Transforming Small Entrepreneurs into Standout Brands with Bia Gaidys Design Studio 

In the realm of creative strategies and design, Bia Gaidys Design Studio has emerged as a beacon of hope for small entrepreneurs looking to turn their business ideas into consolidated brands that truly stand out. Bia Gaidys, the visionary behind this Brazilian-based studio, is on a mission to change the traditional market dynamics that often favor a select few, and she is doing it with creativity, credibility, and a .design domain that sets her apart from the rest. 

From Idea to Reality: Bia Gaidys’ Brand Mission 

Bia’s brand mission is as inspiring as her work: “Helping small entrepreneurs to turn their businesses into consolidated brands that really stand out through creative strategies and design.” She believes in the power of innovation and amazing ideas and understands that many entrepreneurs with great potential lack the ideal partnership to make their visions heard and seen.  

“By giving voice and visibility to small entrepreneurs, we will also be able to change the traditional market that only favors a small portion of the population,” says Bia.  

The Toughest Hurdle: Overcoming Credibility Challenges 

Bia knows firsthand the challenges of starting small and building credibility. Her biggest obstacle was gaining trust and recognition in the industry. 

“Just as I help small entrepreneurs be seen and heard, I had to do this with my work as well.” 

 Just as she helps small entrepreneurs gain visibility, she had to do the same for her own work. Bia’s dedication to her craft and her clients has helped her overcome this challenge and establish herself as a trustworthy partner in brand design. 

Ultimately, Bia was able to overcome this hurdle, as seen with her top-tier clients like GNC and Monarxx.  

Pride in Transformation: A Defining Moment 

One of Bia’s proudest moments was working with an accessories brand that managed to catch the attention of big Brazilian celebrities like Anitta, Pabllo Vittar, and Cleo Pires, who had previously only associated themselves with big brands. Her contribution not only elevated the brand but transformed the life of a small female entrepreneur. 

“Seeing a small female entrepreneur having her life transformed with my contribution was definitely a very proud moment.” 

Words of Wisdom from Bia Gaidys 

Bia offers valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and fellow creatives: “Trust yourself and what you are doing. Trust your gut, your talent, and your creativity. Don’t compare yourself to others – look to others who have been on this journey longer as inspiration and not as something you will never achieve. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but it will all be worth it.” 

Setting the Standard 

In the world of design and creativity, standing out is key, and Bia Gaidys understands the importance of differentiation. That’s why she chose the .design domain for her studio. This unique domain extension perfectly aligns with the innovative and differentiating services she offers. Her advice to fellow entrepreneurs is clear:  

“People will notice your effort to be innovative and different. Go for it, it’s worth it!” 

Bia Gaidys Design Studio is not just about design; it’s about transformation and empowerment. Bia’s journey to help small entrepreneurs reach their full potential is a testament to her dedication and talent. With a .design domain that reflects her commitment to innovation, Bia Gaidys is paving the way for a new era of small business success. 

Visit her website here to explore her creative world and witness firsthand the magic she brings to small entrepreneurs’ brands. Stand out, just like Bia, with a .design domain. 

Benderski Design: Shaping the Design Landscape in Uruguay and Beyond 

When it comes to the world of design, Benderski Design is a name that resonates with creativity, cultural heritage, and innovation. Based in Uruguay but with a global reach, this design studio is on a mission to leave a lasting mark on the design world, with its impact felt from Montevideo to Manhattan. Benderski Design is more than just a studio; it’s a testament to the enduring power of good design and its intricate relationship with culture. 

Benderski Design’s founder and creative force behind the studio, Amijai, shares insights into their journey, the obstacles they’ve overcome, their proudest achievements, and valuable advice for fellow designers.  

Here’s a glimpse into the world of Benderski Design, a design studio that’s making waves in the industry: 

Merging Creativity, Culture, and Innovation 

“The mission of Benderski Design is to merge creativity, cultural heritage, and innovation in shaping the design landscape,” says Amijai. “We seek to maintain a keen eye for detail and an innovative approach, aiming to produce results that are intellectually elegant and visually powerful.”  

