Late last year, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) presented its inaugural 20 under 35: Young Professionals Changing the World Awards, honouring these young adults from Canada and the U.S. for their "faith, entrepreneurial spirit and service" Ethan Eshbach, coordinator of engagement initiatives for MEDA, explains, "20 under 35 connects the values behind MEDA's work around the world to those of young professionals here in North America. From entrepreneurs to business professionals to community advocates to church leaders, we have a very impressive mix" Over the next few issues, Canadian Mennonite will be featuring profiles of all six of the Canadian winners, fivefrom Ontario and one from British Columbia.
Chris Steingart has been running his QT Webdesigns business from his home in Kitchener for the past eight years. Besides designing and building websites, QT also hosts websites, and does brand and identity development. The "QT" stands for Quality Transformations.
Steingarts "commute" to work got a bit longer lately, after he and his wife Jillian added Maya in December to two-year-old Rowan. Now his office has been relegated to the basement.
While he builds for anyone interested, he has done a lot of work for congregations and Mennonite church-related institutions, including Mennonite Church U.S.A., Silver Lake Mennonite Camp in Ontario, and MennoMedia's new Shine curriculum. Congregations include a number of United churches as well as Rockway, Shantz, Waterloo-Kitchener and Breslau Mennonite churches.
Breslau Mennonite is where the Steingarts call home. Having worked as a youth pastor at Waterloo-Kitchener Mennonite before a period of teaching English in South Korea and getting QT off the ground, Steingart thinks he understands congregational and Mennonite culture in order to build sites that better fit their needs. The ethics and beliefs of these institutions inform how he does business.
Working from home allows him to support his spouse better and spend time with his children, while at the same time serving the church and community. He likes the flexibility of being able to break his day into sections based on other needs for himself and his family.
Steingart has depended on word-ofmouth advertising. One website for a realtor in Ottawa resulted in a dozen jobs there. After eight years, he is also getting repeat business. He thinks that websites need to be renewed every two to five years, depending on how quickly a business is evolving and changing. Some renew much more often; Vigor Clean Tech of Petersburg, Ont., changes its site yearly.
Being one of the 20 under 35 winners has resulted in more visibility for Steingart, both due to MEDA's publicity and the convention announcement, but so has local media's coverage of some of the local winners.
"Clients saw the coverage and it reminded them to get in touch," he says with a laugh. He feels the acknowledgement validates his work and his relationships.