2022 Wrapped: How We Became an Industry-Leading Agency in Just One Year

How Designed by Shyne went from "burntout solopreneur" to "genre-defining independent studio"

Written by
Shyne Webster
Published on

We have to look backwards to go forwards.

By the end of Summer 2021 (only a year into business), I was completely and utterly burnt out. After surviving the pon de replay, taking a semester off from college, turning my side hobby e-com shop into a freelance branding business, and then exploring brand strategy and 1:1 coaching, I was TIRED.

After a short hiatus, I decided to start working with an amazing Business and Leadership Coach to help me figure out how to revive Designed by Shyne in a way that aligned with my true goals, desires, and strengths.

Immediately, I was confronted by a fork in the road– out of my distaste for the traditional "solopreneur to agency owner" pipeline, I'd subconsciously limited myself to a liminal space. Ni aqui, ni alla. Operationally, I could not keep doing business on my own. But then that meant I would have to hire people to help me serve the clients I wanted to serve and do the work that wasn't in my zone of genius, and that would mean building an agency.

I really, really didn't want to start an agency, especially not while I was still in college full-time.

You see, when you come from design school, you're presented with three options: join an agency, work in house at a company, or freelance. Nobody really says, "Start an agency." And in my mind, "agency" was a bad word, an icky place akin to a creative sweatshop where dreams go to die and starry-eyed designers devolve into cynical pixel pushers.

Not only did an agency model feel like a disservice to my dream, it felt scary. I didn't want to be an agency owner at the time; I wanted to be a college student making some decent easy money. What would I do with all that responsibility and pressure?

But then, as my new Business Coach led me deeper into my own thoughts and goals, I realized I didn't have a choice. I was dead set on making a huge, deep impact. I wanted big brands with big scopes of work. I wanted high ticket projects. And I wanted to stay in school and only operate in my zone of genius. So, unwavering on all of these fronts, the only way to have my cake and eat it too was to commit to building an agency.

And like I always tell my clients, you can build your business YOUR way. See, I had forgotten one obvious truth: I didn't have to build my agency the way other agencies had been built. I could build it better, more innovative, more humane, and more focused on deep creativity and impact.

So that's what I did.

At the beginning of this year (January 2022), I committed publicly to building THE go-to branding "anti-agency" for disruptors and visionaries, and I have done just that.

I turned "me" into "we" with a stellar Avengers lineup of team members and contractors.

I brought in 6-figures of sales while juggling school full-time.

I spoke at The Conference and attended Adobe MAX as an Express Ambassador.

I taught courses and hosted workshops both online and in person to bring creative education and inspiration to entrepreneurs and students worldwide.

I went on multiple Adobe Livestreams and podcasts.

We worked with 27 brands including Adobe, Continuum, Norby, Your Social Team, Shopify, and Pineapple.

We designed 8 brand identities and co-created 12 brand strategies with our amazing clients.

We organically grew our online community The Sun Spot to 200+ members.

We hosted our first IRL event during LA Tech Week.

We were featured in 7 publications.

All within a year.

All because I decided to commit to being the change I wanted to see in the space.

See, most "agencies" only care about big fancy clients and bottom lines. They want to be known for their work and book of business. But here, at Designed by Shyne, we want to be known as a genre-defining example of how to BUILD studios/agencies/etc. for generations to come.

So here's to an epic first year.

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