Last Day of School

Wow. What a whirlwind!

Nine months ago I started my first day at Firebelly University with what seemed like the beyond crazy dream of starting a design studio that served a higher purpose than just selling products. I wanted to work with organizations I believed in, I wanted to create campaigns that moved people, I wanted to make a positive impact on the world – and I wanted me, & my colleagues, to be paid for their work. A novel idea, I know.

The concept really did seem distant and foggy though that first week. Hell, it was foggy for the first 8 months! However, after lots of workshopping, I have learned that it is possible to run a design studio with a conscious. And not only is it possible, I’ve learned how to do it. Correction, I haven’t learned how to do it, I am doing it.

Firebelly U has given me the opportunity to pitch my business to some of the most successful social entrepreneurs and creatives in the Chicagoland area and beyond. Their advice and anecdotes have been completely invaluable.

SO much so, that last March Made By We started working with their first client – the Ohio Innocence Project out of Cinicinnati OH. We were a perfect partnership because they were doing all sorts of amazing work, but having trouble sharing the impact they were making in their community outside of their organization.

We worked together to create an inforgraphic that was so successful it brought one of the inmates to tears, and a member of the legal team offered me their first born child & swore to tattoo my name across their chest. For the record, much as we like babies and tattoos, Made By We prefers payment in the form of cash or check, thanks!

Since then, we have started working with five other non-profits and social enterprises – and our community of collaborators is ever growing. The ‘We’ of ‘Made By We’ does not only refer to the collaborative approach we take with our clients, but also to the fact that MBW is made up of many collaborators and creatives.

Depending on the style and scale of a project we expand our creative team for a custom fit. Offering pay to in-house designers,  freelancers, young designers & others who may not get the experience to work with the social sector otherwise. We’re growing fast, too, so make sure to let me know if you’d like to collaborate!

In a way, I can’t believe Firebelly U is over. That might have to do with the fact that I’ve still been in the office every day for the last two weeks. It has been a tremendous experience and I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to Dawn & Deborah for taking a chance on me. The wildcard. And to all the people who have been supporting us along the way, I have no idea how I’ll have repay you all for your inspiration, motivation, kind words and generosity. I probably wouldn’t even have a roof over my head, let along be starting a business, without all your help. You know who you are & I love you all!

Enough with the mushy — I am beyond excited that I am now able to focus all my attention on Made By We help it grow into the company I could only dream of nine months ago. Things are kicking off slowing by surely and I can’t wait to see how we grow. If you’re interested in working with us, or collaborating internally, reach out to me here or tweet at us here!