This mission statement encapsulates the heart and soul of Benderski Design; each project they undertake is a testament to their commitment to these principles. Their mission truly is a testament to the work they create – with their work displayed at the University of Warsaw, George Brown College in Toronto, and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Benderski not only inspires other designers, but leaves a lasting mark on the community.  

Biggest Obstacle: Overcoming Oneself 

For Benderski Design, the biggest challenge is a personal one.  

“The hardest challenge will always be to overcome myself. For this, we continually ask ourselves whether we want to be what we imagine for us, whether we want to be a better designer studio than we were the day before, and whether we want to lead the design community.” 

Additionally, they’ve had to navigate the delicate balance between being a designer and a businessman. However, convincing clients that design is an investment is a challenge they’ve successfully tackled – as seen by their online portfolio. Similarly, Benderski wants to share their working method with the world by starting a design academy. As Benderski states on their website, “To design you don’t need to know how to draw, you need to understand how to materialize an idea.”  

Company Pride: From Human Rights to Football Passion 

Benderski Design takes immense pride in two significant projects. The first is an ongoing exhibition of social posters addressing Human Rights issues.  

“I started this exhibition with the goal of demonstrating how graphic design can be used as a tool to promote tolerance,” says Amijai. This exhibition has reached cities around the world, promoting a message of tolerance and understanding. 

The second source of pride is the identity and way-finding system developed for the stadium of Club Atlético Peñarol, the oldest and largest football team in Uruguay.  

“Working with Fabian and Santiago Bicco over more than nine months, I felt an immense responsibility for this project. As a fan of Peñarol, this wasn’t just a job for me—it was a personal passion.” 

Company Advice: Lessons from Experience 

Benderski Design’s founder shares valuable advice for fellow designers: 

  1. Embrace the Process: “It’s important to remember that there are different processes of design, and they can all be valuable in their own ways.” 
  1. Value the Work: “Letting the client know that design is an investment is crucial.” 
  1. Accept Disappointments: “There will be disappointments and hardships. But I learned from these experiences and it led to one of the most rewarding projects I could have imagined.” 
  1. Always Be Curious: “The best way to be ready for the future is to have a solid present.” 
  1. Learn From Others: Seeking mentors and learning from design luminaries is invaluable.

.design: A Domain That Speaks Your Language 

Benderski Design recommends the use of a .design domain for fellow designers.  

“If you’re in the design industry, a .design domain immediately communicates what you do. It’s straightforward and clear, which is especially beneficial if you’re trying to reach clients who may not know your brand yet.” 

The .design domain signifies professionalism, specialization, and commitment to the field. Even more so, it’s available: with millions of websites online, it can be hard to find the exact URL you want. By using a .design, not only is the URL you want probably available, it can shorten your domain name by moving design to the end of the URL – so you can tell your audience exactly who you are and what you do.  

“The .design domain is highly relevant to what Benderski Design does. It instantly communicates the nature of our work – design. When potential clients see our URL, they immediately understand what our business is about. This domain signifies professionalism and authority in the design industry.” 

Benderski Design is not just a design studio; it’s a testament to the power of creativity, culture, and innovation. Their work and insights serve as an inspiration for the design community, and the .design domain is the perfect representation of their commitment to the world of design. To learn more about their work and ethos, visit Benderski.design.

Transforming Dreams into Reality with heyken.design: A Journey of UX/UI Design and Career Success  

In the midst of the pandemic, Kendall Smith made a life-changing decision: to return to school and pursue a career in UX/UI Design. For Kendall, this choice was not just a career pivot; it was a journey towards personal growth, creativity, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Kendall’s portfolio website, www.heyken.design, emerged as a pivotal tool in this transformation, ultimately helping Kendall to secure her dream job.  

