As Creative Niche celebrates its 20th anniversary; the team reflects on some of the biggest lessons that they’ve learned over the years…

This month, Creative Niche celebrates a major achievement. It’s a rare feat to achieve 20 years in business, and yet, that’s exactly what we’re celebrating here at Creative Niche HQ.

In 2002, our founder and CEO, Mandy Gilbert, took out an $8K personal line of credit – and on June 7 of that same year, Creative Niche was officially in business. Fast forward to today, and it’s a multi-million-dollar company that has matched thousands of digital, marketing, and creative talent across leading organizations in North America.

What does 20 years in recruitment equate to? 600+ happy client relationships. 14,000+ successfully placed candidates. Two decades of success, and an unlimited well of industry knowledge.

From humble beginnings, the female-owned business has grown into a thriving enterprise of 24 employees – boasting an average employee tenure of five years. There is much to celebrate, and much to be proud of.

Reflecting on the past 20 years, we wanted to share the lessons that we have learned in business during this period… but how do you possibly begin to condense a vicennial of experience into a few hundred words? Well, we put it to the team.


We asked some of our Nichers to share the foremost lessons that they’ve learned in their roles during their time at Creative Niche, and consolidated their responses below:


  1.   Always strive for improvement. It’s important to continuously look for ways to improve as individuals, as a team, and as a company. For example, in 2020 when the world took a pause, we had the opportunity to look at our business processes and find ways to improve them. This has helped set us up for success as the market heated back up.


  1.   Every touch point – email, phone call, in-person – is important. Each meeting is an opportunity to be an ambassador for the brand, and to build strong relationships and long-lasting partnerships (which a top priority for us at Creative Niche).


  1. Always do what’s right. Good karma in business is key, especially in recruitment.


  1. It doesn’t matter which role you’re in. At Creative Niche, we’re all working towards the same goal of making meaningful placements – and none of us can achieve that goal alone.


  1.   Continuous learning is key. Industries are constantly evolving and there is always something new (and interesting) to learn. It’s important to stay on top of trends, ask a lot of questions, and learn about what’s upcoming in the industry – accepting that your knowledge is always incomplete is a prerequisite for learning. What got you here won’t get you there, and that’s a fact!


  1. Take time for yourself. It’s important to allocate time for you to be the best version of yourself.


  1. Set realistic expectations. Whether it’s a client, candidate, or team member – it’s important to help them understand the market, skills necessary, available resources and capabilities, etc. Together, discover what the real pain points are and work with those necessary to come to a successful, realistic, and achievable medium.


  1. Be 100% engaged in whichever you’re doing and use your head and heart to be successful in business.


  1. Reframe any limiting beliefs. Imposter syndrome feels real, but it’s almost never the case. You’re in that room for a reason!


  1. Communication is the best tool in your toolbox. Business and processes are always evolving, and with that, communication must evolve as well. Effective communication can help you develop in your career beyond all other skills and, conversely, poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and many other complications. Master it, and you will do very well.


  1. Relationships rule! Never underestimate the value of a relationship. At Creative Niche, we have had relationships with clients who have then become candidates, who then became clients again – relationships with whom have introduced us to new clients (some even becoming friends). Relationships have the power to enrich your career on so many levels.


  1. It’s okay to make mistakes, but you have to own them and learn from them to grow.


  1. Be intentional. It is so easy in business to become reactive rather than proactive. We get busy and let the demands of the business lead us, sometimes forgetting our long-term goals and the steps necessary along the way. Remember to invest the time and discipline to scope out a plan that will achieve the business outcomes that you want.


  1. Work hard, play hard. Yes, you can have fun at work and be productive. In fact, if you love what you do and the people you work with, productivity and success is multiplied.


  1. Be curious. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it saved many others! Curiosity is a natural driver to learning, and by nurturing your sense of curiosity, it can help foster a lifelong successful career by understanding the ‘why’, the ‘how’, and the ‘what’. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it can help give you a greater depth of understanding. 


  1. Find your own way. While actively learning from others and implementing their methods is important, finding your own methods (that are authentically you) is the key to success.


  1. Be a human being first. All jobs have a people element, and everyone deserves respect. Whether a client, colleague, or candidate, it’s important to keep that in mind when dealing with sensitive information that may affect their lives and careers. At Creative Niche, we try to help, encourage, and coach people to move forward and achieve their goals.


  1. Don’t chase the money. Focus on being the best in your space, and continuously strive to provide value. If you do the right things, your progress, opportunities, and financial success will follow.


  1. Delegate and let go. You will be as successful by hiring the best people for the job as you will be by effectively delegating. Let go of trust and control issues and create space for others to take on more responsibility, make mistakes, and grow – it’s all part of the magic in creating a high-performance, entrepreneurial-spirited company.


  1. Give meaningful feedback. The ability to share and receive feedback is one of the greatest gifts you can give to those around you, including yourself, both personally and professionally.


And an extra one, just because: You really don’t need to sound or feel like the smartest, most important person in the room – you are enough.


Creative Niche would not be where it is today without its employees, loyal clients, trusting candidates, and our fierce leader, Mandy Gilbert. We thank you for your support over the last 20 years, we are beyond grateful and humbled to have worked with you all.


Happy Nicherversary, Creative Niche! Here’s to the next 20.


* Responses from Marta Saab, Client Services Director, six years at Creative Niche; Theresa Casarin, Managing Director, 11 years at Creative Niche; Jayla Mortensen, Executive Assistant to Founder & CEO, 15 years at Creative Niche; Dorothy Moe, Director: Client Services & Brand, 16 years at Creative Niche; Jenny Gilbert, Engagement Director, 16 years at Creative Niche; Debra Sharp, VP Client Services, 17 years at Creative Niche; and Mandy Gilbert, Founder and CEO, 20 years at Creative Niche