When Jane Cox was studying interior design in the University of Manitoba's faculty of architecture, she experienced an epiphany.
"I was in the middle of doing my thesis when I realized I didn't just want to design rooms," she says. "I wanted to design everything."
That moment of truth prompted her to move, after she got her bachelor degree, into the brave new world of brand development. Today, the 39-year-old Vancouver resident oversees all aspects of a client's daily business, from developing a business strategy to picking the right paint colour for the office walls, as head of her own consultancy business, Cause and Affect Design Ltd.
Headquartered in Vancouver's hip Gastown district, she works with a staff of six that includes Steven Cox, her business partner, husband and father of her two young children.
Besides helping more than 60 clients, among them the Vancouver Art Gallery, with business and brand development, her team organizes multidisciplinary events as a way of inspiring surrounding communities to engage in cultural creations produced in their backyards.
"I'd feel comfortable calling myself a culture builder more than a brand consultant," says Cox, who, with her husband, initiated the popular Vancouver arts and culture series, Movers and Shapers, and founded the Vancouver edition of PechaKucha, billed as an evening of ideas, images and inspired conversation.
"Culture creates communities," she continues. "It makes people feel connected and fundamentally that's what we all want – we want to connect."
That willingness to connect with others has led Cox to be called a cultural incubator in Vancouver, where she is frequently called upon to lend her input to a wide range of causes and artistic projects. At the Vancouver International Dance Festival this month, for example, she presented a paper on modern dance, one of her many passions.
"I have a history of helping others by uncovering their natural abilities and giving them a sense of how what they do connects with the world. I now do this for businesses and organizations in shaping their brand," she says. "When I see something unique, I'm excited to see how it might end up changing perceptions. Creating potential is how I get a thrill."