Creating freedom for brands: 9 years and 5 client promises.
Leaping, Listening, Learning
I decided to quit my in-house design position to open my own studio in 2008 (yes, in the middle of the recession). I had discovered through my side-hustle, that working hand-in-hand with business owners excited me like nothing else. The tangible energy of a fresh start was addictive. I loved hearing the passion in their voice, learning about the dream they were following, and seeing how excited they were to take their own leap. I knew even then that, through creating something beautiful for them, I could instill a sense confidence in themselves and their brand — and I longed to be a part of that creation.
With the belief that literally anyone could be my client, I approached every single interaction with an open mind and a critical ear, poised to listen for pain points and opportunities for design to solve those problems. I allowed my intuition to guide me to visionary business owners who valued design —and who, happy with their results, referred more clients my way.
I quickly learned just how emotional design is. And when working with first-time business owners, emotions tend to run even higher while they release an idea, their baby, into the world.
My openness and eagerness to truly understand often brought me right into the heart of my client’s business, and face to face with their own personal roadblocks.
The deep fears surrounding their leap would rise up as that release inched closer and who better to turn to but the person they entrusted their brand with? More often than not, I became an unexpected business coach and shoulder to cry on. I assumed this was the standard protocol for life as a designer and I loved being included at such a capacity.
But while my clients truly inspired me, I was exhausted and burning out. Being so emotionally involved in every client’s business resulted in giving all of my self and my time to their brands — so much so that I was unable to see the beauty and uniqueness in my offering and how unbalanced it had become for all of us. The lines that defined my role in their businesses repeatedly became blurred.
So I set an intention to carve out my boundaries, assigning time for design and time for consulting. Drawing this line empowered me. Clients respected my time and my team’s time even more. And with this structured balance, we were all able to grow even more than previously possible.
Nine years later, I am now able to see with clarity what I was birthing back in the beginning — a studio that creates freedom for brands.
This is made possible through active listening, consistent empathy, and by remaining open in order to see the glimmer of a solution hidden within a client’s deepest fears. There is no blanket prescription for every brand and it’s through understanding their unique problems that you are able find unique solutions. This will allow them to not only grow, but to soar.
This summer, my team and I sat down to evaluate ourselves, set goals, and set new intentions. We landed on the below promises for our clients, which we have been creating internal systems to track and behold ourselves to.
1. We promise to be real with you, even if it is hard to hear.
2. We promise to have your best interest at heart and to honor what you are capable of stepping into.
3. We promise to create work that is built with your goals at the center, solves your problem, and that we 100% stand behind.
4. We promise to treat you as humans first and business owners second.
5. We promise to always listen to you, understand you, and ensure your voice is heard in our designs.
I couldn’t have planned for where this journey and business would take me but I am forever grateful that I took my own leap.
We have many wonderful new offerings rolling out soon, which we have spent time cultivating based on our experiences and client feedback. It’s an exciting time for sure!
To all our clients over the years, thank you — for entrusting us with your brand and welcoming us into the heart of something you are so passionate about. It is an honor working so closely with you.
Cheers ❤ -Jess
(photo by Melanie McCabe)