Maven to Know: Jess Bowyer

The co-owner of Mapmaker, Jess Bowyer is also a mom of three and a fan of a good veggie burger.


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photo of Jess Bowyer soft smiling wearing a black leather jacket and black shirt
Jess Bowyer

Jess Bowyer is the co-owner of Mapmaker with her husband Chris, and their company specializes in marketing, design, creative, and branding. Jess studied to be a journalist and then moved into graphic design and non-profit membership association work, and she uses those combined experiences in her role as a communications business owner. In her work, she helps clients with marketing and branding strategy, content creation, implementation of communications strategies, and website creation. Jess is a mom to three kids (aged 15, 13, and 2) and in addition to her family, she says she loves “music, reading, nature, history, and board games.” Over to you now, Jess!

My Maven Superpower is … Learning. I’ve always been driven to learn, from reading all the time as a kid to learning to play instruments, to teaching myself new skills with the help of books and the Internet. I’ve always been curious about the world around me, and especially about people who are different from me, which I appreciate now as an adult. My ability to learn gives me confidence — I’ve taught myself to build websites, shoot videos, and play music. My desire to learn has really given me everything from my various career pivots to my own business to new friends to my excitement to wake up in the morning. The only problem is my TBR pile staring at me Every. Single. Day.

The best book I’ve read lately is … Parable of the Sower” and “Parable of the Talents” by Octavia Butler. I didn’t get into Ms. Butler until last year (!), when I listened to these two books on audiobook. I’m now rereading the paper copies after my fantastic sister-in-law broke down her interpretation of Earthseed philosophies for me. I can’t believe these books were written in the 1990s, because they seem like they were written now. Butler’s take on people, politics, and really the purpose of life are all so right on — all wrapped up in a well-told sci-fi journey. My goal is to eventually read all of her books.

My first job was as … Working at Wendy’s. The worst task was having to clean fly poop off the ceilings. Or that’s what they said it was. Also, the meat smell and grease in the air I give partial credit to my 20 years of vegetarianism.

My favorite nonprofit to support is … Indiana Coalition for Public Education. I didn’t know this myself until a few years ago, but public schools and public education as a public good is under attack, and Indiana, especially Indianapolis, is a testing ground for a lot of anti-public school, pro-privatization ideas and legislation. The good people at ICPE seek to unite all the people who care about Hoosier students — parents, teachers, administrators, citizens, public school graduates, or just Hoosiers who want to live in a state that gives its children the best possible future — into working to save public education and fight against the insane amount of anti-public school money and influence that flows into our state. Plus, we did their logo and website for them. Go to their website and get educated about the issue; it impacts every one of us, not just parents of current students.

Self-care habit I swear by is … Reading. During the darker parts of the pandemic I was too anxious to read (plus I did have a baby at the same time 😂). When I could settle down and read again, I realized just how important it was to my mental health and feeling of well-being. It’s also the only way I can quiet my mind enough to sleep at night..

The best career advice I can offer is … Always keep learning. Even if you aren’t in your dream position, figure out what you can learn there. Take every opportunity, and as my dad taught me, do the things other people aren’t willing to do. I told myself that working at the membership association — the Indiana CPA Society — was the last “job” I would have before I started my own business. It took me 10 years, but I eventually left to do just that. But in those 10 years, I learned so much that I didn’t expect to that directly led to my ability to run my own business — from running a meeting, to strategic planning, to working with and appreciating people who thought differently than me, to budgeting — all things I would have never bothered with when I was younger because I thought they were too boring. Being able to learn on the job gave me the ability to see the practical application of everything, which made it much more meaningful.

Favorite purchase lately is … Adorable enamel earrings from LuxCups! My fashion philosophy is basically — dress simply but have great earrings — and I’ve been wanting some new, unique studs to switch out with my larger earrings. I found a pair with a rainbow and raindrop and a log and axe from LuxCups when we were on vacation in Asheville and can’t get enough.

I feel most confident when … I get into that flow state while working and listening to loud music with loud guitars.

My favorite local restaurant dish is … Lately I’ve been eating a lot of Impossible Burgers with GF buns at either Blind Owl Brewery or Upland Fountain Square. I know it’s not exciting and honestly it’s not even that unique tasting, but as a gluten-free vegetarian it’s SO FUN to just go order something simple and filling at a restaurant and eat it on a patio like a normal person. I just learned that Blind Owl switched back to a non-GF veggie burger. This is my appeal to bring back the Impossible Burger!

The thing I’ve been binging lately is … Well, I just finished the first season of Heartstopper with my teens and I REALLY want to find out what happens next. I’m also excited for the return of Westworld, no matter how much I have mixed feelings about season three. Pachinko was so amazing I immediately got the book and read it all.

My favorite thing to do that I never thought would be my favorite thing to do is … I so love playing Minecraft. My older kids, who introduced me to the game, don’t really even play it on their own anymore unless they play with me. But I love playing some Minecraft and it’s very addictive. I can’t fight AT ALL. I get spooked when I see an enemy and generally die in five seconds and lose everything I’m carrying. But I’ve been working on my strategy and just build multiple bases so I can go hide when the monsters start spawning. It’s fun and creative, and a good down-time thing to do when I’m too tired to read but too awake to go to sleep. I’m committed to survival mode. Perhaps I’ll learn to fight one day.

A Maven you should know is … Crystal Paschal — she’s a passionate volunteer for public ed causes and Moms Demand Action. She’s also a designer and marketer.

The thing I’ve achieved lately that I’d like to celebrate with the Maven community is … The one year anniversary of working for my own business!

What’s next for me is … The next thing we MUST do is get our own brand and website together for Mapmaker; we’ve been lucky enough to be so busy with clients that we don’t have it done yet. I’m also really looking forward to spending time with my teenagers and seeing them turn into young adults, as well as enjoying the preschool years of my 2-year-old with hopefully more confidence than last time. Then I’m hoping to grow our business, develop more relationships with arts organizations and non-profits, and volunteer for the public school cause to preserve and expand public education.

A big part of the dream of working for myself has been to make time for the types of groups I want to work with professionally (arts, non-profits, and small to medium-sized business owners) and personally (causes I care about like education, women’s rights, and human rights). I also hope to play more music and make a dent in my TBR pile. I’m also really looking forward to Gen Con and PASIC this year!


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Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven.

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