Understories 015: Isabelle Poirier, Brand Architect + Designer

This week we’re speaking to Isabelle Poirier, a brand architect and designer from Ottawa, Canada, who shares her journey from working in the Canadian government, where she encountered a toxic work environment, to becoming a creative entrepreneur, launching her own brand design business.

For Izzy, community building is at the epicentre of what she does. She founded the Ottawa Design Club and its speaker series, which aims to highlight local creatives and foster collaboration between them. It also creates a space for networking with others in the industry, which, as we all know, is not always the easiest thing do, especially as creative entrepreneurs. 

Izzy is so open about her experiences, particularly when she was steeped in an awful office culture. While most of us have experienced our colleagues treating us like shit at one time or another, not many talk about it that openly. Most of us just chalk it up and quietly move on, but it can leave lasting scars that often take years to get over.

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  • Overcoming a toxic work environment requires mindset shifts and seeking support, such as therapy.
  • Transitioning from full-time work to entrepreneurship requires careful planning and taking small steps towards your goals.
  • Exploring different niches and saying yes to opportunities can help you discover your true passion and target audience.
  • The pandemic has presented challenges but also opportunities for businesses, especially in the realm of community building.
  • Embracing AI as a complementary tool can enhance community building efforts.
  • Community building is essential for creating a sense of solidarity and support among individuals.
  • Creating lasting feelings is crucial in branding and can leave a lasting impact on customers.
  • The Ottawa Design Club is a volunteer-run organization that highlights local creatives and fosters collaboration.
  • Relationship building is key to success in the creative industry.
  • Taking risks and planting seeds can lead to unexpected opportunities and growth.
  • Success is subjective and can be defined by personal happiness and fulfilment.


00:00 Introduction and Background
08:03 Making the Decision to Transition to Entrepreneurship
25:59 The Importance of Community Building
37:09 Balancing Creativity and Business
45:32 Defining Success: Personal Happiness and Fulfillment