A brand agency comes to life!
Much gratitude for Jina Hustler-Constantin, President and Principal Creative of Brandscape for sharing with me more about her journey and focus to thrive in the 2008 economic down-turn. Stories like hers inspire during the uncertainty of today.
What is it you do?
I own Brandscape, a branding and design agency. I’m the creative principal, basically I’m a really excellent graphic designer, typographer and creative marketing professional.
What inspired you to start your business?
At the time of the recession and for many years after, I experienced a fair amount of career trauma from being laid off about a dozen times, and by not being chosen for over 700 jobs I applied for. Now with data and stories that have come out I know that my experience is not unique, but it was hard. In 2013, after I started to gain success again as an employee, I was driven by fear of being laid off at any moment. I felt that though I was very confident as a creative director, leading creative endeavors for a company or an agency, I was very insecure with office politics, which made me more reclusive within offices and endured me less to my coworkers and bosses. And on the work side, I often felt confused and sad about a lot of decisions that were made by higher ups that didn’t benefit the customer, client and or attract the target market to XYZ product / service. In 2016, I moved back to Seattle and a couple of clients fell in my lap; the work filled up all my time for about a year.
That’s when I started my own design agency. I had been a designer for 11 years by then, and a creative director for 7-8. I had been running the show for other people's creative agencies for a long time so I knew it would be easy for me to be in business for myself. I felt like the fear of layoff was equal to the fear of not finding clients, and I 100% knew I didn’t want a boss and co-workers that I didn’t personally select. All the scrappy experience I got during and after the recession made me so well rounded, I knew I could succeed at nearly any print or design project that came my way. So it was smooth-sailing for the first year of Brandscape, then in January 2017 both clients lost funding and couldn't afford design services. For the first time, I had to pound pavement for my own business and it felt so rewarding to be almost instantly successful. Owning my own business has been like a dream. I’ve learned more in the last three years than I did in 20 years as an employee. I really wish I would have gone out on my own sooner.
What makes your offering stand out/different from competition?
Brandscape fills the space between large, intimidating, unaffordable design agency, and limited expertise freelancers. At Brandscape, we deliver world class brand quality at everyday prices, because we have about 10% the overhead as most other agencies. I take on print and digital projects such as creating and redesigning websites, we make apps, we design every kind of printed collateral you can imagine, we design memorable brands including logos, brand strategy and full marketing plans, plus about a two hundred other things. Through their testimonials our clients say we’re different and better than our competition because we’re fast, affordable and the look of our deliverables consistently exceeds client expectations…and we have clients from mom and pop shops, to Amazon and Microsoft.
Who are your ideal clients?
Right now we’re not meeting with new clients, but we would make exceptions for building products clients, manufacturers, construction industry products / services, systems engineering, remodeling materials, things like that. I know that’s a little different than what I’ve taken on in the past, but currently we’re having great success with these kinds of clients and we want to keep up the momentum.
What’s it like to work with you? Best way to connect, start the process, etc.
A client who is working with me will experience me as a super creative, woman of action. In the last decade, new people that have met me say that I come off as very serious. I use to hate that because I think of myself as really fun, I mean I have 7 life long best friends to attest to fun I am! But over the years I’ve come to accept that I am very serious about design in hopes of getting mega results for my clients. I mean aren’t all business owners like that? So, now I embrace it, I’d say I’m pretty serious; I have just about no expectations of other people so that makes me really open to peoples design wants and needs. I’m very communicative, and very fast getting work done. I’m very contemplative and prefer to never brainstorm with others, or have spitfire sessions. I do my best thinking and work when I’m alone, and I look at client meetings as time for me to listen, then talk about options, solutions, budgets, and lots of other things. To start the process, send an email and set up a phone session to talk through the marketing and design need.
Thank you, Jina!
What kind of updated business portrait did Jina need?
I met Jina Hustler-Constantin at a Seattle printshop! The person working the front for customers knew we were both part of a professional business network, and he introduced us. She immediately impressed me as a someone who cared about the details - I have never met someone else in the print shop when I go to select paper before making an order (I care about those details too). We connected as professionals, and when the time was right for her website updates, Jina hired me for an updated portrait. Her vision and style are in alignment with the quality of work that she produces. It was a pleasure to photograph her and her partners!
To see how she uses her portrait on her About Page, including some branding touches for it to really pop, check out her website here.