Brand Mission: Showcasing Work, Personality, and Storytelling 

Kendalls’s brand mission was clear from the start: to create a portfolio that wasn’t just a showcase of their design work, but a platform that exuded personality and told a story. As Kendall eloquently puts it, “My goal was to create a portfolio that of course showed my work and design process, but also told a story and had personality.” 

Kendall’s website perfectly encapsulates this mission. It’s not just a sterile collection of projects but a narrative of Ken’s creative journey, complete with a personal touch that’s evident in every corner. 

Biggest Obstacle: Crafting the Perfect Portfolio 

Kendall’s journey was not without its challenges. They recognized the enormity of creating a portfolio, understanding that it can make or break one’s job prospects. Kendall mentions, “I struggled with deciding what or what not to include a lot, and made a lot of revisions to it before it was finalized.” 

Many aspiring designers can relate to this struggle. heyken.design, however, stands as a testament to the dedication and hard work put into overcoming these obstacles. It’s a living example of how perseverance pays off. 

Company Pride: A Rewarding Journey 

For Kendall, the effort paid off handsomely. After presenting the portfolio on heyken.design, Kendall landed the dream job. The journey, though challenging, was immensely rewarding. Kendall reflects, “Getting my current job was such a satisfying thing!” 

This experience serves as an inspiration for anyone facing challenges in their career transition. heyken.design showcases the beautiful outcome that can result from hard work and determination. 

Company Advice: Embrace Challenges and Keep Learning 

Kendall’s advice to fellow designers is simple yet profound: “Keep on pushing forward, don’t be afraid of hiccups, embrace challenges and accept that we are all always learning.” 

This mantra is not only evident in the words but also in the portfolio heyken.design itself. The website is a living testament to the spirit of continuous learning and improvement. 

Setup Recommendation: Uniqueness Matters 

Kendall’s recommendation to aspiring designers is clear: “Do it! Recruiters like to see your unique URLs, and it gets to the point that you’re a designer.” 

In a competitive field, having a unique domain like heyken.design sets you apart. It’s an essential step in the journey to becoming a recognized designer. 

Why heyken.design: Personal Connection and Identity 

Finally, the choice of the .design domain is deeply personal to Kendall. As she explains, “My family and friends have always called me Ken, and we have this joke because every voicemail my mom has ever left me is ‘Hey Ken, this is your mom,’ so heyken just made sense.” 

The domain name www.heyken.design isn’t just a website; it’s a part of Kendall’s identity, a representation of their journey, and a platform that uniquely embodies their personality and creative vision. 

In conclusion, Kendall’s story of personal growth, creativity, and career success, as told through heyken.design, is a testament to the power of determination, creativity, and a unique web presence. Visit https://www.heyken.design/ to witness how a .design domain can transform a dream into reality. 

Freelance Design Contract Must-Haves

When opportunities arise for contract workers, a well-drafted contract signed by both the freelancer and the firm will benefit and protect both parties.

The gig economy is growing faster than ever. According to the Freelance Forward Report from Upwork (the most comprehensive study of the US independent workforce to date) 64 million Americans performed skilled freelance work in the past year. This is an all-time high, representing nearly 40% of the US workforce. The World Economic Forum  predicts that more than half of the global workforce will be part of the gig economy. Some projections expect contractors will outnumber traditional 9-to-5 workers in their respective fields.

This shift is a win-win as it gives businesses the opportunity to tap workers from more diverse backgrounds, geographies, skill sets, and talents. But it also calls for both parties to professionalize how they engage in business.

Whether you’re a legal counsel, accountant, a creative web designer or storefront muralist, consider creating your own freelance contract template that you can customize for each job. This document will streamline how you establish yourself with each new client. For the client side, a solid contract will ensure business owners are engaging in a professional partnership that will deliver results, and within set deadlines.

Here is a guide for creating a freelance design contract, paving the way for a harmonious and productive work experience. 

What goes into an effective freelance design contract?

