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Announcing a new era at The Voice Bureau. (Or, why this branding and copywriting agency has a new owner.)

by Abby Kerr

in The Bureauverse

About this column

“You guys . . . the blog post is coming from inside The Voice Bureau.” Let’s talk insider stuff.

Hi. It’s Abby, Founder of The Voice Bureau and creator of the Voice Values paradigm for branding.

A while back, in the midst of some big life changes, I found that my relationship to creativity had changed. And, after years of full-time creative self-employment, so had my relationship to work and livelihood. That changed profoundly.

In a tight nutshell, creativity became more important to me. Not in an abstract sense — not creativity “as a birthright” or a concept or a practice. But creativity in a concrete and vital way: my personal creativity and my capacity to explore it. I became very interested in my bandwidth for my own personal creativity, aside from anything that was tied to earning income, meeting expectations, or packaging work for market. I became greedy for more time and more freedom to explore my personal creativity, separate from business.

At the same time, my relationship to livelihood changed. After a decade of full-time creative self-employment (first with a store, then with a freelance copywriting business called Abby Kerr Ink, then with the agency that is The Voice Bureau), I began to question the gestalt of creative self-employment, for me.

The last stop on this self-exploration around creativity and livelihood, for me, was this:

I no longer wanted my livelihood to be tied to the most personal expression of my creativity that I had bandwidth for.

I wanted to separate art and earning.

I decided that I wanted to earn a good living using the following criteria MORE than I wanted to be self-employed:

  • work that left my deepest, most exhilarating, personal creativity largely untapped
  • work that occupied about 40 hours a week and rarely, if ever, more
  • work that stayed out of my nightly dreams and my weekend musings
  • work where I could be an individual contributor, but not the face of the brand, the driver of the business, or the heart and soul

After so many years of completely running the show, I realized that what I wanted now was a job, not an empire.

In short, my priorities changed. As they do, for most people, over time. I was 27 when I first became fully self-employed. I’m nearly 39 now. I want different things, in a different way than I once did. My vision of fulfillment and success has changed.

So a while back, I decided that the right next step for ME was to separate creative desire and work-for-pay. (I know — I might’ve once thought this was blasphemy.)

My current stance on totally embracing a j-o-b doesn’t jive with the ethos and mythos of creative entrepreneurship, a stage on which (theoretically) you should find a way to package what you love to do so that you can do it in a way you feel good about, and earn good money at it.

After 10 years of self-employment, I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue this goal.

And yes, I know that many of my creatively entrepreneurial friends cracked their own code on work-life balance, mastered organic systems, and productivity-hacked their way to fulfillment. Work-life balance is something I’ve always massively struggled with (as my close friends both inside and outside of entrepreneurship know), and I’ve made my peace with that.

So I got a traditional day job. And then a different one. As I write this today, I’ve been full-time employed in the traditional workforce for about a year and a half. I have a job description and a salary and benefits and a manager and co-workers and an office I go to about eight days a month.

I also have evenings and weekends almost always free from income-generating work, and time on my calendar to pursue not-for-pay creativity (hello, fiction and cooking and home design) and relationships and fitness pursuits and SLEEP and travel and hobbies and just all the things I always demoted out of guilt when I was self-employed.

I work a day job so that I can use my creative energy outside of work hours to pursue art that isn’t imminently for pay, and possibly never will be.

I’ve separated art and money, for myself. At least for now, and for the foreseeable future.

But this isn’t the end of the story.

I’m happy knowing that The Voice Bureau can still thrive and is on page one of a whole new volume.

Even though life has moved me into a new season, and I’m no longer self-employed, this business I started 8 years ago is continuing on.

The Voice Bureau is moving into a brave new season of its own. This work that captured my heart and engrossed my imagination for so many years will go on.

I’m so happy to announce that the business has a new owner, the inimitable Katie Mehas.

If you’ve been part of our community for long, or if you’ve been a client of ours over the past 4 years, you already know Katie, the person who’s been running The Voice Bureau alongside me. If you hired us for copywriting or consulting from 2012 onward, Katie’s been your main point of contact throughout the life of the project, and on the blog you’ve gotten to hear her perspective on seeing what’s unique about you in business, hearing your own brand voice, and thinking like an editor about your own brand.

