Meeting after college, Michelle and Anne joined forces to start their own business, Morning Design Studio. I had the pleasure of meeting these two talented ladies for a cup a coffee to learn more about them personally and what inspired them to start their design business.
You both went to Flagler but didn’t meet there. Where did you meet?
Michelle: We met after college while working at Troika Studio. I started there in 2012 and Anne started in 2015. We worked together for over 4 years. We gained a lot of knowledge working there learning the process of the industry, it was a great experience.
When did you start the business and how’s it going?
Michelle: A year ago, we got our website up and officially filed for our LLC in early 2019. We had a lot of local connections through Flagler, so we were able to start with a few clients and with word of mouth it’s grown from there.
Anne: The cool thing about our business is we both love this area and want to be in St. Augustine, and we work virtually, so even though we are here, we can take on clients from other states and countries. We have clients in Canada and Australia. I met one of our new clients at a local wine shop called Carrera Wine Cellar, so you never know where you will meet your next client.
Where are you from originally, and why did you choose St. Augustine as your home?
Anne: I’m from Syracuse N.Y. but my grandfather retired in St. Augustine so I spent quite a bit of time here growing up. I loved visiting and would always tell my mom that I was going to move here, and eventually I did.
Michelle: I’m from Portland, Maine. I transferred to Flagler College starting my junior year and fell in love with it. I hated the cold in Maine, but knew I wanted to stay coastal.
How did you come up with the name, Morning Design Studio?
Anne: I’m Anne, she’s Michelle, so I thought AM like morning. The domain was available so we went for it and added the tag line: Rise, Shine, Design.
Do you feel social media helps your business?
Michelle: I think social media helps to make us present as a new company and helps to make local connections. It’s great to be able to share the work we do for our clients with others that might be looking for branding and design work.
What are some of the memorable projects you have done?
Michelle: We did a hot sauce label for A-Frame Sauce Company. They put out a post on Instagram looking for a designer, so I inquired for more details and that kind of landed our first project. The project was for their latest hot sauce, called Super Session. It was a lot of fun and they were great to work with.
Do your clients tend to give you ideas to work with or do you run with your own?
Michelle: It depends, some clients have their ideas, some don’t. Either way, we like to show a few options. One might be of their literal idea, one would be a mesh of ours, and one completely different. Anne has strong illustrative skills so we like to show different styles and ideas to inspire our clients.
Tell me about the services you provide
Anne: We do everything from design research, brand development, and the application of the branding. There is a lot to branding and design and every business needs it. You can learn more at the link: Morning Design Studio
What do you love about St. Augustine?
Anne and Michelle: We like that it’s a coastal town, that is small enough that you know people everywhere, but at the same time touristy and big enough that there is always something new to do and see. We also love how supportive the community is. When we started the business some of our Flagler professors sent us congratulatory messages after seeing our company on social media. It’s nice to know you have a community around you that wants to see you succeed.
What do you enjoy doing during your downtime?
Anne – I enjoy meeting up with friends at Carrera Wine Cellar and I like to paint and craft, so anything creative.
Michelle: I like to workout and enjoy group HIIT training and have done Reebok Spartan races.
What would you say are your individual strengths that make you great partners?
Michelle: I tend to manage things because I am more organized. I take on the majority of the business operation side of things so Anne, who is an amazing artist, can put her energy into the creative side of the business. Our strengths make it all work.
What are your plans for the business?
Anne: We are currently working out of a home office and would like to find an office space soon, but ultimately we just want to continue to grow our client base and keep doing what we love.