A freelance design contract is a legally binding agreement between a contract worker and their client (be it an individual or a company) to complete the obligations listed in the document. It lays out big-picture responsibilities, as well as detailed terms and conditions. Key components include project introduction, timeline, copyright ownership, and payment terms. Most importantly, it outlines how and when the freelancer gets paid.

Here we’ll walk through every part of the contract and help you understand why each section matters.

  1. Outlining the Scope of the Project

Start by clearly defining the project scope, including the specific tasks and deliverables, the client’s expectations, requirements, etc. The more detailed this section is, the less room there is for errors and misunderstandings. Most importantly, include the start date and estimated completion date that both parties have agreed upon.

2. Payment Terms: How and when
This is one of the most important sections in the contract. Specify the terms, including how and when the payments will be made. When drafting this section, consider the following:

  • How much will the project cost? 
  • What is the payment method? PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, cash, checks, etc.
  • If the payment is delayed, will there be any late fees or interest charges for overdue payments? 
  • If the freelancer works with international clients, what is the currency for the contract?
  • How and when should the freelancer invoice the client? 

To make sure payments are on time, consider drafting a detailed payment schedule to smoothen the transaction processes and prevent miscommunication.

3. A comprehensive list of Products & Deliverables

This section clarifies what your client will receive upon project completion. Create a comprehensive list of the deliverables, including nitty-gritty details such as file formats and design variations. You may also include the delivery dates for each asset (e.g. logos, banners, animations, etc) .

This level of detail may seem unnecessary and more beneficial to the client–but keep in mind that a solid contract will also protect you from unexpected tasks that make you work countless hours for free. It is never too late to add a payment condition for any additional design products that your clients might request along the way. 

4. A set number of Revisions or Changes

For creative freelancers, like web designers or advertising consultants, offering a set package of design services should include a set number of revisions. Make sure the contract includes the maximum number of changes and edits to a project. This protects the freelancer from an endless merry-go-round of back and forth revisions.

5. Copyright ownership and Intellectual Property (IP) protection

Many agencies and freelancers unfortunately find this scenario all too familiar: You pitch a client with your proposed designs, but they reject it and you don’t get the job. Weeks later, you find that the client used elements or completely copied your original designs in their live campaign.

This is where a freelance contract can protect you. Copyright ownership in the contract refers to the allocation of intellectual property rights of the work created by the freelancer. If a freelance designer drafts a logo or banner that goes unused, who has the rights to the drafted artwork after the project is completed? This prevents disputes and ensures both parties are on the same page regarding the distribution, use, and control of the design work. 

6. Confidentiality agreement

Similar to copyright agreements, terms regarding confidentiality should also be outlined. As a contract worker, you are an outsider working on the inside, getting access to a client’s creative ideas, passwords and other personal data. Reassure your clients that their information is in secure hands.

7. Methods of Communication

This might seem like a minute and easy detail but the methods of communication can make or break how a freelance partnership plays out. Some prefer calls and text messages, while others prefer strictly email. Further, with communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom, it’s important you are both on the same page when it comes to how you will meet. Last but not least, there are project management platforms like Asana and Trello–be sure that both parties are trained on and can access these accounts.

8. Get local with Legal Compliance

To make the contract legally effective, it’s important that the contract complies with relevant copyright laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Consult with a legal professional to make sure your contract aligns with the legal requirements in your state. 

9. Rightful Termination

Not all partnerships are meant to be, especially in the design realm, where creative differences can arise. You should always clarify the conditions under which either party cancels the project and terminates the contract. Make sure to clarify who will own the copyright of the work produced thus far, if any, and whether any termination fees are involved. 

10. Make it Official: Signed and Dated

Last, make sure to ask your client if they have any questions about the contract. In other words, confirm that they have actually read the document thoroughly and carefully to avoid any surprises. More importantly, make sure both parties have signed and dated the document to ensure that the freelance contract is legally binding. Some freelancers are so excited to get started on a project that they eagerly get to work before the contract is signed and dated.

