Founder and Creative Director, Ceci New York
A force in the design world, Ceci Johnson is an influential and highly regarded entrepreneur, artist, editor, and loving wife and mother. She is renowned for her creative talents, always pushing the envelope in business and design, as well as with her own fashion-forward style and sophisticated brand aesthetic. Dedicated to a lifetime pursuit of living glamorously through design, Ceci has built a powerhouse atelier and transformed the art of inviting and branding.
Born and raised in Southern California, the theater and arts weren’t just hobbies for Ceci – they were a way of life. Growing up the daughter of a successful small business owner, Ceci’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked at an early age. Many of the valuable business lessons Ceci has put into practice in her own company were learned while growing up and listening to her father in his office from her bedroom next door. Ceci attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she received her degree in Art & Design. As a senior, she was featured on the cover of Communication Arts Magazine and named one of the top ten young artists in the nation– a rare honor for a student. Post graduation Ceci moved from San Diego to New York City for a role as creative director with a major web consulting business.
It was in NYC with an invitation she created for a coworker’s wedding, that the Ceci New York story began.
One referral lead to another, and another… In 2004 and armed with a fierce desire to disrupt the industry that did not offer true “couture” design Ceci established Ceci New York. Ceci was soon recognized as an innovator and lauded as the founder of “couture” invitation design. Her New York studio has won numerous awards including the prestigious ModernBride “Trendsetter” award, named “Expert Stationer” by New York Magazine and won successive “Best of invitation design” awards leading to her induction into The Knots Wedding Hall of Fame.
Ceci New York’s reach spread to a global clientele and soon expanded beyond the world of weddings into Social & Parties, Corporate, Baby & Kids, Stationary and Home & Gifts.
Ceci Johnson has been named by Tory Burch as a “Woman to Watch”, and called by Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine “a favorite designer” Ceci New York has designed for international celebrities, rock stars, artists, royalty, dignitaries, presidents and titans of industry. Her corporate client list includes “The Emmy’s”, Perrier Jouet, Patek Philippe, Mandarin Oriental and Hugo Boss to name just a few.
Ceci Johnson is a highly sought-after speaker on branding, design and entrepreneurship for women in business, designers, wedding industry professionals and numerous companies around the world from Goldman Saks to Adobe Software and luxury symposiums from Moscow to Paris. She is passionate about mentoring and consulting with other entrepreneurs as the first step in changing the path they’re on and transforming their strategy, branding and design for the better.
After years of focusing on her own business and brand, Ceci has been able to use her unique skills and the creative power of Ceci New York to give back to causes close to her heart. At the center of Ceci New York’s philanthropic efforts is their partnership with The Birthday Party Project, a non-profit dedicated to bringing joy to homeless children through the magic of birthdays.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Oh! So much advice. So so much. Hard to pick just one – so here’s two. The biggest ones that rise to the top is to have patience. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a wild roller coaster full of ups and downs and twists and turns beyond what you could ever imagine. But the most important thing is to not give up and keep your eyes on the prize. Which is your passion – the WHY you started this business in the first place. Keep feeding into that and great things will happen.
The other is from my dad who I got the best business advice from. He would always tell me, “Your hardest day only lasts 24 hours.” To this day, I think of this quote every time I’m having a challenging day and it helps.
Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
I’m always inspired by creative, passionate women in business doing big things. Lately, I’ve been inspired by Rachel Zoe. She’s a beautiful mother juggling her empire and family responsibilities and chasing her dreams. I relate to her because I too have a lot going on yet have a desire to always put a glamorous spin on things and make my clients feel amazing. I love how she’s taken her styling business and expanded it across many silos to create a complete multi-dimensional lifestyle brand.
If you could create a slogan for your life, what would it be?
Be kind, smart, gracious and fearless. And no matter how challenging things get, never give up on your dreams!
How do you define your purpose & mission in life?
My purpose is to create and inspire and help beautify my clients lives every day through great design.
Describe a moment that could’ve broken you, but didn’t. How did you get past the struggle?
Whenever I find myself taking things personally and reacting emotionally, I always try to take a deep breath, and remember the 24 hour rule. It’s so much better to react proactively with a calm and collected mind than an emotionally weak one. By giving your heated situation some time for both parties to cool off, always helps in solving the conflict. Because after all, you can’t take it too personally as it’s just business.