The Story of Novus Creative
Once upon a time, a 21-year-old, fresh-out-of-college girl dreamed of starting her own business.
Actually, it didn't start anything like that. The truth is, I never planned on being an entrepreneur. I didn't even know what that word meant. Back in 2005, I left the safety net of JMU and followed my then-boyfriend to Richmond, Virginia. (It was a wise move! We've been married for nearly 15 years now.)
My first job was at a small credit union in their marketing department, and though it didn't come with a fancy name like Circuit City — where lots of my peers were getting jobs at the time — it gave me an opportunity to learn about marketing. I had freedom to make the job my own, they sent me to any design class I wanted to take, and I even got to rebrand the credit union. I will forever be thankful for my 7 years at that company. The people taught me and encouraged me so much. (And soon after, Circuit City wasn't looking so fancy anymore!)
They're going to ... PAY me?!
A few years into my career, my husband asked if I'd be interested in designing an internal
safety awareness campaign for his employer. He worked at a manufacturing plant, and they wanted to promote the importance of safety through banners, posters, giveaway items, and screensavers. I said sure, and then he said it ... "They're going to pay you." Umm. What!?
I pulled an hourly rate out of thin air, Googled how to create a proposal, and put together an invoice under the name AF Design. I made a whopping $250 bucks, and it was the coolest thing ever.
The meaning of Novus
I started telling people that I was a freelance graphic designer. Sure, I had one gig under my belt, but it seemed official enough. For nearly two years, I operated under the name AF Design, until one day I decided to build a website. And dognabit, afdesign.com was taken. I started coming up with random names and almost settled on Blue Crab Design Studio (simply because I had a fun photo of myself with blue crabs) when I came across the Latin word "novus." An adjective meaning fresh, new, innovative, and extraordinary.
Hark. That's it.
I decided on "creative" instead of "design" so I could offer more than just design, as my marketing background lent itself to so much more than that. Novus Creative was born.
I started attending early morning networking events before I went to work, and on my lunch breaks I would drive home to design for 45 minutes (because I didn't have a personal laptop) and rush back to work. In the evenings, I'd stay up super late finishing projects. I was asked to become the graphic design sponsor for a marketing conference, and in exchange for designing all the marketing materials, I would receive a vendor table at the event. For three years, I sponsored that conference, and MOST of my clients today somehow came out of that — whether directly or through referrals.
The growth of Novus (and our family)
When my first son was born in 2012, I left the credit union and was hired as a part-time creative director at a small marketing agency. I had been freelancing for the agency and they needed me more consistently, and I needed a consistent income. If you're a freelancer, you understand the ups and downs of the trade!
Working at the agency was a great opportunity for me to hone my skills and learn how to work with a creative team. They were a fantastic group, and I have lasting friendships from that job. When my second son was born, though, managing my agency clients, Novus Creative clients, AND two kids at home got tough. I had to make a decision.
The day after I put my notice in at the agency, one of my current Novus Creative clients signed a contract for a monthly retainer that covered the difference I was going to miss from not having a steady job. Hallelujah! I never looked back.
Where the creative juices flow
When I went full-time in Novus Creative in 2016, I decided it was time for a fresh start. My logo was getting stale, and since I felt like an official business owner now, I wanted to new look. Digging into the word "novus," the meaning "fresh" really stuck out to me. I'm originally from southern California, and there's nothing sweeter than a fresh-picked orange. My whole new brand was designed around oranges and pencils (because everything creative begins with a pencil). I was where the creative juices flow.
This is when Novus Creative really took off. Business doubled in 2017, and doubled again in 2018. It was (and is) steadily growing, and to this day, I cannot be more thankful for all the friends and clients who have referred me and supported me all these years.
As time went on, I met more and more creative entrepreneurs who I knew would bring great value to my clients' businesses. I started hiring copywriters and web developers. My hobby of photography turned into part of my services, and then I started hiring other photographers. I was working with social media managers and printers and Google consultants, oh my! I even hired a few designers to help me tackle small projects. Fast forward to 2019 and I knew it was time for another change.
It's not business, it's personal
As I studied why people hired Novus Creative, I realized it wasn't about the frilly fruit logo, but it was because I kept our business relationship personal. Not personal in that I can't take criticism — no way. I am an open book for feedback and will be the first to admit that I'm not perfect, nor are all my ideas. But I honestly fell in love with all the clients I got to work with every day. It's the people who make a business thrive.
So I decided to go back to my original roots, focusing on the meaning of "novus" and simplifying my message to really hone in one what makes Novus Creative different. It's that personal touch.
Kids, get out your paint brushes! You're going to paint mommy's new brand. If you know my creative kids, they were thrilled. I took what they painted and scanned it in. Using their random shapes, I designed all the pieces for Novus Creative you see today. I wanted my new brand to be personal.
I ran across a virtual creative agency based out of Nashville on Instagram and immediately fell in love with its business model. One gal ran the show — the owner/creative director — and she hired contractors to build a team that best suited each client. It was what I was already slowly doing, but didn't know how to articulate it. After some mentorship from her, reading several books, running ideas and designs past a few trusted folks, and lots and LOTS of hours, we made it here to 2020.
Refreshed. Relaunched. The NEW Novus Creative, a virtual creative agency.