Other notes to keep in mind

When you finish the very first meeting with your client, aim to draft the contract right away and send it to the client before you start your design process. If you are new to the freelance world, or need help writing a freelance design contract, there are some model templates from platforms such as Bonsai, The Contract Shop, PandaDoc, etc.

Streamlining the Web Design Process Prabal.design

Design projects can be time consuming and complicated, and oftentimes require professionals to seek out help from skilled designers. This is where Prabal – or Prabal.design – comes in. Founded in 2017, Prabal is an Indian-based company which offers a wide array of design services, from product strategy to UX/UI design, in order to help make the web design process easier and more efficient for companies. 

“We are a strategic design and innovation agency,” comments Srinivas, Prabal CEO & Chief Designer. “We help startups, as well as enterprises, stay emotionally closer to the users through immersive and sensible design experiences.” 

Prabal’s process begins with discovery. By hosting stakeholder workshops, conducting user research and gathering competitor data, Prabal is able to understand their client’s market and get their user’s “pulse.” Next, Prabal defines the project: by building a design strategy, making a model of the task and information flow, and defining the communication structure, this step in the process enables the Prabal team to streamline their design process to ensure they understand exactly what their client wants, in coordination with creating a unique experience for the end-user. Finally, the Prabal team designs: wireframes, visual design, and click-through mockups pulls the whole project together before the website goes live.  

“The beauty of our process is we follow the element of its adaptability to the context,” the Prabal team says. “We understand your process and seamlessly fit ourselves into it without defeating the primary purpose of our design process.” 

Having designed for top companies like Infosys, Tata-Cornell, and Tetrasoft, it’s no wonder that Prabal has found great success since their inception. Prabal’s proudest moment, Srinivas tells us, is when they created strategy and design for a food company:  

“When a bigwig from the finance domain was impressed with our strategy and design created for a ‘food’ company – this was our proudest moment. He in fact referred us to multiple people afterwards, going out of his way.” 

An empire isn’t made overnight, so Prabal shared their fair share of obstacles along the way – including difficulties during the Covid pandemic.  

“We have had our share of struggles with delayed payments, scope creeps and so on, but the one that shook us completely was when COVID hit us all. A couple of projects that are totally intertwined with the aspect of people meeting in person were completely stalled. We had to adjust our financial projections, resource allocation and of course budgets. Besides that, we had to build our home-grown operations methodology to beat the issues that crept up with working from home. Nevertheless, we weathered the storm and are in a happy space now with a 100% work-from-home style of functioning and newer people joining our journey.” 

For other designers looking to start their own companies, Srinivas says to “Go for it!” 

“Be judicious and cautious with your investment of time in building relationships. Meticulously plan and strategize your progress. The entrepreneurial journey is all about surprises, be prepared with a smile, and focus on your goal while being practical.” 

The Prabal.design website is clean, easy to use, and truly is catered to the user experience. But what we love most about Prabal’s website is that it’s on a .design domain.  

“When I read somewhere about the domain, I felt it perfectly matched what we do and think. “How thoughtful of someone to think about such a domain,” was the first thing that came to my mind. It was kind of a pleasant surprise. Thus, it was an easy and logically sensible decision to go with .design.” 

Interested in learning more about Prabal? Check out their social channels below! 

Website LinkedIn Twitter Instagram Facebook 

.design Success: Mimo.design

Greeted with an explosion of color when entering their website, creating cool stuff is what Mimo.design does. Based out of Canada, this marketing and design firm has a strong expertise in branding (including corporate identity, product packaging, website and app design, and marketing materials), content creation, and digital marketing.  

Mimo’s mission? To help clients create strong brands and products that are creative, engaging, and fun. 

Having worked with high-exposure brands like Walmart, Volkswagen, and Coca-Cola, it comes as no surprise that Mimo has been in business for over 15 years. Their attention to detail, quality, and craft brings a bold and unique offering to their clients, which keeps them coming back for more.  

