Inspiring stories, real GoVisually customers
Meet Chris and Courtney Meredith
Design on Edge
Learn how Chris and Meredith scaled their design agency from scratch
What’s your backstory?
Courtney: Hi, I’m Courtney Meredith, and I grew up in Reno, Nevada, with some time spent in New York and Alaska. My passion for graphic design and photography started at a young age, around 12 or 13 years old.
Both Chris and I were raised by strong, entrepreneurial, single mothers who taught us to carve out our own paths and find independence. Unsure about college, I ended up participating in one of the first charter programs for high school in Northern Nevada at Truckee Meadows Community College, which had a strong design program.
At the time, I worked two jobs, volunteered at a local TV station, and did high school and college credits. I spent a lot of time on campus before earning my degree and meeting Chris during my final semester of graphic design.
Chris: I’m Chris Meredith, and I grew up in a small town called Truckee, California, about 45 miles outside of Reno, Nevada. I spent much time outdoors, snowboarding and swimming, which led to summer jobs as a snowboard instructor and lifeguard.
I took a graphics class in high school, sparking my passion for design. I moved to Reno, attended community college, and fell in love with graphic design. After graduation, I worked at a local casino and later at a national clothing brand, handling their e-commerce design, photography, and catalog design.
Courtney: Our paths came together when we both started working in the casino industry, which was a fast-paced and demanding environment. As the recession hit, marketing departments were disbanding or merging, and my casino closed.
I had to freelance and find design work wherever I could. When the casino reopened under new ownership, I had the opportunity to consult and called Chris to join me. With only $40 in the bank and a business license from college, we started Design on Edge at the peak of the recession.
Over the years, we’ve faced challenges, from unreliable cars to credit card debt and even a brief period of homelessness.
Today, 17 years later, we’re married with a beautiful son and a thriving business. We’ve contributed to the economic development of our community, supported numerous nonprofits, and received over 100 recognitions for community service, marketing, mentoring, and national awards for graphic design and communications.
We’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a married couple, business owners, and entrepreneurs in Northern Nevada, proving that our community is full of compelling, creative, and dynamic people.
What does your company do?
Design on Edge is a boutique-style agency based in Reno, Nevada that specializes in creating brand identities through the power of graphic design, illustration, web design, and overall strategic marketing. Our family-owned business has been operating for 17 years, and while we’re based in Reno, we work with clients nationwide.
We began in 2006 as a two-person team and have since grown into a multidisciplinary team of seven. Our firm works with diverse clients, including nonprofits, medical and wellness industries, arts and culture, and food and beverage. Our goal is to tell the story of your business through the creative arts, helping you build a strong brand identity.
How did you come up with the idea and start your business?
Chris: The idea for our business came about when I was in college. We had a class project to design a logo for a company, and I chose Design on Edge as my name. After the class, I took it seriously, and it ultimately became the name of our company 17 years later. We started during the recession with only $40 in the bank but were determined to make it work.
Courtney: We always knew we wanted graphic design and collaborated well. Chris was passionate about digital design, technology trends, and understanding the psychology behind user experiences. Meanwhile, I wanted to do more than just production work and was focused on understanding what people want from a design.
Our background in the fast-paced casino industry taught us how to quickly and intuitively work with different departments to create designs that would attract customers. As our business evolved, we’ve strived to stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening and think outside the box, always aiming to be a little different from the competition.
Any big failures and learning?
As business founders, we’ve faced our fair share of challenges and failures. One of the most significant issues we encountered in our early days as a small agency was the lack of an efficient workflow system. When we first started, it was just the two of us, and we struggled with project management and client communication. Our inability to catch errors, printing mistakes, and typos was costly and put our reputation on the line. For a small agency or freelancer, one mistake can have long-lasting consequences.
GoVisually has played a significant role in overcoming these challenges by providing us with a platform to reference old proofs, track changes, and ensure that everything is marked off before sending the project back to the client or printing. It has improved our communication and enabled us to maintain better relationships with our clients and staff.
Of course, we haven’t completely figured everything out, but we’re doing our best to learn and grow from our mistakes. Owning up to our errors and finding solutions has been crucial in keeping clients and preventing staff losses. One key lesson we’ve learned is the importance of understanding our worth and avoiding the trap of endless proof due to miscommunication or inefficiencies.
Using GoVisually, we can now track the number of proofs, making it easier to monitor client and staff interactions and identify areas needing improvement. This has helped us overcome our initial challenges and significantly impacted our overall profit and workflow efficiency. We’re grateful for our progress and are excited to continue refining our processes and growing as a company.
What’s next for your business?
While the importance of community has always been at the heart of what we do, it hasn’t been more apparent than it has been in the past few years. Like everyone else, we tried our best to survive while ensuring our clients and those close to us were cared for and ultimately focusing on best using our skills to serve our neighbors and the community.
Thankfully, we made it through as best as we could because those people were taking care of us too. The world-altering events of the past four years challenged us to reflect on what was important to us and be more thoughtful about our brand and clients.
We asked ourselves what our foundational values and beliefs indeed were. What is it that drives us to continue to create? Why do we continue to develop and build relationships? What do our goals and dreams look like now in a post-pandemic world?
