential.
Testing the market, Jillian began as an independent colour consultant and interior decorator. Her dream was to open a home décor boutique, believing it was something she would do later in life once she had a “regular” career and had raised her family — but the beckoning potential of Moose Jaw’s growing economy brought the dream to reality. At the budding age of 23, she launched Jillian’s Design Elements Inc.
Jillian gained early lessons from her childhood dance teacher, Barb Jackman. At a young age, she learned the importance of dedication, work ethic and discipline, fostering her desire to succeed as a young woman in the business world. She credits the support and encouragement of other local businesswomen in Moose Jaw who inspired her to take the leap. “Moose Jaw has a large presence of female entrepreneurs who have always inspired and encouraged me,” she says. “I believe Moose Jaw’s downtown, largely made up of female entrepreneurs, has been successful because each business offers something different and unique; we complement each other.”
As the mother of two young children, Jillian acknowledges the challenges of being an entrepreneur. “Although the work/ life balance can be difficult at times, it is counterbalanced with having the flexibility to make my own schedule and being able to be there for my children when they need me,” she says. “My family and my children inspire me every day.”
Family has been crucial to Jillian’s achievements. “My parents are my role models. They have always been my biggest source of inspiration. They have worked harder than anyone I know, and provided and sacrificed for me my entire life. They are my rock, my best friends, and my volunteer business partners.”
Along with her triumphs, Jillian has also faced tragedy. “After losing my brother, Jordan, to brain cancer when he was 25, I became more aware of how fragile and precious life can be. He taught me to live life to the fullest, to follow my dreams, and to treasure every moment — big or small. I changed my career plan and took the risk of opening my own business because of him. His legacy lives through me every day to look at the world with optimism and hope and to truly appreciate what each day brings. My brother is my hero.”
“Owning a business is not easy,” Jillian admits. “It’s like one of your children. There is no checking out at the end of the day. There is consistent worry, dreaming and work — 24/7. Especially in the age of technology, you’re always switched on, day and night. People often say they work from home. I work from phone.”
Jillian’s perseverance and dedication has paid off. The recipient of two MJBEX Awards and an ABEX nominee for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Jillian is proof that achievement is about more than years of experience; it is also the amount of heart and work you put into it. Now with a beautiful downtown boutique in Moose Jaw, a dedicated team and a successful portfolio of design projects, Jillian’s Design Elements has paved the way for young entrepreneurs who are willing to take a chance on their dreams.
Jillian is proof that you can have it all — just the way she designed it.
Jillian’s Design Elements
621 Main Street
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