“One of the hardest parts of starting a creative business is building new and consistent relationships with clients,” said Michael Kirlew, owner and founder of Mimo. “From getting your first customer, to keeping them coming back, is something that takes time. Our key to success has been quality. Both in the service we provide and the work we produce, quality is always at the top of the list. It impresses your clients. It keeps them coming back. And more importantly, it generates organics referrals. As you grow your business, you start to create a reputation, and that reputation is what starts a snowball effect of new business.” 

As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Mimo.design has experienced those growing pains alongside the ebbs and flows of global economic struggles throughout the course of their business.  

“After operating our business for almost 15 years, the most challenging part in our journey has been the most recent Covid Pandemic. We initially saw a huge drop-off in business as most of our clients pressed paused on their own companies.  

“As doors began to open back up and companies started to re-engage with the world, we questioned if our business would ever go back to the heights of success we achieved prior. Will our clients still be around? If so, would they continue to see value in what we do? Do we have to start all over again and rebuild a new client base? Those questions were constantly in our minds.  

“But believing in the quality of work we produce and the reputation we have created, we did see our clients come back. And surprisingly, they also brought their friends. Knowing that our clients continued to return and even referred other companies to do so as well, showed just how valuable we were and validated to us that “yeah, we’ve got this”.” 

Having run such a successful design company for so long, we had to know Mimo’s secret. Their advice? Don’t skimp on quality.  

“People pay for quality. Don’t undervalue what you do, but don’t overvalue it either. Find that balance and always produce the best work you can. Your talent will attract clients. The relationships you build will keep them.” 

Our fascination with Mimo.design’s website starts before you even enter the page; with their long-term success and high-exposure clients, what attracts individuals to go to their website to begin with starts with their unique domain name. So we had to know – why .design?  

 “.COM domains are hard to come by these days and usually the only want to get one is to make some long elaborate domain name. Most companies are starting to use different domains which are more personable, and also explain your business – that’s one of the best reasons we transitioned over to a .design domain. Ditch the long complicated .coms and go for a more purpose-driven domain like .design. 

“MiMo.design is a domain we love. It represents everything we are. It’s purposeful, creative, simple, and easy to understand. Choosing to use .design rather than more traditional methods makes us standout, hints at our ability to creatively think outside the box, and shows a bit of fun while we’re at. I wouldn’t change it for anything else!” 

.design Success: BeccaSmith.design

A jack-of-all-industries, master of design: Becca Smith showcases her talent on her personal portfolio and freelance design website, Becca Smith Design Co (BeccaSmith.design). With experience working in politics, fashion, non-profits, and more, Becca Smith brings a fresh breath of talent to her website with a unique layout and extraordinary use cases.  

“My mission is to create strong and immersive brand experiences for new companies and their clients alike,” says Becca. “I love to look at design as an opportunity to build another world and explore what that means for each unique client of mine.” 

Alongside showcasing her work, Becca uses her website to gain more business opportunities by offering branding packages. By evaluating a client’s challenges, growth goals, community, and unique solutions, Becca will cultivate a complete brand package with guidelines, launch plan for social and advertising, and ongoing consulting which can include marketing insights and even help naming the brand!  

“My proudest moment? I made a client cry during a concept presentation (Tears of joy, of course)! It was such a great full-circle moment where they were able to see their idea come to life and represented in a way that was beyond their expectations. In that moment I immediately knew I was off to a great start.” 

Becca brands herself as not just a graphic and brand designer, but also a digital illustrator, consultant, and “great dinner guest.” Based out of Chicago, she’s currently focusing on brand design and packaging, and loves to look at design as an opportunity to explore what it means to create a world through design. 

With her wide experience in multiple markets, you’d think that Becca has it made in the design industry. She’s not without her struggles, however. Becca tells us that one of the largest obstacles in her world is being taken seriously as a business owner.  

“One of the biggest struggles of being a one woman business is knowing how to represent yourself so others take you seriously and respect your work. This means networking, choosing the right projects (and sometimes saying no), figuring out your rate, and so much more! It’s tough, but fun to explore!” 

