We’ve all been there. You’re doing some soul searching and wonder, how can I make my life more fulfilling? Well, I’ve been pondering that question for some time. I’ve spent decades growing my small graphic design firm, Graphic Granola (GG). We have served small businesses & startups by specializing in branding & identity development. GG has grown to a staff of four, with interns and all. And shrunk. Like during those lean 2008 years when it was down to just me again. Glorified freelance, it’s called. I’ve contracted and expanded so much, it almost feels like breathing. Even dove into the foray of worker cooperatives for a couple years. My eager, little, egalitarian heart persuaded six other creative types to experiment with adopting a novel business model: equal ownership in a worker coop. Tribe Creative Agency was born as a creative branding & marketing firm dedicated to serving the common good. What an ambitious lot we were! We even made a go of it, winning some nonprofit branding projects and landing a government contract. However, like the waves of the tide, that faded away too. Ebb and flow, ebb and flow. What to do?
You know how sometimes you’re so busy looking for answers, that can’t see what is smack-dab right in front of you? All I had to do was look at GG’s client roster and I had my answer. More than 80% of our clients have been nonprofits or mission-driven enterprises. Well, duh. Bleeding heart that I am, of course that’s where my passions lie.
Funny, but the nonprofit focus all grew rather organically. Hell, it’s actually how Graphic Granola started. I had just moved back to Austin after a two-year ad agency stint in San Antonio. I had successfully dabbled in freelance previously, but now I really wanted to immerse myself in it. However, it’s 2005, the economy is in the tanker, and G.W. Bush Jr. was just re-elected. I had just quit the best paying job of my career to freelance. But I have no clients. No work. No income. What was I thinking? OK, pour yourself into your work, I tell myself. I start volunteering my design services to all the causes I care about. End-the-death-penalty-in-Texas organization logo? You got it. The Green Party needs posters & flyers for events? Done. What can I do to counter this gay bashing bullshit that Bush Jr. is spouting? Well, donate my creative services to the Human Rights Campaign (LBGTQ equality), of course. The connections I made with all that pro-bono work, are what got Graphic Granola started.
I’ve always just naturally been attracted to do-gooders. Being an altruistic soul myself, I found the passion they had for their work contagious. I loved working on mission-focused endeavors so much, I started offering a 15% discount for nonprofits. And it grew from there. Noticing how much I identified with these vital change makers, I realized that this is where I excel. If I’m in love with a mission, I’m in love with the work. And suddenly work is no longer a job, but rather, it’s a way of being. I mean, how much more fulfilling can life get? Living by example. Personifying your core values. Being the change you want to see in the world. Whoa.
Especially since feeling so dejected with our current, divisive, political climate, I knew I had to shift my focus away from what’s wrong. You can only be disgusted so long before it affects your mental, physical, and spiritual health. I needed to pour my energy into something positive. Once again, I turn my focus to the common good. Doing good works truly does soothe the soul. And we desperately need more good. For our country. For our people. For our planet. And for our own humanity.
That is how I came to this new incarnation of Graphic Granola. With a mission to serve those who serve others. (Cue the Kumbaya sing-along.) I know I sound all utopian and idealistic. But it’s where I’m most passionate. It’s who I am. “You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.”
OK, that got a little too cheeseball to end this first blog post. I just wanted to offer my own personal story of what brought me to GOOD DESIGN FOR DO-GOODERS. Creating positive impact and reigniting my creative spark via a renewed focus on the common good. I aim to create great things with others of my bleeding heart ilk. “I hope one day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
(Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)
—Kelly, aka Graphic Granola