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Josh Stewart, 28
President and Chief Creative Officer at Hook Creative
®ï¡¿Josh Stewart’s music career began when he taught himself guitar and took off in 2006 when he signed with a small indie label and had some appearances on MTV, including a New Year’s Eve gig on Times Square. A singer-songwriter in the John Mayer mold, Stewart, whose mother was a contemporary Christian singer, said he always loved music but not necessarily the business and performing. Once he and wife Bre decided to start a family, he hung the microphone up for good.
That’s not to say that things haven’t been going well for Stewart back in 417-land. His web company, Hook Creative, is a one-stop shop for organizations’ branding and online needs. Business really took off a few years ago when—as an official specialist in Square Space software, a content-management product—Hook was approached to build websites and run campaigns for both Louisiana State University and the City of Los Angeles.
Stewart is still the only full-time employee of Hook, which has a storefront on Commercial Street, but he coordinates a cadre of freelancers. He likes the freedom the business allows. “As long as I have a computer and an Internet connection, I have what I need to do business,” he says.
Stewart spends much of his non-work energy at The Bridge church in Nixa, where he has led five mission trips to Haiti, and at home where he has begun teaching his 4-year-old son Jude and 2-year-old daughter Lila their way around a guitar.
Occupation: President & Chief Creative of Hook Creative
Education: Baptist Bible College, 2004–2005, Varsity Basketball; Missouri State University, 2005–2009, Graphic Design
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
I started Hook Creative in 2007 as a sophomore at Missouri State. My father is a successful designer, so I was exposed to the profession at a young age. I can remember learning how to navigate Adobe Illustrator on a Mac when I was 7 years old.
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
I’m motivated by many things — my faith and my family, foremost. The creative process, in general, motivates me. I love building brands from the ground up. I’m also motivated by my clients — people who put their trust in me to help bring their brands to life.
3. Tell us about your family.
I’m happily married to my beautiful wife of seven years, Bre Stewart. Together we have two kiddos, Jude Oliver, age 4 and Lila Blue, age 2. Naturally, they both have their own websites—JudeOliver.com and LilaBlue.com.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
Being a dad is the best thing that ever happened to me. When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my wife and kids. I’m a big sports fan too (basketball, in particular). I recently coached my son’s 3- 4-year old basketball team at the YMCA — that was a trip.
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role? Why is it important?)
I lead a team of volunteers to Haiti every summer and work with an organization called “Mission of Hope.” It keeps me grounded and always puts things in perspective. I’m very blessed and I think it’s important to give back. Here’s what last year’s trip looked like — https://vimeo.com/74521386.
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations?
I’m a member of AIGA (professional association for design).
7. How would you define the secret to success?
Work hard, treat people right and never stop learning.
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
I love watching the brands that we create, develop and grow into successful businesses of their own.
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
There are a lot of extremely nice people around here.
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Use a little less hair gel and stop wearing Abercrombie & Fitch. Also, do your own homework, kid.
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
I had aspirations of being the overall first pick in the NBA draft.
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
Work ethic, attitude and integrity.
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
I’m a “20 under 30” because I’ve been fortunate enough to make a living doing something I truly love to do, and I have a tremendous supporting cast behind me.
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
We’ve got lots of fun projects in the pipeline. Locally, we’re teaming up with Jack Stack and “The Great Game of Business” for several exciting video projects. Nationally, we’re working on projects for the city of Los Angeles, California, and Louisiana State University.
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
That’s a tough one. I recently filmed and directed a promo video for a clothing line called “Missouri is Awesome.” It garnered some local and national attention, and we won a Gold Addy Award. The project, itself, was a lot of fun to work on.
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
Faith and family make life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without — co_ee and Spotify.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm working a little less, vacationing a little more and steadily improving as a father and husband.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would diversify the winnings and probably invest in another startup company.
The best part about being a 20 under 30 is that I get a good excuse to take my wife out on a date (to the 417 party).