Your Name: Catherine Lang-Cline & Kristen Harris

Business Name: Portfolio Creative, a platform connecting clients to designers, writers, and communication/advertising professionals

Type of Business: Other — Staffing and Recruiting

Business Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States


Reason for starting
Since its founding in 2005, Portfolio Creative, the nation’s fastest growing creative staffing firm, has made an immediate, consistent and massive impact on the arts in central Ohio. How? By revolutionizing and expanding the way local artists get work. Before co-founders Kristen Harris and Catherine Lang-Cline originated the concept of a staffing firm focused solely on designers, writers, art directors, photographers, illustrators and all other creative talent, every Central Ohio company that needed creative work had to source it individually. There was no one place that could provide a range of artistic styles, personalities and price points for people looking to work with artists. In eight short years, Portfolio Creative has changed all that. Now local companies can speak with one person who can connect them to whatever artistic specialty they need. Companies gain the ability to make smart and efficient staffing decisions while local talent receive far more work opportunities than they could obtain on their own.

How do you define success?
Catherine: Success is when you have achieved your role in life. It means that you work hard, but never feel like you are working. It is when you see the results of your work and it is well received by society. Success is when you have a developed yourself to be completely self-sufficient, can provide a safe place for your family and then in turn are able to give back. Kristen: I define success by happiness and making a difference. Having an impact on other people and our community, one person at a time or in a larger way, is extremely rewarding. Knowing that I can change someone’s life in a big or small way is what gets me going every day. When I am happy and enjoy what I do, while helping others enjoy their life and what they do, then I feel I have achieved success.

Biggest Success
The Portfolio Creative model has proven a spectacular success. Since its beginnings the firm has placed over 1,000 creative positions and consistently has over 100 people working with clients at any given time. Over 50 have been hired for full-time positions and the firm’s annual growth rate average of 71% has landed them on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately held companies for the past four years in a row. Most importantly, Portfolio Creative’s presence in the Central Ohio community has allowed hundreds of creative people to stay here and earn a living in their chosen field. It has deepened and enriched our artistic landscape and the economic strength of our city.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Catherine and Kristen risked their reputations and futures to provide a service they felt was greatly needed. Building their firm without any previous experience in owning a business or running a staffing company, they figured it out and delivered. Rather than worrying about how a staffing and recruiting company “should” be run, their company’s structure is based on how they feel the customer and the talent should be treated. They do what makes sense to them based on their deep understanding of the creative industry and it’s needs.

Who is your most important role model?
I am not sure that I can pick a most important role model, as my role models have been many people in different parts of my life. In most cases, she is defined as that person who has achieved a level in her life that I wish to obtain. It is a high-school classmate that got good grades and got accepted to the college of her choice. If she could do it, so could I. I needed to ask her how she did it. Or the small-woman business owner, to the large business-owner, If she could do it, so could I. I needed to ask her how she did it. Then there is the woman who somehow balances her life or seems completely happy. If she could do it, so could I. I needed to ask her how she did it. Mentorship is a process and it is made up of a lot of determined women. I have had the pleasure of knowing judges, government officials, corporate leaders and small business owners and they all have educated and mentored me.