Two Moore alums are working on turning what started out as a classroom project into a full-time business.
Graphic Design majors Randi Bellamy '17 and Cheyenne Jacobs '17 are partners in Say Less Design Studio, a digital design studio that specializes in brand identity, web design, packaging and publication design. The alums recently visited Moore to discuss their partnership in a presentation to current Graphic Design students.
"We design for local startups in Philly, but we are branching out to other states," said Bellamy, who is a designer with Cohere, a creative studio headquartered in Philadelphia. "We want to provide good design and make it accessible to a wide variety of people."
Jacobs, a junior digital designer for Urban Outfitters, said they always knew we didn't want to work a typical 9 to 5 job.
"We didn't see a lot of studios in Philadelphia with people that look like us," she said. "We wanted to work together and do the work we wanted to do, build our own schedule and showcase our work and who we are as people and designers."
Bellamy and Jacobs became close during their publication design class at Moore. Jacobs created a wedding-based publication for the class. At the same time, Bellamy was designing a wedding invitation for a family friend. She asked Jacobs for design advice, and they ended up working on the invitation suite together. The two became friends and collaborated for fun on designing more wedding invitations as a stress reliever from their senior project work. Soon they had more requests, and they began thinking about turning their hobby into a business.
"We enjoy working with each other," said Bellamy, who was in Moore's Visionary Honors Program. "It was a natural partnership starting in school, then we thought this would be cool to continue to pursue."
The two met Mike Smith of the Philadelphia design studio Smith & Diction when he came to talk to students about how he created his business with his wife after working for a few big design agencies and freelancing for a bit.
"He was doing exactly what we wanted to do," Jacobs said.
"We thought we should reach out to him to get advice and see what we could learn from him," said Bellamy. "He said, 'Are you sure you guys only want to do wedding invitations? Don't pigeonhole yourselves so soon.' We do like branding and other aspects of design, and that's how we grew into starting our own studio." Smith now sends clients their way.
Advertising has mostly been by word of mouth or on social media. Say Less projects include a rebranding of Jacob's father's barbershop, Ethos GSFM, that began as a pop-up and is now a brick and mortar store that won a 2018 Best of Philly award by Philadelphia Magazine. They've also done work for NAAZ, a boutique in New Orleans.
The amount of work they are getting has them thinking about how they could do their joint venture full-time. They do their Say Less work at night and on weekends. Bellamy now lives in New York, and so they text, talk on the phone and have Zoom meetings to check in.
"We are designing all day, but that's ok because we love it," Bellamy said.
Both former students say Moore played a big role in helping them start their careers.
The Visionary Honors Scholarship program provided Bellamy opportunities to network with businesswomen through Moore's annual Women's Leadership Conference.
"You learn about how to brand yourself and how to collaborate with other people," she said. "It was a really great experience. It led me to try the entrepreneurial, starting-your-own business thing."
Jacobs urges current students to take seriously the networking sessions that Moore offers.
"All those things helped us at the end of the day," she said. She also recommends building up portfolios by offering to rebrand a website or do a redesign for a relative's business. "Having outside work in your portfolio, instead of having all school work, is great, especially for future employers."
Bellamy's advice to Moore students is to learn what you love to do, and go for it.
"When you do that, you're more than happy to work hard and get it done."