Maureen Ballatori, CEO + Founder of 29 Design Studio, has been awarded a Business Inspiration Award for Minority or Woman-Owned Business by the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by Melody Burri

Maureen Ballatori just wanted to make a living based on her creativity. And playing small was never part of the plan. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” And her big dreams have paid off.

From in-house to freelance to agency life, Ballatori says one constant has always been working with great people. “I have very intentionally surrounded myself with a great team. I strive to amplify their voices and their efforts and to be sure I’m not the smartest person in the room. I think it’s paid off.”

2022 has started strong for Ballatori and the team. This award comes hot on the heels of four awards from the National Agri-Marketing Association. In addition, the agency has recently added to its team and promoted Courtney Carroway to Director of Creative.

That said, winning was no easy feat. New York leads the nation in economic empowerment and contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses. So 29 Design Studio was in good company amongst the nominees for the Canandaigua Chamber’s Business Inspiration Awards.

“Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce has been recognizing the inspiring efforts of its members through the annual Business Awards process for over 20 years.  The awards are designed to highlight decisions and investments that advance our regional economy, enhance our quality of life and position us well for the future.” (source)

Canandaigua Chamber delivered the awards virtually on Friday, February 11th. In the ceremony, Ballatori discussed creating access to the workplace for women and minorities. “Trying to build my own business while being a working mother with two babies at home has made me sympathetic to what other working parents go through.” Through her own experiences that she’s been able to support her employees in their parenting journeys, recognizing the realities of working with little ones home during the pandemic and their potential to create excellent work.

When it comes to diversity, Ballatori believes she has further to go. “We are women-led, but that is not a diverse environment,” Ballatori said. In addition to actively seeking to diversify the voices on her team, she is committed to ensuring access. “Our philosophy is remote-first – that’s making the work work for you in the way you need it to.”

The Business Inspired awards were broadcast virtually via the Chamber’s Facebook page. To watch the entire ceremony, visit