There are a million things to consider when it comes to setting up your own creative business, but the joy of being your own boss easily outweighs the negatives for many business owners. If you’re considering setting up shop alone or with a business partner, we’ve gathered some of the key pieces of advice to keep in mind from people with first hand experience.
Ollie Olanipekun co-founded Superimpose in 2014 while still in his 20s, and quickly cemented the studio’s position as a new type of agency model with its first project: a global campaign for the launch of adidas’s Stan Smith trainer. Six years on from the start of Superimpose, he is winding down the studio and launching spinoff venture Futurimpose, which describes itself as ‘a new world creative and strategy cohort’.
Co-founded by creative director Imogen Snell and design and art director Riccardo Castano, ISSTUDIO is a creative direction and design practice working within music, art and fashion, and boasting a client list that ranges from HAIM and The XX through to Madonna and Ellie Goulding.
Here, Olanipekun, Snell and Castano share advice on how to when it’s the right time to take the plunge, rejecting the industry status quo and putting people at the heart of your business.
GIVE YOURSELF A GOOD REASON TO START
While not all business ideas are born out of a gap in the market, if you are going to put yourself through the process of starting your own company then you do need to be able to validate its existence. In Olanipekun’s case, setting up Superimpose was a direct result of his frustrations with the ad industry and his desire to change it for the better. “Me and my ex-partner had probably spent ten years working in it, and the creative and the clients were so far away from each other, the audience insight wasn’t strong enough, strategy wasn’t delivered in the way we’d hoped to see it,” he says.
“These were frustrations that we hoped Superimpose would be the answer to; utilising our incredible network of creatives we set this manifesto for ourselves where we’d reinvent the team according to brief, so there would be a fresh team with every brief. Clients are smart enough to realise that if they can reduce the team in regards to headcount then their bottom line is going to look a bit better, so being able to deliver big brand campaigns with a slim, core team was what we set out to do.”
For Snell and Castano, ISSTUDIO was the obvious way to combine their individual talents as a creative director and design and art director respectively. “We met as a couple, both working really intensively as individuals, and then realised that our streams of work were similar. Riccardo was working in advertising and I was working in music, sort of doing the same thing but as self-employed. We realised that our skill sets complemented each other – we had a shared vision and there was opportunity to collaborate and make a studio out of it,” says Snell.
“For me, I was always at this place where I could work with a few artists, but to be able to work with more artists and make it more far reaching, obviously you need a team and you need a studio and you need to outsource certain things. I feel really passionate about translating artists’ messages to visuals and helping people express their album. The motivation behind it still today is being able to reach more, and having a studio allows that.”