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2015 Women’s Business Enterprise Star

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Meet Kelly Kolar of Kolar Design, Inc. – University of Cincinnati DAAP graduate who was named a “2015 Women’s Business Enterprise Star” by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Kelly Kolar,
Kelly Kolar, Founder of Kolar Design, Inc.

Kolar Design, Inc., a Cincinnati-based company founded by a UC graduate, is behind the branding of some of the biggest companies in the U.S – companies including P&G, Children’s Hospital and OSU.

Five years ago, Kolar Design, Inc. was located downtown in an old Ford Motors building, now they are in a 7,724-square-foot office and is home to its 17 employees. Kelly Kolar was recently named a “2015 Women’s Business Enterprise Star” by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled and operated by women in the United States.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kolar to find out what got her here today – find out what she had to say about her inspirations, challenges and the keys to success when it comes to business.

Cincy Chic: You recently received an award for WBENC’s Salute to Women’s Business Enterprise. What does the award mean to you?
Kelly Kolar: The biggest privilege to me was to be honored and recognized as a small businesses on a national scale. I was honored that I got to talk with like-minded women entrepreneurs and I got the opportunity to discuss business with other business owners. I was honored to represent the Cincinnati community and to be a representative for women in business

Cincy Chic: You started your business, Kolar Design, Inc., more than 20 years ago (congrats!). What is the key to your success?
Kelly Kolar: Mentorship was really big for me. I have mentors from when I was first starting in business that I can still call on now and count on for help. I think building connections with people who want to see you succeed is very important. Realtors say ‘location, location, location’ where entrepreneurs say ‘relationships, relationships, relationships’. Also, it is all about vision. Design makes a difference. We can transform and change and the world and use design as a tool to make a change. Vision and design can make the world a better place. People have to understand we can creates something out of nothing. And it’s important to continually create. Collaboration, curiosity, and creativity are the three c’s to any strong foundation.

Cincy Chic: Where did you get your start in business?
Kelly Kolar: I won a design competition for the Cincinnati Bicentennial. After I won the competition, they hired me on as a contractor. My first job was led me to my first client, and from there, I started my business, Kolar Design, Inc.. So in a way, my first job was my last job. I always knew I wanted to be a business owner. I’m the daughter of an entrepreneur, so this business owner mindset and mentality has always been in me.

Cincy Chic: What inspired you to launch your business and what inspires you today to keep moving it forward?
Kelly Kolar: I love our city. I’ve built a business here, I met my husband here and started a family here. I’m really inspired by Cincinnati. This city really launched me into this industry. I believe if you really have love for your city, your city will love you back. I also have an amazing team and staff who are original, innovative and creative as well. My team of thinkers are non-traditional minds who pushes our industry forward. That’s what really gives our company an edge on the competition.

Cincy Chic: Is there any advice you can offer others to be successful?
Kelly Kolar: There are quotes that I read every day and live by, but there is one in particular that I always remember – “When you believe it, then you will see it. Not the other way around”. Most people say, “I’ll believe it, when I see it”, but for me, the vision comes first. If you have a vision, it will then appear for you. I had a vision to start this business, but now I would like to create a platform for other young hopefuls in the design industry. It is about creating a legacy with my firm and institutionalize our process and expanding our industry.

To learn more about Kolar Design, Inc., click here.