The chances of finishing a course and finding a job in a pretty saturated industry can be slim at the best of times. Not having the credentials on paper and deciding that you would create Māori art only?... Forget about it.
So as you do, we started a company.
We partnered up with a good friend and actual graduate from design School, and D’sign Nation Ltd was born. It made total sense - having 3 people who knew jack about business had to be better than 2 right?
Aside from that, Rina was a kick-ass artist.
We set up an office in our garage, painted it out and thought it looked pretty professional lol. Well it was freezing in winter and sweltering in summer so we moved into a bedroom. Two young kids in the house meant phone calls with clients were made from the laundry or the car. Oh and not forgetting the crazy pitbull who barked her head off when she could hear me talking. I’m so thankful we had understanding clients, many of whom continued working with us for years. We pushed through a steady flow of contracts and somewhere along the line I became the project manager communicating clients’ visions to Wiremu and Rina and we created our policies and procedures as we went along. Crackup.
The decision to do only Maori design paid off as it became our niche and all of our mahi came through word of mouth. The work was steady, and learning to juggle the timing of payments with paying expenses and then ourselves with what was left, created a feast or famine lifestyle that seemed to go on forever. For the most part we didn’t know if we were going to make it but we kept moving forward believing we were going to crack it soon. Or win lotto. Good thing we were used to roughing it though. The kids had what they needed and we just carried on with learning, working and raising them.
Wiremu’s practice of delivering mahi to a high standard was set from those nights sketching at the kitchen table years prior. Transferring over to digital design with client expectations as well as deadlines was a whole new ball game that transpired into long days and late nights. In hindsight it was quite risky and totally exhausting but was the only way we knew how to roll.
Working from the house became a bit much and we explored the likelihood of leasing an office, which in the end wasn't viable for us. Then out of the blue we were invited to take a look at a business incubator that had just been created, and then invited to become 1 of a few businesses that resided there. We figured this could take our business to another level.
We were in.