Dan Summers Design, increasingly known as DSD, celebrates its tenth anniversary on 26 October 2019. A decade ago, if somebody had offered us getting on for 250 direct clients in the first ten years we’d have taken that! In this post, our guest author David Kightley (aka the Old Sage) looks back on our journey from 2009 to date. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you – our wonderful, loyal, appreciative, sometimes demanding and generally successful portfolio of direct clients and agency partners.
The Early Days
Working from home in his Chelmsford flat, Dan’s commute to the office was remarkably short – about a metre to be precise from his sofa to his dining table. On that table, though, was an ambitious yet realistic three-year business plan that included a longer-term business vision: DSD aims to become an established and respected name in the graphic design business, initially in its home county of Essex, and ultimately in the wider graphic design industry. A respected graphic design grandee warned: “There will be hard times and obstacles ahead”.
Our start-up business model was to be totally dependent upon larger design agencies for overspill work at freelance rates, with Dan’s first employer as the cornerstone of our survival plan, but with an incremental aim of eliminating that dependency with a substantive and multi-sector portfolio of direct clients. Little did we know that it was to take seven years to fulfil that ambition!
The Middle Years
December 2010 saw the opening of our first design studio on the popular Springfield side of Chelmsford with the innovative conversion of a former ground floor reception office into a design studio – complete with a wall-sized mural of the Chelmsford skyline to give the effect of blue skies and daylight when in fact there was none! With both allocated and ample visitor parking it felt as though we’d hit the jackpot! We began 2011 with around fifteen direct clients including three estate agents, one of which was based on the South coast, in a sector that was to grow and form the bedrock of our dependency target. With an attractive studio garden outside the front door everything was coming up roses!
That year saw the doubling of our client base with a steady consolidation into 2012 until the unexpected struck – the arrival overnight of the travelling community who took occupation of our car park for forty-eight hours and ruined our delightful raised beds in the process. At the onset, we were hostages in our own premises. Business disruption was kept to a minimum, but it never felt quite the same again. With the sudden departure of the anchor tenant we then faced the prospect of eviction by our friendly landlord; saved only by us volunteering to undertake the office cleaning duties for the common areas of our two-storey five-suite office block!
Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equal or greater opportunity and as new tenants arrived they too became clients as did our friendly landlord. By the end of 2014 the number of direct clients had doubled with increased exposure to estate agencies and a breakthrough into financial and property services.
The rumour mill of eviction again hung over us throughout 2015 until the writing was clearly on the wall despite having registered another record-breaking year of new business including our 100th direct client in April of that year. The inevitable departure happened in early 2016 and amazingly we secured new premises only 100 metres away as the crow flies! Our dependency target was achieved in June 2016 in a year that was to bring further penetration into estate agencies and a breakthrough into healthcare and natural therapy sectors. Our largest overspill agency back in 2009 is now a client too and the rest, as they say, is history and our story continues on our new website www.dansummersdesign.co.uk
Not wishing to rest on our laurels, we are preparing the ground for the next decade with the expansion of the studio footprint to include a more engaging entrance lobby and a roomy design lounge – an oasis of relative calm to accommodate clients wanting the space to discuss initial briefs, reveal branding options and work through project revisions – exactly what you would expect from a premier branding agency!
As we celebrate on 26 October 2019 and work through the busy remaining months of our tenth anniversary year, new business as a result of word of mouth and recommendations is again running above target levels. We are also deeply grateful to our loyal and trusting existing customers who repeatedly turn to DSD for their ongoing graphic design services here in Essex and well beyond!
DSD’s owner and creative graphic designer Dan Summers is enormously proud of what has been achieved over the past ten years and says: “From the bottom of my heart thanks a million to you all!”
If you would like Dan to personally create or refresh your brand give him a call today on 01245 465324 to kick-start the design process, reignite your business aspirations, visualise your ideas and turn them into desirable and effective brands!