For designers looking to get their start at becoming a full-time freelance design, Becca says to intuition is the key to success:  

“Follow your instincts and advocate for your work! Clients will occasionally forget that *you’re* the expert in design, just as they are with their product, and want to have a bigger input in how something looks than they should. Stick to your guns and come with research on why you believe something will work and push it.” 

With such a stunning website and clear success track record, we had to know why Becca chose a dot-design domain for her website.  

“My name is pretty common; I love that the .design tells you more about me and what you’re about to experience. It’s unique, like my work and take on design, and also feels futuristic and modern! In my line of work, it’s important to stay on top of trends, and this definitely feels like the direction in which the internet is moving!” 

“For others looking to set up their website, join the dot-design club! It’s a fun community and feels forward thinking. It gives your portfolio or website a bit of an edge and a unique quality, especially when there’s more options than ever on the web. Plus – it’s more memorable!” 

.design Success: 9Lives.design

Your project: their passion. 9Lives.design is an award-winning agency specializing in web design and branding based out of Northern Canada, and they’re making a big impact on the way small businesses present themselves online.  

Founded in 2015 by Dave Nighborn, 9 Lives Design won the award for Northern Ontario Company of the Year in 2018.  

“Our mission is to design memorable websites and corporate brands that are beautiful and a joy to use.”  

Since their inception, 9 Lives has done just that. Having developed websites for key clients like the North Bay Police and Remedy Developments, each website is unique, exciting, and user-friendly, truly showing that 9 Lives practices what they preach.  

“Our biggest obstacle was building trust in our community,” said Dave. “Companies want to work with established agencies so it took time to produce enough design for prospective clients to feel comfortable investing in our work.” 

9 Lives Design does more than just web development; they are also masters in logo design and corporate branding, as well as creating branded assets and digital art.  

“We won Northern Ontario Business of the Year in 2018 for the 1-15 employee category—only 3 years after incorporating. We won this award by having a great balance of doing high profile projects while giving back to the community.”  

9 Lives is run and managed by Dave, founder and Creative Director, and his wife Jade. The small-but-mighty team pours their efforts into both educating their clients on marketing technology, as well as making their community a better – and easier – place to live.  

“Doing high-quality work and keeping your promise to clients is all that matters to continue getting more projects. Word of mouth is better than any advertising money can buy.” 

As someone who makes their living off of creating websites for others, it comes as no surprise that 9 Lives needed to make sure their website made a lasting impression. Enter: the dot-design domain.  

“The .design domain is unique, and you’ll stand out from everyone else,” Dave comments. “9 Lives Design is the company name so it’s the shortest possible domain. It is a descriptive and explicit TLD compared to the ambiguous .com or .net.” 

For more information on Dave and 9 Lives Design, check out their website at 9Lives.Design.  

Should You Join a Professional Design Association?

If you’ve ever considered joining a professional design association, you may have questions about whether it will pay dividends, and ultimately level up your career. It certainly helps to network, and a personal reference can be the difference between getting the gig or not. But paying association fees may not seem worth it if you already have a full client list or are unsure of what benefits a membership can ultimately provide. For many professional associations, the benefits go well beyond networking.  

We’ve rounded up a few of the biggest ones here: 

Professional tools 

One of the greatest benefits of joining a professional design association is having access to critical resources. Contract templates, advice for freelancing, best practices for bidding on work, budget planning guides, tax help, and even legal assistance are all services that may be available for members. Additionally, discounts on design software, equipment, hotel stays, gyms and more may be available to members. 

Having these available in an industry-specific venue that understands the unique needs of designers – who often work in a freelance structure – can be an invaluable resource. While access may not replace your need for an accountant or your own legal professional, they can help you set up a framework for daily operations that’s easy to manage, track, and customize for your business’s specific needs. 

