Path from Graduate to Consultancy owner

Lots of designers that have their own companies talk about how they couldn’t bare to work for someone else and wanted to do their own thing so they just did. Like its that simple. Ron Arad talks about how he just didn’t come back from lunch one day in his first design job, made his first chair and is now where he is today.

I realise this may be like asking McDonals whats in their secret sauce, but how do they do it? How did they first start getting clients? and start getting taken seriously enough so that they could charge a proper fee.

I’m aware it never happened over night.

I think my inspiration to have the ‘confidence’ came from reading about Sohrab Vossoughi, who founded Ziba by designing the infamous cleret shower squeegee right out of school in his apartment in a somewhat ‘uncool’ suburb of Portland (Ultimately, very far from the building he works in today with hundreds of people under him). I

I think his move was very ballsy and relates to a combination of things:

Just as opportunity is an equation of {luck/timing + skills/timing = opportunity}, it also comes down to confidence and perserverence.

In addition it comes down to having a toolbox of maybe one or two connections to get started, (friends, referrals from faculty at school, or just plain cold-calling).

I just landed an independent job from a mutual friend. The ‘other’ guy just has a lot of money and a simple idea, and he didn’t even ask to see my portfolio, he just heard from the mutual friend that I was a ‘designer’. Turns out, the first meeting sealed the deal because my skills/timing + luck of meeting the guy/timing = an opportunity for me.

I wouldn’t consider this an everyday scenario, but I had no idea this would land in my lap, and now Im doing this thing. If I lacked confidence, he would be able to sense it in the first minute of meeting me.

I know its going to be a struggle to deal with tooling, material sourcing, and manufacturing, because all they really teach you in school are entry-level design skills, not project management skills (I am a senior in school). I know I am putting myself on the line here, but like Arad, things don’t happen unless you make them happen, regardless if you think you’re “good enough or not”.


The secret sauce is you, just make sure it tastes different and good, you market it well, and people will give it a try (and want to keep coming back.)

Just wanted to add…

Graduate…to…Consultancy Owner

is quite an undefined space:

Many professional ‘currently practicing and well-known’ designers do not make this jump easily.

Even when they get to ‘Consultancy Owner’, it is usually not a very easy path, or atleast a path they can depend on wholeheartedly.

Watch the movie “What About Bob”, understand the meaning of “Baby Steps”…and go from there.

If you’re this interested however, I am sure it will happen for you.

thanks for you encouragement lanterna.

So far I’ve found that there is a lot of confusing and contrasting information especially when it comes to the business side of things. I think it’s going to be one of those things that has to be figured out the hard way, and I’m going to have to find my own path.

Also, thanks for suggesting What about Bob. I am a bit of a fan of Bill Murray and it certainly got the baby steps message across.

I shall keep persevering and taking baby steps and see where it takes me…

These books should help speed things up a bit…