According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about half of all new establishments survive 5 years or more, and only about one-third survive 10 years or more.

As we celebrate 18 years in business these statistics make us all the more thankful for our wonderful clients. We work on projects, but we work for people. The people we have the opportunity to work with are what make the projects come to life. Their passion for their work pushes us to generate designs that get results.

We’ve asked owner Kristin Mitchell to reflect on the past 18 years, here’s what she had to say:

1. Why did you start the business?
I had discovered in high school, with the guidance of a great art teacher, that I had a talent for art. I was raised with four siblings and a mom that stayed home with us and I wanted to be able to do that for my children. When I was a teen it occurred to me that being a freelance graphic designer could allow me to stay home and raise kids. I worked in the design field until our first child was born. With the blessing of my employer I left the corporate world and claim today that my business started the day our oldest son was born – July 19, 1997. My first two clients were my last and first employers (perfect example of building open and honest relationships).

2. What has changed the most in the industry over the last 18 years?
Technology!! I started in the industry when we still pasted-up our layouts with wax and computer monitors were black and white. It wasn’t that many years ago, when a job would have to be packaged, pages printed out and put in individual folders for the printer and you could ONLY check hard proofs, no electronic options!

3. Is your business where you thought it would be?
I never really planned too far ahead, still don’t. I am more of a one day at a time, “plan” for the foreseeable future type of a person. I have learned that life can and does change in a moment. It is better to be flexible, adaptable and open to possibilities. I have my priorities – family, honesty, loyalty, teamwork, good work ethic, building relationships and a commitment to being a good leader in my job and community. If you asked me 18 years ago if I would have employees, I would have stated, quite emphatically, absolutely not! Up until four years ago, I had no intention of adding anyone, ever – I could do it “I-self”, my internal motto from the day I was born. Fate/serendipity altered that mindset and brought me Dana and the scope of the business evolved as it continues to do on a daily basis.

4. Given the statistics why do you think KMD has been able to survive and thrive over the years?
Good work, the ability to build relationships with people and take good care of them. Everyone wants to work with someone that they can trust to do the best job efficiently and economically. Perseverance, positivity and frankly, above all, faith that all would work out as it was supposed to.

5. After 18 years are you still as passionate about the work you do?
YES! Still love what I do. I do less design work these days and more operational juggling while taking care of our clients. Fortunately I have Dana here to pick up my design slack and Amy to do the administrative tasks that would bog me down and make me less productive and frankly quite cranky.

6. What advice do you have for new business owners?
Build relationships. Find mentors, people that do business like you want to. If you can’t be a little bit good at everything out of the gate, find resources to guide and help you, i.e., a great accountant. Work hard, have faith. And, of course, find a great designer to build you some kick-butt branding to get you started!


Thank YOU!