Today in my design business class we visited the Official Manufacturing Co. in SE Portland. We’ve spent the term grilling different design and art business owners, trying to learn from them. The guys at OMFGCO were very encouraging. We asked them about setting up the physical studio and they said that it wasn’t until after they did all of the design for Spirit of 77 that they set up their studio space, and before that they had their office in Jeremy’s house. But Jeremy had worked with Ace Hotel for years and Fritz had worked with Stumptown Coffee, so when they started OMFGCO they were able to get clients based on that.

Their studio space is full of reclaimed signs and cool stuff, like the wall above which is covered with signs that they found from a Chinese place that went out of business. It reminds me of a highschool shop class, teacher’s lounge and design studio.

While we were asking them about what kind of advice they had for students just starting out, they said that no one really knows what they are doing but they figure it out as they go along. They said it’s a good idea to figure out what you can do and what you can’t, accept your weaknesses and strengths and if there is something you want to do but you don’t have the skills don’t let it stop you because there are probably people in your community that do have those skills.

Jeremy talked about the importance of taking good care of the people you work with, be it interns, employees or clients, because at the end of the day it’s about relationships and those relationships could grow into something amazing. He also encouraged us to work with the people that we want to, even if it means going to our favorite restaurant, taking their menu, redesigning it and handing it back to them. He said not to expect to get paid what we are worth in the beginning, because he didn’t but he did great work that ended up being priceless in terms of bringing in bigger clients.

Their kitchen… The cabinets say ‘Fine’ ‘You So Fine’ and ‘You So Fine, Guurrl’

I thought it was cool too that they talked about what motivates people- we’re taking a business class but a lot of what motivates people isn’t necessarily money, it’s other things, like the people that they are working with, how creative they are able to be on projects and how much they believe in what they are doing. He also said for us business people that starting a business is surprisingly easy, it’s the reality of keeping income coming in enough to keep it going that’s the hard part. My favorite quote was when we were asking them what they had in the beginning and they said that they began with nothing: “All you need is a laptop, your brain, and optimism.” Thanks guys!

-EHT 03/14/12