Movers & Shakers: Jenna Brownlee


Des Moines Mom recognizes that moms wear a lot of hats. You are a mom, wife, friend, diaper changer, nose wiper, meal planner, lost toy finder, the list goes on and on!

This summer we are thrilled to feature some local moms who are thinking outside the box and making a difference in our community through the businesses they own, organizations they are involved with, and work they do. Check out the rest of the series and read profiles from previous years here

Jenna BrownleeIf you don’t know who Jenna Brownlee is, you are probably familiar with her work seen in murals around the Des Moines metro. Check out her website for examples of her work and to buy prints.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I’m a Des Moines native, graphic designer, watercolor painter, and muralist. I live in Clive with my husband, Jack, my daughter, Elle (2 years old), my son Ben (11 months old) and our French Bulldog, Louie. We spend a lot of time with our extended family, love movies and music, and are a charismatic crew!

What do you consider the biggest challenge of motherhood to be? Biggest joy?

The challenges of sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, and mom-guilt/doubt are overwhelmingly overcome with the simplest of joys; like when my daughter holds my face in her hands, nose-to-nose and says unprompted “I love you, Mommy” (queue the tears). I’ve laughed harder and smiled bigger more in the last two years than what feels like my lifetime. The biggest joys are witnessing my children’s minds develop, acts of kindness, and their bond as siblings.

Did you always want to be an artist?

I always knew I wanted to be a fine artist, even as a young kid, and went to school for graphic design. I started my business as a side hustle because I love hand-lettering, drawing, and painting but I had a great full-time job as a graphic designer. Interestingly enough, it’s when I became a mother I gained the courage to take the plunge and quit my day job. I was scared but (with the support and encouragement of my husband/biggest cheerleader) everything came into focus and I was enlightened with the perspective of what I’m most passionate about – being an artist and a mom and balancing those things in a fulfilling way. Life is short and I want to spend it doing what I love most.

What’s the best part about your job?

To get to create on my own terms. Have a flexible schedule. Enjoy slow-paced mornings with my kids. Creating art truly nourishes my soul.

What’s the hardest part about your job?

Owning your own business with a product that is an extension of yourself (emotionally invested) is a lot of hard things…risk, fear, failure, rejection, low lows…but the accomplishments make for really high-highs! Toeing the fine line of catering to your market vs. creating what feels authentic to yourself. Wearing allllll the hats (painter, accountant, project manager, marketer, etc).

What advice do you have for moms who want to chase a dream?

I’m a firm believer that hard work pays off. I feel like once you become a mother your grit becomes less destructible, so be persistent in the daily grind to pursue it. I often think about how when I’m waiting to start something…that time will pass anyway so just go for it! However, a big hurdle for many moms is finding the time to do that. Time management is a very real thing…it’s a craft. Working in a corporate office with project management experience served me well. I recommend investing in project/time management tools or training if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

How are you involved in the community?

I’ve painted several murals and I think public art beautifies and unites a community. I hope the pieces I’ve created have contributed to that. I also like to partner with charitable organizations to donate ready-made or custom pieces.

Around Des Moines

Favorite spot to go for a drink

If by drink you mean coffee, Zanzibar. 🙂

Best place to take kids in Des Moines

We love outdoor parks, the Downtown Farmers’ Market and Blank Park Zoo in the summer and the Science Center in the winter.

How/where do you relax?

Morning coffee on my back patio listening to the wind blow through the trees in the woods behind our house.

What’s your favorite book, show, or podcast?

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan! I love the books and movies. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve seen each movie probably a dozen times. I love adventure/fantasy…escapism for your mind.

What are 3 words to describe you?

Driven, passionate, and creative.

If your life had a hashtag, what would it be?

Know a Des Moines mom we should feature? Let us know! Email [email protected] with details and we will be in touch.


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