Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in branding and marketing design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mike Di Carlo, director of Drawbox Inc., located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Drawbox is a boutique design and fabrication company that specializes in creating unique, one-of-a-kind marketing assets for companies and brands. As a collection of fabrication experts who also happen to have a background in marketing and branding, we pride ourselves on making the fabrication process as easy as possible for clients and agencies alike. Our customers range from small local businesses to large-scale global brands like Disney, HBO, Four Seasons, etc., and we’ve created everything from custom patios all the way to flying dragons.
Tell us about yourself
When I entered the corporate marketing world, I realized there were actually a lot of areas where my talents, skills, and knowledge of how things go together could actually come in handy for the physical assets. So I started applying them to projects we were taking on. One project led to another, and, before I knew it, I was building much-needed marketing assets for multiple accounts.
It wasn’t long before I realized that this was where my passion really lay. So I began working with companies who specialized in it themselves. I was fortunate enough to work with some incredible designers and fabricators early on in this industry. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance to open Drawbox with my business partner.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think our biggest accomplishment so far as business owners would be surviving this past year. The pandemic was definitely challenging for many small business owners. Between lockdowns, market shifts, material delays, and all the unknowns, it was really a uniquely challenging time to navigate.
With so many of our clients working in live events, we genuinely weren’t sure how the industry would pivot, but thanks to some innovative thinking, creative designing, thoughtful fabrication, and intensive collaboration, we were, fortunately, able to not just see our business survive, but help many of our clients thrive.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think the hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is learning to let go a little. When you start something that means so much to you, it’s easy to want to have a hand in absolutely all aspects of it, but, as any business owner will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to do it all. That’s why it’s so important to have a strong core team around you that you really rely on and trust to help you accomplish it all.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a mentor or someone you’re able to bounce ideas off of.
- Prioritize communication over anything else. That’s in terms of clients, staff, investors, banks, etc.
- Make sure you enjoy the industry you’re about to devote your entire life to.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting a new business certainly comes with its challenges, sleepless nights, and high stress, but being persistent and regularly stepping back to look at the big picture often makes everything worthwhile. Remind yourself that there is no such thing as “perfection” and that making incremental improvements throughout the year is something to be proud of.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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