Our future is focused on creating a thriving workspace for creatives to grow our portfolio and our team to continue to extend Nationally. To provide brand strategies that push boundaries and compelling aesthetic design that can be inspiring, inclusive, informative, and impactful.
Though we’ve experienced an eventful seventeen years building our company, we’re still committed to challenging ourselves creatively, using our platform to initiate real defining change within our community, and being open to whatever opportunities present to us.
We’re excited for the future and ready for whatever the next few years have in store for us.
How did you come across GoVisually?
We found GoVisually when we were in desperate need of proofing software. We wanted to avoid sending clients emails and find a more efficient solution for receiving feedback.
After searching online, We came across GoVisually and thought it might work for us. Since we started using it, it has significantly improved our agency’s workflow by enabling instant customer feedback and reducing the need to send emails and print proofs. It has expedited our entire production process.
How do you use GoVisually, and why is it valuable to your business?
We use GoVisually daily at Design on Edge for our internal team and clients. It allows us to critique each other’s projects, provide feedback, and track progress. It’s beneficial for keeping in touch with our remote employees and ensuring we understand where they are on specific projects.
GoVisually is also fantastic for clients in different time zones, allowing them to access and provide real-time edits. The chat feature helps us communicate instantly, making our collaboration more constructive. It has significantly sped up our workflow and enabled our team to work on projects even when they’re out of the office.
The instant feedback feature and the ability to have multiple versions stacked on top of each other have been essential for our efficiency. We can quickly reference previous versions if a client wants to revert to an earlier design that streamlines our production schedule.
GoVisually plays a vital role in our communication efforts and overall productivity as a business. It helps us manage multiple projects at once while keeping our team and clients in the loop, ultimately enhancing our effectiveness as an agency.
How has GoVisually impacted your business?
GoVisually has impacted our business in numerous ways. Initially, we found an urgent need to improve our proofing system, and it has helped us become more sustainable by reducing our paper waste. It has also streamlined our workflow by reducing the number of proofs we need, thanks to the efficient cross-referencing and editing features.
It has also reduced the number of emails we must send back and forth between clients and our team, as we can communicate within GoVisually itself. The ability for clients to make changes on their own time has been invaluable for our workflow.
Integration with Slack has also helped improve our communication, as our team can be notified instantly when there’s an update on a project. The increased efficiency in our workflow has reduced overhead costs, minimized errors in final press projects, and given us peace of mind.
The approval feature within GoVisually allows us to receive approvals and move forward with projects faster, which in turn helps us receive revenue faster.
Overall, GoVisually has allowed us to grow our business and team more efficiently, thanks to its improved communication and streamlined processes.
What do you love about being a founder?
Courtney: One thing I love about being a founder is the opportunity to make a difference for other women in the industry. As one of my program’s few female graphic designers, I was determined to carve my path.
Being a founder gives us flexibility and creativity, allowing us to shape the world we want to be a part of. We’re passionate about working with students and providing them opportunities, particularly those from diverse backgrounds and upbringings. We help businesses and individuals achieve their dreams through our creative work, a practical aspect of being a founder.
Chris: I love being my boss and not having to follow orders. Most people might say they couldn’t work with their significant other, but I get to do it every day, and I enjoy that. It’s great to have our team and work with my wife daily.
Courtney: Working together can indeed have its challenges, but we’re fortunate to be able to build our dream together. From being students and friends to spouses and parents, we’re part of the next generation of creatives.
We get to teach others the importance of giving back to the community and the value of creativity, regardless of the size of your agency. We both appreciate being in charge of our schedules, and we find balance in our work, life, and family. Sharing this passion is a unique and fulfilling opportunity for us.
Any advice for other founders?
Courtney: My advice to other founders is to remember your initial dreams and goals and not forget who you are. Businesses and people change over time, but building a solid network early in your career is crucial.
Collaborate with vendors, friends, family, and people in different industries. At Design on Edge, we believe collaboration over competition is essential for growth. Working with various industries can lead to valuable connections that benefit both parties.
Be kind to the people you meet; you never know where they may lead. Your network is a vital part of growing your business.
Chris: I’d say it’s okay not to know everything or have all the answers. Keep moving forward, learn the software, learn the job, and don’t give up on your goals and dreams.
Courtney: Adapting to change is also crucial. When we started, many tools and software like GoVisually weren’t available. Be prepared to adapt to new technologies and changing circumstances. Our business started in a recession and faced challenges during the pandemic. But we pivoted, kept our employees and clients going, and rebuilt our business.
Be flexible, trust you can find a solution, and lean on your network in tough times. Be bold in the face of adversity and inclusive in your decisions – that’s the best advice we can give now.
What are your go to digital tools?
- The Adobe Suite for all our creative platforms
- GoVisually for all proofing and client dashboards
- Slack (to message)
- Monday (Project Management)
- Zoom to communicate
- Emma to send out newsletters
- SEM Rush to monitor Search Engine Marketing
- WordPress for CMS Software
Any podcasts or websites you love?
GD USA https://gdusa.com/