Katie has helped build The Voice Bureau into something even stronger, especially the backend in terms of operations, infrastructure, and organization. She’s a natural born writer with a very distinct voice, style, and point of view, a love of wordplay, and client management super-prowess, so it’s been easy to share decision-making with her over these last few years.

That’s why the decision to hand this nearly 8-year-old business over to her, officially, has been easy, too.

Recently, Katie and I signed the papers that would transfer full ownership of The Voice Bureau to her.

So yes, this is an official announcement that I’m moving on. I’m no longer the owner of a brand voice development and copywriting agency called The Voice Bureau. But the amazing Katie is — and I can’t wait to watch how it flourishes under her aegis.

Like most of the incredible people in our clientele and our readership, Katie is very much invested in remaining creatively self-employed — and she’s going to be even more engaged than ever in working with others who want the same.

She’s been involved with The Voice Bureau long enough to have internalized everything this business stands for. She’ll be carrying on the core tenets of what it stands for — working with values-driven businesses, tapping a business’s innate Voice Values for website and offer language and symbology, helping businesses and brands to discover and use their own unique voice in a way that draws their Right People to them. All the things that I (and that she and I) have created will continue to be a part of that.

It’s true that I won’t be the face of The Voice Bureau any longer. But the work I created for it, namely the Voice Values, are still very much the soul of it.

I’ll be keeping an eye on things from a distance and popping in from time to time with a blog post. I didn’t pour myself into building this business for almost a decade to just walk away without a backward glance.

To you, the casual reader who’s recently discovered us, and to you, the devoted reader who’s been following my entrepreneurial journey and the work of The Voice Bureau for years — thank you. Getting to work with you, your dreams and visions, and your amazing repertoires of talents and skill sets, has been creatively rewarding and personally affecting.

I’m so proud of what we’ve built, and what you allowed us to build through entrusting us with helping to bring your brand voices to life online.

I look forward to seeing what’s next for Katie and The Voice Bureau. She’ll be in touch very soon with a post of her own, a post heralding the start of her first ownership year, and letting you know what you can look forward to.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane December 27, 2016 at 1:18 am

Congratulations to both of you. Abby, you’ve created a great creative business and a very powerful approach to enable people to unlock their voice and express themselves creatively. Knowing when to step away is also a great skill and you must be so pleased to hand over the reins to someone as talented and creative as Katie.

Katie is such a delight to work with – creative, thoughtful and so focused on successful delivery. I’m sure Katie will lead The Voice Bureau to new heights and look forward to seeing this unfold. An exciting new chapter for you both ahead, thank you for sharing this news. Wishing you every success.


Abby Kerr December 27, 2016 at 7:22 am

Thank you, Jane! I’m thrilled that Katie’s in a position to carry this work forward, and honored that she wants to. I really appreciate your ongoing support.


Alisha Sommer December 27, 2016 at 7:41 am

Congratulations to both of you, Abby and Katie!


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Thank you so much, Alisha.


Mo Cleary December 27, 2016 at 7:43 am

LOVE this on so many levels. First of all it is a confirmation that you can make choices around how, when, for how long you stay self employed, that choosing a job for some period or forever is not “selling” out but a way of creating the life you truly want.

Second, so powerful that you and Katie reached this agreement. It feels like it honors each of your contributions, your hard work in developing the Voice Bureau and a lifting up that in ending one thing, another can bloom.

Best of luck to you both.


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Mo, I really appreciate you saying this. I do think it’s important for us creatives to have models of what it looks like to transition, to move on, to bridge from one season of endeavor to the next. That’s part of what I’m attempting to do here in sharing my story!

And yes, it definitely feels like passing the business on to Katie is a deep honoring of each of us. Thank you for recognizing that.


Theresa Reed December 27, 2016 at 7:48 am

Congrats to both of you! This sounds like a powerful decision – and one that is right for The Voice Bureau – and both of you.

Sending you love and luck as you move forward!


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Thanks, Theresa!


Catherine McManus December 27, 2016 at 7:59 am

We are on similar journeys, Abby. I’m so glad to hear you are making time for exploring your own creativity further and cultivating ways to enhance your livelihood.

How wonderful that The Voice Bureau is still going strong with Katie!

I took a part time job about 6 months ago, but Creatively Designed is still chugging away, taking on fewer projects and looking for support staff. I don’t want to quite leave my business behind, so I was wondering if you have any advice for how to find someone up to the task of taking on the highly detailed, personal work you created? The Voice Values are your masterpiece, and I’m just wondering what you did to find an amazing person with the right skills and knowledge to honor your business… to fill your shoes comfortably? I am struggling to let my little birdie leave the nest!

