Let’s make a design business.
“I’m going to start a design company.”
This is what I tell my wife. The two of us are sitting in our living room watching something on Netflix after a day at work, my wife lounging in the corner of the couch, me staring into a cup of cereal. Two Cheerios left, floating alone together in the milk.
My wife hears me, but she doesn’t say anything.
Our kids are in bed. I’d already read to each of them, as I do every night. Not because I’m the best father in the world — although I hope they think I am— but because I love their books as much as they do. We share the same kind of excitement for stories. Night reading has become our thing.
Tonight I’ve read Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon (more than once), P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go! (also more than once), Charles Fuge and Vicki Churchill’s Sometimes I Like To Curl up in a Ball, and a few chapters of R.L. Stine’s Be Careful What You Wish For —so far, Judith tripped Sam in math class, spilled tapioca pudding on her in home ec., and knocked the wind out of her during basketball practice. We’re now at the part where Sam meets a stranger out in the rain, the crystal woman, who promises to give her three wishes. Sam will very likely use them to destroy Judith.
My kids are one and seven.
There’s a book on the kitchen counter, which is intended just for me. I can see it from my spot on the couch. Logo Design Love. A book by David Airey that I bought months ago with the intention of using as a resource to guide me along towards that first step to starting a design company. Or, at the very least, I could start going through the steps: designing a logo, a website, an identity. Pretending to do it, at the very least. For the experience. By going through the process, I thought, at least I’d become a better designer. What could go wrong?
I can even see the tip of a bookmark sticking out. I’m maybe 20 pages in.
Why did I stop reading that? I wonder.
I look up at the TV. A young woman tells her graduating class to shut up as she prepares her valedictorian speech.
“I like Aubrey Plaza,” I say.
And we settle into the movie. It’s a 2013 film called The To-Do List where an uptight teen decides to lose her virginity and lists a bunch of promiscuous acts she wants to engage in before college.
At some point, I look into the kitchen and see Logo Design Love on the counter. And I realize that my wife — probably unknowingly — never replied. I’d told her I was starting a company, and as if nothing happened we both continued on with our night.
And suddenly I see it. She’s not interested. Not because she’s not interested in the things that I do — she has always been my biggest source of encouragement. She read my short stories throughout university and was there when I published my first. When I told her I wanted to get healthier, she brought home running gear — a pair of New Balance runners that I clunked around the block in and eventually wore out. She brought home a painting set when she saw my obsession with the watercolour and gauche artworks of Jon Klassen and Oliver Jeffers. She even surprised me with a new Nikon when I told her I’d like to take up photography.
She’s pretty fucking great.
She’s just not interested right now. And I know why. Because I’m not either. When I said I was going to start a design company, I just said it. It was easy to say. But even I didn’t believe it.
Why? Because it’s unrealistic, isn’t it? There’s so much to do before launching a company. Let’s think about it. I’ll have to create a business plan, design a brand and an identity and have some idea of what markets I plan to target. There’s more to it than that, but I’m not going to figure it out sitting on a couch and muttering to myself. I’m starting a company isn’t exactly taking action.
I wake up, go to work, design some things, and come home.
I read some books, some of them the same books as yesterday, and I put my youngest daughter to bed.
Sitting on the edge of the bathtub as my seven year old brushes her teeth in front of me, I decide to do it.
I haven’t done this before. So I have no idea where to start. But I decide that I’m just going to start, see what happens. I won’t take it too seriously at first. I’m not going all in on day one. I’m going to ease into it, do some work at night. I’ve got time.
I’ll start small, I decide. I’ll think up some names and sketch out some ideas for a logo. It’s a perfect place to start. Little things I can build off of. I don’t need to start a company yet, but I’ll go through the process anyway. At the very least, I’ll get better at design, which is all I really want out of this. I’ll know how it’s done — the entire process of designing a real business, start to finish. I’ll just stumble through it, and maybe I’ll document it, too. Write about the process, publish it on Medium, see if anyone else wants to stumble along with me like a couple of drunks making their way home from an art festival. Maybe there’s someone else who’s been thinking about this. Maybe they can follow my steps.
Or avoid them when I go wrong.
I’m doing this! I think.
My daughter spits her foamy toothpaste into the sink. I rinse it down.
I follow her into her room. She’s left her clothes on the floor, and I ask her to pick them up. She does. Then she crawls into bed.
“You ready?” I say.
She adjusts a Minecraft pig on the pillow beside her, pulls her covers up. “Yep,” she says.
This will be good, I think. Designing a design business. This could actually turn into something, I reassure myself. If not, at least I’ll be a better designer.
I pick the R.L. Stine book up off the dresser, look down at the cover.
Be Careful What You Wish For…
I smile, open the book. “What do you think’s going to happen?” I ask my daughter.
She shrugs. “I don’t know,” she says.
“Me neither,” I say.