Other critical resources 

In addition to the basics of running a business, a professional design association may be able to connect members with the vital services that are absent if you’re self-employed. Member benefits may include help finding affordable health insurance plans, navigating COBRA, access to mental health resources or even hardship assistance. Some associations even provide their own health insurance and car insurance plans for members. 

Professional development 

Networking comes with opportunities to meet mentors and collaborators who can help you grow. Some may invite you to join them on projects you’re well suited for, while others may teach you a thing or two about their own specialities. Likewise, you may meet someone who can benefit from your insights! 

These memberships often come with access to seminars, workshops, conferences and other tools for further developing your skills, as well as discounted rates for members.  

Social events 

Running your own business can get lonely. Well-organized professional organizations often have a social calendar that might include virtual events, in-person hangouts, round table discussions, or collaborative engagements like art shows. These can provide a great space to connect with people in your field, who often share similar experiences. It’s tough to make work friends when you work from home, but connecting to people who can provide mutual support, encouragement, tips, tricks, and strategies is a great way to spark renewed creativity, find new interests and maybe even make a few friends. 

Power in numbers 

As user-friendly design platforms, stock design and AI continue to grow, designers have had to advocate for their own jobs and rates. Being part of a professional group helps empower a formal group that can argue and advocate for designers and artists across many industries, disciplines and communities. And if you find yourself in the position to fight for a fare rate or chase unpaid invoices, you’ll have an organization of thousands of colleagues who can provide you with resources and support. 

There are many professional design associations out there, from small, local organizations to global operations with tens of thousands of members. And they all have unique offerings, different fee structures, and a range of benefits. Finding the ones that are best suited to you can take a bit of research, but it starts by knowing what you would most benefit from as you work to grow your career, your skillset, and your professional network.  

.design Success: JamieSterner.design

Written By Liz Achanta

If you’re looking for a fun and fresh approach to building your ePortfolio, look no further than JamieSterner.Design.

Jamie Sterner, a recent Communication Design grad from Kutztown University, works as an in-house Graphic Designer for a ballet company – and has worked on projects like website imagery, ads, and merchandise. Jamie also has experience making digital ads, out-of-home ads like billboards and posters, and experience in product and packaging design, as well as logo creation.

“When I got my first job out of college, the one I have now, everyone remembered my logo and would bring it up sometimes because they loved it. I’m only deciding to change it because it sometimes adds confusion to what I actually do.”

While Jamie is new to the design world, she’s not without her obstacles and challenges. Graduating in the middle of the pandemic, alongside learning how to build websites, have been some of her biggest challenges.

“I use JamieSterner.Design as my portfolio website, so it’s to help me show people my work and then eventually get my dream job someday,” said Jamie. “I made this website in my portfolio class in college and I coded it from scratch. Since coding wasn’t my main focus it was difficult for a while, but one night it all just clicked and I finished it. I’m planning on rebranding so I’ll have to do most of those things all over again. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Jamie’s portfolio is creatively categorized by a description of herself: “She’s Educated” focuses on her work while in school, “She’s Professional” shows off her real-work experience, and “She’s Passionate” covers her life outside of design – like acrylic painting and crochet.

Jamie also made a unique ‘visual portfolio’ which she labeled “Designer Pancakes:” a recipe to what Jamie believes are the most important elements she incorporates into her designs.

“Coding your website yourself may be a pain sometimes, but it’s better in the end,” said Jamie. “You’ll know every little detail about your website, it’ll be organized in a way that you understand, and it will be easier to edit in the future. If you do it yourself, it just adds that much more personality to your space.”

What brings Jamie’s ePortfolio all together is her great URL, which is short, memorable, and easy-to-spell; all important elements that can be hard to find with a traditional dot-com, but are widely available with dot-design.

“I am a graphic designer and the dot-design domain was suggested in class. It sounded so much better than just a .com website. It just really puts it out there that I am a designer before anyone even goes to my website. A website that ends in .com could really be anything; there are less surprises with the .design domain.”

As a final piece of advice for other young designers looking to make their mark, Jamie says, “If it makes sense to you and for you, then do it!”