Best of luck in your new endeavors and freedoms! Although I have also taken a big step back, I hope to still see you around the interwebs in some capacity ❤️


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Hi, Catherine! Thanks for sharing your experience with your career transition. I never set out to find someone to take over my business. When I brought Katie on back in 2012, leaving the business wasn’t really a thought in my head. I brought her on for project management (Project Curator), and that evolved into her becoming our Doyenne of Operations (yes, I like fancy titles), and that evolved into her becoming our Creative Director. Over time, it just became clear that making her the new owner was the next logical and natural step in the trajectory.

When you start looking for someone to take over what you started, I think the most important thing to look for is whether the person is invested in carrying forward the things you’d like to see carried forward. Whether that’s a certain process or methodology, a brand identity, a style and ethos of working with customers — if it’s something that’s important to you, legacy-wise, then look for someone who really gets, appreciates, and values that element. Unless you’re signing off on the person totally transforming the business according to their own vision.

Of course, every business owner making a transition is going to value something different. That’s why a contract/agreement is so important, spelling out the terms, what can and can’t be used, what ways certain things can change and what ways they can be changed, how much input you’ll continue to have (if at all) and how and when, etc.


Carrie Pacini December 27, 2016 at 8:12 am

Congratulations Katie and Abby! So Happy for you both :)


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Thanks, Carrie!


Sheila December 27, 2016 at 8:39 am

As always, Abby, you have used your voice in a very powerful way to express not only the joys the entrepreneurship but, more subtly, the pitfalls. I honour you for honouring all the voices of you and expressing them so eloquently. Congrats to you and Katie.


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Thank you, Sheila. Much appreciated. Glad the pitfalls came through only subtly. :)


Joanna Powell Colbert December 27, 2016 at 8:43 am

I think it’s wonderful, Abby. I totally understand and support your decision. And I’m sure Kate will continue to do a wonderful job with the Voice Bureau. I’m grateful for the work we did on my site a few years ago. Love & Blessings on this new chapter in your life.


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Thank you, Joanna. It was a joy working with you.


Dian Reid-Jancic December 27, 2016 at 10:32 am

Oh, Abby I couldn’t be more excited for you to be following what’s right for you! What a gift you’ve given yourself and to the rest of the Voice Bureau community. Much love to you and and your journey forward. xoxo


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Dian, thanks! So glad to have met you through this entrepreneurial journey.


Laura Simms December 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Abby, I’m so happy for you both. Thanks for sharing your decision-making process. And I hope I get to read some of your “off the clock” creative writing soon. All the best to you and Katie.


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Thank you, Laura. If and when I start publishing, I’ll be sure to share with my community on FB and IG. :)


Lucy Chen December 27, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Congratulations to you both, Katie and Abby. I’ve been following the Voice Bureau for a year now but rarely commented. Learning along the way. Hope to work with you one day.


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Hi, Lucy. I’m grateful you did comment today. Thanks so much for being part of our community.


Lynn December 27, 2016 at 6:08 pm

I’m thrilled for you. Congrats!


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Thank you, Lynn!


Stephanie Pollock December 27, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Congratulations Abby! What a big, bold move and I echo what Laura said about sharing your decision-making process.

Here’s to charting new territory and the next phase of your creative life.


Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Yay to charting new territory and my new phase. Thanks, Stephanie.


Sas December 28, 2016 at 3:50 am



Abby Kerr December 29, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Thank you, Sas!


Milo December 31, 2016 at 6:09 am

Congratulations Abby and Katie! This sounds like a very mutually beneficial decision for you both.

Abby, I could really relate to your reasons for making a change. It’s so important to do what’s right for ourselves, and not live our lives according to what we think we ‘should’ be doing.

I went back to full-time employment this year after 4 years of freelancing, and although I had thought I would prefer the freedom of self-employment, it is actually suiting me much better to have structure and daily accountability. I haven’t quite managed to establish my own creative practice outside of my job yet but that’s one of my aims for the year ahead.

Best wishes to you both!


Abby Kerr January 31, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Thank you for opening up about your career transition, too, Milo! Congrats to you for finding goodness in this new season of your own.


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