This week Vivid Minds Vivid Futures interviews Samantha Black from Design Reaction. Samantha works with businesses to create unique visual identities that bring their brand to life, focusing on quality executions that will help them achieve their business objectives.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Glen Innes completing my schooling at Glen Innes High School. After completing school, I moved to Newcastle where I attended the Tighes Hill TAFE and completed my Diploma of Graphic Design. After that I got a job for AOK Health, doing graphic design, where I worked for three years. I was then offered to start a business by a print broker who would send me to their clients to do graphic design work where I developed a range of clients from small businesses to government departments, and even a national fitness magazine.
After ten years in Newcastle, I moved back to Glen Innes. Life was very stressful, I realized I needed to move back to my comfort zone so I could focus on what I’m good at. Glen Innes is a much less stressful environment, and I have family and support networks there and after being diagnosed with Autism recently I can understand the need for extra support. After moving back, I studied a Bachelor of Arts at the University of New England, and also completed a Certificate 3 in Discipleship.
What does Design Reaction do?
We focus on Graphic design with a specialty in logo and branding and tell a company’s story through design. We achieve this through brainstorming sessions with our clients to ensure we get the most ideas on the table. During the process I am highly available for our clients. One point of difference from other designers is we are not fussy with revisions and make sure our clients are happy and get the most value possible.
When did you start your business?
The business started about twenty years ago when I lived in Newcastle, however it hasn’t been fully running during those years as I’ve been studying and doing other activities. During those times I’ve always done freelance work, but recently I decided to relaunch my business into a full-time endeavour.
What have been some of your challenges in starting a business?
Shyness has always been a big one, and I easily get nervous, especially when presenting to multiple people. When I ran my business in Newcastle, I joined a business networking group, BNI, and that really helped me to get out of my shell. Before attending I could barely pick up the phone to make a cold call, and then suddenly, I was meeting with, and talking in front of, a lot of people. When I first started, I didn’t have too many clients, and BNI really helped me with getting new clients, and also learning how to meet with people, coordinate with people, and learn other key social skills.
What do you like most about running your own business?
I really like the time and freedom that running my own business affords. I like the creativity and the joy in coming up with an idea and executing it well for my clients. That’s why I like doing brainstorming with my clients, to work on that creative strategy with them and help them achieve their goals.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Get around people who are smarter than you are so you can learn from them. The best thing you can do is network, and get into a network or a team, like BNI. Networking can open up avenues you wouldn’t otherwise know about, and networking with other business owners and other professionals can significantly increase the clients you can potentially get in front of.
What inspires you?
In my own life I am inspired by creativity in art and music. In my business I get inspired by the creative strategy with the client, working on that idea – sparking together – and executing that idea through to its fullest potential.
What is your secret for success?
Listening and giving people my time and being available. Time is like money, so I like to be available for my clients. And, being open to new connections, outside my natural contact sphere.
What’s next for Design Reaction?
I’m looking at doing a redesign of my own brand which will include a new website, and a complete brand refresh, new look and a new logo. I would like to build up a customer base that has consistent work that comes in each month. I also want to build up relationships with other businesses to generate more work so that I’m not constantly trying to acquire new customers.